Celebrating SIF Success in CT


L-R: John Merz, Executive Director, AIDS-CT; Dannel Malloy, Governor, State of Connecticut; Sarah Gallagher, Director of Strategic Initiatives, CSH; Damian Thorman, Social Innovation Fund Director, CNCS; and Larry Oaks, New England Director, CSH

The successes and impact of the CSH Social Innovation Fund (SIF) initiative were highlighted during the Connecticut Integrated Healthcare and Housing Networks (CIHHN) Awards Dinner and Celebration held at the end of March in Hartford. Honored guests at the Dinner were Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, Director Damian Thorman of the Corporation for National and Community Service Social Innovation Fund, Richard Cho of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, SIF participants, and the four providers receiving awards for their work on SIF: Journey Home, Columbus House, Supportive Housing Works and New London Homeless Hospitality Center.After being introduced by Master of Ceremonies and Executive Director of AIDS-CT John Merz, CSH Director of Strategic Initiatives Sarah Gallagher welcomed everyone and spoke about the progress of SIF in Connecticut and nationally. Calling housing “a crucial piece of the healthcare puzzle,” she summed up SIF by saying it “brings together the best of what we know works in ending homelessness—data driven targeting and a housing first approach to supportive housing—with some of the most innovative solutions for improving health outcomes— care coordination, patient navigation, and direct linkages to integrated primary and behavioral health care.”

Sarah cited impressive outcomes to spotlight SIF’s progress to date:

  • SIF participants have a 92% retention rate in supportive housing.
  • 90% are actively connected to a primary health care provider.
  • 91% are actively connected to mental health care.
  • 89% to specialty care.
  • As a result, hospital emergency department use as the main source of care is decreasing for SIF participants and other service utilization patterns are trending in a positive direction.
  • Overnight hospitalizations dropped from 8.5 before housing to 2.7 in the 12 months post supportive housing placements.
  • Emergency department visits decreased from 13 pre-housing to just 5 in the 12 months post supportive housing.

In addition to positive individual outcomes, SIF’s cross-systems work has been cited by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as helping to advance the direction of federal policy.

Sarah also introduced a new video featuring partners, providers, funders and participants in Connecticut’s SIF initiative.

Governor Malloy praised SIF in his address, noting that without housing and access to primary healthcare services, individuals are forced to cycle through various high-cost and crisis-care public systems, costing government significant amounts of money without any improvements in personal well-being. He reiterated his Administration’s commitment to ending homelessness and said SIF is contributing to his goals of helping the chronically homeless and those veterans in need of a home and support services.

Governor Malloy said there is now a vibrant safety net in place to quickly access housing and services for any vulnerable veteran lacking a place to live.

He also pointed out the infrastructure created through SIF will ensure that when Connecticut ends chronic homelessness, the state will already have in place new models replacing the costly and ineffective ways of addressing homelessness with newer ones that provide ongoing, coordinated, and multi-disciplinary care with the appropriate housing.

Recognizing the progress SIF has made bridging gaps between housing and healthcare, Governor Malloy acknowledged that stakeholders around other vulnerable populations need to be brought together to think about the role of housing in improving outcomes through cost-effective interventions.

L-R: Sarah Gallagher, Director of Strategic Initiatives, CSH; Damian Thorman, Social Innovation Fund Director, CNCS; Alicia Woodsby, Executive Director, Partnership for Strong Communities; and Janice Elliott, Executive Director, Melville Charitable Trust

Corporation for National and Community Service SIF Director Thorman spoke to the group about how their work is fostering greater collaboration and cooperation amongst public and private providers, breaking down the “silos” that usually exist when different agencies and levels of government focus exclusively on their own goals. He noted “SIF is reducing risks and increasing the impact of government resources by using data to drive progress…all while improving people’s lives.”

Director Thorman concluded by saying that “without SIF… programs wouldn’t be making the impact they are today.”

