Wall-breaking Heralds New Supportive Housing in DC

Historic Shaw Building to Undergo $17M Renovation


With the determination to totally revitalize Shaw, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser attended a wall breaking ceremony this Friday for Shaw’s historic Phyllis Wheatley Young Women’s Christian Association, Inc. (Phyllis Wheatley YWCA) building. Located at the corner of 9th Street NW and Rhode Island Avenue NW, the facility will undergo a $17 million that will preserve 84 permanent, supportive, and affordable housing units for low-income women. According to a press release, the building’s current residents will not see their rents increase. The developer for the project is Dantes Partners.

Photos of the ceremony >>

Remarks delivered by Holly Denniston, CSH Senior Program Manager, at Wall-breaking ceremony >>

The wall breaking ceremony was one of six events that Bowser attended that day as part of an event, titled “Scissors and Shovels.” The five other events included a ribbon cutting at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Commons (36 affordable units at 5010 Southern Avenue SE), a groundbreaking for Archer Park (190 affordable units at 13th Street SSE and Mississippi Avenue SE), a ribbon cutting for Turning Natural Juice Bar (2025 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE), a groundbreaking on the $17 million renovation and expansion of the Kenilworth Recreation Center and outdoor pool (1300 44th Street NE), and a ribbon cutting for Sala Thai (4020 Minnesota Avenue NE).

The Phillis Wheatley YWCA building was built in 1920 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was named after Phillis Wheatley, who is cited as the first black woman professional poet and writer in the United States by Henry Louis Gates’s publication, Trials of Phillis Wheatley: America’s Second Black Poet and Her Encounters with the Founding Fathers. The renovation of the building received funding from the D.C. Housing Authority, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development, D.C. Department of Energy and Environment, D.C. Department of Human Services, D.C. Department of Behavioral Health, D.C. Sustainable Energy Utility, Wells Fargo, Amalgamated Bank, and the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH).

Take a look at some of the photos taken at the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA wall breaking ceremony below:

Campaign 4 NY-NY Housing Heats Up


CSH director in New York State, Kristin Miller, speaks at the Campaign 4 NY-NY rally and forum in New York City

kristin rochester

Kristin speaks at a rally for more supportive housing in Rochester, New York

As reports surface that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo are engaged in intense negotiations over a new agreement to fund robust supportive housing creation in the Empire State, CSH and our partners are showcasing the Campaign 4 NY-NY Housing.

CSH director of New York, Kristin Miller, attended a rally in Rochester, New York, last Thursday and then another in New York City the following day to speak out for more supportive housing and immediate action. Kristin appeared on various television and radio networks making the CSH case for Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo to come together to sign a long-term commitment to aggressively promote and fund 35,000 Supportive Housing Units for the Most Vulnerable New Yorkers.

Kristin on WROC Channel 8 News

Kristin on Time Warner Cable News

Kristin on NPR WXXI Radio

Kristin on WSKG News

CSH has released a major report – Real Supportive Housing Need in New York State: A Statewide Supportive Housing Needs Assessment Based on data collected & evaluated by CSH – backing up our advocacy for concrete action now to ensure 35,000 new units of Supportive Housing are created throughout the state.

New York State Supportive Housing Need

Real Supportive Housing Need in New York State

A Statewide Supportive Housing Needs Assessment Based on data collected & evaluated by CSH

CSH conducted a first-of-its-kind assessment of supportive housing need in eight communities across seven geographic areas of New York State, including New York City. The goal is to better utilize existing data to understand where the greatest concentration of supportive housing needs are in the state and to assist decision-makers in efficiently allocating supportive housing resources to New Yorkers struggling with, or at risk of, homelessness.

About the Communities

The 8 communities selected for the needs assessment accounted for nearly 95% of the State’s total homeless population in 2013.

  • NYC accounts for a lion’s share of the total homeless percentage (83%), the remaining seven selected areas compose 12% of the State’s homeless population, and the remaining 45 counties account for approximately 5%.
  • This is important for understanding where the State’s highest concentrations of homeless individuals and families reside and also the significant pockets of homelessness outside of New York City.

