Houston Celebrates Milestone in New Service Delivery Model

November 24, 2014

IMG_2981On October 31, the City of Houston and the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County gathered more than 40 service provider staff members to celebrate a milestone in the implementation of a new service delivery model to better serve our homeless neighbors. In the past few months, 130 individuals have been housed, and another 20 enrolled for housing through the hard work and incredible collaboration of local service partners: Houston Area Community Services (HACS), Healthcare for the Homeless – Houston, SEARCH Homeless Services, New Hope Housing, Inc., and the Houston Housing Authority.

This new service delivery model is built upon the creation of integrated care teams that are comprised of primary and behavioral health care clinical staff, on-site case managers, nurse case managers, community health workers, and licensed chemical dependency counselors. These integrated care teams support people living in Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) and ensure that they have more immediate access to both primary and behavioral health care clinical services.

The seed funding for this new service model came from the City of Houston Health and Human Services Department 1115 Medicaid Waiver. The 1115 funding offered our community a way to partner with Federally Qualified Health Centers to create these integrated care teams and provide comprehensive and immediate access to the full range of services that chronically homeless individuals need to maintain success in housing.

“You took a vision and made it a reality,” said Mandy Chapman Semple (Mayor’s Special Assistant on Homeless Initiatives, City of Houston) as she addressed the crowd of homeless agency staff members who gathered on Halloween to celebrate their early successes. “You have made a difference and changed 150 lives for the better. Stephen Williams, Director of the City of Houston’s Health and Human Services Department, was also on hand at the celebration to express his gratitude to the providers as well.

One client whose life was changed, Ms. Harris, found herself homeless and had been staying at Star of Hope. She was assessed for housing on June 2, 2014, referred to the 1115 program, and moved into a New Hope Housing unit on July 7, 2014. Since moving into her new home, Ms. Harris has thrived – helping with the community garden and preparing hot dogs for fellow tenants at community events. Ms. Harris also recently referred a friend she had met at Star of Hope to the 1115 program, and even arranged transportation for her friend to ensure she could receive her voucher and move into housing as well. The case managers who worked with Ms. Harris are incredibly proud of her and can’t wait to see what she does next to continue to create community within her new home.

Two lead providers were selected to provide integrated care teams: HACS and Healthcare for the Homeless – Houston/SEARCH. The Houston Housing Authority provided vouchers for the 1115 clients, and New Hope Housing provided the bulk of the housing. All of the providers involved have done tremendous work in getting this new delivery model off the ground.

The next goal for the 1115 funding specifically is to enroll and house another 100 individuals by October 2015. Additionally, this service delivery model will be applied to all future PSH units in Houston, Harris County, and Fort Bend County – no matter what funding is used. Providers couldn’t be more excited, as this model has shown early success and will work to keep formerly homeless individuals stably and appropriately housed.


Houston Housing Authority Wins Multiple Awards

The Texas Chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) awarded the Houston Housing Authority (HHA) the following awards in April of this year: Media Recognition, Best Newsletter, Best Other Publications, Resident of the Year, and Member of the Year. Texas NAHRO is an organization that promotes quality affordable housing and sustainable communities in Texas through advocacy, education, and empowerment, and announced the winners at its 38th Annual Conference in Corpus Christi, TX.

HHA received the Media Recognition award for the well-executed media coverage on its new smoke-free policy, the Best Newsletter award for its quarterly public housing newsletter, “The Home Edition,” and the Best Other Publications award for its quarterly newsletter “Building Connections,” that is distributed to landlords participating in its voucher program. The Resident of the Year award was given to the children at Clayton Homes who participated in last year’s Lemonade Day and donated a portion of the proceeds they earned from selling lemonade to victims of the tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.

The final award, NAHRO Member of the Year was given to Mark Thiele, Vice President of Housing Choice Voucher Program at the Houston Housing Authority, for his commitment, dedication, and constructive service to Texas NAHRO, the Houston Housing Authority, and the Houston Community.

“We are proud to receive these awards, which serve as symbols of the hard work and dedication of the Housing Authority staff,” said Houston Housing Authority President & CEO Tory Gunsolley. “We are committed to transforming the lives and communities of those that we serve, we are pleased that Texas NAHRO recognized us for our work.” As a valued partner of The Way Home, we would also like to congratulate the Houston Housing Authority for their dedication to changing the path for Houston’s homeless neighbors.

The Houston Housing Authority provides affordable homes and services to more than 60,000 low-income Houstonians, including more than 17,000 families housed through the Housing Choice Voucher Program and another 5,500 living in 25 public housing and tax credit developments around the city. HHA also administers the nation’s third largest voucher program, exclusively serving homeless veterans. More information about the Houston Housing Authority can be found at: www.housingforhouston.com.