NJ DCA, Hudson County Partner with Hospitals to Fight Homelessness with Innovative Supportive Housing Program

Pilot Voucher Program to Provide Supportive Housing to ‘Familiar Faces’ at Hospitals

Jersey City, NJ – Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), joined Hudson County officials today to announce an innovative Housing First pilot program in partnership with the County and two hospitals, Jersey City Medical Center and Hoboken University Medical Center. The program, referred to as Hudson County “Familiar Faces”, specifically addresses homeless individuals’ lack of access to affordable housing with supportive services, resulting in their repeat use of hospitals, jails, shelters and other crisis systems. The program aims to break the cycle of familiar faces by providing permanent supportive housing solutions to individuals while saving public institutions money.

This program marks the first time two major hospital systems in New Jersey are committing funding while partnering with the State to provide permanent supportive housing solutions directly to individuals experiencing homelessness. This latest DCA collaboration with hospitals expands and complements the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency’s (NJHMFA) recent partnership with the New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) to develop housing opportunities for community members in need.

Together, both initiatives represent a new aspect of the Housing First model that DCA introduced several years ago and that has been growing steadily since, as new partners and additional sources of revenue have been secured.

“Access to housing and quality medical care are social determinants of overall health,” said Lt. Governor Oliver. “This unique public-private partnership between the State, Hudson County, cities and hospitals is a progressive and holistic approach to curbing the cycle of chronic homelessness in New Jersey. We look forward to this innovative pilot program leading to additional such partnerships throughout the state.”

The Familiar Faces program is based on Hudson County’s Frequent User (FUSE) Initiative which seeks to identify and permanently house chronically homeless individuals who are the most frequent users of the Hudson County Corrections & Rehabilitation Center (HCC&RC), homeless shelters, hospitals and other crisis systems by using a Housing First model. Hudson County was able to expand its FUSE program through its participation in DCA’s Statewide Housing First Initiative. This DCA initiative provided permanent rental assistance and seed funding for supportive services, which leveraged local and private funding for up to 500 chronically homeless individuals across the state, including 80 served through the Hudson County FUSE project. For the Familiar Faces program, DCA will provide up to 25 rental vouchers, which can be used throughout Hudson County and the state by individuals enrolled in the program. Permanent supportive housing costs are approximately $25,000 a year per person, including the voucher and supportive services.

“The Hudson County Familiar Faces program reflects the next step in DCA’s significant investment in addressing homelessness through the Housing First model, including the Statewide Housing First Initiative and the Housing First Initiative for people with opioid addictions,” said Janel Winter, director of DCA’s Division of Housing and Community Resources. “By engaging with the health system, as well as with government and community providers, this program will end the cycle of homelessness and provide a foundation for improved health for 25 people in Hudson County.”

A cost analysis conducted by Hudson County followed 25 clients in the FUSE pilot program and analyzed before and after costs to select public institutions. The results showed that the Hudson County Corrections & Rehabilitation Center (HCC&RC), Jersey City Medical Center and shelter costs decreased for these individuals from $850,000 to $452,000 with a single year of supportive housing, amounting to a 47 percent total cost reduction for the public institutions.

“Ending homelessness is ultimately about cooperation and coordination—and that was the role we were glad to play here to get this new Housing First Program, Familiar Faces, off the ground,” said Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise. “I want to thank our Community Development staff, Garden State Episcopal, both of these outstanding care providers, and DCA for working together to help us take this important next step in providing additional permanent supportive housing units for the homeless in Hudson County.”

Individuals will be identified for the program through the County’s Coordinated Entry Program run by Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation (GSECDC). To be eligible, the individual must have experienced long-term homelessness and be highly vulnerable, having frequently visited the emergency department or been admitted to the hospital system multiple times in a year. Upon entry into the program, the client will pay 30 percent of their income as rent, with the housing voucher making up the difference. Supportive services will be provided by GSECDC and Jersey City Medical Center.

“Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation (GSECDC) is thrilled that there are 25 new vouchers available to serve some of the neediest, most vulnerable, homeless participants of our Hudson CASA Coordinated Entry Program,” said GSECDC Executive Director Carol Mori. “GSECDC is very grateful to partner with the Department of Community Affairs, Hudson County, Carepoint Health and Jersey City Medical Center to help provide long-term housing stability and additional positive outcomes for these participants.”

