Here’s an Op-Ed piece by yours truly that ran in yesterdays Santa Cruz Sentinel.
Link here (story copied below)
By Philip Kramer
A woman who had been homeless in Santa Cruz for more than eight years died recently. She was 60 and had serious health issues. She recently started participating in a transitional housing program, which means she passed away in a warm bed with a roof over her head.
The woman had recently received a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher and had started to look for housing. The voucher program is the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford housing in the private market. She had a new type of voucher that the Housing Authority of Santa Cruz County created in partnership with the 180/180 initiative. It is designed to increase access for disabled and medically vulnerable homeless individuals who are already on the Section 8 waiting list.
Sadly, two people have died with this new 180/180-linked voucher in hand before we could help them get housed, which demonstrates the appropriateness and urgent need for this new voucher.
When we launched the multi-agency 180/180 initiative two years ago we set a goal of helping 180 people who are chronically homeless make a 180-degree change in their lives by helping them access housing and supportive services. We also wanted to see if the initiative could reduce the number of people who die homeless in Santa Cruz County. Last year 37 people died while unsheltered in Santa Cruz County, at an average age of 53.
So far, 180/180 partner organizations have helped house 158 individuals and families. We are on pace to reach the 180 goal by July. However, the need is much greater than 180.
Numerous studies have shown that permanent supportive housing saves lives and money when compared with expensive emergency services such as hospitalization, incarceration, police intervention, shelters and related services. And later this year we’ll have our own study. UCSC is conducting an independent study to evaluate the outcomes and cost-effectiveness of the 180/180 initiative.
The more we recognize homelessness as a health crisis, and supportive housing as a health care intervention, the closer we get to better health, better care, and lower costs for the community. At the same time, we should hopefully see a reduction in the number of deaths of our most vulnerable unsheltered neighbors.
Phil Kramer is director of the 180/180 initiative.
‘Dash’ deployed for solving Santa Cruz County homelessness
Express effort passes halfway point
By Jessica A. York | Posted: 03/23/2014
River Street Shelter’s Tracey Heggum, at left, interviews a homeless woman in downtown Santa Cruz as a potential client for the Homeless Services Center’s 180/180 Project’s 100-day push to find homes for 25 individuals in downtown Santa Cruz and Watsonville. (Dan Coyro — Santa Cruz Sentinel)
Santa Cruz >> An ongoing “dash” to move dozens of homeless people off downtown streets has surpassed its halfway point.
By May 7, the multi-agency cooperative 180/180 Initiative — offering 180 people a 180-degree life change — has a sub-goal of putting 25 of Santa Cruz’s most visible homeless people on the path to permanent supportive housing plus another 12 from Watsonville within 100 days.
Begun in late January, two people have been housed through the program and seven are on the path to housing in Santa Cruz. In Watsonville, two are housed and eight are in the process.
Sarah Emmert, public policy manager at Homeless Services Center, interviews a homeless man in downtown Santa Cruz as part of the 180/180 Project’s goal of housing 25 more individuals hanging out in downtowns of Santa Cruz and Watsonville. (Dan Coyro — Santa Cruz Sentinel)
“The work that’s happening on the street is very specialized and there’s a number of complex reasons why it’s tough to get somebody indoors,” said Homeless Services Center Executive Director Monica Martinez, who is participating in the effort. “We believe that each one of those can be addressed and we can get through it.”
Dubbed a 100-day dash, the project is a mini-push of the overall 180/180 effort, which has a July 1 deadline to house 180 of the county’s most vulnerable homeless. The county joined a national push in 2012 to house 100,000 homeless by the same date, and has housed a total of 153 by Friday, officials said.
The 100-day dash is a specialized tool that gives partnering agencies and officials who might not otherwise get involved a finite timeline and achievable goal, 180/180 Project Director Phil Kramer said. It also zeroes in on the Santa Cruz and Watsonville downtown commercial areas.
“We recognize that there’s a lot of community momentum and focus on the downtown corridors, particularly the way that more high-impact individual are impacting the downtown areas,” Martinez said. “Everybody has their reason why (they want to get the homeless off the streets), but we all agree that we want it to happen.”
Martinez said studies have shown getting homeless people off the street into housing and receiving food, financial and health services has a lower financial cost than ignoring them. The initial cost locally is about a $3,000 per person to pay for rental deposit, furniture and supplies, case management and outreach — in addition to long-term costs.
The 100-day dash approach, targeting those chronically homeless most familiar to police, downtown outreach workers and probation case workers, also gave a much-needed boost to the 180-180 project when they learned about it in March 2013, Kramer said.
“We were invited … to participate in something they called the 100-dash workshop,” Kramer said. “(The Rapid Results Institute) started talking about this 100-day approach to creating meaningful change. Initially, to be honest, it sounds a little gimmicky … But there’s a beauty in the wisdom of the this 100-day approach.”
Kramer said housing efforts will continue after the larger July deadline.
Tracey Heggum of the River Street Shelter interviews a homeless woman in downtown Santa Cruz as part of the Homeless Services Center’s 180/180 Project’s 100-day push to find housing for 25 more homeless individuals in downtown Santa Cruz and Watsonville. (Dan Coyro — Santa Cruz Sentinel)
Link to article.
Santa Cruz Nears Goal to House 180 of its Most Vulnerable Homeless
By Lynn Graebner
Brad Schwartz (left) got housed in December 2013 after 30 years of sleeping outdoors with the help of 180/180 volunteer housing navigator John Dietz (right)
Brad Schwartz had been homeless, living mostly outside, for the last 30 years. Today the 57-year-old is cleaning and repairing a cottage he now calls home, thanks to a homeless housing initiative in Santa Cruz called 180/180.
In 2012 Santa Cruz joined a national effort striving to house 100,000 of the most chronically homeless and medically vulnerable people in the country by July of 2014.
The multi-agency initiative 180/180 formed to house 180 of those 100,000 and it is nearing its goal with more than 136 people housed with support from social service agencies, nonprofits and volunteers county-wide.
Across the country 235 other communities joined the 100,000 Homes Campaign and, with more than 83,000 housed, they are also nearing their collective target.
“More importantly, these communities are working differently now,” said Jake Maguire, spokesman for 100,000 Homes, a New York City-based initiative of the national nonprofit Community Solutions.
100,000 Homes is based on the “Housing First” model: getting the homeless into housing first and then providing supportive services addressing addictions, mental health problems and employment. Traditionally many homeless service providers have made permanent housing contingent on completing addiction and employment programs.
Housing First has been so successful that Opening Doors, the 2010 Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, adopted permanent supportive housing using the Housing First approach. Opening Doors cites research in Seattle showing this approach reduced Medicaid costs for this population by 41 percent and overall costs of shelter services, emergency and hospital care, addiction centers and jails by 75 percent.
Link to full story here.
180/180 partner agencies have housed 136 individuals and families, putting the campaign over the 3/4 mark! Included in this number are 38 Veterans housed by the VA (VASH) case management support team.
Next stop 1-8-0!
180/180 campaign partners celebrate the 3/4 milestone!
60 minutes covers the 100k homes campaign in this 13 minute excerpt… featuring Anderson Cooper in the field in Nashville, his interview with 100k homes campaign Director Becky Kanis, and landlords who are donating 1% of their units to house the most vulnerable… and more.
After the interview, Anderson Cooper had this to say “Before the story, it really annoyed me,” says Cooper “I just ignored him. I just pretended he wasn’t there. And after the story, I was like, ‘This is ridiculous. This is my issue. Me pretending not to see this person is insane and offensive.’”