Though still early in the process, our Show Me Healthy Housing (SMHH) work is already showing impact. SMHH is the Foundation’s first foray into promoting the development of permanent, supportive housing throughout the region. In December 2016, the Urban Institute released its Year One Evaluation Report, which showcases the progress made and the lessons learned in an area of work that gained prominence at the Foundation in 2014.
First a little background: our Show Me Healthy Housing effort provided funding to four nonprofit agencies for the construction of housing as well as the provision of case management and health care services for their clients. This project was based around the concept of supportive housing, a strategy which is growing in popularity, especially after high-profile successes in places like Utah. This philosophy takes a “housing first” approach, believing that lasting health improvements can be built off the foundation of a safe, stable place to live. Supportive housing gives tenants easy access to a variety of voluntary services designed to help them become healthier and more self-sufficient, and it has shown great promise in reducing Medicaid costs and improving health outcomes.
As highlighted in the report, the four grantees are in various stages of development and construction, with two already housing tenants. The first to open, Patriot Place Apartments, specializes in serving formerly homeless veterans and consists of 25 apartment units in Columbia, Missouri. Later in 2016 The Kitchen opened the 32-unit Beacon Village II, which focuses on affordable housing for families transitioning from homelessness in Springfield, Missouri.
Construction for North East Community Action Corporation’s Berkshire Estates is complete, and it will soon offer units to senior homeless veterans in Mexico, Missouri. Preferred Family Healthcare’s Chloe Place is still under construction, but plans to specialize in families and individuals with serious mental illness in Hannibal, Missouri.
According to the report, SMHH-sponsored apartments are already housing 51 tenants who would have had difficulty gaining housing elsewhere. Over half of these tenants had been chronically homeless, 91 percent reported a mental illness, and 67 percent have a chronic health condition. Thirty-six percent were described as in fair or poor health before being housed.
The report also addressed some of the lessons learned, including the difficulty in finding an appropriate location for supportive housing that includes adequate public transportation access. Some residents also reported a “fishbowl effect,” especially when first moving in. These tenants felt nervous about the number of visitors and corporate sponsors touring their new living spaces. Some also feared that any negative incidents could potentially tarnish the facility’s reputation.
The report makes it clear that the Foundation did not single handedly fund all of this work, instead it describes our support as “generally small relative to overall project costs, but instrumental in leveraging other funding streams.” Jean Freeman-Crawford, a program officer at the Foundation, explained that our work is built around collaboration whenever possible. “Our intention for the Institute, like so much of our work, is to be a catalyst for change in our communities. This means we partner with different governmental, philanthropic, and local organizations, because we know that our impact will be much greater by joining forces and leveraging our resources.”
Additionally, as a result of the success of this work, we created the Foundation’s first Program Related Investment (PRI), the Show Me Healthy Housing Loan Fund. A PRI is a loan (at or below market rate) used to finance projects that might not come to fruition otherwise. This five-year, $1.5 million PRI was entrusted to the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), to fund pre-development loans for nonprofits building supportive housing. Learn more about the PRI here.
Moving forward, the Foundation will again sponsor the Missouri Supportive Housing Institute, where partners learn how to navigate the complex development process. Thanks to newly formed partnerships in its second year, the Institute will accept participants from anywhere in Missouri, not just in our service region. The Institute is scheduled for March through June of 2017 in Jefferson City. Agencies interested in applying or learning more can click here.
Learn more from the Urban Institute about Patriot Place and their findings from the SMHH report: How a Voucher Program Sparked Community Interest in Housing Homeless Veterans.
Read our full Show Me Healthy Housing Year One Evaluation Report.