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Dave’s House: A Safe Haven for People with Mental Illness

Homes are a sanctuary, but for some people, especially those with mental illness, their only sanctuary might be a cramped car or a tarp in the woods. Roughly 45% of homeless people suffer from serious and persistent mental illness and often find themselves in a situation they can’t get out of on their own.

About Dave’s House

That’s exactly what the Dave’s House program hopes to prevent. By purchasing multi-tenant homes and working with topnotch behavioral health providers like Aspire Health Partners in Greater Orlando, Dave’s House aims to eliminate homelessness among those with mental illness, all the while relieving communities and taxpayers of the fiscal weight.

The need for permanent housing for adults with serious and persistent mental illness is both social and financial. A stable home is vital to recovery, but many of those suffering from mental illness lack that stability and live in a constant state of crisis, leading them into the “revolving door“ with no opportunity for true recovery.

Because of this, many mentally ill homeless citizens wind up in hospitals, homeless shelters and even jail. These stays are costly to taxpayers, too. The annual cost of a homeless person living with a serious mental illness, including prison, ER visits and hospital stays, is $31,065, according to 2014 research by the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness. The yearly cost of a Dave’s House residency is $10,051.

Dave’s House was founded in 2008 by Lin and Ron Wilensky to help individuals like Lin’s brother, Dave, who had schizophrenia. The organization has developed permanent supportive housing for over 100 individuals who are living productive lives in an atmosphere of mental wellness, stability, autonomy and safety. Nine single family homes are located in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale and Fairfax, Virginia.

How You Can Help

1. Donate: Make a monetary donation or give essential home supplies for residents. A full list of needed items can be found at DavesHouseEvents.org.

2. Support a fundraiser: During Mental Health Awareness Week from Oct. 4-10, the organization will host Dave’s Virtual House Party. The week-long event encourages the community to raise awareness, set up a personal fundraiser, bid in the online auction and more.

3. Volunteer: Opportunities include social services and community projects, support for events and assistance with furthering the reach of their programs.

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Written by Lyndsay Fogarty

Lyndsay Fogarty has had many roles at Central Florida Lifestyle, working her way from intern to contributing writer to managing editor. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication where she earned her degree in journalism. Along the way, she has learned that teamwork and dedication to your craft will get you far, and a positive outlook on the present will get you even farther.

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