MeckFUSE Honored by NACo for Innovation

CSH congratulates Mecklenburg County, North Carolina on winning 10 Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo). MeckFUSE

The NACo Achievement Award program recognizes innovative county government programs in 21 categories including children and youth, criminal justice, county administration, environmental protection, information technology, health and many more.

The one winning program we are most proud of is the MeckFUSE Program (County Community Support Services).

CSH was engaged as a consultant by Mecklenburg County to provide technical assistance during the MeckFUSE planning process. CSH provided support in such areas as determining the approach and methodology of the data match; guiding the County through determining a housing application process based on examples from other communities; peer to peer learning from other communities with FUSE programs; assistance with development of an RFP for an experienced service provider; program implementation support; assistance with the evaluation plan; and service provider training support.

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.


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

Hundreds Rally to Call on Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio to Create More Supportive Housing for Homeless

NY-NY RallyHundreds rallied in front of Governor Cuomo’s Executive Office in midtown last week to call for fully funding supportive housing. Supportive housing – housing which is combined with mental health and other support services – is proven to be cost-effective and successful in reducing homelessness for vulnerable New Yorkers. Every unit of supportive housing built saves more than $10,000 per year in taxpayer dollars through the reduced use of costly shelters, hospitals, psych centers and incarceration. “Supportive housing is the proven solution to ending chronic homelessness. It is significantly less expensive than the institutional alternatives that homeless people often cycle through– including shelters, psychiatric centers and hospitals. With the state facing record homelessness and the current NY NY III Agreement coming to an end, now is the time for a new statewide agreement for 35,000 units of supportive housing over the next 10 years,” said Laura D. Mascuch, Executive Director, Supportive Housing Network of New York. More than 20,000 households are found eligible for supportive housing in New York City each year, but currently there’s only one housing unit available for every five certified applicants – leaving thousands homeless. In 2014, Last year (2014), there was a record 24,766 applications for NY/NY housing — a 10% increase in demand over the prior year. “Reducing record homelessness in New York City will be impossible if Albany cuts cost-effective tools like supportive housing,” said Mary Brosnahan, President and CEO of the Coalition for the Homeless. “Governor Cuomo and Albany leaders need to step up and reverse these cuts, or thousands of New Yorkers will remain in homeless for years to come.” Hundreds of mental-health and housing providers, alongside clergy and activists formed the Campaign 4 New York/New York Housing, have called for the creation of 35,000 units of supportive housing over the next ten years. But Governor Cuomo proposed agreement would create just 5,000 new units of supportive housing — leading to years of increased homelessness in New York City and across the state. A new analysis from the Coalition for the Homeless estimated that failure to create 35,000 units of supportive housing statewide could add up to 7,600 to New York City’s homeless rolls by 2020, while costing taxpayers up to $1.35 billion over the next ten years. “The Governor made a bold commitment to ending AIDS in NYS. Part of his plan requires providing supportive housing to all those living with and at risk for HIV. Supportive housing solves homelessness, but it also does so much more. It is actually one of the most effective HIV prevention tools that we have. We need NY/NY IV housing now,” said Jennifer Flynn, Executive Director of VOCAL-NY. “Supportive housing is key not just to ending homelessness, but also to fulfilling New York’s historic goal of ending the AIDS epidemic. Studies show that supportive housing works and saves taxpayer money, because it pairs permanent affordable housing with the care that vulnerable New Yorkers need. Albany and New York City must come together to fully fund this proven resource,” said Kelsey Louie, CEO of GMHC. “A strong permanent supportive housing agreement will send a powerful signal to members of our congregations and the general public, advocates and stakeholders and the entire country that New York is serious in its determination to end homelessness – and will help to affirm the public’s faith that Government is committed to helping all citizens to live full and decent lives,” said Marc Greenberg Executive Director, Interfaith Assembly. “Supportive housing has proven to be the most cost-effective solution to alleviating homelessness.” Tony Hannigan, Executive Director, Center for Urban Community Services. “We can only get to an AIDS-Free New York when all New Yorkers are stably housed. We’ve long known that housing status is among the strongest predictors of access to HIV care, health outcomes, and transmission risk. Strengthening supportive housing is a key component of New York State’s Ending the Epidemic Blueprint, and we strongly urge the creation of 35,000 units of supportive housing across the State,” said Charles King, Housing Works President & CEO, and community co-chair of the Ending the Epidemic Task Force. “Homelessness is on the rise across New York and we have providers eager to develop more supportive housing to address it, but they’re stuck in a holding pattern because they lack the necessary commitment from the State and City. This isn’t a debate about supportive housing; we already know it works to end homelessness. What we need is for the Governor and Mayor to fully embrace NY/NY IV Housing by signing the agreement so we can move forward to get people off our streets and housed for good,” said Kristin Miller, director in New York for the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH). “The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies is pleased to join its advocacy partners in calling for a robust supportive housing plan that will meet the needs of disadvantaged residents of New York City and State. Housing is a the key element for promoting recovery for people with behavioral health issues (both mental illness and/or addiction). We urge the Mayor and Governor to craft a NY/NY 4 agreement that will substantially address the need and provide the shelter and services so desperately required for people to resume productive lives in the community,” said Phillip Saperia, CEO, The Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies, Inc. “New York has been a leader in homelessness and affordable housing policies, and we have an opportunity to reinforce that leadership if the Governor and the Mayor sign a robust NY/NY IV agreement now. In addition to ending homelessness for people and families with significant barriers to housing, like mental illness and addiction, supportive housing is cost effective and financed through a highly successful model of public-private partnerships. However, without the guarantee of these funds, we will lose the chance not only to help get people off the street and into permanent housing, but also to leverage millions of dollars in private equity,” said Judi Kende, Vice President and New York Market Leader, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. The Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing includes more than 200 organizations. Participants in today’s rally includethe Coalition for the Homeless, Services for the Underserved, Community Access, CUCS, VOCAL-NY, Enterprise Community Partners, the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), Good Shepherd Services, Housing Works, Homeless Services United, Association for Community Living, Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing, Supportive Housing Network of New York, Goddard Riverside Community Center, Henry Street Settlement, Project Renewal, and Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies.