In addition to the remarks offered by Sarah, Governor Malloy and Director Thorman, two panel discussions, one comprised of just SIF participants and the other of general stakeholders, were incorporated into the evening. The stakeholder panel was moderated by CSH Director in New England, Larry Oaks, and included: Alicia Woodsby, Executive Director, Partnership for Strong Communities; Janice Elliott, Executive Director, Melville Charitable Trust; Steve DiLella, Director of Individual and Family Support Program Unit, Connecticut Department of Housing; and Nancy Navarretta, Deputy Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addictions Services.

The ceremony commending the four providers receiving awards was moderated by Susan Lampley of the Melville Charitable Trust. Read the introductions of the four award winners by clicking here.

New Recommendations Focus is on Aging in Supportive Housing


CSH has been leading an Aging in Supportive Housing Learning Collaborative for the past year to determine best practices for serving an aging population in supportive housing. “Aging” is not a specific supportive housing population, but there are unique service needs and programs to best serve older people who are formerly homeless and/or leaving institutions. To that end, and on behalf of New York’s best minds in this field, CSH is sharing a brief compilation of key recommendations we recently made to the New York City Supportive Housing Task Force. A dozen organizations dedicated to promoting health and stability for our most vulnerable residents believe these recommendations support promising, healthy aging-in-place practices for future supportive housing initiatives. Also, a Core Competencies Toolkit will be released this spring and it will provide more detail on program models for aging in supportive housing.




Spreading the Power of FUSE

CSH convened a special peer-to-peer site visit earlier this month in Charlotte, North Carolina, that brought together a group from Iowa City, Iowa, and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, to explore the structure and success of MeckFUSE, a housing program for homeless men and women with behavioral health issues who have been frequent users of Mecklenburg’s jail, street camps and shelters. FUSE stands for Frequent User Systems Engagement, a proven national supportive housing model from CSH.

This peer-to-peer was designed to assist Iowa City as it continues to build the foundation for its own FUSE initiative as a CSH start-up grantee. CSH is able to expand FUSE throughout the country due, in part, to generous support from the Open Society Foundations and Capital One. Both funders also help underwrite our new and free FUSE Resource Center.

While diving deeper into FUSE, participants in this peer-to-peer learning experience visited a single site supportive housing apartment building that houses the once chronically homeless.

The apartments, Moore Place, are provided as a HousingWorks supportive housing program of the Urban Ministry Center. Through the HousingWorks program, the Urban Ministry Center seeks to fulfill its mission of ending homelessness by giving the most vulnerable what they so desperately need: a home.

HousingWorks has three pathways to housing for chronically homeless individuals: Moore Place, an 85-unit apartment building that opened in February 2012; Scattered Site apartments (45 units); and, in MeckFUSE, a partnership with Mecklenburg County providing an additional 45 community-based apartments.

The HousingWorks approach is simple: give chronically homeless individuals what they need most – a safe, stable, affordable home – and then provide the wrap-around support to help them remain housed and regain lives of wellness and dignity. A team of social workers, therapists, a full-time nurse and a part-time psychiatrist provide supportive services to help each HousingWorks tenant manage the transition from long-term homelessness to housing, and to help individuals meet personal goals to ensure they never become homeless again.

HousingWorks specifically targets those individuals who have been homeless the longest, are the most vulnerable and are the most frequent users of emergency rooms, jails, shelters and other costly crisis services.

In addition to seeing Moore Place and how it transforms lives, the group from Iowa City spent two days:

  • Increasing their understanding of the core components and day-to-day operations of a FUSE program;
  • Discussing strategies for building community support for new developments and ways to maintain on-going community engagement/support of FUSE programs;
  • Better understanding MeckFUSE financing for operations, rental assistance and supportive services;
  • Learning the development process, funding sources, roles of partners and design considerations for FUSE tenants; and
  • Understanding the needs of FUSE tenants when they move into housing: service needs, apartment preferences, amenities, move-in needs and types of housing support.

To learn more about CSH FUSE, please click here.

