Cumberland County Housing First to End Chronic Homelessness by 2020

M25 Initiative’s Housing First Collaborative Moves 20 Individuals into Permanent Supportive Housing

On December 8, 2017, members of the M25 Initiative‘s Housing First Collaborative and Cumberland County Code Blue Coalition held their annual press conference in Bridgeton.

The annual press conference marks the fourth anniversary of the tragic death of Mr. Joseph Hanshaw, a homeless man in the City of Bridgeton.

During the evening of December 9, 2013, Mr. Joseph Hanshaw, a homeless man in the City of Bridgeton, died after becoming entangled in the pull-down door of the Salvation Army Clothing bin. Police said the 50-year old Hanshaw was apparently looking for a coat or a warm place to sleep when the incident occurred.

“The Cumberland County Code Blue Coalition is a grassroots movement of compassion in action,” said Dr. Robin Weinstein, President of the M25 Initiative. “Code Blue demonstrates the ‘better angels of our nature,’ as our community joins together to ensure that no one has to sleep in the bitter cold.”

The Cumberland County Housing First Collaborative (CCHFC) has received approvals for 44 individuals to use the 42 vouchers from the Department of Community of Affairs. Last week, the group celebrated their 20th individual placed in permanent supportive housing.

The cumulative amount of hospital and jail system usage since 2014 for the approved individuals is approximately 1203 hospital encounters at the Inspira Health System, with approximately 1030 days in the Cumberland County Jail. The annual conservative cost estimate to the community is $300,750 for hospital services and $34,333 for jail costs.

To date, the Inspira Hospital utilization of the 14 housed clients dropped by 78% following the move to permanent housing. Additionally, the Cumberland County Jail reports that none of the 14 individuals have returned to the facility after being placed in permanent housing.

If the 78% decrease in utilization holds for the entire population, there could be a reduction in hospital system costs of approximately $234,585 in the first full year after placement. These costs are often paid for by taxpayer funded Medicaid and other government subsidized healthcare programs.

If this decrease in jail utilization holds for the entire population then the County would save approximately $34,000 per year (using $100 per day).

“Utilizing the Housing First vouchers saves lives and saves money,” said Mayor Albert Kelly, President and CEO of Gateway Community Action Partnership & M25 Board Member. “Our preliminary data shows that we could save over $262,000 in direct and indirect costs related to chronic homelessness. It turns out that compassion is good public policy and makes fiscal sense when we use data-driven best practices and work together. I am proud of our work together as a Collaborative and believe that this model of collaboration is key to addressing many of the issues facing our region.”

“An address and a place called home is essential in reducing crime and helping people rebuild their lives,” said Ralph Padilla, CEO of PRAC of SNJ. “The Housing First clients are the hardest population to serve because they have been homeless for over 12 months and have a disability. Our model provides wrap-around case management utilizing the strengths of the members of the Collaborative. Our approach is effective and efficient because it lowers the costs of wrap-around case management services to just over $2500 a year.”

“This program is not just about placing people in homes, it’s about helping them help themselves in rebuilding their lives,” said Lisa Killion-Smith, Executive Director of Resources for Independent Living. “From the moment a client is approved, we are working with them each step of the way to improve financial independence, family relationships, healthcare, and drug/alcohol rehabilitation services. We are seeking to improve the holistic quality of health.”

Read our post about the M25 Housing First program Cumberland Experts Tackle Chronic Homelessness to Decrease ER Visits.

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