The M25 Initiative’s Cumberland County Housing First Collaborative celebrated the milestone of moving in their 100th client into a place called home. The Collaborative uses a comprehensive strategy to find individuals without a home permanent housing. Housing is coupled with wrap-around services to keep them off the street and pointed toward fulfilling and productive lives.
The Collaborative was started in December 2015. In the summer of 2017, the Collaborative began moving in clients who transitioned from being homeless to being homeBLESSED. The original goal of helping 42 individuals who are classified as “chronically” homeless has been surpassed to an astounding 100 clients.
The Cumberland County Housing First Collaborative (CCHFC) is a unique consortium of social service organizations, faith-based institutions, and government officials committed to tackling the problem of chronic homelessness in Cumberland County. The guiding agency of this collaborative is the M25 Initiative. The other partners of the collaborative include Gateway Community Action Partnership, PRAC of Southern New Jersey, Resources for Independent Living, Acenda Integrated Healthcare, Inspira Health, CompleteCare Health Network, Cumberland County Government & Correctional Facility, and Volunteers of America Delaware Valley.
The primary goal of CCHFC is to end chronic homelessness in Cumberland County. More immediately, CCHFC seeks to link chronically homeless (utilizing HUD definition) individuals with appropriate supports. By stabilizing their living situation and offering comprehensive care, these individuals have an opportunity to improve their own social determinants of health which, ultimately, leads to a more equitable distribution of healthcare resources across the community.
“We are very excited to reach this milestone which celebrates lives changed through partnerships, innovation, and compassion in action,” said Dr. Robin Weinstein, president of the M25 Initiative and founder of the Cumberland County Housing First Collaborative.
According to data compiled by the M25 Initiative and Collaborative partners, the program has a retention rate of 88 percent after one year. Since 2017, initial findings indicate a reduction of hospital utilization from 60 percent to 90 percent. Based on the data compiled from the local jail, initial findings indicate a reduction of jail stays from 86 percent to 95 percent.
“The savings to our community is significant as once individuals are housed, they are less likely to be super-users of the jail, hospital, and emergency services,” said Weinstein. “While we continue to collect data, our initial findings show an approximate savings of over $6 million to related agencies. It turns out that doing the right thing in regards to our humanity is also the right thing to do fiscally.”
The first 36 individuals were housed using vouchers provided by the NJ Department of Community Affairs. All the other individuals were housed using funds that were raised through community support of the M25 Initiative.
“We are grateful for our Collaborative partners, funders, and community donors who make this important work possible,” said Weinstein. “The volunteers in our community are amazing as they demonstrate the power of collective compassion in moving mountains of hopelessness.”
The program is made possible with the support of New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Inspira, Ocean First Foundation, and the TD Charitable Foundation, along with countless community donors and volunteers. The M25 Initiative has announced that it has secured funding to house up to an additional 20 individuals through the program through 2022.
“The incredible work that the Collaborative has done to transition homeless people and families in Cumberland County has been extraordinary,” said Ralph Padilla, CEO of Puerto Rican Action Committee of Southern NJ. “The model that we’ve been able to create here in Cumberland to address the needs of our homeless population is a model that will have an enormous impact on the lives of our clients.”
“Together, we are truly changing lives right here in Cumberland County,” said Albert B. Kelly, president of Gateway Community Action Partnership and Mayor of Bridgeton. “Back in 2017, the Cumberland County Housing First Collaborative received approvals for 42 vouchers from the Department of Community of Affairs to assist with this endeavor. Now we celebrate as we place our 100th chronically homeless client in permanent supportive housing. That’s a tremendous accomplishment. Not only are we providing these clients with a home, but we also offer them important wrap-around services to keep them off the street.”
“To house our 100th chronically homeless individual is an amazing milestone,” said David Moore, executive director of Behavioral Health Services for Inspira Health. “Inspira is honored to be a founding member of Cumberland County Housing First Collaborative (CCHFC). This organization promotes wellness and community stabilization. Inspira Health is proud to support the effort.”
Joseph Derella, Director of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, praised the efforts and accomplishments of the CCHFC, stating, “The Collaborative is a true community effort which has mobilized and unified virtually every segment of our community behind the common goal of implementing long term, sustainable solutions to homelessness.”
The M25 Initiative is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit in Cumberland County, created for the sole purpose of engaging, equipping, empowering, and mobilizing individuals and organizations to employ innovative and cooperative solutions to alleviate suffering, feed the hungry, end poverty, reduce crime, revitalize a spirit of community, and transform lives!
For more information on the Housing First Collaborative, visit endhomlessness2020.com.
For more information on the M25 Initiative, visit m25initiative.org or call 1-844-M25-HOPE.