AUSTIN, Texas — A healthcare facility helps to house those experiencing chronic homelessness in an apartment complex. Compassion and care for the community is how Practice Administrator of Housing and Healthcare for Homeless Initiatives Ruth Ahearn describes her work with Integral Care. 

“It’s just so rewarding to work with individuals. See them go through the entire process of being homeless to searching for housing, to ultimately getting housed and then starting to connect to their community,” explains Ahearn.

Ruth Ahearn, practice administrator of Housing & Healthcare for Homeless Initiatives with Integral Care. (Spectrum News 1/Lakisha Lemons)

Through Terrace at Oak Springs, a Housing First initiative focused on housing individuals experiencing chronic homelessness, Ahearn believes residents are getting both the skills and support they need to live independently. The community at Terrace at Oak Springs has onsite support services such as case managers, peer support and an adult behavioral health clinic.

“This makes it very easy for them to access the necessary care that they want and need for their recovery. It just cuts down on one more possible barrier,” says Ahearn.

Each apartment unit is fully furnished with a kitchenette, bedroom and living area.

The community also has onsite staffing 24 hours a day, a laundry facility and an outdoor green space for residents.

Terrace at Oak Springs currently houses a total of 50 formerly homeless individuals, including 25 unhoused veterans, like Charles Lutto, who served in the U.S. Army and as a Texas National Guard.

Charles Lutton, veteran and Terrace at Oak Springs resident. (Spectrum News 1/Lakisha Lemons)

Lutton says he’d rather be safe in his apartment than in a tent or underneath a bridge.

“There are things out there for people who are homeless. They have an opportunity to have somewhere to live and be safe,” says Lutton.

Lutton began experiencing homelessness after Hurricane Harvey. 

At the time he was living in Rockport, Texas, where he lost his mobile home to the storm.

In 2019, Lutton relocated to Austin where he was able to get help from various organizations before his entry into Terrace at Oak Springs.

When selecting residents for the Housing First project, Integral Care works with local organizations to connect individuals with housing options as part of its entry system.