Home Again: Only a Home Ends Homelessness
Home Again Launch Announcement

 

 

THE HEALTH FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES $1 MILLION TO ADDRESS HOMELESSNESS

 

Foundation Makes $587,655 Grant to Launch Home Again

and Commits $500,000 to Housing Loan Fund

 

Foundation Work Complements State and City Efforts

 

WORCESTER, MA -The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts today announced the awarding of a Health Care and Health Promotion Synergy Initiative Grant in the amount of $587,655 to launch the Home Again project and a $500,000 commitment to the Home Again Housing Loan Fund to end adult chronic homelessness in the Worcester area.   Based on the "Housing First" approach, Home Again was designed through a collaborative effort of several of the region's largest providers of emergency shelter, mental health and other support services and representatives from other sectors of greater Worcester.

 

Housing First has successfully reduced homelessness in other cities by providing housing and individualized health and support services, while also reducing public expenditures for public safety, health care and emergency shelter.  Home Again, which will be implemented by Worcester organizations, will offer a similar model designed to address the unique needs of Worcester's adult chronic homeless population.

 

Nationally, research has shown that between 10 and 20 percent of homeless single adults are chronically homeless, meaning that they have been homeless for more than one year or they have had four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.  This represents 150,000 to 200,000 people across the country, and an estimated 1,900 in the Commonwealth.  In Worcester, approximately 125 individuals, about 20 percent of the city's homeless, have been identified as chronically homeless.  The Home Again model project plans to house and serve 20 of these individuals over the next 18 months.  The project will also house and serve 10 individuals who are homeless, but not yet chronically homeless, to develop and demonstrate a process for preventing long-term homelessness.

 

"Chronically homeless people often have mental and physical illnesses that are exacerbated because they are living on the streets," noted Dr. Jan Yost, President and CEO of The Health Foundation. There is compelling evidence that adult chronic homlessness -which consumes nearly 50 percent of the nightly shelter beds, as well as an inordinate amount of public safety and emergency medical resources - can be effectively addressed through "Housing First" programs, Yost noted.

 

Home Again's model and priority on ending adult chronic homelessness are consistent with recent recommendations from both the City Manager's Task Force on Homelessness issued in November 2007 a "Three Year Plan to End Homelessness in Worcester" and the Massachusetts Commission to End Homelessness, a Joint Legislative-Executive State Commission, which issued its report in December 2007. 

 

 "The Health Foundation's commitment to 'Housing First' fits perfectly into the Commission's plan to end homelessness," said Lt. Governor Murray.  "Targeting the chronically homeless and ensuring they have access to support services is a proven approach to reduce homelessness and one that we are committed to replicating."

 

"Funding for the Home Again program represents an important first step in transitioning away from shelter-based housing for homeless individuals and families," stated Worcester City Manager Michael V. O'Brien.  "This model of housing, where individuals and families are provided housing and supportive services to help them through tough times, protects the dignity of people who are homeless while providing them a structured environment in which to stabilize their lives," O'Brien added.

"Because the Foundation agrees with the Home Again initiative's premise that only a home ends homelessness," Yost explained, "we have committed $500,000 to Worcester Community Housing Resources (WCHR) to create the Home Again Housing Loan Fund. The Fund will provide loans at below market interest rates (initially three percent) to local non-profits for the purchase and renovation of facilities to house these individuals.  In addition, the Foundation has awarded a grant of $587,655 to a partnership of local nonprofits service providers, led by Community Healthlink, to provide the case management and individualized support services necessary to ensure that they remain housed." 

 

"Worcester Community Housing Resources is excited to be involved with the Home Again Housing Loan Fund.  The mission to eliminate homelessness in greater Worcester is vital and we believe this initiative will enable us to pursue the most effective approach," stated Worcester Community Housing Resources Executive Director Matthew Wally.  WCHR anticipates that other foundations will contribute to the Home Again Housing Loan Fund, enabling the fund to reach the goal of $3 million over the next four years and thereby providing loan funds necessary to assist the nonprofits in housing the 120 adult chronic homeless in Worcester, Wally explained.

 

"The Home Again partner organizations have been working together for almost two years to develop this project," said Deborah Ekstrom, CEO of Community Healthlink. "We are thrilled with the level of support from The Health Foundation and confident that this project will make a real difference, not only in the lives of the individual clients served, but in the face of homelessness in our community."  Ekstrom explained that Home Again clients will receive specialized, community-based support services that will help them break the cycle of chronic homelessness, improve their health and enjoy a better quality of life. Services will be provided to clients in their homes or nearby and their progress is measured by a set of established benchmarks. Services will include: activities of daily living (ADL) skills, health care services, mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, in-home nursing, socialization and tenancy skills, benefits and income management, and crisis intervention.

 

The Home Again initiative is a partnership of Community Healthlink (Administering and Fiscal Agent); the Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance; Dismas House; Henry Lee Willis Community Center; Jeremiah's Inn; and SMOC/People In Peril Shelter.   Those interested in learning more about Home Again should visit the website at homeagainincentralma.org.

 

 "The Health Foundation anticipates continuing to fund the full implementation of Home Again initiative over three to five years," Yost added.  "We anticipate that this will involve working with local and state officials to secure administrative or public policy changes to sustain the strategies. The Health Foundation anticipates total support in the range of $3 million for this effort, including our commitment to the loan fund, and we hope that others will join us in funding either the services or the loan fund or both."

 

Formally established in 1999 from the sale of Central Massachusetts Health Care, Inc., a physician-initiated, not-for-profit HMO, The Health Foundation currently has assets of approximately $65 million.  The Foundation began its grantmaking in late 2000, and since that time, has awarded grants totaling more than $15 million.  For further information about the Foundation's grantmaking programs and application process, please visit The Health Foundation's website at www.hfcm.org or call (508) 438-0009.

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