DC Council Approves Plan to Address Homelessness

By Deborah De Santis

Back in March of this year, I touted an ambitious Strategic Plan to End Homelessness proposed by Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser and the local Interagency Council on Homelessness in our nation’s capital.

Mayor Bowser made the Plan a top priority and attracted nationally-recognized experts to her administration to get the job done. She has set concrete goals and timelines, relying on the kind of systems changing initiatives known to make a real difference in the battle to prevent and end homelessness.

I am happy to note that the significant housing development and rental assistance financing called out in the Plan have now passed the City Council.

The Mayor and City Council recognized the need to make a substantial investment in supportive and other forms of affordable housing. The price tag is in the hundreds-of-millions. But, and the evidence for this is solid, doing nothing – keeping people in temporary shelters and providing crisis services on the streets – will cost District taxpayers far more over the long run than creating quality, affordable rental units with health care access and community-based preventive services.

In a nutshell, the Mayor initiated and Council approved:

  • $100 million for the Housing Production Trust Fund for the preservation and production of affordable housing.
  • $8.8 million increase for the Permanent Supportive Housing Program. This includes an addition by Council of $1.8 million and, combined with the investment proposed by Mayor Bowser, will serve 110 families and 365 individuals through new supportive housing leasing and services. The investment makes great strides to end homelessness and improve the lives of people who have lived on DC’s streets for too long.
  • $9 million increase for Local Rent Supplement Program tenant-based vouchers. Increases from the Council include $5 million for traditional tenant-based vouchers and $2.3 million for Targeted Affordable Housing (TAH). Under the Interagency Council on Homelessness’ Strategic Plan, TAH meets an unmet need by serving families and individuals exiting rapid re-housing or supportive housing in need of ongoing housing assistance with right-sized supportive services.
  • $2.4 Million for Local Rent Supplement Program project and sponsor-based vouchers to produce affordable housing.

The bottom line is always the supply of affordable housing or the lack thereof, and access to health care and supportive services. In other words, many people would not face the prospect of homelessness if they had an affordable place to live and quality health care. It is clear Mayor Bowser, her advisors, and the District’s City Council all recognize these facts and are committed to making the necessary investments to tackle the root causes of homelessness.

As I stated before, they know all too well that failure to confront these problems head on today will lead to much bigger headaches tomorrow.

