New Markets Tax Credits Allocated to CSH

CSH Awarded $40 Million New Markets Tax Credits

Today, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund announced it has awarded $40 million in New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) to CSH as part of the 2014 round.

“The Department of Treasury has given us the tools to leverage even more resources to spur the creation of supportive housing,” said CSH President and CEO Deborah De Santis. “Not only will we be able to create the dynamic to house vulnerable people facing instability, this award will help us fulfill our goal of bringing healthcare services to hundreds more who need to access it.”

De Santis explained NMTC allocations can be used to develop facilities such as health care centers, which complement the medical and mental health services often made available to residents of supportive housing.

Thus far, CSH has used NMTC investments to leverage and add to other resources, which in turn have created about 200 units of supportive housing across the country, and enabled 15,000 healthcare visits for those facing homelessness and other forms of housing instability. In addition, CSH investments have generated approximately 800 high-quality permanent and construction jobs in communities.

To learn more about our use of NMTC to promote supportive housing, please see profiles of the Bell Building in Detroit, MI and Paseo Verde in Philadelphia, PA.

With the new award, CSH will address a number of supportive housing projects currently in the pipeline for development and estimates adding another 150 – 200 units of affordable housing, including supportive housing, and an additional 100,000 – 125,000 healthcare visits for those facing homelessness and housing instability.

“The investments made possible by today’s awards will have significant impact nationwide,” said Annie Donovan, Director of the CDFI Fund.

To learn more about CSH’s New Markets Tax Credit strategy visit our lending page or contact our Community Investment Team.

“CSH gets it when it comes to supportive housing and they are willing to work in partnership with developers to tailor their support and products to get the deal done.” Joe Heaphy, NSO (Bell Building) Vice-President of Real Estate Development and Management

The Franklin and Eleanor Apartments

Expanded Project Profile

The Franklin and Eleanor Apartments are two developments providing a combined 110 residential units in a single rehabilitated hospital property in Bridgeport, CT. The Franklin Apartments has 48 units for low income residents, with 24 units targeted for supportive housing for homeless individuals, including homeless veterans. The companion development The Eleanor Apartments provide 62 units of affordable senior housing, with 35 units for seniors in need of additional assistance with activities of daily living.

Connecticut Hosts “Keeping Families Together” Site Visit

This month, The Connection, Inc., a Connecticut-based human service and community development agency, invited CSH, the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF), and other New Jersey service providers for a site visit to learn about Connecticut’s experience in replicating Keeping Families Together (KFT), a CSH-inspired supportive housing intervention for families at risk of recurring involvement in the child welfare system.

The Connection provided an overview of its Supportive Housing for Families and  Intensive Supportive Housing for Families programs to their counterparts in New Jersey.

The visit also included a panel of tenants from both programs discussing their personal stories.

One mother of four described how she struggled through the trauma of domestic violence and described her experience in supportive housing as more than living in an apartment – she said for the first time in her life, she felt she was safe and at home. She conveyed how supportive housing case management supports focused on her entire family when her sixteen-year-old daughter began contemplating dropping out of high school. The mother reached out to her supportive housing case manager and a vocational specialist at The Connection for help. Working with mom and daughter, the manager and specialist collectively demonstrated the long-term and economic advantages of the young girl staying in school, and convinced her to pursue her education. The story is a powerful example of how effective child-welfare practices, when embedded in supportive housing, empower families to be key partners in case-related planning and decision-making in a positive, trusting environment.

Another young mother told how she and her three-year old daughter became homeless and involved in the child welfare system after a traumatic life event put them on the streets. Before The Connection’s housing intervention, the young family was living in a doubled-up situation, and the mother shared how “not living in her own place really affected her [daughter].” Now permanently housed in supportive housing, the three-year old just celebrated her birthday in her own home, and the mother is now able to focus attention on seeking therapy to heal from past trauma.

Deb DeSantis, the CEO of CSH, said she was “thrilled with the conversation among the host and visitors, and the opportunity to have our partners learn from each other. I appreciated the chance to hear from the families who were kind enough to share their stories. It was a great.”

