Our partners have consistently emphasized to Meyer the urgent need for better coordination and alignment between affordable housing providers and services that help people stay housed and thrive. We are once again offering a Request for Proposals from innovative and impactful efforts working to overcome barriers to collaborating across systems.
Lessons from 2015 Projects
Projects funded in 2015 illustrate the breadth of systems that benefit from a stronger connection with affordable housing.
- Catholic Community Services of the Mid Willamette (Marion County) linked housing assistance and foster care diversion, along with the local Early Learning Hub.
- Columbia Gorge Health Council (Hood River and Wasco counties) piloted a “Pathways” model of paying for outcomes including housing, health care and other social services.
- Community Action Partnership of Oregon, in partnership with ACCESS and Klamath-Lake Community Action Services (Statewide, with a focus on Jackson, Klamath and Lake counties) created better coordination between housing resources and the Department of Human Services, with a focus on foster care diversion and child welfare.
- Enterprise Community Partners (Portland Metro) piloted a fund mirroring Medicaid flexible benefits for housing-related costs to show housing and health benefits.
- REACH/Housing With Services (Multnomah County) incorporated health, nutrition and other social services in affordable housing buildings downtown.
- United Way of Lane County (Lane County) integrated housing issues in the local Early Learning Hub and brought early learning and health programs to affordable housing.
- Worksystems Inc. (Multnomah and Washington counties) linked housing and employment support.
Each of these projects reinforced the growing mountain of evidence for the connections between housing stability and other issues that make the difference between thriving and not: strong families, good health, and success in education and employment. We also learned quite a bit about the barriers to effective collaboration from talking with these grantees and reflecting on their progress and challenges — barriers such as legal and privacy challenges around data sharing, overcoming inertia and turf issues, and misaligned incentives and basic risk-aversion.
The New RFP
As in 2015, Meyer is taking a broad approach to the challenge of systems alignment, welcoming proposals from both new coalitions and more established collaborative efforts, aiming to improve the connection between affordable housing and other systems, especially for populations with specific and difficult housing challenges (including survivors of domestic violence, young adults aging out of foster care and ex-offenders re-entering society).
These grants are not meant for fairly straightforward work bringing a specific service to an affordable housing project (important as that work can be, it’s a better fit under our annual Housing Opportunities funding round). Rather, by supporting focused collaborative efforts engaging specific issues across multiple systems, Meyer expects to assist the broader fields of affordable housing and supportive services by:
- Highlighting replicable models of successful collaboration, identifying specific strategies to promote effective cooperation across systems or service providers
- Identifying and addressing significant policy or systems barriers to better coordination
- Documenting the potential to deliver better outcomes (including cost savings or other opportunities to better leverage scarce resources) through effective collaboration
More detailed information on the RFP is available here: mmt.org/rfp