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CSH’s Social Innovation Fund Sparks a National Movement

January 30, 2012

What if we could decrease Medicaid spending, lower other public costs and improve the health and lives of our most-vulnerable neighbors? At CSH, we know that we can. And to prove it, we’ve launched a national initiative to create solutions that link supportive housing and healthcare.

For the last few years, CSH’s Innovations and Research team has kept a watchful eye on research findings that show supportive housing’s promise in dramatically improving health, mental health and substance use outcomes for tenants. Take a look at these numbers:

  • 43% of tenants have improved mental health outcomes
  • 15-30% tenants use less alcohol and drugs
  • 50% report improve health status
  • Higher survival rates, higher T-cell counts, and lower viral load among people living with HIV/AIDS
  • 24% to 34% fewer emergency room visits
  • 27% to 29% fewer hospital admissions and nights
  • Decreases up to 87% in use of detox services and decreases in psychiatric admissions
  • Reduction in Medicaid costs: 41 to 67% decrease in Medicaid costs.

You’re reading that right. When it comes to the highest-cost users of publicly funded services, supportive housing can improve health outcomes while actually lowering public costs.

There’s real promise in these numbers, and CSH is on a mission to prove definitively that supportive housing is not just a roof and a bed, but a cost-effective healthcare intervention and a solution for health policy.

We’re leveraging our $2.3 million Social Innovation Fund grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service to start test programs in communities across the country. CSH was one of just 16 organizations selected by the federal government for this honor—and we’re dedicated to using this opportunity to its fullest potential. The supportive housing and health programs that are part of this initiative will leverage the original SIF grant, as well as a dollar-for-dollar match raised by CSH and an additional match raised by subgrantees.

There’s no time better for this initiative than now. One of the most pressing problems states and communities face today is spiraling Medicaid spending--spending that is in large part caused by a small subset of people with complex health conditions (often referred to as the “5:50” population: the 5% that comprise 50% of Medicaid costs). We’re going to demonstrate how supportive housing can be an integral part of states’ strategies to bend the Medicaid cost curve--not to mention improve the health of some of their most vulnerable and poorest citizens.

Our RFP review process is in full swing and we’ll announce the communities and nonprofits who we’ll be working with in just a few weeks. Together, selected grantees and CSH will implement housing and health solutions for the “5:50.”

To be successful, we’ll need to get creative. Supportive housing is traditionally run by specialized organizations focused on homelessness or housing. But our initiative calls for cutting-edge models that build new kinds of partnerships between housing providers and health services. We’re going to link supportive housing with care management and health services—creating an integrated model that we believe could be the future of supportive housing. A rigorous evaluation will test the effectiveness of these models, so we can take a close look at how to build solutions that work best.

We’re on the precipice of an exciting period of discovery—and we are thrilled with the response from potential subgrantees, partners and funders for this effort. Thousands of RFPs were downloaded off of csh.org, and we’re engaged is conversations with funders from around the country.

Given this tremendous and widespread response, we see real potential to expand our demonstration beyond the first set of subgrantees and are currently exploring ways to generate the resources to support a larger initiative.

CSH and the Social Innovation Fund have sparked a new movement, and we can’t wait to see where it leads. You can be sure that we’ll let you know, so keep an eye on CSH as we explore how the integration of supportive housing and health services can become a new solution that eases the burden on our public pockets and improve improving the lives of some of the most vulnerable men and women in our country.

learn more about the csh social innovation fund initiative

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