Experts from Houston Exchange Helpful Ideas with Leaders in Boston

Concentrate on Coordinated Access and Systems Change to End Homelessness

CSH has facilitated another successful knowledge exchange between the leadership of two high-profile communities working to end homelessness in their respective cities. CSH and local experts from Houston, Texas, visited Boston, Massachusetts, today to meet with policymakers and advocates intent on sharing information on how to effectively address homelessness among vulnerable populations such as veterans, and others suffering the plight of longer-term and recurring homelessness.

Last October, the City of Boston closed the Long Island Bridge due to concerns around its structural integrity, posing a real crisis for Boston residents experiencing homelessness who receive emergency shelter and other program services on Long Island. In response to the crisis, City leaders formed a Task Force on Individual Homelessness to help redesign Boston’s homeless response system. The City also turned to CSH for technical assistance on finding solutions appropriate and responsive to its community’s needs.

Around the same time, CSH was convening business and governmental leaders from Orlando with their counterparts in Houston to brainstorm on proven strategies and solutions.

Houston, where CSH works closely with City officials and the local coalition to maximize their coordinated access system and facilitate systems change, has seen a dramatic reduction in veteran and chronic homelessness, and is a national model on how to structure intake, housing, and services to help many vulnerable populations leave the streets and stay housed. Boston, too, is making great strides in its initiatives and is contributing greatly to the dialogue surrounding solutions to homelessness.

CSH views the knowledge exchange as an ideal opportunity for both communities to build on best practices found in each city. CSH has great success working with local communities on changing their public service delivery systems to better address the needs of vulnerable populations and looks forward to continued progress in Houston and Boston.

During the Houston-Boston knowledge exchange, co-hosted by City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development and the Boston Public Health Commission, over 130 thought-leaders and decision-makers met for a breakfast meet and greet, and then gathered for two insightful presentations – one on coordinated access and the other on supportive housing – led by CSH Senior Program Manager Mandy Chapman Semple and Program Manager Heather Muller, both based in Houston. In addition to her CSH role, Mandy also serves as Special Assistant to the Mayor of Houston for Homelessness Initiatives.

Later in the day, Mandy addressed the Boston Mayor’s Task Force on Individual Homelessness.

In addition to the members of the Mayor’s Task Force, several high-ranking Boston officials attended the knowledge sharing and were joined by colleagues from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including:

  • The State’s Secretary of the Department of Veteran Services, Secretary Francisco Ureña
  • Representatives of the State’s Department of Housing and Community Development and also Department of Mental Health

Several local housing organizations – including the Boston Housing Authority – also participated.

Sarah Gallagher, CSH Director of Strategic Initiatives, Larry Oaks, CSH Director in New England, and Nichole Guerra, CSH Associate Program Manager, also contributed to the give-and-take during the day-long event.

CSH and the team from Houston spent time with their counterparts in Boston at the invitation of the City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development, the Boston Public Health Commission, and the Mayor’s Task Force on Individual Homelessness

Keep up on CSH work in Houston and Massachusetts to tackle homelessness here and here.

Interested in how CSH can help your community prevent and end homelessness through effective coordinated access and systems change? Contact us at consulting@csh.org.

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