Taking Health Care Home

A national initiative to reduce chronic homelessness through the creation of supportive housing

Field of Work: Providing supportive housing to people who have been chronically homeless

Problem Synopsis: Most chronically homeless individuals have a serious substance abuse or mental health challenge, and many also suffer from other chronic illnesses. Such individuals cycle repeatedly through hospital emergency rooms, mental health treatment centers, shelters, detoxification centers and jails, and use a disproportionate share of these resources.

Synopsis of the Work: The Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), based in New York City, created Taking Health Care Home, a national effort from 2002 to 2010 to expand the pipeline of permanent supportive housing for homeless people with chronic disabilities, such as HIV/AIDS, long-term substance abuse and severe mental illness. The project entailed providing grants, loans, and technical assistance to states and communities to coordinate and streamline the way they organize, deliver and fund housing and health and human services.

Key Results

  • Through lending, grantmaking and technical assistance, CSH’s Taking Health Care Home initiative spurred the creation or addition to the pipeline of more than 22,000 units of permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals and families. Other CSH programs created an additional 33,600 units of such housing through those activities, and the organization’s public policy efforts led to the creation of almost 84,000 units, for a total of just under 140,000 units.

    In 2007, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported a 30 percent drop in chronic homelessness. “That is a huge impact,” said Nancy Barrand, special advisor for program development at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) who spearheaded this work at the Foundation. “We can’t show cause and effect, but we see a strong correlation.”