Home Again: Only a Home Ends Homelessness
May 2009
Home Again: Only a Home Ends Homelessness 
Working With the Community to End Adult Chronic Homelessness in the Greater Worcester Area
Home Again News May 2009 
In This Issue
Reports show Home Again may be effective
James- A Home Again participant
Report shows housing first drastically reduced Medicaid costs
Report shows fewer chronically homeless in Worcester
JAMA articles show benefit of housing first
About Home Again
Quick Links
Dear Terence,
 
Progress.  That is a very important concept at the heart of our commitment to end chronic homelessness.  Progress means moving toward achieving your goals, but it also captures the importance of patience and determination in reaching that goal.  That is something we see every day in the Home Again participants who work very hard to improve their lives by breaking out of the cycle of chronic homelessness.
 
Even in the early stages of the Home Again program we are seeing encouraging progress with our clients.  The preliminary results in the long-term  evaluation of the program show that the Home Again clients are healthier, rely less on emergency services, believe they have a better quality of life, and use alcohol and other substances less than those who are receiving the standard care offered to chronically homeless adults.  These marked improvements in the lives of our clients are the result of having a place to call home and access to support services, which is at the core of the
Home Again mission.
 
James, a resident of  Home Again's
Spencer House, is just one example of why we are seeing these early signs of success. James once had a home and a family, but lost it all and spent years living on the streets and temporary shelters.  When he was approached to become a participant in Home Again, he embraced the opportunity to take control of his life through the permanent housing and support services we provide.  Today, James is not only improving his own life, but takes the time to reach out and help others, who like him, are facing the daunting challenge of crossing over the threshold into a new home and a better life.
 
There are also signs of progress in the broader efforts to end adult chronic homelessness.  The Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance just
released a report on its statewide housing first program, Home &Healthy for Good, with data showing that when chronically homeless people are placed in housing first programs their annual Medicaid costs to the Commonwealth plummet by an average of $17,624.00 per person.  The Home and Healthy for Good report also shows an impressive 84 percent housing stability rate among participants in the program.
 
The Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance recently came out with their annual
Point in Time Survey, which shows steady progress in reducing the number of chronically homeless people in temporary shelters in the City of Worcester for the second year in a row.  These results indicate that housing first is causing homeless individuals to see an improvement in their health while improving the quality of life in the city and lowering the costs associated with chronic homelessness.
 
 
While we are encouraged by these signs of progress, we know there is a lot of work to be accomplished.  We will keep doing all we can to see even greater progress in each individual who is looking to improve their life and in our efforts to end chronic homelessness altogether.
 
Sincerely,
 
Brooke Doyle,
Project Director,
Home Again


  Preliminary results suggest Home Again may be effective

 
Chronic Homelessness is a major public health issue that needs to be solved for both the individuals and the community at large.  One of the main components of the Home Again model program is to constantly monitor the overall health and well being of the individuals in the program to assess the positive health benefits that come with the introduction of a permanent home and support services.  


In order to assess the effectiveness of the Home Again program, evaluators from the Boston University School of Public Health randomized chronically homeless individuals to receive either the Home Again intervention (which provides permanent, stable housing and support services), or to receive the standard care which is provided to chronically homeless people.  Randomization was necessary in order to ensure that the two groups were as equivalent as possible.  The  evaluators are in the process of comparing outcomes for these two groups in order to determine if the program was effective. 

 
The early findings  are promising; they indicate that individuals in the Home Again program are participating in the support services provided.   Preliminary results suggest that six months after enrollment, Home Again participants may be using less alcohol than those in the standard care group, and using alcohol to "get buzzed" less often.  Participants in the intervention may also be less likely to use the emergency room for health care needs and more likely to report that they are in "excellent health."
 
"The preliminary results from our evaluation suggest that the Home Again intervention may improve the health of the individuals who are enrolled," said Emily Rothman, Assistant Professor at the Boston University School of Public Health and lead researcher on the Home Again program evaluation. 
The results of other peer-reviewed studies of interventions similar to Home Again have also produced positive findings.  Taken together, these prior studies, and Emily Rothman's preliminary results, are encouraging.  In the near future, we may have data that demonstrate that Housing First-type interventions are an effective way to reduce the health problems that affect chronically homeless people's lives, and to lower health care costs to the community. 

Even though we have only preliminary evaluation results in hand, they suggest that Home Again may be changing people's lives for the better and contributing to ending chronic homelessness in the Worcester area.
 

Read an overview of the Home Again program here


James- A new life in a new home

 James was living on the streets of Worcester for several years until he moved into a permanent home with support services provided by Home Again.  At one time, he had his own home and a family, which he lost because of his struggle with substances.
 
Like a number of chronically homeless people, James spent a year at the PIP shelter - a shelter designed to be temporary refuge, not a long-term home.  But he felt that there was no other alternative until he was approached by Community Healthlink staff to be considered for the Home Again program.
 
"I did the survey with Gladys (the program supervisor) and she said to me, 'how about a place of your own?'" says James.  Gladys asked if he would like to become a participant in the Community Healthlink Home Again program.  James embraced the opportunity to break out of the cycle of chronic homelessness. 
 
Today, James has a permanent home and access to support services in the program'sLt. Tommy Spencer House residence in which he lives with a few others who are working hard to reclaim their lives.  "If it wasn't for Home Again, and Gladys telling me about this program, I'd still be on the streets."
 
Having permanent housing - with simple things like a door for privacy, a set of drawers to put away clothes, and his own bed - has made a deep impact on James's self esteem and sense of well being. "Now, I have my dignity back," he says.
 
