People of Housing Security:

Centerstone’s assistant director of supportive housing believes housing is healthcare

James Fries, known as JT, is a licensed social worker who serves as the assistant director of supportive housing at Centerstone, working out of the agency’s Bloomington office. His career with housing security began over 21 years ago when he first started working in the Blair House group home, which is now operated by Centerstone. While this was not the career JT initially imagined for himself, he soon realized he had a passion for providing help to individuals. 

Following his work in the group home, JT worked for Centerstone’s Hoosier House, a residential treatment center. More recently, he was involved in the development of Kinser Flats, which offers permanent supportive housing to homeless families and individuals with substance abuse disorders or co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders.

A typical day for JT’s current job at Centerstone includes a variety of tasks. JT helps with the supervision of staff, coordinates with Centerstone’s partners, works with the entry teams, and does Coordinated Entry work. 

Some days, JT appears in court on behalf of individuals for mental health reasons or works as a supervisor with state psychiatric hospitals. 

JT wishes more people knew how close a lot of people are to becoming homeless. He said it is important for people to become more familiar with the work of housing security and the people it impacts. He also wishes people were more aware that progress is slow at times. There are systemic issues that contribute to a person’s homelessness. Service providers like Centerstone have to navigate these challenges. However, JT reminded us to not forget that “small progress is still progress.” All progress is worth celebrating. 

“Housing is Healthcare.” – JT Fries

When working in the field of housing security, some days are harder than others. On difficult days, JT feels motivated by seeing progress in the people that he works with. This may include signing up for rehabilitation programs, health improvements, treatment progression, and obtaining stable housing.

JT is also appreciative for his coworkers and partners in the community who continue to work tirelessly to support housing security efforts. He is proud to say that “Bloomington isn’t a community that gives up.” He is hopeful about the future of housing security.

Ultimately, JT believes that “housing is healthcare.” 

About the People of Housing Security: This series highlights the work of those committed to improving the lives of residents in South Central Indiana. Find all the articles in this series here.