CLEVELAND — Caseworkers now have more help to find safe housing for their clients with mental illness.
A new app called the "Group Home App" was designed to make it easier for caseworkers to find safe housing for their clients with mental illness without making tons of phone calls or waiting weeks for a response.
"As a case manager, I may have five clients on my calendar today and I have the time set aside and I'm anticipating that I'm only going to be with this client for an hour and a half for today. But because the resources aren't there ... an hour and a half can turn into four hours," said Eric Chatmon, the founder and creator of the Group Home App.
Eric Chatmon is a former case manager and former corrections officer in Cleveland.
It was his time working in these roles that led him to create the Group Home App.
"There were times where I had a large amount of clients on my caseload. So at one point, I had like 50 clients on my caseload. So dealing with the 50 clients all of them had needs. But I would find myself spending a week trying to find a client a group home, which was good because I was able to help that client. But in the meantime the other 49 clients were missing me in some form or fashion," Chatmon said.
The goal of the app is to streamline the process it takes for caseworkers to find safe housing for their clients.
"It creates one place you can go to be able to find your resources," Chatmon said.
The Group Home App finds the group home that will meet the specific need of a client.
Since launching three weeks ago, group homes and caseworkers are using the app to help make their jobs easier.
So far, about five clients have been placed through the app.
"You can sign up. You can put pictures of your house up and it's a beautiful house. You could put pictures of your house up and the caseworkers and the social workers can call you directly and they can see you on the map," said Duane Griffin, the owner of The Sober University.
Organizations say the app is a needed resource for the community.
Former Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson of the "The Hue Jackson Foundation" supports the app.
"So with our mental health professionals out there, one of the greatest burdens that they have is securing safe environments for these individuals to get the counseling they need to get the help that they need whether it's in a mental health capacity or a legal capacity. And if they're not able to find those safe places for them, they're stuck out on the streets," said Kimberly Diemert, executive director of the Hue Jackson Foundation.
Chatmon said the app also provides a way for group homes to advertise their business, information to help caseworkers with high turnover in their field, as well as other resources for caseworkers to help their clients beyond the need for housing.
"If I have a client and I was able to find him a group home there are a lot of cases where the client is just there all day with not anything to do. So I put resources on the app where you can assist the client in finding things to do that will make his day more productive and fulfilling like different community resources in the community," he said.
Right now, the "Group Home App" is only available in Ohio.
Chatmon said he is working to make it available nationwide.
The app is free on both the App Store and Google Play.