D.C. Task Force Working on Better Shelter Plan and Supportive Housing

what kind of a community do we want_ig (3)

Download the “What Kind of Community Do We Want” pdf by Clicking Here

Kristy Greenwalt, Director of the District of Columbia’s Interagency Council on Homelessness, and Laura Zeilinger, Director of the City of Washington Department of Human Services, recently led a task force focused on how to replace D.C. General Emergency Shelter, which houses hundreds of homeless families in our nation’s capital.

As part of their Homeward D.C. plan, which lays out goals for making homelessness rare, brief and non-re-occurring, City leadership is committed to moving from antiquated, large, multi-family shelter settings, such as D.C. General,  to a system that is nimble, responsive and geographically dispersed in areas where individuals and families who find themselves homeless can better connect to natural supports and receive community-based services in their neighborhoods.

Stakeholders from across the city, including CSH, participated in the task force meetings to help develop better alternatives for families. Ideas discussed include a “bathroom in every unit” and enough room and common areas to ensure children have safe spaces to play and learn. The District leadership led the task force through the process of “costing out” different models financially, operationally and through the eyes of the men, women and children who would be in the housing and using the services.

Kristy, Laura and their teams have done a great job of balancing a vision of a “perfect” shelter system with one that would eventually end up being a small piece of the District’s overall plan to create more affordable and supportive housing resources.

The challenge they face is “the reality of the situation” as the District continues to develop its affordable housing, community-based supportive services, employment and childcare supports while moving to replace D.C. General. Sorting through these important considerations and difficult realities, the City must balance how to build a better emergency  shelter system as well as a more robust supply of affordable and supportive housing.

At a family stakeholder discussion, conducted by members of the task force, one resident best summed up what the City should be aiming for in its planning.  When asked about the need for having a “bathroom” in every unit, a mother who had been raised in a shelter setting herself said, “We don’t need shelters with a bathroom in every room, that’s too expensive…we need City dollars invested in affordable housing and supportive services…we don’t want our children to call this place (an emergency shelter) their home. We want real homes.”


Supportive Housing Improves Addiction Recovery

Guest Blog by Charles J. Neighbors, PhD, MBA


Charles J. Neighbors, PhD, MBA, Director, Health Services Research, CASAColumbia

In December 2015, the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) released a paper on supportive housing as a component of a strategy to manage the heroin crisis for the chronically homeless. CSH estimates there is a need for over 30,000 new supportive housing units across New York State to reverse the ever-increasing numbers of people experiencing homelessness. About 35-40% of chronically homeless people suffer from severe substance use disorders.

New York communities bear substantial public costs for individuals experiencing substance use disorders and homelessness. The recent rise in opioid use has increased this strain. Finding a way to engage homeless persons for whom substances are a barrier to housing is critical to solving the problem. One potential approach is supportive housing—housing linked with social services- which provides the support that the chronically homeless need to stay in their homes.

Research by our Center suggests that supportive housing is an effective and cost-efficient intervention for homeless individuals struggling with addiction. We evaluated a program in New York State and City that offered supportive housing to individuals not willing to commit to abstinence. The program was successful in reducing use of shelters, jail and medical services. The reductions in crisis service use were associated with considerable savings, which offset the cost of the housing program.

Recently, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made supportive housing a cornerstone of his State of the State address, committing to creating 20,000 new units statewide over the next 15 years. These units are in addition to the 15,000 Mayor Bill de Blasio announced for New York City in November. These plans exemplify a significant commitment to addressing the longstanding problem of chronic homelessness and severe substance use disorders, and benefitting individuals and the community.

Happy Birthday, Tommy!


Tommy Hughes in his very own apartment.

Today is Tommy Hughes’ Birthday, but he already celebrated another big milestone in his life last week. On March 1, Tommy and his mother, Lisa Hughes, invited CSH staff, Nancy Mercer, and Tommy’s case manager, Holly Toombs from the Henrico Community Service Board, to attend his meeting with the local Public Housing Authority where he was being assigned his housing assistance voucher. Tommy was able to access this resource because Holly pursued the Housing Choice program made available through a partnership between Virginia Housing Development Authority – VHDA – and the Virginia Department  of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services – DBHDS.