What We Found

We estimate 36,164 homeless households (30,311 Adult, 5,853 Families) were in need of supportive housing in 2013 and that nearly 32,000 supportive housing units must be created in the near future just to meet this unmet need. Access the chart showing the statewide breakdown of numbers here.


  • State and local decision-makers should consider the findings from this assessment to inform near-term resource allocation decisions and deploy resources within each of the areas identified in this report.
  • The State should establish a clearinghouse where uniform and complete data encompassing all populations served by supportive housing is collected, reported and available on an ongoing basis – data should go beyond “homeless” to also include those seeking refuge from domestic violence, those re-entering the community from jails/prisons and those with disabilities transitioning from institutional settings into the community.
  • The State should invest in regular comprehensive assessments of supportive housing need that rely on a whole-person and person-centered approach, encompassing a holistic understanding of the multiple complexities individuals and families face, versus an over-reliance on diagnosis-specific categories of need.
  • The State should focus on capturing useful information on individuals and families crossing multiple systems and amassing high costs to public agencies.
  • A long-term plan and commitment to create supportive housing is needed from all levels of government to begin to address this large gap in supply as compared to demand for supportive housing.

Full Report

Press Release Announcing Report

Access Latest News on Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing

When Seasons Change: A Tribute to Barbara Geller

A few months back, we paid tribute to Barbara Geller, then retiring as the long-time Director of the Statewide Services Division within the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS).

We don’t often publicize retirements, but Barbara was a special consideration. To us and many others, an exceptional person.

For more than 20 years, she had been a partner with CSH and a dedicated champion of programs meeting the diverse, unique mental health and addiction services needs of her state’s most vulnerable people, including those facing homelessness and other forms of housing instability.

We knew her passion, wisdom, the quality of her efforts, and the extent of her good works. She amazed us with her foresight and impact. Innovative, tireless and cheerful, her mission mattered to her and those she reached.

In her role at DMHAS, Barbara was one of the original leaders of the movement to establish supportive housing as the solution for chronic homelessness in Connecticut. She was instrumental in establishing Connecticut’s Harvard Ash Institute award-winning supportive housing funders collaborative, and helped ensure that DMHAS contributed state dollars for services in supportive housing year after year. Under her leadership, roughly 5,000 units of supportive housing were created statewide.

A visionary, Barbara also helped advance housing first and supportive housing as a solution to some of Connecticut’s most complex problems such as how to better serve super-utilizers of costly crisis and emergency care. She always emphasized long-term, lasting solutions over short-term gains.

Barbara was a vanguard among state behavioral health officials‎ in seeing housing as critical to the mission of behavioral health agencies, even at a time when this nexus was not as accepted as it is today.

Her work not only improved the lives of many individuals and families in her own state, she is regarded as a national leader and true advocate for those most in need.

Barbara really cared about the people she served. She was more than a friend to supportive housing; she was one of those rare human beings who gave her heart and soul to making a difference for the thousands who benefitted from her drive and advocacy.

So when we learned this week that Barbara had passed from this life, our hearts were filled with deep sadness.

Our spirits, however, are lifted in the knowledge that she succeeded in building better lives for all around her and those she touched.

We are reminded that for everything there is a season.

We take great pride in having known and worked with Barbara, and in calling her our friend, and even greater comfort in knowing she lived every season to the fullest – leaving behind an incredible legacy of purpose and accomplishment transcending her time with us and the boundaries of her beloved State of Connecticut.


Barbara’s lifetime of achievement is conveyed in her biography, published when she received a CSH Champion Award in 2014.

At the service honoring her life, Barbara was described as a “Woman of Valor” as conveyed in this poetic passage.

CT Ends Chronic Homelessness Among Veterans

CT VASenBCSH is present at today’s ceremony where Governor Dannel P. Malloy is announcing that the State of Connecticut has been designated by the federal government as being the first state in the nation to have ended chronic homelessness among veterans.

