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Worcester Nears Goal of Ending Adult Chronic Homelessness

For Immediate Release: 8/9/2010 11:50 am

Worcester, MA (August 9, 2010) - The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts has awarded a grant of $459,902 to continue the Home Again project to end adult chronic homelessness in the Worcester area. "Based on the positive results of Home Again in successfully housing 76 of the most vulnerable adults in our community, the Foundation is pleased to award this additional $459,902 to continue the project for another year and to also make the services available to nine additional people. This new grant brings the Foundation's total commitment to Home Again since 2007 to $2,106,311," stated Janice B. Yost, President/CEO of The Health Foundation. The grant was awarded to Community Healthlink, which serves as the lead agency of a collaborative of providers including Central Mass Housing Alliance, Dismas House, Henry Lee Willis Community Center, Jeremiah's Inn and Southeast Middlesex Opportunity Council/People in Peril Shelter.

In accepting the award, Deborah Ekstrom, President/CEO of Community Healthlink stated, "Home Again has been able to help 76 individuals end their persistent homelessness and change their lives through permanent housing, case management and support services. The housing first model adapted for Worcester has housed homeless individuals in the 14-unit Lt. Tommy Spencer House and in single units scattered throughout the Worcester area. We are gratified that participants in Home Again have maintained their housing at a 98 percent retention rate, which surpasses the 70-75 percent retention rate of similar projects across the country. We welcome the opportunity this new grant presents to help an additional nine people end their homelessness." Ekstrom added that the federal Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) continues to provide rent subsidies which, together with the rent paid by Home Again participants, allows the project to access market housing. HUD defines chronically homeless adults as unaccompanied homeless individuals with a disabling condition who had either been continuously homeless for a year or more or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.

In 2006, the collaborative identified 120 individuals in Worcester who had been homeless for an extended period of time and asked The Health Foundation to support a new way to address their homelessness through Home Again by applying the housing first model, which had been successful in other cities across the country. With the housing first approach, people who are homeless are helped to secure housing and provided with case management and support services necessary for them to function at their highest capacity and remain housed.

Worcester City Manager Michael V. O'Brien, who also serves as Chair of the Worcester County Regional Network of the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness (ICHH), stated, "Much work is underway on many fronts to effect a meaningful and sustained paradigm shift in the way our community addresses the significant problems of both single adult homelessness as well as family homelessness. We appreciate the significant resources that The Health Foundation and all of our partners have contributed toward assisting in the transition from sheltering to a new system of housing to end homelessness in the Worcester area. They have worked to fundamentally transform our approach to homelessness, benefiting our community and most importantly, the men and women who have waited so long for permanent housing."

Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, who Chairs the Governor's Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness (ICHH), stated that, "The Patrick-Murray Administration is dedicated to working with our regional partners in our efforts to end homelessness in the Commonwealth. By collaborating with Home Again, Home & Healthy for Good and similar organizations, we are able to build a network that delivers resources and financial support for housing and homelessness prevention."

"The federal government has wisely recognized in recent years the effectiveness of the housing first approach and has responded by shifting its supports away from sheltering to housing. I support this transition and commend the Home Again providers for their leadership in bringing Worcester to the forefront as it nears such a laudable accomplishment of ending adult chronic homelessness," stated Congressman James McGovern.

More information about Home Again, including a copy of the 21-Month Outcome Evaluation Report, can be found at the website www.homeagaincentralma.org.

The mission of The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts is to use its resources to improve the health of those who live or work in Central Massachusetts, with particular emphasis on vulnerable populations and unmet needs. Formally established in 1999 from the sale of Central Massachusetts Health Care, Inc. a physician-initiated, not for profit HMO, The Health Foundation currently has assets of approximately $56 million. The Foundation began its grant making in late 2000, and since that time, has awarded grants totaling more than $20 million. Please go to the Foundation's website http://www.hfcm.org for more information.

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