Urban Pathways’ Communications Staff recently sat down with one of the amazing employees from one our Safe Haven transitional residences. Renita Pagan has worked for Urban Pathways for two years as a Case Manager, and was recently promoted to Senior Case Manager.
Renita grew up in Peekskill, New York and in college majored in criminal justice. She now lives in New York City and is one year into an MSW program at Hunter College’s Silberman School of Social Work. Read below about how Renita and the staff at Travelers engage and connect with our clients and help them in the initial stages of regaining their independence.
How long have you worked at Urban Pathways? What site?
I have worked at Urban Pathways for two years, all at Travelers Safe Haven.
What type of clients reside at Travelers?
Travelers has a capacity of 50 beds. Clients who reside in Travelers are men and women who have been chronically homeless and have been on the street for a year or more.
What is your title?
I am a Case Manager at Travelers. I was promoted to Senior Case Manager on February 1st.
What are some of your responsibilities at UP?
I meet with each client once a week. I conduct room inspections, facilitate wellness and advocacy groups, community meetings and holiday events.
How do you help clients once they arrive at Travelers?
Once clients arrive at Travelers, I assess the client by finding out what services they need immediately, whether its benefits, government aid they have not been receiving, identification, primary medical care, or a psycho-social examination. The objective of these meetings is to create goals to add to the client’s service plan, goals that are client-centered, and goals they need to reach to attain permanent housing. These meetings help to give the clients a structure and to build trust.
How long do clients stay at Travelers before moving on?
Clients stay six months on average, a year being the longest. Since July, we have placed 16 clients into housing and we are ahead of all of the other Safe Havens in New York City. Last year, Travelers finished second in placements across the whole city.
Where do clients usually move on to?
Clients who move on, move on to temporary supportive housing, rent rooms, or acquire housing through the 15/15 Program.
Do you have outside guests come in and volunteer?
We have several individuals and organizations volunteering at Travelers. From events like a nonalcoholic sip & paint event to The Urban Justice Center having workshops on getting benefits, helping clients with appeals, or addressing other issues.
How does staff collaborate to assist a client in their wellness?
The staff communicates about the clients through weekly meetings, as Case Managers work varying hours. Having all the staff on the same page regarding a client aids in keeping that client on track with their goals. It’s also good to have all staff know what is going on with all of our clients at Travelers, not just their case load.
Do clients have meals? Do they practice healthy eating at Travelers?
The clients at Travelers have great healthy options for food including: fruits, starches, meats, and vegetables. The clients are provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner. We have a nutritionist who comes in monthly to meet with clients and provide them with healthy food and snack recommendations.
How does it make you feel helping clients in wellness and recovery?
Helping clients is really rewarding for me. Clients typically have had no one in their corner and so it takes a little while for them to get used to our staff engaging with them. A lot of clients have never had an apartment, bed, and someone who cares about them. Clients often have trouble building a rapport with their Case Managers and do not like to open up because of what they have been through. Seeing those individuals go from being closed like that, to being able to have a conversation, open up to their Case Manager and move on to more stable housing is a big accomplishment for the client and the staff.
Any new initiatives, courses, programs that Travelers is doing in 2019?
I started this program called “House Readiness Group”, this program prepares clients for housing. The goal is to make sure the clients are comfortable being more independent, knowing their diagnosis and triggers, and how to manage their wellness.
What is the greatest need for clients at Travelers?
The greatest need for clients is support. Some are not ready for housing, but they need support to help them get ready.
About Urban Pathways
Urban Pathways is a New York City-based, nonprofit organization that provides housing and support to homeless and at-risk adults throughout the Metropolitan area. Urban Pathways serves more than 3,700 homeless individuals a year and provides transitional, extended stay, and permanent housing to chronically homeless individuals.