Last year, Governor Malloy announced several initiatives aimed at combatting veteran homelessness with the goal of ending homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015.  The state has since made major investments in housing, including supportive housing, becoming a national leader for its work.

Ending chronic homelessness among veterans is a milestone for Connecticut in its efforts to end homelessness entirely among veterans by the end of the year.  Connecticut is one of just a handful of states designated for, and participating in, the Zero:2016 initiative, which aims to end all chronic homelessness by the end of next year.  Today’s announcement means that all known veterans experiencing chronic homelessness are either housed or are on an immediate path to permanent housing, and that the state will be able to rapidly place any veteran who newly experiences chronic homelessness on the path to permanent housing.

Full Press Release Here

Today’s announcement was held at Victory Gardens, a CSH funded supportive housing project in Newington, Connecticut.



Working With Aging Tenants In Supportive Housing: Connecticut Providers

It’s a fact none of us can escape and we’re told we should embrace: we all grow older. But when you’re facing homelessness, aging becomes a much harder reality and often adds significantly to the challenges of surviving on the streets every day.

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless (2009): “Definitions of aged status in the homeless vary from study to study. However, there is a growing consensus that persons aged 50 and over should be included in the ‘older homeless’ category. Homeless persons aged 50-65 frequently fall between the cracks of governmental safety nets: while not technically old enough to qualify for Medicare, their physical health, assaulted by poor nutrition and severe living conditions, may resemble that of a 70-year-old.”

Compared to the general population, residents in supportive housing who are aging in place also have issues we must consider such as facility accommodations and changing service needs.

As a result of the extensive work of the Connecticut Supportive Housing Quality Initiative Supervisors’ Learning Collaborative – and with the support of the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Housing Innovations and CSH – a comprehensive guidance document has been developed to assist providers: Working With Aging Tenants In Supportive Housing: Connecticut Providers.

While this document was developed specifically for and by supportive housing providers in Connecticut, it can be adapted for other states or communities. This guidance document provides the following resources developed to assist supportive housing providers deliver optimal services to aging supportive housing tenants and older persons entering supportive housing in Connecticut:

  • Checklist: Agency Competencies for Working With Aging Tenants in Supportive Housing
  • Resource Guide for Agencies Working With Aging Tenants in Supportive Housing
  • Resource Template for Agencies Working With Aging Tenants in Supportive Housing
  • Training Framework for Direct Care Staff Working With Aging Tenants in Supportive Housing 
  • Checklist: When Someone Dies in DMHAS-funded Supportive Housing in Connecticut 
  • Job description for Direct Care Staff Working With Aging Tenants in Supportive Housing

CSH is available to help you with your questions and training needs related to this document and tenants aging in supportive housing. Please contact us at info@csh.org 

Access the full guidance document here.

OSF Grants $150,000 to CSH for FUSE Replication

OSFThe Open Society Foundations (OSF) U.S. Programs initiative supports efforts to advance equality, fairness, and justice with a focus on the most vulnerable and marginalized communities and the most significant threats to open society in the United States today. OSF works to further a vibrant democratic society in which all people can meaningfully participate in its civic, economic, and political life and to ensure that the core institutions of civil society are effective and accountable to the public.

Areas of particular emphasis in U.S. Programs’ grant-making and other activities include:

  • The advancement of effective and fair criminal justice and drug policies,
  • Support of the rights of racial minorities and other vulnerable groups;
  • Support of institutions and practices that advance a more informed and engaged public and responsive and effective government.

OSF’s recent contribution of $150,000 to CSH to promote a scaled replication and the sustainability of the FUSE (Frequent Users/Utilizers Systems Engagement) model will help ensure that more people leaving our jails and prisons will have a real chance to become a part of the communities in which they live. Because of the generosity of OSF and others, CSH is able to recreate FUSE in more communities across the country.

FUSE is a CSH signature accomplishment that helps communities identify and engage high utilizers of public systems and place them into supportive housing in order to break the cycle of repeated use of costly crisis services, shelters, and the criminal justice system. In the FUSE model, supportive housing serves to smooth the transition from institution to community, promoting a transformation that serves those released from jails and prisons, and the general population, by improving lives and public safety.

