988 Hotline Strengthens Mental Health Support

Bucks County Housing Group Partners with PA Department of Human Services to Promote 988 Hotline

The 988 Hotline

In a world where mental health struggles are increasingly prevalent, access to immediate support is crucial. Bucks County Housing Group (BCHG) has taken a significant step in addressing this need by partnering with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services to promote the 988 mental health hotline. This collaboration underscores our commitment to supporting the mental well-being of the community we serve.

BCHG recognizes the interconnectedness of stable housing and mental health. As an organization dedicated to providing housing assistance, food, and support services to individuals and families in need, we see the need for mental health resources for our clients. Many of the individuals that we serve face various challenges, including mental health issues. Having access to reliable support is essential. The 988 hotline provides an immediate access point to those in need of mental health services.

The 988 hotline is crucial for those experiencing mental health emergencies. By dialing 988, individuals can connect with trained professionals who can provide guidance, support, and resources to help them navigate their situation. Support is always free and confidential.

Our Partnership

Our partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services aims to raise awareness about the 988 hotline within the community. Through our digital campaign, we are working to ensure that individuals in Bucks County are aware of this vital resource.

One of the key objectives of this partnership is to destigmatize mental health issues and encourage individuals to seek help when needed. By promoting the 988 hotline, we are sending a powerful message that mental health support is available, accessible, and free of judgment. Suicide prevention and crisis support are essential for safe, healthy communities. We must work together to normalize asking for help.

Moreover, this partnership aligns with BCHG’s broader mission of empowering individuals and families to achieve self-sufficiency and stability. By providing access to mental health resources, we are not only addressing immediate crises but also supporting the long-term well-being of the community.

The significance of this partnership extends beyond just raising awareness. It embodies the collaborative efforts needed to address complex societal challenges. Through working together, BCHG and the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services are leveraging our resources and expertise to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those struggling with mental health issues.

Conclusion

As we work together to raise awareness about the 988 hotline, partnerships like this serve as models for community-driven initiatives to promote mental health support. By coming together, organizations can amplify their impact and create a more supportive environment for individuals facing mental health challenges.

In conclusion, Bucks County Housing Group’s partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services to promote the 988 mental health hotline exemplifies the proactive approach needed to address mental health issues in our communities. By raising awareness, reducing stigma, and providing access to immediate support, BCHG is playing a vital role in supporting the mental well-being of the individuals and families it serves. This partnership serves as a testament to the power of collaboration in creating positive change and ensuring that mental health remains a priority for all. Your mental health matters.

Reflecting on 2023 and Looking Ahead to the New Year

Welcome to BCHG‘s 2023 Wrapped: Our Year in Review! As we bid farewell to another eventful year, it’s time to reflect on the milestones, achievements, challenges, and moments that defined the journey for Bucks County Housing Group over the past twelve months. From program expansion, partnerships new and old, and community engagement, join us as we delve into the highlights and pivotal events that shaped our path in 2023. Embrace the nostalgia and anticipation as we unwrap the story of our year—a narrative woven with progress, resilience, and the collective efforts of our team and supporters. Scroll through the slideshow below to check out some of our favorite moments from 2023:

We are excited about the new opportunities, challenges, and chances to grow coming in 2024. Thank you for your support and partnership with BCHG. Our work is only possible because of your dedication to our mission. We can’t wait to continue to close the door on hunger and homelessness with you in the new year.

Want more of our 2023 Wrapped? Check out the video below:

BCHG 2023 Wrapped by Amanda McGill

A Guide to Making a Difference

Introduction:


Giving Tuesday is a global day of charitable giving that encourages people to give back to their communities and support causes they are passionate about. Bucks County Housing Group (BCHG) is continuing our work to close the door on hunger and homelessness, and we hope you’ll consider supporting us this Giving Tuesday. We are dedicated to addressing the challenges of food and housing insecurity, and providing affordable housing solutions, and rely on community support to carry out our mission. This Giving Tuesday, consider one of these ways to contribute to help give back to our community and support BCHG:

  1. Monetary Donations:
    One of the most direct ways to support BCHG is through monetary donations. Your financial contributions can go a long way in helping us provide shelter, food, and essential services to individuals and families facing homelessness. Visit our Giving Tuesday page to make a secure online donation, donate via Paypal, or fill out this form to set up a recurring donation to provide ongoing support. You can also support us by buying our merchandise!
  2. Fundraising Campaigns:
    Consider organizing a fundraising campaign within your community or workplace to raise awareness and funds for BCHG. You could host a neighborhood event, set up crowdfunding pages, or collaborate with local businesses to create donation drives. Get creative and involve others in the process to maximize the impact of your fundraising efforts. Need our support? Email info@bchg.org!
  3. Volunteer Your Time:
    If you have the time and skills to spare, consider volunteering with BCHG. We often need volunteers for various tasks, such as assisting with food distribution, helping in our community gardens, or providing support at our office. Volunteering is a hands-on way to make a direct impact and connect with the community you’re helping. To get started, visit our volunteer page.
  4. In-Kind Donations:
    We welcome in-kind donations of essential items. This could include non-perishable food items, clothing, hygiene products, and household supplies. You can view our current list of needed food items here, and check out our Amazon Wishlist for the most up-to-date needs of our housing program units and families.
  5. Spread the Word:
    Help amplify our mission by spreading the word on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and X. Share our posts, upcoming events, and initiatives on your page or story. Encourage your friends, family, and followers to get involved and support us on Giving Tuesday! Use the hashtags #GivingTuesday, #GT2023, and #GivingTuesday2023 to increase the visibility of your posts and inspire others to join the cause.
  6. Corporate Sponsorship:
    If you represent a business, explore the possibility of corporate sponsorship for BCHG. This can involve financial support, in-kind donations, or even collaboration on community initiatives. Corporate partnerships can significantly boost our resources and enable us to expand our impact. If you’re interested in becoming a corporate partner, email amcgill@bchg.org for more information.

Conclusion:


This Giving Tuesday, make a meaningful contribution to Bucks County Housing Group and play a role in addressing homelessness and housing challenges in your community. Whether through financial support, volunteerism, or spreading awareness, your efforts can make a lasting impact on the lives of those in need. Join the movement and be a part of positive change in Bucks County.

Did you know October is National Book Month? As if we needed another reason to spend these autumn days cozied up in front of a fireplace with a cup of coffee and a good book!

If you’re searching for a new read, check out our team’s latest recommendations for some moving and motivating stories about home, hunger, and hope.

BCHG Recommends:

  • No Way Home: The Crisis of Homelessness and How to Fix It with Intelligence and Humanity by Christopher F. Rufo, Wayne H. Winegarden, Joseph Tartakovsky, and Kerry Jackson – “This book examines the causes of homelessness with a focus on unaffordable housing, poverty, mental illness, substance addiction, and legal reform.”
  • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer is a collection of stories which examine the way humans interact with the natural world.
  • The Poverty Paradox by Mark Robert Rank delves into why the wealthiest country in the world (the United States) also has the highest rate of poverty among industrialized countries and offers solutions on what we can do about it.
  • Changing the Face of Hunger by Tony Hall – “Hall’s book describes his humanitarian efforts in Ethiopia, where he saw world hunger up close, and his attempts to bring the problem to the attention of those in Washington, advocating for those who have no voice in global politics.”
  • Cooking with Scraps by Lindsay-Jean Hard provides easy-to-follow recipes using scraps most of us have in our kitchens, offering insight into ways to cook more with less.

We encourage you to explore the offerings at your local Bucks County Free Library – their website provides up-to-date information on their current stock and availability, allowing you to easily embark on a reading adventure this National Book Month.

So, as the autumn leaves fall and the air turns crisper, let these books be your companions, guiding you through stories that inspire, provoke thought, and perhaps even change the way you view the world.

Spread the word(s):

Read one of these books, or find another book that inspires you to fight against hunger and homelessness? Share a photo on Instagram and tag us for a chance to be featured on our page! Don’t forget to follow us @BucksCountyHousingGroup.

Happy reading!

BCHG Homepage

Written By: Hannah Borish

  • Two children dyeing Easter eggs
  • Fresh produce on a table display
  • Gardening

How Your Support Transforms Lives at Bucks County Housing Group

At Bucks County Housing Group, we’re excited to share with you the incredible impact of your generous donations. Your support has been pivotal in changing lives, and we want to give you a glimpse of how we put your donations to work and how they are making a tangible difference in our community. 