NYSBA Turns to CSH, Distinguished Expert in Criminal Justice to Make Case for Reentry Housing

The winter edition of the New York State Bar Association’s Government, Law and Policy Journal features an article on reentry supportive housing co-authored by former New York City Correction Commissioner and Probation Commissioner Martin Horn, and CSH Eastern Region Managing Director Ryan Moser.

NYC FUSE Reentry Housing: A Scalable, Data-Driven Solution for a Wicked Issue” delves into what it really takes to help those leaving the criminal justice system find stability and services they need to build new lives in the community.

After years of watching those exiting jails and prisons fall into repeated homelessness, and in too many instances return to incarceration, leaders in corrections turned to reentry supportive housing. Moser and Horn pull no punches in laying out the tragedies and troubling statistics that led policymakers to conclude there had to be a better way to ensure individuals reentering have a chance to succeed.

Using NYC FUSE Reentry Housing as the springboard, the authors explain the background propelling the model forward, how it was developed, the data, evaluation, and reasons for replication. They also provide a blueprint for moving forward to maximize the promise and impact of reentry housing.

FUSE (Frequent Users Services Enhancement) reentry housing is a CSH signature initiative helping communities identify and engage high utilizers of public systems, ultimately placing them in supportive housing in order to break the cycle of repeated use of costly crisis services and involvement in shelters and the criminal justice system. Supportive housing offers the stability of an affordable apartment and access to the services – medical, behavioral health, employment – to address many challenges that may have contributed to their incarceration in the first place.

Columbia University evaluated the New York City NYC FUSE, which placed over 200 individuals in rental units, and concluded supportive housing can reduce homelessness, incarceration and costs for public systems. In 2014, NYC Mayor de Blasio recognized the success of FUSE and committed to expanding this model as part of his initiative to address the high number of people in need of mental health treatment who cycle in and out of New York City’s jails.

Moser and Horn weave this together in their joint piece and provide compelling reasons why states, counties and cities should be looking at reentry housing to reduce public expenses, homelessness and recidivism.

You can read a related opinion piece by former Commissioner Horn posted on the CSH Pipeline.

FUSE Enters Next Phase in Connecticut

In many communities throughout Connecticut, a diverse group of service providers, advocates, and private and public funders have partnered with the state’s CSH field office to target men and women who cycle in and out of the homeless service and corrections systems for placement in supportive housing. Sophisticated data analyses and aggressive engagement on the ground have enabled communities to reach the most vulnerable and highest cost clients and use housing-based solutions to reduce recidivism, improve individual outcomes, and increase public safety and public health.

The initiative, born from CSH’s Frequent Users Systems Engagement (FUSE), is now uniquely positioned to grow into phase two of FUSE – The CT Collaborative on Reentry (CCR). The CCR is the supportive housing component under Governor Dannel Malloy’s recently launched Second Chance Society, an initiative aimed at assisting ex-offenders re-entering society and providing opportunities for success and greater chances at employment. Governor Malloy’s Second Chance Society demonstrates a renewed commitment to reentry supportive housing by proposing an increase from 100 units to 400 units over the next several years.

State of Connecticut Photo

DOC Commissioner Scott Semple

The announcement came shortly after CSH’s Reentry Leadership Forum, where leaders from CT’s Dept. of Corrections (DOC) had opportunities to hear about innovative approaches to reentry housing from peers in Ohio, New York, and New England. The CSH field office subsequently invited newly confirmed DOC Commissioner Scott Semple to join Columbus House, the Chrysalis Center, and the Partnership for Strong Communities to tour apartments of people housed under the FUSE initiative, and to hear directly from tenants how FUSE has improved their lives.

The site visits also allowed Commissioner Semple to learn from FUSE program staff and case managers what successes and on-the-ground challenges they’ve faced in implementing FUSE. The Commissioner’s experience as a warden provides him with a strong understanding of the need to enhance engagement among offenders preparing for release and the need to acquaint or reacquaint people with programs that take partnered approaches to increasing employability and, in effect, housing stability and reduced recidivism. Equipped with an understanding of the problem, Commissioner Semple also came to the table ready to propose solutions:

  • Pursuing in-reach models that allow case managers and supervising officers to coordinate case plans during pre-release;
  • Transforming a state correctional facility into a Reintegration Center that provides those just released from prison or jail with the resources and options they need to be held accountable for their own successful reentry into the community.