In Virginia, 200 Housing Choice Vouchers have been set aside for men and women with an Intellectual and Developmental Disability (ID/DD) who want to live in integrated community-based settings.  This resource comes, in part, as a result of a recent Department of Justice agreement where the Commonwealth pledged to do more to increase community-based housing capacity and supports for individuals with ID/DD. Prior to this settlement – similar ones have been endorsed by CSH throughout the country – ID/DD individuals in Virginia faced limited options. Their “choices” were five large outdated training centers; a Home and Community Based Waiver System (HCBS) that was stretched thin and operating with outdated rate structures; and long waiting lists and an inadequate crisis support to manage the thousands of individuals and families who were in daily need across the state. Since 2011, DBHDS has been leading the commitment to build capacity with ongoing oversight from DOJ and the courts.

CSH is excited by the progress being made in Virginia as hundreds of men, women, and families move from inadequate and antiquated institutions to community-based housing and services. The HCBS program is in the process of becoming more person centered in how it is administered, managed and financed; informed and responsive crisis services for children and adults continue to be refined and developed; and we are seeing a more effective approach toward housing and support services that is allowing individuals with ID/DD a true choice on where they want to live and which services are going to be provided to them.

But let’s get back to the main reason why all of this is so important – Tommy.

Betty Ross was the Housing Specialist assigned to Tommy and his mother, who is his legal guardian. It was evident that Ms. Ross has been assigning and managing the housing voucher process for many years, and she takes her job very seriously. Immediately she sensed that Tommy and his support team were nervous and unsure of how to proceed and she immediately became an inclusive, reassuring and reaffirming force.

Ms. Ross, addressed Tommy directly as he was the identified as “Head of Household”, but she made sure his mother was aware that her voice was as important as Tommy’s. Ms. Ross explained each piece of paper thoughtfully as she asked his mother to sign for Tommy over and over again. “This is a process,” she would remind everyone in the room. “It takes time, but in the end Tommy will have a housing voucher that will provide him with a resource he can use to pay for his own home.”

Tommy was the most patient of all, smiling and collecting his papers and filing them away.  Some of the papers were very technical, but Ms. Ross made sure she provided information that was much more user-friendly like the HUD Housing Inspection handbook, which includes pictures of what the inspector is looking for at the time of the annual inspection. She also shared information about Tommy’s potential community choices, and how he could get help locating a home that would accept his Housing Choice Voucher.

When Ms. Ross learned that Tommy had identified where he wanted to live–she was well aware of the apartment complex and how it was operated. Ms. Ross was sensitive to the fact that Tommy would have medical expenses that may include housing supports, electronic surveillance services, and transportation to and from a job.

Ms. Ross asked Tommy if he had any more questions at the end of the two hour meeting, to which he responded, “No, thank you, Betty.” Tommy’s mother jumped in and whispered, “Ms. Ross, Tommy, it’s disrespectful to call her by her first name.”  Tommy blushed, and Ms. Ross chimed in, “No it’s ok, I told him to call me Betty, I prefer to be called Betty.”

As we left the office, we were confident Tommy will thrive in his new home and that he had found a invaluable support in his community – his housing specialist, ‘Betty”.

Happy Birthday, Tommy – and good luck in your new home!


NJ Expands Keeping Families Together

NJDCF logo

Christie Administration Assists Families Find Permanent Supportive Housing

Department of Children and Families and Department of Community Affairs Partner to Help

25 Families Break Cycle of Homelessness

TRENTON – Continuing the Christie Administration’s commitment to New Jersey’s most vulnerable families, the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) is helping 25 families move into permanent supportive housing by expanding Keeping Families Together, a pilot housing program.

