Housing First Improves Healthcare

Access Camden Symposium Focuses On
Healthcare of the Homeless

Housing First Improves Healthcare

(L to R) Anthony Marchetta, HMFA, Taiisa Kelly, Monarch Housing and Felix Torres Colon, St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society. Photo from NJ Spotlight.

On April 7, 2014, Taiisa Kelly, a Senior Associate with Monarch Housing Associates, participated in Access Camden: Social Services Symposium held at Rowan University’s Cooper Medical School about how housing affects healthcare. The discussion centered on the critical helping patients find a permanent place to live is to an effective medical care system.

Housing First is receiving recognition as a housing model that is widely accepted by healthcare advocates. This best practice for housing the homeless centers around giving people a permanent place to call home before addressing their healthcare needs.

“We’re not going to first decide if you’re ready for housing. We’re going to say housing is a right.”

Said Kelly.

Other panelists included Anthony Marchetta, Executive Director of the New Jersey Housing Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA).

“Two trips to the ER in NJ can provide the costs of two years of housing.”

Said Marchetta.

HMFA provides financing for affordable housing. The agency works with developers to build new housing with funding from the federal government.

According to a NJ Spotlight article that covered the discussion,

“Marchetta noted that the Housing First model has been discussed by state officials and could be included in recommendations by the Interagency Council on Homelessness, a body that Gov. Chris Christie has charged with developing a plan to end homelessness in the state within 10 years. The council, which Christie created in 2012, is scheduled to make its recommendations by the end of this year.”

By making Housing First a priority, the Interagency Council could pave the way for ending chronic homelessness in New Jersey.

“The only way we can help people move forward is to build partnerships and work beyond our traditional spheres.”

Said Kelly.

With affordable housing out of reach for many New Jersey households, implementing the Housing First along with other supportive and affordable housing models should be a top priority.

According to Monarch Housing’s CEO Richard Brown, the 2014 Out of Reach report documents  “if you make minimum wage in this state you need to work a min of 121 hours to afford housing.”

Click here for the NJ Spotlight article.