The supportive services provided to people in the program include:

Assistance in obtaining identification documents and enrolling them in mainstream benefits such as Medicaid, TANF, General Assistance and Food Stamps;
Housing search, leasing, securing household furnishings, move-in assistance, and orientation to the neighborhood such as local shopping, utilization of public transportation and recreational opportunities;
Service planning and wellness and recovery planning;
Supportive counseling and problem-solving; mental health rehabilitation services; crisis and respite services;
Skills related to independent living and family and social supports;
Support for substance use treatment, harm reduction and sobriety, medication adherence as well as primary and physical health and dental services; and
Literacy programs and employment, education and financial services.
“We are impressed to see this kind of foresight and cooperation among government, local healthcare providers, and nonprofits,” said Kristin Miller, director of Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) programs in the NY-NJ metro area. “These are the cutting-edge partnerships that effectively end homelessness and reduce healthcare costs for all of us. CSH is the national champion of the FUSE model and we hope every state and county will take the same initiative as New Jersey and Hudson County, building similar collaborations so people facing homelessness receive housing and critical services like healthcare that keep them housed and more self-sufficient.”

Hoboken University Medical Center (HUMC) will provide $50,000 a year to GSECDC to provide supportive services to five of their housed individuals.

“CarePoint Health has a long-standing program of outreach to our homeless community, providing health screenings and medical care. While important, it is only a short-term answer. We are proud to partner with the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Hudson County and the City of Hoboken on this important initiative that will provide permanent housing for the chronically homeless in our community,” said Dr. Meika Roberson, chief medical officer of Hoboken University Medical Center. “Quality, affordable housing, along with support services, is the foundation for a better, healthier life and we applaud the vision and leadership of all of the elected officials who have made this program possible.”

Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC) will expand its already existing supportive housing program and hire a full-time case manager to provide services to up to 20 of their housed individuals.

“As an anchor institution in Hudson County, Jersey City Medical Center has been actively addressing the issue of homelessness in our community for the past 15 years through our supportive housing program and supportive services,” said JCMC President and CEO Joseph Scott. “Jersey City Medical Center welcomes this opportunity to build a healthier community and is eager to work with the state, county, and new community partners to expand Hudson County’s Familiar Faces program and take a step closer to ending the cycle of homelessness.”

“This crisis knows no borders, and I am proud of the progress we have made working collaboratively, which goes beyond simply handing someone a dollar or providing them with temporary shelter,” said Hoboken Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla. “Our efforts are multi-faceted, addressing the root causes of homelessness. Not only are we getting folks off the street, but we are equipping them with the tools necessary to avoid falling back into homelessness.”

This new housing and healthcare system partnership is a part of a greater initiative within DCA to address chronic homelessness and provide supportive housing throughout the state by partnering with counties, cities and hospital systems. DCA will be featuring a panel on Housing for Community Needs at the upcoming Governor’s Conference on Housing and Economic Development on October 2-3 in Atlantic City where panelists will discuss hospitals, health systems and supportive housing as well as building healthy communities and consider strategies for improving neighborhood health and economic conditions. For additional information about the housing conference, please visit: www.njhousingconference.com.

Established in 1967, DCA offers a wide range of programs and services that respond to issues of public concern including affordable housing production, fire safety and building safety, community planning and development, local government management and finance, and disaster recovery.

For more information about DCA, visit: www.nj.gov/dca/

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.


NJ Receives $2M Grant to Help Youth

Money to Help Prevent Homelessness for Youth in Foster Care

CSH One of Three Implementation Partners

Burlington, Mercer, and Union Counties To Host Pilot Project To Help Youth Find Sustainable Housing


The New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) has been awarded a $2 million, three year implementation grant from the U.S. Administration for Children and Families for a pilot project to prevent homelessness among New Jersey youth currently or previously in foster care.

The announcement was made during DCF Commissioner Allison Blake’s visit this afternoon to the Trenton-based Anchor House for National Youth Homelessness Awareness Month.