On the day of the Connecticut site visit, the New Jersey DCF issued an RFP for providers pursuing KFT in the southern part of the state, offering funding up to $640,000 and a maximum of 25 Project-Based State Rental Assistance Program Vouchers to successful applicants. CSH will serve as a broker and intermediary in New Jersey’s KFT replication efforts thanks to the generous support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Find out more about New Jersey’s RFP for KFT.

To learn more about CSH’s work around our most vulnerable families with children, click here.

SIF Implementers in CT Achieve Milestone!

When you’re sick and don’t have the security of a home to call your own, your health usually falls second to more immediate and pressing needs such as where your next meal is coming from, where you’ll seek shelter during the next storm and surviving life on the streets in general. For these reasons, housing as the cornerstone of improved health is the foundation of CSH’s Social Innovation Fund (SIF) initiative to provide housing to high-cost utilizers of healthcare, and the SIF project in Connecticut is reaching an exciting milestone.

Connecticut is on track to successfully fulfill all 150 rental assistance housing vouchers dedicated to SIF. To-date 125 tenants are already in their own apartments and clients have been identified to fulfill the balance. To what can we attribute the success of this milestone? Teamwork.

Patient navigators, case managers, and system coordinators from the four sites have been working tirelessly in a coordinated team effort to outreach, enroll, and house medically fragile individuals in seven communities across the state. The State of Connecticut has been a key partner in this effort, allocating the housing vouchers to the initiative. 125 tenants have already moved into their own apartments, and clients have now been identified for all 150 slots.

SIF patient navigators support clients in making better connections with medical and behavioral healthcare, and in overcoming all kinds of barriers to improved health. At a recent gathering, one tenant talked about learning yoga and meditation techniques. Another talked about his enjoyment of preparing meals in his own kitchen. A third tenant described his joy and relief at having hot water for shaving, after years of sleeping outdoors.IMG_0065-2

Potential SIF clients in Connecticut, identified by CSH’s innovative data match, are individuals who have stayed in homeless shelters who have also aggregated very high Medicaid costs. Most have multiple medical and behavioral health conditions, and few social supports. Dedicated and creative SIF program staff at Journey Home in Hartford, the New London Homeless Hospitality Center, Columbus House (in New Haven, and also serving a small number of SIF clients in Waterbury), and Supportive Housing Works (in Bridgeport, Stamford, and Norwalk) have developed robust partnerships and collaborations with medical and behavioral providers, shelters and outreach teams, supportive housing providers, and other community stakeholders. These collaborations have not only enhanced the coordination of care for clients with complex health issues, but also enriched the community-wide infrastructure for serving the needs of high-acuity individuals in each area.

CSH is looking forward to continued development and spreading of these valuable collaborations – and to 150 tenants resting peacefully in their own apartments.


Child Welfare Partners Further Systems Change in CT

The Connecticut Intensive Supportive Housing for Families (ISHF), the Connecticut grantee of the federal Partnerships to Demonstrate the Effectiveness of Supportive Housing for Families in the Child Welfare System, is using data to refine its demonstration design and advocate for lasting systems change.

The Connecticut (CT) project has three partners: the Department of Children and Families (DCF; the state child welfare agency), The Connection, Inc. (TCI; the service hub which runs the supportive housing initiative), and the University of Connecticut (UConn) evaluation team. The partners completed a 3-month pilot implementation of a “universal housing screen” with all families coming to the attention of the DCF through a child protection services investigation.

In its report on the pilot, UConn makes two key recommendations for systems change.  First, the housing screen should continue to be used in the pilot site, CT DCF Region 3.  Second, DCF should expand the use of the screener to the entire state – making this an institutionalized practice, not an isolated demonstration exercise.

The pilot was prompted by lower than anticipated referrals to the CT housing and child welfare project in its first three quarters of implementation.

Using the Quick Risks and Assets for Family Triage (QRAFT)1 instrument developed for the CT project, the Investigations Unit of DCF Region 3 completed a rapid appraisal of housing concerns and, when indicated, a referral to TCI on all families who experienced an investigation for maltreatment or removal of a child.