1. Filling Plates and Hearts: The Food Program 

Your support has ensured that no one in our community goes to bed hungry. With your help, we’ve been able to purchase nutritious food to sustain our food program, providing a lifeline for individuals and families facing food insecurity. Your generosity goes beyond filling plates; it fills hearts with hope. We’re able to leverage your donations to fill our pantries with healthy produce, pantry staples, and allergen-friendly options.

2. Turning Houses into Homes: Essential Household Supplies 

Imagine starting anew with nothing but the clothes on your back. Your donations have made it possible for us to provide clients in our housing program with essential household supplies to get them started as they stabilize. From toiletries to bedding and kitchenware, your contributions empower individuals and families to transform their living situations, turning houses into comfortable homes. Additionally, our Apartment Partners program provides essential furniture and unforeseen expense help to our client families.

3. Play and Laughter for Children: A New Playset and More

Our youngest clients have reason to smile, thanks to your donations at work. We installed a new playset for children within our housing program thanks to a generous fundraiser from our community, bringing joy and laughter to their lives. This small act has had a significant impact, offering a sense of normalcy during challenging times. In addition, your support has provided supplies for our community building program to host holiday parties, homework help, and community days to aid in bringing a sense of camaraderie and support among our housing clients.

4. Cultivating Hope through Community Gardens 

Gardens are places of growth, not just for plants but for people too. Your support has allowed us to provide seeds and materials for our community gardens, enabling clients to cultivate fresh produce and gain valuable skills. Because of your help, our gardens nourish both bodies and spirits while fostering a sense of community and empowerment. 

5. Beyond the Examples: A Broader Impact 

Your support extends far beyond the specific examples mentioned. Because of your support, we have been able to provide shelter, offer case management services, and host educational workshops. These services are instrumental in helping our clients find stable housing, overcome challenges, and work toward self-sufficiency. 

The Ripple Effect: How Your Donations Transform Lives 

The impact of your generosity goes beyond immediate assistance; we put your donations to work to make lasting changes in Bucks County and our clients’ lives. Clients who receive support during difficult times are better equipped to tackle challenges and work towards self-sufficiency. Your contributions fill them with hope and empowerment, impacting every aspect of their lives and creating a brighter future for them and their families. 

In closing, we want to express our deepest gratitude for your unwavering commitment to our mission. Your support, whether through financial contributions, volunteering, or advocacy, is truly making a difference. Together, we’re creating a stronger, more vibrant community where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. 

As we continue this journey of transformation, we look forward to the positive changes your kindness and compassion will bring. Thank you for being a vital part of this life-changing work. 

At Bucks County Housing Group, we understand that navigating the complexities of disability benefit income programs can be daunting, especially for those facing homelessness and serious health challenges, and we’re dedicated to breaking down these barriers and helping those in need access the assistance they deserve. One way we do this is through SOAR.

What is SOAR?

SOAR, which stands for SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery, is a program funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SOAR is a lifeline for eligible adults and children who are either experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness and who also grapple with serious mental illness, medical impairments, and/or co-occurring substance use disorders. Our dedicated SOAR Benefits Specialist, funded by the Bucks County Housing and Community Development Department, is here to guide qualified individuals through the application process for disability benefit income programs.

Simplifying the Application Process

Applying for disability benefit income programs can be an arduous process. SOAR aims to simplify and streamline this process significantly. Applications submitted through SOAR not only receive expedited processing but are also crafted to present a more comprehensive view of the applicant, increasing the chance of approval. Our specialist becomes the applicant’s point of contact throughout the process, providing guidance every step of the way.

Who is Eligible for SOAR Benefits?

To be eligible, an individual must meet the following criteria:

  • Experiencing homelessness, as defined by HUD, which includes:
    • Being literally homeless
    • Exiting an institution after less than 90 days
    • Being at risk of homelessness within 14 days
  • Diagnosed with a serious mental or physical illness, characterized by:
    • 12 months of symptoms
    • Continued symptoms despite treatments
  • Unable to work at a substantial level due to illness

How to Get Started

If you are a professional and believe a client of yours qualifies for SOAR benefits, you can take these steps to help them access the program:

  • Review the Identifying SOAR Applicants sheet
  • Contact Social Security to check if the client already has an application in process or appeal
  • Complete the Bucks County CoC Referral Application
  • Submit completed referrals to SOAR@bchg.org

Get in Touch

If you have any questions about SOAR benefits, the referral process, or need a copy of the Referral Application, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our specialist at SOAR@bchg.org. We’re here to help you help our community members regain stability in their lives.

