Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mercer Housing First Works!

by Richard W. Brown on March 16, 2011
Report to the Community documents success of the
Mercer Housing First Demonstration Project
The Mercer Housing First Demonstration Initiative,  has established a sustainable model for substantially reducing the economic, social and personal costs of family and chronic homelessness. To end homelessness in New Jersey, the State must expand and support Housing First as a policy model to address chronic homelessness throughout New Jersey.
The Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness has released a Report to the Community that documents the benefits and success of housing first can be a budget neutral way to end homelessness.
As the report notes: “The cost savings in charity care alone will offset the investment in the program, paving the way for a budget neutral response to eliminating chronic homelessness throughout the State of New Jersey.”
Click here to read the full Report to the Community.
The Report to the Community introduces the Housing First Initiative, describes the implementation, and the progress made in the Mercer Housing First Demonstration Project. Among the achievements are:
  1. In two and a half years of operation the program housed 60 individuals and families who had been homeless an average of 6.3 years.
  2. Thus far the program has enjoyed a 95% retention rate when controlling for mortality, and no tenant evictions.
  3. The cost-benefit analysis is based on baseline and follow-up interviews with 15 original tenants in the Housing First program, all of whom were housed by May 1, 2009. The Mercer Initiative has replicated the favorable cost-benefit ratios reported in Housing First programs throughout the country.
  4. Tenants utilized an average of $30,239 in emergency services the year prior to their housing.
  5. Tenants utilized an average of $2,223 in emergency services the first year of their housing.
  6. Program costs are $18,587 per tenant per year, producing an overall annual savings of $9,429 per tenant.
  7. Projected Housing First Program Cost Savings for 60 Tenants: $565,740 per year.
The Mercer Housing First Demonstration Initiative is a program initiated by the Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness and overseen by a collaborative of funding partners. The Mercer Housing First Collaborative Committee, which Monarch Housing is a member, guides the funding, implementation and evaluation of the Housing First Demonstration Initiative, and is comprised of state, local and city government agencies, private funders and nonprofit organizations. The goal of the Mercer Initiative is to demonstrate that Housing First is a successful and cost effective model for ending chronic homelessness in New Jersey.
In 2008, the Initiative designated housing and supportive services to 40 individuals with disabilities who have experienced long-term homelessness, and 10 families who have a head of household who has a disability and has experienced longterm homelessness. An additional 14 vouchers were added in late 2009, raising the total to 64. Under the Initiative, the homeless are permanently housed and provided the diversified supportive services needed to retain housing.

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