“The goal of this screening procedure was to ensure that every family underwent a housing review very early in their child welfare involvement and to enable prompt referral of families who appear to have severe to very severe housing problems,” said Jean Wigglesworth, TCI’s Project Director for ISHF. “UConn monitored the quality and process of the pilot by following all of the cases screened and consulting with the staff of the DCF investigations units, and gathering contextual data that informs the project.”

QRAFTs were completed on 616 families investigated by three different offices in DCF Region 3. Among these, most (48%) were referred to CT’s differential response system (family assessment response), 36% were unsubstantiated, and 16% (n=98) were substantiated. Less than 10 percent of the 616 families had “severe or very severe housing” problems such as frank or chronic homelessness, safety concerns, imminent eviction, current shelter stays, or imminent danger.  While many more families may have had complex needs related to mental illness, trauma, substance abuse, and/or domestic violence, the majority had no or moderate housing problems at the time of the child protection investigation.

Among the 98 cases that were substantiated, however, 21% had severe to very severe housing concerns and another 12% had housing challenges considered to be unsustainable (e.g., above 30% of income, safety concerns, instability). Families with substantiated child welfare reports experienced significantly more housing instability than the other two groups.

Not all who had severe or very severe housing problems also had other challenges that rendered them eligible for the randomized study. Those families are referred to the state’s existing supportive housing program.

Ultimately, 12 families met all the targeted eligibility criteria for the demonstration, which is intended to reach families in the child welfare system with the most significant challenges in housing as well as parent and child functioning. As a result of the QRAFT pilot, the demonstration did experience a greater proportion of referrals that were appropriate than had been experienced before the pilot. It’s important to note that most referrals to the CT project come through the child welfare program, rather than the shelter system; rates and severity of housiQRAFT datang concerns will always reflect the specifics of the population under study.

UConn also interviewed child welfare leadership and social work staff in DCF Region 3 to understand how their experiences with the pilot and obtain feedback on “what worked, challenges experienced, and recommendations for future implementation at other sites across the state.”  These interviews produced helpful insights including “the QRAFT was easy to use, brought housing stability to the forefront in the initial assessment process, and facilitated conversations about housing history.”  It also gave staff a better, more concrete method for targeting the appropriate families for this very intensive supportive housing service.

Expanding the use of the QRAFT statewide will not only inform the CT demonstration, it will enable a statewide examination of the apparent extent of housing instability and crisis among families referred for child welfare investigations.

CSH and the Center for the Study of Social Policy co-lead a Child Welfare and Supportive Housing Resource Center, tasked with providing technical support and best practices while helping grantees develop new, multi-system responses to families at risk of long-term public system engagement and having children placed in foster care.

For more information on CT’s implementation of the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF) Partnerships to Demonstrate the Effectiveness of Supportive Housing for Families in the Child Welfare System, click here.

Thanks to Sarah Morrison at the Center for the Study of Social Policy for authoring and contributing this piece. The source for this report is Farrell et al., Universal Screening of Families Undergoing Child Welfare Investigation: Technical Report on CT’s Pilot of the QRAFT. March 9, 2015, University of Connecticut, Center for Applied Research.

1. The QRAFT is an abbreviated version of the Risks and Assets for Family Triage (RAFT®) tool originally developed to inform screening on entry to CT’s Supportive Housing for Families program. ®The Connection, Inc.

FUSE Enters Next Phase in Connecticut

In many communities throughout Connecticut, a diverse group of service providers, advocates, and private and public funders have partnered with the state’s CSH field office to target men and women who cycle in and out of the homeless service and corrections systems for placement in supportive housing. Sophisticated data analyses and aggressive engagement on the ground have enabled communities to reach the most vulnerable and highest cost clients and use housing-based solutions to reduce recidivism, improve individual outcomes, and increase public safety and public health.

The initiative, born from CSH’s Frequent Users Systems Engagement (FUSE), is now uniquely positioned to grow into phase two of FUSE – The CT Collaborative on Reentry (CCR). The CCR is the supportive housing component under Governor Dannel Malloy’s recently launched Second Chance Society, an initiative aimed at assisting ex-offenders re-entering society and providing opportunities for success and greater chances at employment. Governor Malloy’s Second Chance Society demonstrates a renewed commitment to reentry supportive housing by proposing an increase from 100 units to 400 units over the next several years.