Keeping Families Together is a model of permanent supportive housing for child welfare involved families struggling with homelessness and other challenges.  DCF established the program for 10 families in Essex County in July 2014, later expanding it to another 8 families in Monmouth and Passaic counties.

The latest expansion into Atlantic and Gloucester counties more the doubles the number of New Jersey families benefitting from Keeping Families Together.

“Family homelessness is devastating to children,” said DCF Commissioner Allison Blake.  “Its impact reverberates into future generations, creating continued despair and hopelessness and straining government resources.  But today, we’re moving to break the cycle for 25 families seeking better futures for their children.”

Keeping Families Together provides families access to supportive services, including case planning and evidence-based and trauma-informed coordinated services to support each family’s unique needs.

The 25 families, which will begin moving to their new homes before the end of the year, will receive Section 8 housing vouchers from the DCA.  The vouchers are essential to helping these families find an affordable and safe place to live.  DCA committed 25 15-year Project-Based Section 8 housing vouchers to the program.

“The DCA is pleased to provide the additional vouchers that will allow South Jersey families to participate in the Keeping Families Together program,” said DCA Commissioner Charles A. Richman. “Integrating social, health and case management services with housing, provides the stability needed to keep the family together.”

The initial Keeping Families Together pilot showed promise improving child well-being and decreasing child welfare involvement in New York City, according to Metis Associates. *

DCF joined with the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) to host DCF’s Keeping Families Together Statewide Convening in New Brunswick today.  The event brought together stakeholders throughout the state and included Housing First training, pilot site presentations, and peer-to-peer discussion and knowledge exchanges.

DCA provides administrative guidance, financial support and technical assistance to local governments, community development organizations, businesses and individuals to improve the quality of life in New Jersey. The Department offers a wide range of programs and services that respond to issues of public concern including fire and building safety, housing production, community planning and development, and local government management and finance.

DCF is dedicated to ensuring a better today and an even greater tomorrow for every individual the department serves. In partnership with New Jersey’s communities, DCF ensures the safety, well-being, and success of New Jersey’s children and families.  DCF funds and directly provides services and support to over 100,000 women, children, and families each month.

*CSH is pleased to assist more communities using supportive housing as a solution for families involved in the child welfare system.  According to the extensive evaluation conducted by Metis Associates, the initial CSH Keeping Families Together pilot funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation achieved the following outcomes:

  • During the evaluation period, close to 90% of the families stayed out of emergency shelter and remained stably housed in supportive housing
  • Families experienced a decrease in child welfare system involvement with fewer incidences of repeat maltreatment while living in supportive housing
  • School-age children within the families demonstrated steady average increases in school attendance
  • Participating families indicated supportive housing had a positive effect on their ability to maintain relationships with others and to rebuild their support systems

Generous funding from Casey Family Programs supports CSH and our efforts related to the Keeping Families Together initiative in New Jersey.


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.

The Opioid Epidemic & Supportive Housing

As New York State continues to weigh the benefits of increasing the number of supportive housing units, CSH has released a new brief: Supportive Housing’s vital role In Addressing the Opioid Epidemic in New York State. Although supportive housing as a documented solution to chronic homelessness is often touted, policymakers sometimes overlook its other positive impacts, especially its success rate in stabilizing those with severe substance use disorders such as heroin addiction, placing such individuals on a firmer path to recovery.

Supportive Housing’s vital role In Addressing the Opioid Epidemic in New York State


Ending Youth Homelessness in CT

CSH is leading a day-long convening today on the issue of homeless youth in Connecticut (CT). Participants are meeting at the offices of The Connection, a leading homelessness group in the state. Pictured below on the first panel of the day are (from left to right) Amy Marracino from The CT Dept. of Mental Health and Addiction Svcs; April Morrison from CSH; Kim Somaroo Rodriguez from the CT Dept. of Children and Families; Mimi Haley from the CT Coalition to End Homelessness; Katie Durand from the CT Dept. of Housing, and Stacy Violante Cote (moderator) from the Center for Children’s advocacy.