The critical support of OSF and our partners will allow CSH to aggressively pursue our vision to create additional policy and resource tools, such as FUSE, that encourage cross-system collaboration and allow innovative responses to complex social problems.


First Supportive Housing Residence in NY to Utilize Medicaid Savings Opens

The Housing Collaborative and Volunteers of America of Greater New York recently opened the Creston Avenue Residence, providing affordable and supportive housing for formerly homeless Veterans in New York City.

In addition to providing much needed housing and support to our most vulnerable people, the project is the first  to utilize a unique program provided through New York’s Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT). The savings captured in the state’s Medicaid program were reinvested into capital dollars to make this supportive housing residence a reality.

CSH, a member of the Affordable Housing Workgroup of the MRT, is excited to see this new financial resource for supportive housing come to fruition. In addition to our recommendations for MRT, CSH provided acquisition and predevelopment financing for this project through both the NY Acquisition Fund and our national loan pool totaling approximately $2.5 million.

This 66 unit development which also  includes affordable housing for families, has garnered national attention – see the Affordable Housing Finance article spotlighting this innovative financing option.  In addition to CSH and MRT funds, the project financing includes NY/NY III Office of Mental Health service and operating funding for the supportive housing units.

For a full profile of the project check out this profile by The Housing Collaborative.

CSH Helps Cambridge MA Address Homelessness

“We’re working to develop a set of recommendations on what we can actually do about homelessness,” Ellen Semonoff told a gathering of about 20 people at the Cambridge Community Center Thursday evening, June 25. Ms. Semonoff is Assistant City Manager for the City of Cambridge’s Department of Human Service Programs.

The meeting was the second of two held last week that are part of a CSH process called a charrette, a multi-stage community effort to gather opinions and recommendations about a single issue from people who have a stake in the outcome. In this case the stakeholders include residents, consultants, City officials and staff as well as people experiencing homelessness and those who work with them.

The earlier of the two meetings was at noon on Wednesday, June 24. The organizer for both events was Shelly Chevalier, Planning and Development Manager for the Cambridge Department of Human Service Programs. The charrette process is part of a collaborative effort launched by the City to create a plan for addressing homelessness, she said; participants include multiple local government departments, nonprofit partners, and the Cambridge Homeless Continuum of Care.

“We get it,” Ms. Chevalier noted at Thursday’s meeting. “We have to try and do things differently, and it requires pushing beyond what we know.”

Leadership for the project is organized through a 15-member Charrette Steering Committee composed of representatives from a cross-section of community organizations.

Acting as moderator Thursday evening was Larry Oaks, CSH director in New England. CSH promotes supportive housing as a way of addressing chronic societal problems and is the facilitator for the City’s planning process, according to Ms. Chevalier.

Mr. Oaks introduced two participants in the evening’s discussions, both of them members of the Charrette Steering Committee:
–Sean Terry of the New England Center for Veterans described the organization’s housing services and its work with homeless veterans.
–Liz Mengers of the Cambridge Department of Human Services noted that this is the second month of the “brainstorming” process and said that further discussions during the summer will be followed by another round of meetings in September.

“This meeting is part of a larger city planning process,” Oaks said. “Our mission is to make sure that issues relating to housing and homelessness remain front and center in that process.”


CMS Issues Bulletin on Using Medicaid for Supportive Services

CMSThe Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) has released an Informational Bulletin intended to assist states in designing Medicaid benefits, and to clarify the circumstances under which Medicaid reimburses for certain housing-related activities, with the goal of promoting community integration for individuals with disabilities, older adults needing long term services and supports (LTSS), and those experiencing chronic homelessness. Consistent with statute, CMS/CMCS can assist states with coverage of certain housing-related activities and services.

Read the full CMS/CMCS Informational Bulletin here.

For more information on how states are currently using Medicaid in supportive housing, see CSH’s four new resources, released earlier this month.

Read our joint statement with the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the Technical Assistance Collaborative and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council.