Home Again: Only a Home Ends Homelessness
Home Again Releases Evaluation Report, Receives New Grant



November 9, 2009                                                                              





The Health Foundation Awards $426,824 to Continue Housing First Model


WORCESTER, MA – After a 12-month planning period and a 21-month testing of the “Housing First” approach in Worcester with funding from The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts, a collaborative of homeless service providers has evidence that the approach is effective in creating solutions to adult chronic homelessness.  An independent evaluation showed that providing housing, coupled with case management and services, to individuals who have been chronically homeless is effective in ending their homelessness and improving their health status. 


“Based on these successful results of ”Home Again”, The Health Foundation is pleased to announce today its award of a $426,824 grant to continue the project for another year. This new grant brings the Foundation’s total commitment to Home Again since 2007 to $1,646,409” stated Janice B. Yost, President/CEO of the Foundation.  The grant is awarded to Community Healthlink, which serves as the administrator and fiscal agent of this collaborative project, in partnership with Central Mass Housing Alliance, Dismas House, Henry Lee Willis Community Center, Jeremiah’s Inn, and SMOC/People in Peril Shelter.


In accepting the award, Deborah Ekstrom, President/CEO of Community Healthlink, stated, “This new grant will enable Home Again to serve an additional 20-25 chronically homeless individuals with case management and permanent housing in and near Worcester, in addition to continuing services for the 29 individuals already in the project.”  Prior to implementing Home Again, approximately 125 individuals, or about 20 percent of the city’s homeless population, were identified as chronically homeless, Ekstrom explained.   


"Our organization is committed to a collaborative strategy to end homelessness in Worcester County.  Home Again is an important component of that strategy.  We are deeply appreciative of the leadership of Jan Yost and The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts in the effort to end homelessness for unaccompanied adults" stated James Cuddy, President/CEO of SMOC which administers the People in Peril Shelter. 


The Home Again 21-month outcome evaluation, conducted by a team from the Boston University School of Public Health, using reliable assessment measures compared the progress after six months of Home Again participants to that of a randomly assigned group of control subjects who received the standard care. The key findings were:  

  •  Home Again participants were 2.5 times as likely to achieve and maintain housing over six months. (97% vs. 38%)
  • Home Again clients' use of hospital emergency room services decreased by an average of 1.46 visits per three months during the evaluation period.  By contrast, the control group reported an increase of 0.62 visits per three months.
  •  The mental health of participants in both groups improved from baseline to the 6-month follow-up, but the mental health of the clients in Home Again improved more.
  • Home Again participants were nearly twice as likely a participants receiving standard services to have good social support (34% vs. 19%).  In general, people with good social support are more likely to have good physical and mental health, and are better equipped to reduce unhealthy substance use, than people with poor social support.
  • Home Again participants reported very high satisfaction with the services they received.

“The Health Foundation and our nonprofit providers are to be commended for stepping forward to adapt the “Housing First” approach in Worcester with the Home Again project.  Three years ago, many members of our community were not familiar with this successful model, but the research here has removed any doubt,” said Congressmen James McGovern.  He added that the federal government has recently shifted its funding to support “Housing First” models.


Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, chair of the Governor’s Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness (ICHH), also participated in the Legislative Commission Relative to Ending Homelessness in the Commonwealth after becoming elected.  He explained that in late 2007, the Legislative Commission recommended that the ICHH realign housing and homelessness state services in order to support the “Housing First” approach.  “The results from “Home Again” complement on-going efforts in the city of Worcester as well as the efforts by the Patrick-Murray Administration to end homelessness in Massachusetts,” said Lt. Governor Murray.  “We have since implemented many of the recommendations presented by the Legislative Commission and have aligned our state services to support the “Housing First” approach.  As we work together to end homelessness in our Commonwealth, it is imperative that we support models and practices that help homeless families transition from the emergency shelter system to permanent and stable housing.”


 “Home Again’s commitment of 75% of these new units for current PIP Shelter clients is vital to fulfilling our collective goal of ending the failed practice of emergency sheltering,” said Michael V. O’Brien, Worcester City Manager and Chair of the ICHH Worcester County Regional Network Leadership Council.  “It is only through this type of coordinated regional approach that we will achieve our goal.”


Frank, a participant in Home Again, reported, “I was homeless for two years.  Without the people and services at Community Healthlink and the Home Again project, I would still be homeless, on the streets and hopeless.  Now, I am housed, my substance abuse is under control and I am working.  I am grateful.”


More information about Home Again, including a copy of the Home Again 21-Month Outcome Evaluation Report, can be found at the website www.homeagaincentralma.org.