Harvard Releases State of the Nation’s Housing 2015

The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University has released The State of the Nation’s Housing 2015 and this is what it says about our PROGRESS IN REDUCING HOMELESSNESS and the role supportive housing is playing, effectively getting people off our streets and keeping them housed:

“The lack of affordable housing in the United States continues to leave nearly 600,000 people homeless. More than a third are people in families, including 130,000 children under the age of 18. By comparison, chronically homeless individuals (those who have been without a place to live for at least a year or have had repeated episodes of homelessness over the past few years) account for a much smaller share (15 percent) of the homeless population. Recent increases in federal funding have aided progress in reducing both homelessness overall and among the most vulnerable groups. Indeed, the number of beds in permanent supportive housing expanded 60 percent between 2007 and 2014, to over 300,000. Beds for the chronically homeless accounted for just over half of this increase. As a result, total homelessness fell 11 percent in 2007–14, the number of homeless veterans dropped 19 percent, and the number of chronically homeless individuals was down by 30 percent. At the same time, however, the number of homeless people in families declined by only 8 percent.

But the national reduction in homelessness is not apparent in all markets. Rising rents and a dwindling supply of affordable rentals continue to put people at risk, especially in high-cost locations. Indeed, total homelessness jumped by 29 percent in New York and 40 percent in Massachusetts between 2007 and 2014. The increase in the District of Columbia was even larger, at 46 percent. Family homelessness is particularly acute in major cities, which were home to 45 percent of this population in 2014. New York City headed the list with 41,600 homeless people in families, or nearly 20 percent of the national total.”


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

Seasons at Compton


Seasons at Compton features 84 one- and two-bedroom apartments that serve a mixed population of limited-income seniors, seniors with developmental disabilities; seniors who care for dependents with developmental disabilities; and recently homeless seniors with disabilities.

Supportive Housing: Integrated Model Matrix and Expanded Project Profiles

An increasing number of communities are creating supportive housing for a range of populations and in response to the Olmstead Decision are exploring new housing models that promote unit integration. Integrating supportive housing into your community is a blending of supportive housing within developments that targeted that may also include affordable and market rate units not restricted exclusively to supportive housing populations.

CSH developed the Supportive Housing – Integrated Models Matrix to help educate the development community on several approaches to developing and operating integrated housing that includes supportive housing. Supportive housing can be integrated in a variety of ways, examples including units within a single-site development, dispersed in an apartment or condominium building, or scattered-site apartments across a community.

To compliment the Supportive Housing Integrated Model Matrix, CSH also created new and adapted existing Project Profiles that showcase developments from across the country. The case studies, organized by integrated model, go deeper into integration strategies, service delivery partnerships, and key innovations that make the sites successful at serving a variety of housing needs.

Integrated Supportive Housing – Mixed Affordability

The Franklin and Eleanor Apartments, Bridgeport, Connecticut

Elven Sted, Stoughton, Wisconsin

Paseo Verde Multi-Use Complex, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Commonwealth Apartments, Indianapolis, Indiana

Scattered Site Supportive Housing  

Simpson Housing Services at Riverside, Hennepin County, Minnesota

Allegan County Supportive Housing Initiative, Allegan County, Michigan

Single Site Supportive Housing

Seasons at Compton, Compton, California

Elven Sted


Elven Sted is a 33-unit affordable housing development with 25% supportive housing units targeted to people with disabilities at or below 30% of area median income (AMI). The development’s location in downtown Stoughton, Wisconsin, and on the Yahara River, makes it attractive to working households. The project was initiated by Movin’Out, Inc., a non-profit housing developer, and the City of Stoughton to provide affordable housing in their town to retain residents.

Why Vigilance & Advocacy are Vital

blog by CSH President & CEO, Deb De Santis

Two recent developments have produced a wave of advocacy pushing for more supportive housing and affordable housing in general.

The first in California, where a just released independent analysis by the State Legislature indicates very high housing costs and lack of affordable options are hindering economic growth, and increasing poverty and homelessness there.

California has some of the most expensive housing in the country. The average home price is about 2½ times the national norm, while the average monthly rent is about 50% higher. Rents are increasing across the state while incomes are decreasing.

We know the largest cause of homelessness is the inability of people living in poverty to afford housing. Nothing bares this fact out more than the crisis in California.

Over 114,000 Californians are homeless on any given night. With 28,200 Californians experiencing chronic homelessness, California has the highest number of chronically homeless families and individuals in the nation.

