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Task Force for Sustaining Housing First Solutions Issues Report, Recommendations

For Immediate Release: 7/13/2018 5:01 pm

The City Manager’s Task Force for Sustaining Housing First Solutions has issued a report of its recommendations which outline actions and resources necessary to sustain a long-term system of permanent supportive housing within the City of Worcester to end adult chronic homelessness.

Appointed in February 2018, the 28-member Task Force conducted an in-depth, four-month examination of Worcester’s community needs and resources in addressing adult chronic homelessness.

The Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development defines a chronically homeless person as an individual (or family) with a disabling condition who has been continually homeless for a year or more or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.

Three Task Force committees were charged with the gathering of specific information regarding data, affordable housing, and outreach and case management. Public input was sought throughout the process in the form of listening sessions, online feedback and focus groups.

The 26 recommendations address the five components of the Housing First system: Crisis Response; Housing Supply and Rental Assistance; Support Services; Housing Stabilization; and Data-Driven Decision-Making. Rather than creating more shelters, the evidence-based Housing First approach provides people with permanent housing and supportive services, including access to primary and behavioral health services to improve physical health, foster mental health, and reduce alcohol and drug use.

The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts provided $25,000 to support the work of the Task Force, including the contracting of consultant Barbara Poppe, former Executive Director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) and a nationally recognized expert on results-driven public-private partnerships to address homelessness.

“These recommendations are born out of the thorough and thoughtful consideration of how to best serve our residents in need of permanent housing and supportive services,” said City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. “I extend my sincere appreciation to the Task Force members, Leadership Team, committee chairs and members, The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts, Barbara Poppee & Associates, and the Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance for their tireless efforts throughout this process.”

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