State of Connecticut Photo

DOC Commissioner Scott Semple

The announcement came shortly after CSH’s Reentry Leadership Forum, where leaders from CT’s Dept. of Corrections (DOC) had opportunities to hear about innovative approaches to reentry housing from peers in Ohio, New York, and New England. The CSH field office subsequently invited newly confirmed DOC Commissioner Scott Semple to join Columbus House, the Chrysalis Center, and the Partnership for Strong Communities to tour apartments of people housed under the FUSE initiative, and to hear directly from tenants how FUSE has improved their lives.

The site visits also allowed Commissioner Semple to learn from FUSE program staff and case managers what successes and on-the-ground challenges they’ve faced in implementing FUSE. The Commissioner’s experience as a warden provides him with a strong understanding of the need to enhance engagement among offenders preparing for release and the need to acquaint or reacquaint people with programs that take partnered approaches to increasing employability and, in effect, housing stability and reduced recidivism. Equipped with an understanding of the problem, Commissioner Semple also came to the table ready to propose solutions:

  • Pursuing in-reach models that allow case managers and supervising officers to coordinate case plans during pre-release;
  • Transforming a state correctional facility into a Reintegration Center that provides those just released from prison or jail with the resources and options they need to be held accountable for their own successful reentry into the community.

To learn more about CSH’s FUSE program, click here.

To sign up to receive CSH updates and news about work happening in New England to further supportive housing solutions, click here.


CT Supportive Housing Providers Score 91% in Quality!

CSH in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) and Housing Innovations, just ended the second year of a revamped Supportive Housing Quality Initiative, providing an opportunity to celebrate successes and reflect on various needs for continued technical assistance.

DMHAS and CSH developed the CT Quality Standards to ensure tenants receive the best services and supports available and agencies share and incorporate best practices or promising practices to produce high-quality supportive housing programs in the state. In addition to providing technical assistance before, throughout, and after all phases of the initiative, CT’s Quality Initiative is unique in that it employs a network of volunteers from peer agencies across the state to conduct the reviews. The process has allowed for ongoing information-sharing and accelerated quality improvement.

The new process kicked off in 2012 and as of January 1, 2015, nearly 85% of DMHAS-funded supportive housing agencies participated in the on-site reviews in addition to a diverse group of peer reviewers representing 46% of supportive housing agencies in Connecticut. The overall state average was an exceptional 91%, with score breakdowns as follows:

  • Facilitated Access to Housing and Services: 96.8%
  • Tenant Rights, Input and Leadership: 94.1%
  • Housing Quality & Safety: 93.4%
  • Support Services Design and Delivery: Client-Focused/Client-Centered Services & Tenant Engagement: 90.1%
  • Support Services Design and Delivery: Services that Promote Recovery, Wellness and Community Integration: 91%
  • Focus on Housing Stability: 93.3%
  • Building Internal Quality Assurance Practices, Key Staffing and Coordination: 81.8%

Providers self-identified challenges and technical assistance needs on the systems, staffing, and service provision levels. Based on the themes that emerged from the 2014 quality reviews, CSH, DMHAS, and Housing Innovations staff addressed priority needs through training in the following areas:

  • Tenants Aging in Supportive Housing
  • Structure, Purpose and Roles for Supportive Housing Tenants
  • Death, Dying, and Bereavement
  • Supervision in Serving High Acuity Tenants
  • Working With People Who Are Actively Using Substances

Overall, CSH staff and others involved on review teams observed that Connecticut’s supportive housing agencies have an overall dedicated and loyal workforce who consistently find the use of a team approach within agencies and who are committed to the well-being and housing stability of the tenants.

Click here for more information about Connecticut’s Supportive Housing Quality Initiative and available Quality Improvement resources in the state.


Reentry Focus of CSH-hosted New England Forum

Leaders of state and local criminal justice systems and other officials from throughout New England convened today in Hartford, CT to discuss opportunities and barriers to financing and scaling innovative programs aimed at integrating the housing needs of persons reentering communities from jails and prisons. As national experts in the use of supportive housing as a bridge to ensure successful reentry, CSH staff is uniquely positioned to bring together experienced providers and policymakers for a robust examination of such issues as why it is important for criminal justice systems to invest in housing in the community and why public housing authorities should be more focused on targeting individuals leaving jails and prisons.