Today, those who care about individuals and families struggling with homelessness and others facing housing insecurity, gathered in Sacramento to speak out loudly for more supportive housing, access to affordable rental apartments and services addressing the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

Some residents who thrive in supportive housing joined the chorus of affordable housing supporters, meeting with legislators to share their personal stories and press for immediate action.

Organized by CSH, this kind of story sharing builds a connection between formerly homeless – now residents of supportive housing – and decision-makers.

Those who have seen their lives transformed by supportive housing are speaking up because efforts to create more affordable housing options have taken a real hit over the past four years. Cuts of 79% in major state and federal sources of housing funds – due to withering bond financing, the elimination of redevelopment agencies, and sequestration – have stopped many viable projects in their tracks.

CSH and our supportive housing resident-advocates are urging California lawmakers to endorse Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins’ package of bills to create more affordable housing in the Golden State by:

  • Establishing a “California Building Homes & Jobs Fund,” a permanent source of funding for affordable housing
  • Increasing the state’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit
  • Using a portion of existing funds to reduce recidivism through investment in housing and supports for formerly incarcerated Californians

Other key proposals championed by advocates would:

  • Incorporate “Bringing Families Home” into the State budget, providing grants to counties to house child-welfare-involved families experiencing homelessness
  • Strengthen the CalWORKS Housing Support Program

California’s current predicament should send a stark message to other parts of the nation, but not everyone seems to be getting it.

In Illinois last week, those who care about homeless individuals and families joined with providers of supportive housing (for the homeless and disabled) to warn officials of “unprecedented and costly increases” in homelessness unless they reverse plans to slash the state’s successful safety-net programs.

According to Mike Bach, Executive Director of the Supportive Housing Providers Association in Illinois, the proposed budget eliminates all funding for supportive housing services for individuals and families experiencing homelessness; withholds funds for projects to serve the mentally ill; jeopardizes housing for the most vulnerable; and discontinues or severely reduces related human services. Mike points out the cuts would reduce funding for supportive housing for those exiting homelessness by over 80%, denying homes and services not delivered by Medicaid to nearly 13,000 Illinoisans.

What concerns all of us is the reductions could drive very vulnerable people into the streets, jails, nursing homes or state institutions – expensive alternatives they have no choice but to turn to when they cannot access supportive housing. The result will be higher costs to taxpayers for emergency room visits, incarcerations and other expensive crisis response measures.

Whether it’s the housing crisis in California or the potential one in Illinois, our leaders must take action now to ensure there are more, not less, opportunities for Americans to access affordable housing and community-based services crucial to ending and preventing homelessness.

Supportive Housing Academy

302_SHA_14CSH is pleased to present the 2015 Supportive Housing Academy. The Academy will be in Chicago, IL taking place on Tuesday, April 14 through Friday, April 17.

The Academy provides an intensive training on creating new supportive housing and improving the quality of existing supportive housing by encompassing financing, development partnerships, policy, and service design. The Academy condenses the key components of the six-month CSH Supportive Housing Institute into four days of training. Academy participants may request follow-up technical assistance. The goals of the Supportive Housing Academy are to:

  • Empower agencies to identify the building blocks of sound projects that are positioned to access public and private dollars;
  • Create solid project partnerships with staying power and the skills needed to develop and operate supportive housing;
  • Increase the number of units effectively serving individuals and families in need of Supportive Housing; and
  • Develop an array of housing options including new construction or rehabilitation of single-site, mixed-affordability, and scattered site models.

Click here to learn more about the Supportive Housing Academy and to register.

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Incorporating Medicaid into Service Funding Mix

Supportive housing providers in Chicago are looking to incorporate Medicaid into their services funding mix to better serve highly vulnerable populations. Over the past two years, through the support of the VNA Foundation, CSH has provided training and assistance to over 20 supportive housing providers in the Chicago-metro area to expand knowledge of Medicaid. The topics covered included how Medicaid funds supportive services in Illinois related to supportive housing, where opportunities exist for income and additional partnerships arising from the expansion of Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act and steps that providers will need to take to engage effectively with this system. With hospitals, health systems, and Managed Care Organizations in Illinois  new provider partners and CSH reviewed what will be expected of supportive housing providers.

