The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation launched its five-year Chronic Homelessness Initiative in 2011 in Los Angeles County, which has one of the largest long-term homeless populations in the U.S. After four years, according to an Abt Associates evaluation, the Initiative has met or exceeded many of its goals.
The Chronic Homelessness Initiative is a philanthropic strategy which largely focuses on increasing access to permanent supportive housing (PSH), or long-term, community-based housing for people experiencing homelessness and/or difficult issues such as chronic health conditions, addiction, poor mental health, HIV, and more. In PSH settings, supportive services, such as health services, support groups, financial management services, and social activities are provided to residents, often on site.
The Foundation hired Abt Associates to conduct a formative evaluation and learning process to inform the Initiative. Abt is studying the effect of permanent supportive housing on ending chronic homelessness and the advancement of the initiative against interim milestones for improving the systems supporting people experiencing chronic homelessness. The findings are used to guide improvements in the program.
“Abt Associates for years has helped policymakers understand the magnitude and causes of homelessness and the impact and cost-effectiveness of homeless assistance programs,” said Jill Khadduri, Abt Senior Fellow and housing expert.
Abt, for example, conducts the Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR) for the Department for Housing and Urban Development. The report provides a single-night count of homeless people and a year-long estimate of the number of people who use shelters.
The Hilton Foundation’s Chronic Homelessness Initiative has six primary goals:
- Advocate for elected and public officials to support a systemic approach to addressing chronic homelessness;
- Leverage $30 million in private funds and $175 million in public sector funds for PSH;
- Develop 5,000 housing units for PSH for chronically homeless persons;
- Develop and implement a system for prioritizing chronically homeless persons for PSH;
- Increase capacity of developers and service agencies to provide PSH effectively; and
- House 1,000 of the most vulnerable chronically homeless persons in PSH and prevent 1,000 people from becoming chronically homeless.
Abt’s 2014 annual report finds significant progress has been made on the six primary goals. Many have been exceeded and most others are on track to be reached within the next two years. Even more notable is the extensive systems change that has occurred, which promises to ensure continued success.
The Initiative’s progress includes:
- Distributing more than $42.3 million in multi-year grants to 21 nonprofit groups working in L.A. These grantees include nonprofit groups working on regional systems change and capacity-building, as well as local groups providing direct services to chronically homeless individuals, PSH developers, and public policy advocates;
- Engaging hundreds of local public officials in Home For Good, a community-wide strategy to address chronic homelessness, an effort to continue as new officials take office;
- Creating a collaborative of public and private funders which has leveraged a total of $13.75 million in private funds and $277 million in public funds for PSH in the three years since it was created;
- Supporting the creation or dedication of 3,736 units of PSH for chronically homeless people, 75 percent of its five-year goal;
- Supporting the implementation and expansion of a comprehensive, countywide coordinated system for assessing and prioritizing highly vulnerable people experiencing chronic homelessness for PSH; and
- Directly supporting the placement of 2,367 chronically homeless individuals in PSH, more than double the original placement goal of 1,000.