As we know, housing is a basic human need. Healthy, accessible and affordable housing is an essential element of supporting individuals and families.
However, the complexity around 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. While housing crosses all of these issues, it is often addressed solely by housing providers, advocates and the public sector through complex affordable housing resources. Many are trying to change this overly-siloed approach.
The truth is, finding solutions to this complex issue cannot be done without considering all of the contributing factors and the resulting impacts.
There are over 18,000 Chicago Public School students touched by homelessness.
We know that the national risk of recidivism back into prison for justice-involved individuals is 67% within three years, and that the two most critical factors in reducing the recidivism rate are stable housing and a means of legal income.
We also know that 26% of homeless individuals are living with a mental illness, compared to just 4% of the general population, and that improved housing conditions reduce the cases of lead poisoning, lessen the cases of uncontrolled asthma and minimize emergency room visits.
The national risk of recidivism back into prison for justice-involved individuals is 67% within three years—and the two most critical factors in reducing that rate are stable housing and a means of legal income.
These facts were highlighted in a regional convening in 2016 hosted by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, Polk Bros. Foundation and the Wieboldt Foundation that resulted in the How Housing Matters in Chicago Conference White Paper.
They are what compelled The Chicago Community Trust to release its Housing+ Request for Proposals, an open call for partnerships aimed at addressing the proven determinants of permanent housing interrelated with health outcomes, education performance and attainment and recidivism reduction.
The RFP sought proposals that are testing new approaches and documenting their outcomes. It was designed to support strong cross-sector partnerships that are primarily seeking to provide permanent supportive housing and connect it to outcomes in one or more of the three domains—health, education or criminal justice reform and recidivism reduction—through partnerships, research and advocacy.
With 68 thoughtful proposals received, it is apparent that many practitioners are up to the task of bringing together these issues and removing the many barriers that make it difficult to advance this work. We are pleased to share and congratulate nine promising partnerships that the Trust will support to advance this important work:
- Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County: $75,000
A housing and health proposal working to bridge homeless and health care systems serving suburban Cook County by using data, assessment and supportive services to improve coordinated entry for homeless services in order to better connect high-barrier populations to housing and services.
- Chicago Coalition for the Homeless: $40,000
A housing and education partnership with Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Service (DFFS) to implement the Families in Transition (FIT) program. CCH and DFSS will work with Urban Labs on its evaluative research of housing impacts on family stability and student outcomes.
- Corporation for Supportive Housing: $75,000
A housing and health effort that creates a flexible supportive housing intervention for people experiencing homelessness, complex health needs and multi-systems involvement by partnering to facilitate new investment from non-traditional sources.
- Logan Square Neighborhood Association: $25,000
A housing and education organizing effort that will mobilize parents, principals and teachers from three local schools, 37 member institutions, Bickerdike Development Corporation and the 35th Ward Office to ensure the Emmett Street Lot development addresses the housing needs of local low-income families with children.
- Metropolis Strategies: $70,000
A housing and criminal justice policy effort to develop and implement a strategy to enable Illinois to create more housing (both transitory and permanent) for those leaving the criminal justice system in the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) or local jails.
- Metropolitan Tenants Organization: $64,000
A housing and health program that focuses on the city’s building code. The partnership will inspect homes in vulnerable communities for health hazards, create best practices and advocate for policy change.
- Presence Health Network: $50,000
A housing and health partnership to reduce healthcare utilization in high-risk asthma patients living on Chicago’s West/Northwest side by controlling home-based triggers through patient education and home remediation.
- Southwest Organizing Project: $85,000
A broad-based organizing campaign working to turn vacant buildings into affordable housing, improve schools and decrease crime by acquiring and rehabbing properties, running programs in schools and building relationships between institutions.
- University of Chicago Urban Labs: $45,000
A housing and education analysis that links large data to answer critical questions about the number of youth and families experiencing homelessness and their needs, leading to improved policy and programs.
Update: In January 2018, the Housing+ initiative awarded seven more grants totaling $472,935. These seven additional grants diversified and balanced 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. Learn about those grants. And in September 2018, eight more grants were awarded in the Housing+Health area.