Sarah Gallagher, CSH Director in Connecticut  welcomed participants to the CSH New England Reentry Leadership Forum this morning and CSH Eastern Region Managing Director Ryan Moser moderated a fishbowl that examined both the potential and challenges that exist in the financing of housing-based programs for reentry populations. The day-long conversation included a spotlight on reentry efforts in New York City as well as Ohio, and a full airing of topics that covered the policy, operational, and programmatic barriers to developing reentry initiatives and methods for measuring success. Participants looked forward to the future of reentry housing and concentrated on action planning to capitalize on opportunities that will bring supportive housing to scale as a reentry solution.

In addition to CSH professionals and other specialists in reentry housing, the Forum attracted Scott Semple, Interim Commissioner of the Connecticut State Department of Corrections, and A.T. Wall, Director of the State of Rhode Island Department of Corrections.

Click here to see the presentation on Returning Home Ohio. Click here to see the presentation on the New York City FUSE evaluation.

Face-to-Face SIF Convening Offers Cross-Site Sharing after Three Years of Implementation

2014 SIF Face-to-Face 007

SIF Participant Displays Contents of Overdose Prevention Bag during Harm Reduction Discussion

CSH convened its third annual Face-to-Face gathering in Los Angeles this October for sub-grantees of the of the Social Innovation Fund demonstration project focused on high utilizers of healthcare, now entering its fourth year. Continuing the cross-site learning opportunities that have been a key part of the project, representatives from the four sites participating in the initiative – Connecticut; San Francisco, California; Los Angeles, California; and Washtenaw County, Michigan — spent two days at the California Endowment for the Arts engaged in discussion guided largely by the providers who have been implementing SIF on the ground for the past three years. This year’s gathering centered on the theme of sustainability beyond the five-year grant program, with each site presenting a detailed financial sustainability plan for feedback from an expert panel including representatives from HUD, the Technical Assistance Collaboration, Health Management Associates, and the Hilton Foundation.

Other sessions addressed strategies for programmatic sustainability, building on the sites’ collective body of experience and expertise. One of the key emerging lessons of the work on the ground with these high-utilizing cohorts is that the majority of individuals being served have an array of medical, behavioral, and social challenges resulting in a need for support that is both acute and complex. Participants engaged in rich discussions on innovations and best practices in harm reduction, cross-sector coordination, and nontraditional models for engagement with healthcare.

“I really appreciated being in a space where everyone was so focused on shared tasks and challenges.  SIF has been a huge resource for our agency, helping us learn how to add housing support services to our emergency shelter operation.  It was encouraging to hear from colleagues around the country who have successfully implemented on a larger scale many of the measures we have built into our own sustainability plan.” -David Gonzalez-Rice, Housing Support Team Manager at the New London Homeless Hospitality Center in Connecticut

CSH staff also had the opportunity to partner with the Skid Row Housing Trust to have dinner on the garden terrace of a new supportive housing residence for medically vulnerable high-utilizers, the Star Apartments. To learn more, click here.

2014 SIF Face-to-Face 005

SIF Sites Share On-the-Ground Experiences with Harm Reduction and Housing First

CT Releases Annual Recommendations to End Homelessness

As part of its work in the Connecticut field office, CSH plays a key partner role in the state’s implementation of its plan to end homelessness among certain target populations. Every year, CSH is involved in a comprehensive planning process that results in the development of legislative recommendations to the Connecticut General Assembly and the state Office of Policy and Management.

The campaign, also known as Reaching Home, produced a set of recommendations for fiscal year 2015-2016 that includes expanding permanent supportive housing to address chronic and youth homelessness; expanding rapid rehousing across the state; supporting existing recipients of the Social Innovation Fund national grant with housing stabilization services; sustaining support for the homeless youth program to address the safety needs of youth in crisis; and continuing support for the development of deep income-targeted, affordable housing.

To see the detailed recommendations, click here.