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City Investment to Help Homeless Chicagoans Secure Stable Housing

With City funding, new housing subsidy pool to more quickly house vulnerable + homeless people in #Chicago Tweet This

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Late last year, The Chicago Community Trust awarded more than $500,000 in grants through its Housing+ program in an effort to strengthen the connections between permanent housing and better outcomes in criminal justice, health and educational attainment and performance.

Today we are already celebrating accomplishments stemming from this work, as the City of Chicago and Chicago Housing Authority have announced their commitment to contribute funds to a new Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool for Chicago.

The Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), a Housing+ grant recipient, and several partners are creating the subsidy pool to help vulnerable residents secure more stable housing. They secured the commitments of financial support from the City and CHA to contribute funds to this pool, which will be used to quickly house and provide support services for homeless people in Chicago.

Modeled after successful programs in Los Angeles and Houston, Chicago’s FHSP will bring together the Chicago Housing Authority, the Chicago Department of Family and Supportive Services, the Chicago Department of Public Health, the Chicago Department of Planning and Development and the Corporation for Supportive Housing to collaboratively support services that address the needs of those facing homelessness.

According to a City release, “It is well documented that supportive housing can reduce longterm spending on emergency services such as shelter, emergency hospital services, police, court and jail services, and emergency medical care, while improving outcomes for chronically homeless individuals. An evaluation of the Los Angeles County Department of Health – Housing for Health program shows that every dollar invested in the program saved $1.20 in public spending. Prior to housing, program participants received public services costing $38,146 person, which decreased to $15,358 after one year in supportive housing. Other findings concluded that supportive housing interventions reduced ER visits by 57% and inpatient days by 75%. This not only represents a shift in costs, but a shift in where individuals are accessing care and reducing the burden on the community’s crisis system of care.”

Prior to housing, program participants received public services costing $38,146 person, which decreased to $15,358 after one year in supportive housing. Other findings concluded that supportive housing interventions reduced ER visits by 57% and inpatient days by 75%.

CSH is known nationally for developing and evaluating new models and demonstration programs that “uncover innovative, data-driven methods to make supportive housing work better for more people.” By building relationships with the City, CSH and its partners hope to streamline the administrative process for applying for housing; consistently add units to the city’s homeless housing inventory; build upon data to identify individuals seeking services for the homeless; and, perhaps most importantly, manage the entire housing process from beginning to end. This comprehensive process will help address multiple determinants of health while providing individuals with safe, stable housing.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel formally introduced the City’s involvement with this multi-stakeholder program by announcing combined public and private funding for rental subsidies and housing tenancy supports in December. The fund will receive $500,00 from the Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund and $500,000 in 2018 corporate funds; the Chicago Housing Authority will additionally contribute $800,000 in US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development Funds, which were appropriated in November 2017. These dollars allow the City to match Flexible Housing Pool partners in their efforts to advance comprehensive and supportive care at the nexus of housing and health for Chicago’s homeless and housing-unstable population.

On January 26, the City released a Request for Information, seeking responses from social service providers, housing providers and other organizations with related expertise that can help inform the City’s design of an initial implementation phase of the FHP model. This initial phase will aim to help between 50 and 100 individuals, identified by health systems and the homeless system, be referred through a coordinated process to quickly access affordable, permanent supportive housing.

By building relationships with the City, Corporation for Supportive Housing hopes to streamline the administrative process for applying for housing; consistently add units to the city’s homeless housing inventory; build upon data to identify individuals seeking services for the homeless; and manage the entire housing process from beginning to end.

Based on research and discussions stemming from the How Housing Matters in Chicago conference—supported by The Chicago Community Trust, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation and Weiboldt Foundation—the Housing+ initiative provided funding to organizations that were seeking new approaches to housing: ones that supported cross-sector partnerships.

The Trust looks forward to continuing work with partners through its Housing+ program, and to supporting the development of this innovative housing pool that has the potential to dramatically reshape housing and homelessness services in Chicago.