In 2014, Polk Bros. Foundation provided CSH a grant to hire National Council on Behavioral Health to work with 15 supportive housing providers to complete a detailed cost and capacity analysis of services delivered in supportive housing. The end result of this project, anticipated in summer 2015, is an accurate cost per unit of service in supportive housing, what services can be billed to Medicaid and the level of grant funds needed to match potential Medicaid dollars. The purpose is to equip agencies with the tools and information needed to move ahead with plans to connect with Medicaid-financed services and to educate both policy makers and funders on how supportive housing services can expand or become more sustainable through healthcare partnerships.

CSH Approves First Loans in IL Loan Fund, Bringing Supportive Housing Opportunities Across the State

Earlier this week CSH approved predevelopment and acquisition funding to create much needed supportive housing in Illinois. Through our new Illinois Supportive and Integrated Housing Loan Fund, CSH is providing the tools and financing necessary to get supportive housing projects up and running. The first two loans are both great examples of bringing supportive housing solutions into a community setting – a goal of both CSH and the state of Illinois.

About the Projects

  • Melrose Park Veteran’s Housing will be a mix of affordable and supportive scattered site housing for thirty-five homeless and low-income Veteran families in the Chicago Suburb of Melrose Park. This $500,000 predevelopment loan to A Safe Have Foundation will be the first to close in our IL Loan Fund.
  • Beds Plus Care Supportive Housing will create 20 new permanent homes for formerly homeless individuals. This will be Bed Plus Care’s first endeavor in supportive housing. As a shelter provider, they saw the urgent need for housing solutions that included services to properly address the needs of the homeless population they served. The $450,000 acquisition and predevelopment loan from CSH will help Beds Plus Care purchase the property and begin construction.


More than just lending

In addition to lending, CSH can provide project-level Technical Assistance (TA) tailored to the specific needs of your supportive housing project. Examples of TA include helping to develop a Memorandum of Understanding among project partners, reviewing project Tenant Selection Plans and application and screening processes, assisting with coordination among project partners, and much more.

TA can be provided at any point throughout the project – from project concept to operations. If you are interested in discussing your project TA needs, please contact Betsy Benito, CSH Director in Illinois at betsy.benito@csh.org.

Celebrating Peer Support Specialists in Chicago

236_Tamera Cook_15Tamara Cook, a Jesse Brown VA Medical Center HUD VASH Peer Support Specialist, is a change maker who has helped countless Veterans who have experienced homelessness in their transition into housing. Having experienced homelessness herself for more than five years, she can use her own personal experience to build relationships of trust with fellow Veterans whom she supports through advocacy, referrals, and as someone with whom people can talk when they are struggling.

“Many people who have lived on the streets for a very long time need help learning the etiquette of living in an apartment,” Tamara shared, “such as not having loud music at all hours of the night or having a lot of company running in and out.  I liken it to how I had to adjust to living inside after living on the streets, and in this way I am able to connect with people and also help them with this adjustment.”

Prior to serving as a HUD VASH Peer Support Specialist, Tamara worked for the VA for three years as a Psychiatric Technician. She commented that she was also able to offer peer support in that role to Veterans impacted by mental illness, though that was not the main focus of her work, and this led her to her current role.

305_Tamera Training_2014Tamara visits with Veterans who have received HUD VASH vouchers in the community, helps them to work with their landlords so that they are able to successfully maintain their housing, and also helps Veterans in a variety of ways to become integrated into the community and live their best life.  Having once been part of the HUD VASH program, Tamara’s experience is a testimonial to one’s ability to move on from supportive housing (if this is one’s goal and doing so would be helpful to the household) with the appropriate support.

Because Tamara has a 17-year old daughter–of whom she is very proud—she can connect with other parents, who either have custody of their children or are working to be reunited with them.

When asked why peer support is vital to the HUD VASH program and others, Tamara shared that “peer support should be promoted and given the opportunity to grow, because peers have a knowledge and understanding that goes beyond book knowledge–we have experienced it. No one can tell you about child birth if they have not gone through it themselves, and this is the same thing. Peers give, through their own stories, a sense of hope to those who may struggle.” She offered examples such as understanding the devastating effects of being on medication that is not helping, the overwhelming feeling of needing to find the resources to furnish your new home, and what it is like to begin parenting again when you have been separated from your child.

Clearly the work of Peer Support Specialists is critical, and we salute Tamara and others in similar roles who work day in and day out to end homelessness, promote recovery, and share of themselves in a way that can only be done by those who have been there before.