“New Jersey first received federal planning grant funding in 2013 to complete a needs assessment and identify strategies to prevent and address homelessness among youth in foster care.  This new implementation funding demonstrates the federal government’s confidence in and support for our work to help youth build better and more successful futures,” said DCF Commissioner Allison Blake.

The implementation funding will support pilot programming to help youth in foster care between 14 and 21 years old achieve permanency; find safe, affordable, and stable housing when needed; and achieve their academic and career goals.

The program will include aggressive family finding and permanency efforts, re-conceptualized life skills, educational advocacy, near peer and professional mentors, and sustainable housing and supportive services.  DCF will also develop a Statewide Youth Housing Learning Collaborative to train DCF’s network of youth housing providers.

DCF’s Office of Adolescent Services will implement this project in partnership with Child Trends, the Center for the Study of Social Policy, and the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH).  The pilot will be based in Burlington, Mercer, and Union counties.

The effort will potentially help hundreds of youth and test whether the program can be expanded to help youth throughout the state and nation.

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.


KFT Supportive Housing Grows In NJ

NJ KFT 1NJ KFT 2Last month, the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) awarded 25 new “Project Based Section 8” Keeping Families Together (KFT) supportive housing units to Robin’s Nest in Glassboro, NJ. The new units will be located in Atlantic and Gloucester Counties, NJ.

This past week, CSH staff Alison Harte and Erin Burns-Maine joined a kickoff meeting with partners helping to bring these new units on line. In addition to CSH, the participants included representatives from Robin’s Nest (service provider), Rukenstein and Associates (housing provider), the NJ Department of Community Affairs, and local child welfare offices.

The objectives of this meeting were to further expand partner understanding of the core components of the KFT model and increase awareness of the “Housing First” approach.

Partners are moving quickly to assist families, meet their needs, and get the supportive housing units filled as soon as possible, with a goal of five placements by December 1, 2015.

To date, the KFT initiative in NJ has expanded to include a total of 40 units in Essex, Monmouth, Atlantic and Gloucester Counties.

Essex County New Jersey Veterans Housing Academy

Academy Session 1 Photo (b)On June 25, 2015 CSH kicked-off the Essex County Veterans Housing and Services Academy, made possible by the support of the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey. This exciting training initiative is aimed at improving outcomes for homeless and vulnerable veterans in Essex County by increasing the military cultural competency of providers that serve them. Over the next few months, CSH will be working with staff from six organizations from multiple sectors that collectively serve more than 1,500 homeless, formerly homeless and otherwise vulnerable veterans each year in Essex County and the surrounding area. Academy Sessions, which are being held at HELP USA’s Newark Clinton Hill Apartments, will be centered around trainings led by experts on topics such as military cultural competency, issues affecting female veterans, legal issues, employment, families and common mental health issues for veterans.

The Essex County Veterans Housing and Services Academy is the third iteration of this unique training series. CSH held our first Veteran Supportive Housing Academy in New York City 2013 and our second in 2014; these rounds were made possible by support from Capital One. The Academy was developed in response to the recognition that there are gaps between civilian and military cultural knowledge that may decrease accessibility or quality of services provided to homeless and formerly homeless veterans. Both rounds of the Academy had great impact on the quality and range of services available to vulnerable veterans in New York City. Participating organizations implemented a number of programmatic changes in response to the lessons learned, such as changing language to make intake forms more veteran-friendly, implementing peer components of their programs and engaging staff around the importance of learning about veteran-specific issues. CSH is excited to be able to offer the Academy in Essex County, with the support of the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey.

The Academy will employ a ‘train- the trainer’ approach, equipping staff with best practices, tools and ideas on how to implement lessons learned through changes in organizational policy and service delivery techniques of frontline staff. Academy sessions will include facilitated discussions around ways to implement lessons learned and time for participants to share changes that their organizations have made as a result of the Academy trainings. In addition, CSH will work to help participants learn from each other and explore how to work together to provide more integrated, accessible services for local veterans.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact Janis Ikeda by email (Janis.ikeda@csh.org) or phone (212-986-2966 x. 268).

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.