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The Missing Link for Education, Health and Criminal Justice

7 projects leveraging affordable housing to create better education, healthier communities + safer streets Tweet This

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Across Chicago’s social sector, a range of innovative nonprofits, scholars and leaders pool their expertise to tackle the city’s most urgent and complex challenges—like health, education and criminal justice.

Yet there’s one common factor that we know plays a critical role in all of these improvements, from higher educational achievement to lower recidivism rates: ensuring stable housing for the individuals and families at highest risk.

In June 2017, The Chicago Community Trust launched a new funding initiative to break down silos between these interrelated fields. The Housing+ grant program is designed to identify and support strong partnerships providing permanent supportive housing, and connecting it to outcomes in health, education or criminal justice reform and recidivism reduction.

Today the Trust is pleased to announce seven grants totaling $472,935 that will support projects removing barriers to the kind of close collaboration that holds the potential for transformative impact.

The Housing+ grants for 2018:

  • Alexian Brothers Housing and Health Alliance: $60,000
    Housing + Health
    Integrating occupational therapy into permanent supportive housing programs, in order to help residents increase their independence and their competence in managing their own healthcare.
  • Business and Professional People for the Public Interest: $60,000
    Housing + Education
    Improving educational attainment for students in the Altgeld-Riverdale community by providing safe and stable housing, educational support services and parent/family engagement.
  • Health and Disability Advocates (Smart Policy): $85,000
    Housing + Criminal Justice
    Working toward successful reintegration for justice-involved populations by eliminating systemic barriers to permanent housing and healthcare.
  • Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights: $86,435
    Housing + Criminal Justice
    Crafting and implementing model policies and practices for housing people with criminal records—a collaboration between Heartland Alliance’s policy team, Heartland Housing and Cabrini Green Legal Aid.
  • Heartland Health Outreach: $80,000
    Housing + Health
    Addressing the interrelated determinants of health and housing by integrating systems and sharing health records, in a pilot project designed to create new revenue for participating organizations.
  • Metropolitan Mayors Caucus: $41,500
    Housing + Health
    Integrating home repairs with proactive health care services in order to support seniors living independently in the Northwest suburbs—a replication of Johns Hopkins University’s CAPABLE (Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders) model.
  • Norwegian American Hospital: $50,000
    Housing + Health
    Establishing a 24-block area of Humboldt Park as a Wellness District, addressing socioeconomic determinants of health that include permanent, affordable housing—a project that begins with conducting financial analyses, and convening and listening to residents.

As the Trust’s senior program officer Joanna Trotter explains, “Providing access to housing for vulnerable families is often overlooked in the discourse of achieving better outcomes, whether those are in health, educational performance and attainment, workforce readiness or recidivism within the criminal justice system.”

“How can we expect students to perform at their highest level when they are worried about where they will lay their heads at night?” Trotter adds. “How can we expect those returning from the justice system to come back to their community successfully if they are automatically screened out of quality affordable housing?”

These grants mark the second wave of projects to be funded as part of the Trust’s Housing+ initiative. In September 2017, $529,000 was awarded to nine projects working at the intersections of housing with education, health and justice.

These seven additional grants diversify and balance the Housing+ portfolio by adding an initiative on the far South Side, more housing/criminal justice projects and more health-based partnerships with the city’s hospital systems.