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updated: 6/17/2014 6:30 PM

Arlington Heights honored for efforts to help the homeless

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Arlington Heights is being recognized by an international group for its efforts to help the village's homeless population.

The village recently received the Community Partnership Award from the International City/County Management Association for its Homeless Outreach Program, a collaboration between the police department and Alexian Brothers Center for Mental Health.

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"The Community Partnership Award recognizes successful programs between local governments and other entities that improve the quality of life for residents and provide more efficient and effective services," according to a village news release.

The Homeless Outreach Program started in Arlington Heights when officials noticed that the downtown area was being frequented by homeless people because of its proximity to public buildings, parks, garages and other sources of shelter.

The program allows police to work with Alexian Brothers to get help for homeless people who may be suffering from a mental illness or chemical dependency issues, rather than just focus on law violations by those people.

"Statistics indicate that a vast majority of the homeless have untreated mental illness, so the design of the project was to have a clinically trained therapist conduct initial assessments in the community and provide referrals to the center where they could begin treatment for their illness and begin the process of recovery," said Rick Germann, executive director of the Alexian Brothers Center for Mental Health.

Police officers accompany therapists into the community to ensure their safety during the program.

"This teamwork has resulted in numerous success stories such as getting a suicidal homeless person back onto proper medication for a mental disorder for which they were diagnosed, and in helping a homeless individual meet with mental health practitioners and eventually move into a transitional living arrangement," according to the village.

Last month, the village received a $39,000 grant to continue the program, Mayor Tom Hayes announced Monday.

"We are very proud of this award," Police Chief Gerald Mourning said. "This is a collaborative approach that we use working with other local agencies and the results were phenomenal."

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