To learn more about CSH’s FUSE program, click here.

To sign up to receive CSH updates and news about work happening in New England to further supportive housing solutions, click here.


Needs Assessment and Financial Model on Supportive Housing for Ohio

This 2014 Needs Assessment and Financial Model on Permanent Supportive Housing  for Ohio is meant to be a catalyst for continued investment and new thinking on how to finance supportive housing development, operations and services. The need for supportive housing continues if local communities want to reduce their numbers of persons and families experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. The case for it continues as the state reduces its reliance upon institutional care. Overall, the need continues to create access to stable housing with services for vulnerable Ohioans leading to, recovery, health and success.

Click here to read the Needs Assessment & Financial Model on Supportive Housing for Ohio. The report includes the following topics:

  • Target Populations
  • Translating the People In Need Into a Unit Goal
  • Supportive Housing Development Strategies
  • Supportive Housing Production Plan – Cost and Potential Sources
  • CSH Recommendations

This report is a summation of CSH’s work.  CSH advances a number of recommendations, and we believe these recommendations will enable the State to expand both current supportive housing development efforts and effectively allocate resources for supportive housing for the target populations.

Langeloth Grant to Support CSH Reentry Work


In a bid to avert homelessness and recidivism, the Jacob and Valeria Langeloth Foundation – which supports innovation in physical and emotional healing for underserved populations – has awarded a $250,000, two-year grant to CSH to increase housing options and services, specifically supportive housing, for eligible individuals re-entering communities from jails and prisons.

“The strong link between housing and support services for those released from jails and prisons and post-release success is not readily apparent, even in the minds of policymakers in the criminal justice field,” said Deb De Santis, CSH President & CEO. “But as more research is done, it is clear supportive housing reduces recidivism and the data is showing us the dramatic overlap among the risk of homelessness, demands for housing, mental health services and addiction treatments, and also the chances for readmissions to jails and prisons.” Read more about this investment and our work in reentry in our press release.

Mayor de Blasio’s Task Force on Behavioral Health and the Criminal Justice System Plan Released

CSH applauds the Administration’s plans to address the high number of people in need of mental health treatment who cycle in and out of New York City’s jails. Mayor de Blasio’s plan significantly expands public health services at almost every step of the criminal justice system. The plan cites a report on 400 New Yorkers who have been admitted to jail more than 18 times in the last five years and present an even higher prevalence of mental illness and substance use disorder than the general jail population. This group accounted for over 10,000 jail admissions and 300,000 days in jail during the five years examined in the report.[1]

We know that many of these people are also in need of safe affordable housing with supports to help live healthy lives in our communities. CSH recently established a Reentry Housing workgroup to develop policy recommendations to outline the housing needs of people reentering the community from jail or prison. CSH’s NYC FUSE pilot used supportive housing as an intervention for people trapped in the cycle of homelessness and criminal justice. FUSE participants averaged just over two-weeks of shelter stays in the 24 months after placement into housing as compared to the 164 days in shelters spent by the comparison group. Overall FUSE generated a $15,000 cost offset for each participant.

Mayor de Blasio’s plan includes several action steps related to housing for persons reentering the community from the criminal justice system:

Expand reach of discharge programs to minimize disruption in Medicaid coverage, connect people with housing and services prior to release, and connect those who are eligible are connected to Health Home care coordination.

Expand access to supportive housing and other services to persons returning to the community through:

  • launching a 267 unit scattered-site supportive housing program focused on individuals with behavioral health needs and a history of cycling through the criminal justice system who have struggled with homelessness based on the FUSE program, and
  • establishing a housing planning team to assess access to more supportive, affordable, and public housing for justice involved individuals with behavioral health issues.

The Administration has allocated $130 million over four years to the steps outlined in the plan, of which $40 million is asset forfeiture funds contributed by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. CSH is grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this report focused on breaking the revolving door of arrest, incarceration and release that has trapped many homeless individuals in the system for relatively minor offenses.

[1] Rikers Island Hotspotters Analysis, Bureau of Correctional Health Services, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, July 2014.