In February 2015, officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approached Chicago Area leaders in the homeless services and healthcare sectors about HUD’s “Housing and Health (H2)” Project. The federal government was requesting a select number of HUD-funded Homeless Continuums of Care work closely with federal and state-funded healthcare service systems to: (a) increase access to healthcare for homeless populations; (b) improve their health outcomes; and (c) decrease unnecessary costs to the healthcare sector.
HUD’s H2 Project was also supported and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), especially its HRSA and SAMHSA Divisions. HUD officials were offering two Area Continuums in the City of Chicago and Suburban Cook County technical assistance services (TA) to prepare an H2 Action Plan to support the achievement of the aforementioned objectives.
The result – the Chicago and Cook County 2017-2019 Housing for Health (H2) Strategic Plan – clearly identifies its Vision and Mission with a very specific Target Population.
The Plan calls for long-term stable housing with integrated and quality healthcare services for all homeless populations who are living with health challenges. Its Strategic Priorities are geared for those who experience homelessness, or have experienced it and are now housed in accordance with the HHS/HRSA homeless definition.
The three Strategic Priorities in the Plan call for increasing the “capacity” of both the supportive housing and healthcare sectors by thousands of new housing units with well-integrated and quality healthcare services.
CSH Director in Illinois, Betsy Benito, was instrumental in guiding the local H2 planning process as a member of the Leadership Council of the Chicago and Cook County Housing for Health (H2) Strategic Plan: 2017-2019.