BCHG Homepage

Written by: Laura Ferreri

Hello! My name is Dominic DiFrancesco. This summer, I had the great fortune of working as a summer intern in the Marketing and Development Department of Bucks County Housing Group under the leadership of Amanda McGill.  

I am a rising second-year student studying Marketing at the Smeal College of Business and Vocal Performance at the College of Arts and Architecture at the Pennsylvania State University, University Park (“main”) Campus. I am also a member of the Schreyer Honors College and Penn State’s Presidential Leadership Academy. Ultimately, pairing my majors, I want to work in entertainment marketing and public relations.  

During my time at Bucks County Housing Group, I worked on social media, contributing to posts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I worked toward the shared goal of growing engagement on these accounts as social media has become one of the most critical channels for effectively reaching audiences, raising awareness about BCHG’s mission, and garnering support (monetary or otherwise) to drive greater impact and success.  

I collaborated with other departments, and I worked on several projects including a keywords research project that delved into what people in the community were searching for the most in terms of our pantries and housing services, how we can best utilize this data to spread our message, and what that tells us about our community’s needs. I also worked to revamp branded materials including program one-pagers designed for clients and for donors, respectively. 

I contributed to the planning, development, and execution of BCHG’s first fundraising event in over two years at Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company on July 15. I helped manage in-person donations, relations with vendors, and I even performed at the event!  

But most of all, I had the chance to witness incredible people dedicating their time and talents to closing the door on hunger and homelessness in Bucks County. One of my responsibilities as a summer intern was to gather research and resources into a concise document outlining what hunger and homelessness looked like in Bucks County. One of the aspects I touched on in the paper was a misconception that Bucks County is affluent and thus is immune to the housing and hunger crisis. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Thousands in Bucks County cannot fill their own or their family’s plates every day due to a variety of factors. However, there is help. The dedicated staff of Bucks County Housing Group is a caring, selfless, and hardworking group, and I am honored to have been among them for a season.  

I firmly believe that my time working as a summer intern at Bucks County Housing Group has and will contribute to my future success. Learning the fundamentals of donor relations, digital marketing, and the intricacies of the nonprofit sector will be invaluable to me as I move forward in my education and my career. It has been an eye-opening experience and has piqued my interest in future work in the non-profit sector, knowing that at its core, the work is dedicated to helping people. As I move forward, I am eager to explore new ways to make a positive impact.  

Thank you to everyone at Bucks County Housing Group for welcoming me with such open arms and making this summer experience unforgettable, especially my Marketing and Department dream team member Hannah Borish. Finally, thank you to Amanda McGill for her direction and mentorship. Amanda showed a genuine interest in my growth and success beyond only how it relates to BCHG and made herself available to provide guidance and support whenever needed.  

In closing, I’m so grateful to have been able to intern at Bucks County Housing Group, and I encourage any prospective interns to reach out. It’s an experience you won’t forget.  

Written by: Dominic DiFrancesco

We have some exciting news to share: we are relaunching our Apartment Partners program! By becoming an Apartment Partner, you help us help community members most in need through our Supportive Housing Program (SHP). People joining our SHP are generally facing the greatest risk of homelessness. BCHG’s Supportive Housing Program is the only program in the county that provides a fully furnished and stocked apartment for families to stay in at no cost for up to one year. We operate 23 units throughout the county that serve an average of 42 families per year. Most families come to us from the emergency shelter, with only their personal belongings. When a family moves into one of our units, we want to provide them with all the items they will need for daily living.

Our SHP apartments are currently experiencing a high amount of turnover, and we are thrilled that so many people are moving into more permanent housing; however, with that turnover comes the need to “turn over” the apartments themselves and prepare them for new families to move into…and that’s where you come in.

Our Apartment Partners program offers two levels of support: Unit Support and Family Support. You can be part of one or both. Unit Support helps us keep the apartments stocked for the next family that moves in. Providing Unit Support includes purchasing/replacing furniture, towels and linens, kitchen utensils, Amazon Wishlist items, “starter packs” of cleaning supplies, and more. Large items, such as furniture and appliances, are used from family to family and are only replaced when they are no longer functional. The average investment of being a Unit Support Partner is between $300-$1000 a year, though your contributions can of course be higher or lower.

