November 24, 2014
On 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.