Housing First Works!
After appearing at the recent Public Hearing on the City of Savannah 2013 Action Plan (links below for the video of the Public Hearing) that presented our City’s plans for using CDBG & ESG funding on homelessness (as well as other programs funded by HUD in our community) we saw this referenced blog post on HuffPost DC dealing with Veterans Homelessness, solutions & real stats on the use of Housing First to end chronic (veterans) homelessness in DC.
We went to the Public Hearing to make the City Council & City agencies as well as the public formally aware of alternative solutions being developed in the community for ending homelessness, our Housing First Savannah efforts in particular.
Our comments in summary are presented here:
- Existing service providers are not interested in delivering housing to our homeless population based on a Housing First Model
- We have brought together those committed to delivering that housing & supportive services in Savannah into an effort known as Housing First Savannah
- We seek no direct government funding for this project, although other communities have used CDBG & ESG funds to provide part of the solution
- We didn’t say that HUD vouchers have in fact been used for a Housing First Model but they have
- We seek to become funded using Social Impact Bonds (a “pay for success” model)
- We also seek to engage the broader faith community via a possible Interfaith Taskforce on Ending Homelessness
- We need to think about our own community 10 year plan for ending homelessness (& our own 5 year plan which was also inherently approved by City Council on Thursday, 11/1/12) in light of Housing First being encouraged by HUD & the USICH agency with their recently announced modified NOFA process
We thought it particularly timely that this referenced article was located for a few reasons.
What is Housing First you ask? Here’s a quote from the linked article that helps understand outcomes from Housing First models & that’s what it’s all about, right?
An important quote summarizing the outcomes experienced & the research about Housing First from the linked article:
A concept originally developed by Pathways to Housing, “Housing First” has been shown to end chronic homelessness for 88 percent of participants, and prevent the recurrences of homelessness that are so common for formerly homeless individuals. (Similar efforts using an older model, which required homeless people to get clean or sober before getting an apartment have resulted in 47 percent success rates.) In the past decade, Housing First has caught on across the country. Close to home, the model is embraced in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties and Northern Virginia, as well as the District.
We had just had a visit at the site of the new HUGS Day Center (Shelter) by the Downtown Neighborhood Association Board members & guests (including someone from the Savannah Morning News who was also invited).
We had also been invited to attend a Rotary Club East Savannah’s weekly meeting to present HUGS, the organization & solutions provided to our homeless & others for counseling etc.
Housing First has many misunderstandings attached to it that we hope to dispel in the near future with meaningful dialog so that we can all gain consensus.
Several of these misunderstandings were displayed in the Public Hearing with comments made by the local Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless Interim Executive Director.
Claims of “revolving doors” being created by Housing First & the lack of certification of services, including a plea for the City to NOT divert any funding to a solution that implements Housing First, show several aspects of misunderstanding & pure lack of knowledge of the services model we are using, based on a commitment to the outcomes of the person with innovative, volunteer based services (although all volunteers are certified providers of counseling services, with an interest in the whole person & the healing that comes along with the services provided by HUGS, more on this later & info available on the HUGS website).
So this referenced article tends to dispel some of the myths, many of which reside in a deep commitment to sobriety by current service models vs a recovery-based services model that we will deliver.
Read on, then ask yourself what you as a community want for our homeless community! Read both the article linked to as well as the detailed research linked to in the previous quote if you want the facts.
If you’d like to hear the actual presentation to Council by Housing First Savannah & the response by the CoC (as well as the proposed comments which weren’t allowed by Dr Carter, CEO of Union Mission) then listen here (caution, this video is not indexed & the comments in the Public Hearing referenced above don’t start until about an hour into the video).
We would be very interested in engaging the community in understanding the realities of Housing First & the differences in the services model that we believe HUGS brings to the table & which may very well make our outcomes better than those presented in this research.
We are also willing to put our funding on the line with “Pay for Success” models as provided for in Social Impact Bonds!
Comments, thoughts & connections welcome!