This month CSH convened subgrantees who are part of the CSH national Social Innovation Fund Initiative (SIF) for a two day convening in Hartford, CT. Through the SIF initiative, our team at CSH is working with four sites throughout the country (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Connecticut, Washtenaw County, MI) to prove that supportive housing for the health care system’s highest cost users will not only improve lives and build healthy communities, but decrease public system costs while increasing integration and collaboration among homeless, health care and housing systems. To date, more than 225 homeless, high cost utilizers have been housed through CSH’s SIF Initiative.
During the convening, attendees celebrated the success of the first year of the initiative, shared best practices, milestones and challenges with the goal of building stronger, local partnerships and turning their eye towards sustainability of the model being developed. An evaluation team from NYU evaluation team from the School of Medicine and the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University was also present at the convening to provide an update on the progress of the evaluation including the completion of initial site visits with each of the sites and the collection of more than 200 baseline surveys with program participants. Subgrantees participated in workshops focused on care coordination, stages of tenancy and experts in the field shared best practices on health care integration and planning and implementing sustainability efforts.
The most moving moment of the convening was a fishbowl discussion and exercise facilitated by Kevin Irwin of CSH. The discussion included four tenants who are in the process of being housed through the SIF efforts in Connecticut along with their patient navigators responsible for identifying and connecting those tenants with housing and heath care services. The tenants shared their journeys to homelessness, and told how they became connected to the SIF program. They described how each of their patient navigators had worked tirelessly to connect them to health care and housing through the creation of new support systems.
The conversation between patient navigators and tenants provided valuable insight about the importance of destigmatizing homelessness as well as on how to support tenants with chronic physical and/or mental health issues in overcoming multiple barriers to housing and health care services.
Patient navigators reflected on the hurdles they face, serving as a translator and bridging the gap for tenants between health care and housing systems.
Though navigators spoke candidly about challenges, they remained optimistic about early successes.
All participants spoke passionately about the importance of the relationships that have developed between tenants and service providers and how demonstrations like SIF allow there to be an advocate for tenants and provide a level of care coordination that is often met with red tape in the traditional service provider model. SIF has allowed navigators to say YES we can help, rather than having to limit the scope of help they can provide because it’s ‘not their job’ or that activity is not funded.
All four sites are now moving into year two of the Social Innovation Funds with CSH. In the coming year, the initiative will complete the lease up of all 549 tenants and begin to collect and analyze administrative health care utilization data as part of the evaluation. Subgrantees will reconvene in October 2014 in Los Angeles for the next Face to Face Convening.