CSH & Partners Work to Strengthen Housing Continuum for Young Adults in CT

Connecticut providers from across the housing continuum joined CSH in early December for a statewide convening that included a focus on tailoring the supportive housing model for young adults and transition-aged youth (TAY) to promote positive youth development and facilitate a young person’s transition to adulthood.

Policymakers from the State Department of Housing (DOH), Department of Children and Families (DCF), and the Young Adult Services (YAS) division of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) engaged statewide intermediaries and providers on efforts to fill gaps along the housing continuum for TAY. Kathleen Durand from DOH announced her Commissioner’s decision to move forward with a competitive capital round of between $ 5 and 8 million dollars for young adult supportive housing in 2016 that could potentially include rental subsidies. This major commitment was reinforced when Amy Marracino from DMHAS YAS and Kim Somaroo-Rodriguez from DCF shared information on new endeavors to create more drop-in centers for youth as well as new crisis response services across the state.

The good news of a competitive capital round for young adult supportive housing set the stage for Dr. Eric Rice of the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work to share learnings from CT’s implementation of a pilot to identify homeless youth in Connecticut at most risk for long-term homelessness, and for CSH New England program staff to provide an overview on their work to assess the state of supportive housing for young adults in the state.

Dr. Rice’s presentation summarized the results of the Connecticut TAY Triage Tool pilot and provided recommendations to stakeholders on assessing youth and young adults for housing options and supportive services. The TAY Triage Tool is a youth-specific set of non-invasive questions that can be quickly delivered to determine whether a homeless young person is on a trajectory to experiencing five or more years of homelessness. The tool consists of a six point scale, with the recommendation that homeless youth with a score of 4 or higher should be prioritized for supportive housing.

For Connecticut, the tool provides a mechanism for collecting targeted data to inform how the state will prioritize young adults for new supportive housing projects that will come on-line in the future. To implement the tool in Connecticut, Dr. Rice suggested utilizing Orgcode’s Next Step Tool, which includes the six items which constitute the TAY Triage Tool. Additionally, the pilot found that youth and young adults who score higher on the TAY Triage Tool report higher levels of trauma and depression, meaning that mental health and possibly substance abuse interventions may be needed for youth and young adults who are placed into housing. Click here for a full summary of Connecticut's TAY Triage Tool Pilot.

From enhanced data collection efforts to new commitments for permanent housing options for TAY, the state is uniquely positioned to develop and operate supportive housing for young adults in Connecticut that implement a youth framework and promote positive youth development without the traditional time limitations that exist in other housing interventions that currently exist for Connecticut’s young people.

With support from the Melville Charitable Trust, CSH has developed a general service model that is more youth-specific for Connecticut’s supportive housing providers that are serving young adults in the traditional model. CSH will continue to work with providers and other stakeholders to pilot viable demonstration projects, including developing a finance model, provide recommendations on staffing structures, and creating a learning community for providers with an interest in serving young adults in supportive housing.

The event provided CSH the opportunity to re-assemble a learning community of supportive housing providers serving young adults in traditional supportive housing and connect them not only to providers along the housing continuum, but also with Opening Doors-CT, a statewide initiative that aims to serve runaway and “unaccompanied” minors as well as young adults (18+) experiencing homelessness and housing instability. The event took place almost a year after Opening Doors-CT launched a statewide action plan to address the unique needs of youth and young adults who are precariously housed and at higher risk for exploitation, offering a day of reflection on work that’s unraveled over the past eight months and where the state has yet to go to serve these young people.

In early 2016, CSH will release a comprehensive report that assesses the current supportive housing landscape for Connecticut’s young adults and provides recommendations on next steps.

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