Shared Living Program Provides Shelter, Life Skills for Those Living with Mental Illness

October 27, 2021

NEWTON, Kan. (October 27, 2021) – In troubled times, finding peace can start with something as basic as having a roof over your head. For those living with mental illness, it can change the course of a life.

The Prairie View Shared Living Program exists to provide this opportunity to those in need.

“Four years ago, I could not function on a daily basis,” says Dominique, a resident of the Shared Living Program at Prairie View. “Now, I am at the point where I am managing my symptoms and can tell when I am starting to struggle so that I can reach out to staff when I know it is needed.”

The Shared Living Program provides safe, decent and affordable housing to approved applicants. These individuals live with up to five other people in an all-men’s or all-women’s semi-independent shared living environment. The community of support is built upon the foundation that all individuals contribute to household duties, such as cleaning, meal preparation and yard work.

“Everybody needs a safe, decent and affordable place to live,” says Megan Thompson, MA, housing program coordinator at Prairie View. “We are often healthier when we have this place.”

Dominique says she starts her day by getting up in the morning and taking her medication.

“We all then attend our house meeting, participate in activities, go to group therapy on Thursdays, plan meals on Fridays and grocery shop on Mondays. We each take turns cooking our chosen meal for one another, and we often do yoga and watch movies as well.”

“My favorite meal to cook is chicken pot pies,” says Sheila, who has been a resident for the past seven years.

While there is no limit on a person’s length of stay, Prairie View case managers and/or social workers are on-site daily, weekends excluded, to help facilitate healthy social dynamics and provide skill-building services so that residents can move to independence.

“I was a resident from February 2018 to July 2019,” says Dominque. “This time last year I started struggling again, so I contacted Prairie View staff and decided to move back in.”

“I moved back into the program in 2014 after living within the program 23 years ago,” says Sheila.

Thompson says that the case managers on site help tenants work on individual goals established and practice becoming comfortable with independence. 

The target population for this program is strictly limited to individuals 21 years of age and older with severe and persistent mental illness as defined by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. Individuals must be mostly medically stable and undergo a screening process to determine eligibility. These individuals do not need to be residents of Marion, McPherson and Harvey counties, for whom Prairie View serves as a community mental health center.

The staff members at Prairie View are dedicated to lifting those in need up to get them back on their feet. Thompson says that Prairie View is the next generation striving to get the word out about this great program, building on the foundational vision that Meadowlark Homestead laid from 1951 to 2002.

“The Prairie View staff have been very helpful,” says Sheila.

“I have realized to ask for help before things get bad, and I have also learned my own triggers and relaxation methods,” says Dominique. “Through this, I have learned how to have healthy relationships.”

While the Prairie Staff desires to have lasting impact on the residents, the residents also impact the staff.

“I enjoy working with the tenants,” says Thompson. “It is a fun job and very rewarding. We have a great team of case managers who work together, and I appreciate their hard work.”

For more information about the Shared Living Program, including the application process, call 800-992-6292.