Sharing the experience of adjusting to this new life with others who are going through the same challenges has been a source of strength for James and is helping him make tremendous progress in reclaiming his life. The Spencer House tenants gather in the common rooms to talk, encourage each other, and share meals that are often prepared by James.  "We support the people coming into the program and we tell them to go to their appointments (with their case worker or support services) - we push them to do the right thing."
 
Read about who Home Again is designed to serve
 
Watch Thaddeus talk about becoming homeless and regaining his life through a home and services



MHSA Home & Healthy for Good Progress Report shows major Medicaid cost savings created by housing first programs

The Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance recently released a progress report on their Home & Healthy for Good housing first program, which shows a dramatic decline in healthcare costs to the state when chronically homeless people are provided with permanent supportive housing.  Home & Healthy for Good is a statewide housing first program funded in part by the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance that provides permanent housing and support services to chronically homeless individuals.
 
Annual Medicaid costs for Home & Healthy for Good participants tracked in the report went from $26,124 per person before they were housed to just $8,500 after housing- that is a drop of $17,624.00 per person each year. The Massachusetts Office of Medicaid's  analysis of billing claims data showed that when chronically homeless people are moved into housing first programs, there is a 67 percent reduction in Medicaid costs. 
 
"Chronic homelessness is major public health issue.  It affects the quality of life of individuals experiencing homelessness while creating huge costs for the community at large," said Joe Finn, President and Executive Director of the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance.  "This report proves that when you provide chronically homeless people with a permanent, stable home, you are improving their quality of life while providing a solution that dramatically lowers health care costs for the state."
 
In addition to these cost savings, the Home & Healthy for Good Progress Report shows that the costs of shelter and incarceration incurred by chronically homeless people participating in the program decreased from $6,984 annually to only $192 after they moved into permanent homes.
 
Overall, when chronically homeless people are provided with permanent supportive housing, it saves the state approximately $8,949 annually per individual - and that includes the cost of the housing.
 
Along with the major cost savings created by the housing first approach, the report also details the success of housing first programs in creating housing stability for chronically homeless individuals.  Of the 357 initial participants in the Home & Healthy for Good program,  the report shows that 217 remained housed in their program and 74 people have moved on to other permanent housing.  These results show that the program is achieving an 84% housing stability rate among participants through utilizing the housing first approach to chronic homelessness.
 
The Home & Healthy for Good Progress Report is proof that the compassionate solution to chronic homelessness also delivers real results for the whole community.
 
Read the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance press release on the report here
 
Read the Home & Healthy for Good Progress Report here


 

 
The Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance 2009 Point in Time Homeless Count shows reduction in chronically homeless individuals in Worcester shelters
 

The Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance released the 2009 Point in Time Homeless Count, which shows a decline in the number of chronically homeless individuals in the City of Worcester for the second year in a row.
 
This year's lower number is the result of there being 11 fewer chronically homeless people in temporary shelters in the City of Worcester - nearly a 10% decrease.  This positive news comes in part from people transferring from temporary shelters such as the PIP to permanent homes in housing first programs like Home Again.
 
"When chronically homeless individuals are provided with a stable home through programs like Home Again, the positive results are tangible," said Grace Carmark, executive director of the Housing Alliance of Central Massachusetts and a member of the Home Again Steering Committee. "The number of chronically homeless individuals living full time in temporary shelters has declined for the second year in a row and we attribute that to housing first programs."
 
Last year, the 2008 Point in Time Homeless Count showed the first drop in the number of chronically homeless people in the City of Worcester since the inception of the Point in Time Homeless Count.  Grace Carmark, told the Worcester Telegram and Gazette at the time that the reduction in the number of chronically homeless people on the street and in the temporary shelters was due to the rise in housing first programs in the area. 
 
The progress seen in the continued reduction of chronically homeless people living in shelters in Worcester this year is strong evidence that housing first initiatives like Home Again are providing an effective, compassionate solution to chronic homelessness that is improving the quality of life in Worcester.
 
Read the complete 2009 Point in Time Homeless Count

 

 

Reports in JAMA say housing first reduces health care costs for homeless individuals

 
Underscoring the fact that chronic homelessness is a major public health issue, the Journal of the American Medical Association recently published a number of articles on the effectiveness of housing first in reducing health care costs incurred by chronically homeless individuals. 
 
The most recent report was published by a group of doctors and public health experts in Chicago who concluded that providing housing and case management to chronically homeless adults results in 29 percent fewer hospital days and 24 percent fewer emergency department visits than those receiving standard care for homelessness.
 
This report followed another published in JAMA last month that concluded that housing first reduced the costs incurred by chronically homeless people who were severely addicted to alcohol.

 
Donate to Home Again 

Your generous support will assist Home Again in helping homeless adults take the steps needed to reclaim their lives and move away from reliance on costly emergency services, which will improve the overall quality of life for the communities in the Greater Worcester area.
 
Please click here to visit our online donations page.
 
When you make a donation, you become part of a compassionate and proven solution that is working to improve people's lives through the power of a having a place to call home.
 
Thank you.
 


 
About Home Again
 
Home Again has created and implemented a model program that will reduce the number of chronically and pre-chronically homeless adults who live on the streets, consistently use emergency shelters and rely on emergency rooms for all their medical needs.
 
Home Again serves chronically and pre-chronically homeless adults by providing them immediately with permanent housing, community-based support services, and a case management staff who assist with access to health care, mental health and employment services.
 
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