The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is receiving well-deserved attention and accolades for its $12 million investment in efforts to increase the supply of supportive housing throughout Los Angeles County, California, helping thousands of long-term, chronically homeless people transition from homelessness and build new lives. http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-12-million-homeless-housing-20141014-story.html
Supportive housing combines the stability of a home with wraparound community services that keep people housed. Initial investments from the Hilton Foundation have leveraged nearly $270 million in public financing and over $336 million in private financing for homes for people experiencing long-term homelessness. Their commitment has been instrumental in funding dozens of supportive housing projects, including many that were stalled during the last economic downturn.
The Hilton Foundation investment is multiplying capacity in the housing and human services sectors to serve more clients. Because public costs such as health care and public safety decline after people move from the streets to supportive housing, the Hilton Foundation's generosity is saving local governments money with each individual moved into housing. The average annual public cost for a chronically homeless person is over $63,000. That number drops to $17,000 after the client is placed in supportive housing, a reduction in public costs of almost 75%.
We know chronic homelessness is solvable and the data and outcomes prove supportive housing is the right approach. It's more cost-effective for taxpayers, and it's more humane for people struggling with homelessness. Over 80% of people in supportive housing stay in their homes and avoid ending up back on the streets.
The Hilton Foundation is looking to the future. In collaboration with key partners such as Home For Good, CSH, other foundations, and city and county agencies, they are embracing smart and innovative tools and investments, such as:
• Encouraging the use of a triage tool in hospitals that can identify the highest-need, highest-cost homeless persons so they can be targeted for supportive housing.
• Working with Los Angeles County and community partners to reach people with long histories of homelessness who are incarcerated in jails to connect these men and women to supportive housing upon release, reducing their likelihood of becoming homeless or returning to jail.
• Promoting the use of a tool to assess homeless transition age youth ages 18-24 to determine risk for long-term homelessness.
The Hilton Foundation's partners will loan at least $7.5 million to providers in the next five years, resulting in at least 200 new units of supportive housing. Also, funds will be used for small rehab loans for private property owners to make improvements to units for supportive housing, security deposit loans for supportive housing tenants, and incentive and stalled project loans. Together, these financing mechanisms will lead to an additional 580 supportive housing units.
Because of the caring leaders at the Hilton Foundation, who eagerly embrace evidence-based solutions and results, Los Angeles is getting the assistance it needs to help homeless people turn around their lives.