Home Again: Only a Home Ends Homelessness
February 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 February 2009 
In This Issue
Growing Government Support of Housing First
Interview With Home Again Case Manager
Homelessness Counts Report Released
About Home Again
Quick Links
Dear Terence,
 
This seemingly endless winter reinforces how important it is to do all we can to eliminate homelessness in any season. At Home Again, we are glad to know that we have successfully created permanent and stable homes with available support services for our clients who may have otherwise been out in the cold today struggling with their homelessness.  Looking ahead, it is the economic forecast that tells us that our work to reduce chronic homelessness in the greater Worcester area will grow harder as more people become homeless due to the current financial crisis.
 
We are encouraged by the support of the housing first approach to solving chronic adult homelessness that is growing stronger at the federal, state and county levels of government across the country.  In Massachusetts, Lt. Governor Tim Murray, who also chairs the state's
Interagency Council on Homelessness and Housing, recently voiced his support for the housing first model when announcing the Patrick administration's plans to move the state's emergency shelter program from the Department of Transitional Assistance into the Department of Housing Community Development reinforcing their decision to move to a housing-based model.  Lt. Governor Murray was exposed to the advantages of providing chronically homeless people with stable homes when he was a member of the state Commission to End Homelessness, which strongly supported the housing first approach.
 
We may soon see more housing first related programs in Worcester as well. 
In a recent interview, City Manager Michael O'Brien said that he will be moving ahead to implement the recommendations made by the City Manager's Task Force on Homelessness, which supported housing first as a strategy to reduce chronic homelessness. Home Again offers our support to City Manager O'Brien in the coming year as we all work together to improve people's lives and reduce the reliance on emergency services and shelters.
 
There is also encouraging news on the results of efforts across the country to reduce homelessness. 
The National Alliance to End Homelessness released its second Homelessness Counts report, which shows a 28 percent decrease in chronic homelessness between 2005 and 2007.  One measure the report singled out as an effective tool is the rapid re-housing of homeless people.  Last summer, the office of Housing and Urban Development announced that in the same period, the number of chronically homeless people dropped by 30 percent and attributed it to the policy shifts that led to federal and local resources being used for housing first programs.
 
While these numbers give us hope, we also know that since they were recorded, there have been dramatic changes in the economy that will cause many more people to become homeless. Given this challenge, we believe that Home Again, and other similar programs that offer a proven and compassionate solution to chronic homelessness through the housing first model, will continue to successfully bring people off of the streets and into safe, secure, and stable homes. Fortunately, it is becoming apparent to more people that only a home ends homelessness.
 
 
Sincerely,
 
Brooke Doyle
Project Director
Home Again

  Growing Support for Housing First at the Federal, State and County Level 

There is solid evidence that the housing first approach to ending homelessness is working for both families and individuals.  As a result, there has been increasing government support for the housing first approach at the federal, state, and county levels across the country. 
 
Earlier this month, citing a "housing first strategy," the state of Massachusetts announced that it will merge the state agencies that oversee contracts for the emergency shelter programs funded by the Department of Transitional Assistance with housing resources funded through the state Department of Housing and Community Development.  Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray of Worcester, who is also the Chair of the state's Interagency Council on Homelessness and Housing, voiced strong backing of housing first when his office announced the merger of the agencies saying, "We believe housing first will drastically stem the tide of those at risk of being homeless..."  Murray, who is a former member of the state Commission to End Homelessness, which supports housing first as a solution, said the recent agency reorganization was based on the recommendations of the Commission and driven by the housing first approach.
 
In November of 2007, the Worcester City Manager's Task Force on Homelessness strongly recommended the housing first approach in its report to the city manager saying, "Instead of relying on shelters, we propose to implement a Housing First strategy."  In a recent interview in the Worcester Telegram, City Manager Michael O'Brien, who has been supportive of Home Again's work, said that he will move ahead to implement the recommendations of the Task Force to improve the lives of homeless people and reduce reliance on emergency shelters.
 
There are also a number of states, counties and municipalities that are today using the housing first approach to address homelessness with encouragement from the federal government. According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, which supports housing first as an approach, 860 cities and counties have partnered in 355 ten-year plans to end homelessness that incorporate the housing first approach. The US Interagency Council on Homelessness supports housing first and encourages municipalities to adopt the housing first strategy to reduce homelessness in their jurisdictions.
 
In the last few years, there have been some great examples of state and county government adopting housing first.  In2005, the state of Rhode Island founded a housing first initiative that is still providing permanent stable housing to homeless people.  In 2004, the state of Utah adopted the housing first approach to solve homelessness in its ten-year plan and announced that "the key to addressing homelessness is a housing first strategy."  
On the county level, Whatcom County in Washington State just created the Homeless Service Center that will work to help the approximately 1,300 homeless people in that county though a housing first-based program.  Guilford County North Carolina is a year into their ten-year plan to end homelessness, which is based on housing first. And Lancaster County in Pennsylvania adopted a ten-year plan to end homelessness that is based on housing first that they say will save the county $30,000 per homeless individual once they are no longer using emergency services.
 
 
Read the Boston Globe story on the state's efforts to use a housing first strategy
 

Read the City Manager's Task Force on Homelessness report 
 
Read the US Interagency Council on Homelessness 10-year plan programs that support the use of housing first

An Interview With a Home Again Case Manager

Matthew Gordon is a case manager for the Home Again program working with eight clients. Although he has experience in the human services field, this is his first time being part of a housing first program.  In his work with Home Again clients, Matthew has been struck by how effective providing a person with a home is in breaking the cycle of chronic homelessness.
 
Matthew sees how just the first step of providing a stable permanent home to chronically homeless people makes a tremendous change in the Home Again clients' behavior and outlook on life.  "Some of the clients just needed a home to re-establish their lives," says Matthew.  "Something as simple as having a phone to reach out to a potential support network of family and friends and being in a permanent place where these supporters can reach them and re-connect is a huge step in breaking the cycle of chronic homelessness." Matthew says that some of the Home Again clients have even begun to look for work after just months in the program because of the security they feel in having a home.
 
With his Home Again clients, Matthew sees first-hand how having a home has led to them re-orienting their lives for the better.  "Our clients really just needed to be off the streets because once we provide them a home, they take the initiative to get the services they need," says Matthew.  "They feel good about what they've been given and make use of the support and stability to improve their lives." 
 
Creating a supportive environment and working with the clients to establish the
goals they want to achieve is a priority of the Home Again program.  "While we mandate that our clients have weekly meetings with their case managers, we are also flexible about how much space we give to clients who need it while keeping close to those who require that extra attention," says Matthew.  "Most importantly, it's about always standing by them when they are making this huge change in their lives and letting them know they have unconditional support." 

  Second "Homelessness Counts" Report Released

The Homelessness Research Institute of the National Alliance to End Homelessness released its second Homelessness Counts report.  This latest report shows a 10 percent decrease in homelessness in the nation between 2005 and 2007, which includes a 28 percent decrease in chronic homelessness - the type of homelessness Home Again was created to address.  The report states that one of the practices that has achieved the greatest reductions in homelessness is rapid re-housing. The Homelessness Counts report is a useful tool to asses where we are as a nation in solving homelessness, which is a major public health issue facing our country and communities.
 
Read the summary of the Homelessness Counts report here
 
 
Read the Homelessness Counts report here
 

 
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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