The 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:
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.
“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.”
The 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.
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.”
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.
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.
“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
Leaders of state and local criminal justice systems and other officials from throughout New England convened today in Hartford, CT to discuss opportunities and barriers to financing and scaling innovative programs aimed at integrating the housing needs of persons reentering communities from jails and prisons. As national experts in the use of supportive housing as a bridge to ensure successful reentry, CSH staff is uniquely positioned to bring together experienced providers and policymakers for a robust examination of such issues as why it is important for criminal justice systems to invest in housing in the community and why public housing authorities should be more focused on targeting individuals leaving jails and prisons.
Sarah Gallagher, CSH Director in Connecticut welcomed participants to the CSH New England Reentry Leadership Forum this morning and CSH Eastern Region Managing Director Ryan Moser moderated a fishbowl that examined both the potential and challenges that exist in the financing of housing-based programs for reentry populations. The day-long conversation included a spotlight on reentry efforts in New York City as well as Ohio, and a full airing of topics that covered the policy, operational, and programmatic barriers to developing reentry initiatives and methods for measuring success. Participants looked forward to the future of reentry housing and concentrated on action planning to capitalize on opportunities that will bring supportive housing to scale as a reentry solution.
In addition to CSH professionals and other specialists in reentry housing, the Forum attracted Scott Semple, Interim Commissioner of the Connecticut State Department of Corrections, and A.T. Wall, Director of the State of Rhode Island Department of Corrections.
On Monday, November 10 Operation Stand Down RI and Rhode Island Housing will celebrate the opening of the Pierce Street Apartments in Westerly, Rhode Island. This development is the first to provide permanent supportive housing for veterans in the area. Federal, state and local leaders, funding and community partners, supportive housing providers, affordable housing developers and members of the homeless community are expected to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony.
This 10 unit supportive housing project provides veterans with on-site services that are client centered and include employment and training opportunities. These new homes will assist the state in meeting its goal under the Opening Doors RI plan to end veterans homelessness in Rhode Island. CSH provided a $272,000 pre-development loan along with technical assistance in support of this tremendous project.
Click here for local coverage of this great event.
Gateway Healthcare, a community mental health center awarded CSH’s own Michelle Brophy with the Community Leadership Award at their 18th Annual Awards Luncheon on Monday, May 13th.
Michelle receiving her award with the Executive Director Richard LeClerc and Board Chair, Lloyd J. Robinson
“Gateway is affiliated with LifeSpan (a large hospital network) in order to better integrate behavioral health and health. In accepting the award I challenged the group to view housing as healthcare and ask our State to invest in Supportive Housing.” – Michelle Brophy
About Gateway Healthcare
Gateway Healthcare is a non-profit behavioral health care organization that provides a wide array of services to adults, children and families in Rhode Island. Gateway’s mission is to promote resiliency and to assist people in their recovery from mental health, substance abuse, and behavioral and emotional disorders. It’s Vision: to preserve the promise of good quality of life for all people. Gateway offers an extensive continuum of services that supports its mission of promoting resiliency and assisting individuals in their recovery. To learn more about Gateway Healthcare visit their website at http://www.gatewayhealth.org/
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