The Power of Shelter Diversion and the People Behind It

In Central Connecticut, Community Health Resources (CHR) whose name embodies their commitment to community-based care, as well as instilling hope for a healthy, happy and productive future, and utilization of all available resources to achieve change. CHR has committed to practice these core values when, in November of 2017, they took on the challenge to fill the need as Central Connecticut’s Shelter Diversion Center provider.

According to Connecticut’s Department of Housing and Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, Connecticut Shelter Diversion can be described as: a strategy that prevents homelessness at the front door of the homelessness response system by helping people identify immediate alternative housing arrangements and, if necessary, connecting them with services and financial assistance to help them return to permanent housing.

Shelter Diversion is a strategy that takes a tremendous amount of active listening, strengths exploration and motivation from both the client and the diversion specialist. CHR’s Diversion Center is currently staffed by one full-time diversion specialist who covers Bristol, Plainville, New Britain, Southington and Berlin as a catchment area. CHR’s Diana Berube is known in the community as “Diversion Superwoman”. She has been quoted as being ambitious, kindhearted and empathetic. Clients who have attended a Central Coordinated Access Network (CAN) appointment, leave with better clarity on how they will move forward out of their current situation. It is known that Diana creates an environment that exudes compassion. This is beneficial when a client’s defenses are high, they are out of options and seeking assistance. Therefore, when Diana is asked what she loves most about being “Diversion Superwoman”, she humbly states, “being able to break down the defenses of individuals to trust me enough to assist them in their time of desperation.”

Being an outreach worker for the City of Bristol, prior to her role with CHR, Diana received first-hand experiences on the hardships that would force someone into homelessness or housing instability. That is why she has dedicated herself to not be “just another resource” but hope and encouragement for those who come to see her seeking assistance. Because of this, Diana will tell anyone, that one of her biggest challenges with her role is not always being able to assist the client immediately or if at all. She credits her supervisor, Angela Easterling, for providing tremendous support and an ear or shoulder when she is presented with clients that trigger emotions because of their circumstances. Diana also credits CHR’s Rapid Rehousing Case manager, Rosa DeJesus, for her linkage to effective communication and is grateful for times she steps away from her own caseload to assist with translating when needed.

Diana will be the first to say that being the only Diversion Specialist is not an easy task, but the support she receives from CHR makes it all worthwhile. It is clear that CHR upholds their mission, which is to help adults, children, and families find Real Hope for the challenges of Real Life.

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