Family Support directly helps the families who stay in our SHP units. During a family’s time with BCHG, our case managers work to help families return to a place of “normal” as their housing crisis resolves. Most of our families have been living in “survival mode” prior to coming to us, and we want to help them begin to thrive again. This looks different for each family, but there are some things that are universal; birthdays, holidays, school milestones. Providing Family Support includes helping to pay for those sports and extracurricular fees, holiday gifts, birthday boxes, car repairs, and more. The average annual investment of being a Family Support Partner is between $100-$1000, but again contributions are flexible.

To learn more about our new and improved program, click the link below, and if you or your group are interested in becoming an Apartment Partner, please email Amanda at amcgill@bchg.org.

Apartment Partners Program Info

Written by: Hannah Borish


The Disproportionate Impact of Food and Housing Insecurity on the LGBTQIA+ Community 

June is National Pride Month, a time to celebrate all colors of love and reflect on the history of the LGBTQIA+ community in our country. While Pride Month is mainly honored through bright and fun events like parades and parties, it is also a bleak reminder of the hatred, hardships, and disproportionate challenges that members of the LGBTQIA+ community have faced throughout history and still face today. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), these challenges are often caused by different social, economic, and systemic factors, such as discrimination, family rejection, and being at a higher risk for mental challenges. Unfortunately, members of the LGBTQIA+ community face discrimination in many areas of life, and housing/food security is no exception. In general, LGBTQIA+ adults report significantly higher rates of hunger and homelessness than the general population. 

Housing Insecurity

The Williams Institute at UCLA’s School of Law published a study in 2020 that found that, compared to cisgender heterosexual individuals, members of the LGBTQIA+ community have higher rates of poverty, lower rates of homeownership, and higher rates of homelessness. The report found that 17% of sexual minority adults reported experiencing lifetime homelessness; this number is almost three times higher than the percentage of the general population who reported experiencing lifetime homelessness (6%). The study also found that more than 70% of heterosexual, cisgender adults own their own homes, while less than half of LGBTQIA+ adults own their own homes. Other Williams Institute studies have found that homeownership is even lower among LGBTQIA+ racial minorities and transgender people. 

In the housing market, LGBTQIA+ individuals are often mistreated by online renters, mortgage lenders, and homeless shelters and services. “Stigma and discrimination create or exacerbate housing instability for LGBT people across their lives, from family rejection of LGBT youth to discrimination in the rental market and mortgage industry to harassment at senior living facilities,” (Williams Institute). Real-life examples of this discrimination include housing providers not renting or selling to same-sex couples, realtors refusing to show houses to a transgender individual, and a leasing manager at a 55+ community rejecting a tenant’s request to add his same-sex partner to his lease, stating, in writing, that “the community only accepts married couples in unions between one man and one woman,” (HUD)

Food Insecurity

The same discrimination and disproportionate numbers can be found when looking at food security among the LGBTQIA+ community. According to the Household Pulse Survey conducted between July and August of 2021, more than 13% of LGBTQIA+ adults reported living in a home where there was often not enough to eat, almost double that of non-LGBTQIA+ adults (7%). Furthermore, a Williams Institute report published in 2020 revealed that the number of LGBTQIA+ individuals who reported not having enough food to eat that year was more than double that of the general population. Not only do members of the queer community face hunger more often than heterosexual, cisgender adults, but they also reported often feeling unwelcome at food pantries and places that were supposed to help them. 

How to Help

So, what can we do to help? At Bucks County Housing Group, our mission is to make food and permanent housing more accessible to everyone, regardless of who they love or how they identify. We work toward this goal through various housing programs like supportive housing, rapid rehousing, housing counseling, and food programs like our pantries, mobile markets, and community gardens.  

None of this work would be possible without the support of community members like you. If you’re able, please help us on our mission to end hunger and homelessness in Bucks County through any or all of the methods below: 

Volunteer

Donate

Hold A Drive

Share our mission by following along!
Instagram: @buckscountyhousinggroup
Facebook: Bucks County Housing Group
Twitter: @housing4all

Lastly, be sure to stay up to date on local news and updates impacting the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Written By: Hannah Borish