Meet CSH's Newest Board Member, Fred Karnas, Ph.D.

CSH is thrilled to announce that Fred Karnas, President & CEO of St. Luke's Health Initiatives, has been elected to the CSH Board of Directors. Full details are availble in this press release.   Below, Fred answers a few questions in our Meet the Board  series.

Why did you join the CSH Board?
CSH is one of the premier organizations working to end homelessness in the nation, so I am humbled to have the opportunity to be able to be part of CSH’s good work.  I have had the fortune to interact with CSH in many ways since the very early years of the organization’s existence and I have always been impressed by both the quality of their work and the incredible staff that they have recruited to take on one of the country’s most pressing social problems.  Joining the board gives me the opportunity to learn from them and to share what I have learned in my nearly 30 years of experience working to address poverty and homelessness.

 Q: What excites you the most about CSH’s work in supportive housing?
Over the years a growing body of evidence has accumulated that makes it clear that permanent housing with access to voluntary services is the most effective tool for ending homelessness for persons with an array of special needs.  CSH has been the leader in creatively taking that knowledge and implementing housing models based on the lessons learned.  So it is exciting to be able to be part of the forward-thinking and creative culture that CSH represents as we continue to refine approaches to addressing the challenges faced by homeless persons.  For example, as a person who has relatively recently come to the health care world from the human services and housing worlds, it is exciting to see the work CSH is doing to find ways to better connect housing and health care for the benefit of residents of supportive housing.

Q:  What do you see as the most important innovation in supportive housing?
In my opinion the recognition that permanent housing can be the platform to address an array of other pressing needs is supportive housing’s most important innovation.  It is clear that there are many positive outcomes that accrue from connecting a stable living environment to training and employment opportunities, quality health care, and needed human services.   The challenge continues to be how to scale up the many individual successes in integrating housing, health care, and human services so that systems are in place that make it common practice to create environments that seamlessly meet the multiple needs of homeless persons.

Q: Where do you see the industry in 10 years?
I would love to see the supportive housing industry moving to serving elders and persons with disabilities who are not homeless because of the vacancies resulting from the end of homelessness!!  Hopefully that will happen, but in the interim, I do think that pursuing a larger model, beyond homelessness, is important for the industry.  In my mind that involves creating supportive housing models that meet the needs of the various populations who would benefit from permanent housing with facilitated access to voluntary services.  I also see the form of supportive housing changing as more mixed-population and scattered site models respond to the desire of many individuals with special needs to live in more integrated community settings.

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