National Church Residences
National Church Residences’ Permanent Supportive Housing program has been held up as a national model for addressing the long term needs of chronically homeless and disabled individuals.
National Church Residences’ Permanent Supportive Housing Program Is A Big Win-Win
At five different sites in Central Ohio, National Church Residences is operating a collaborative program that simultaneously improves the quality of life for disabled, formerly homeless individuals while saving taxpayer dollars.
National Church Residences is a pioneer in “permanent supportive housing” in Ohio. In this approach, individuals with physical or mental disabilities are provided their own modest apartments within a housing complex offering a variety of primary and behavioral health services and case management onsite. The supportive housing movement began in 1980s and has become widely recognized as an effective strategy for ending homelessness among the most vulnerable.
“The overarching goal of our permanent supportive housing programs is to help residents achieve their highest level of physical, financial, mental, and emotional health and wellness,” says Colleen Bain, V.P. of Supportive Housing at National Church Residences.
At National Church Residences’ innovative “Commons at Third” project on Norton Avenue, for example, 25 individuals who had been living unnecessarily in nursing homes because they had no home to be discharged to are now living in their own studio apartments. The complex includes an Integrated Primary and Behavioral Health Care Practice, where these individuals—and the other 75 disabled residents—can turn for help 24-7. The practice is staffed by a clinical team that includes a care coordinator, a nurse practitioner, and a consulting psychiatrist, among others. Grants from National Church Residences’ partners—the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and the Kresge Foundation—help pay for these services. National Church Residences operates a similar initiative at the Commons at Buckingham in downtown Columbus.
National Church Residences’ model saves taxpayers money. The average yearly cost to care for 25 individuals in a skilled nursing care facility is over $1.5 million dollars or about $62,050 per person annually. Much of that expense is born by taxpayers through the federal Medicaid program. By contrast, it costs roughly $16,000 per year to place a client in permanent supportive housing. Clients in National Church Residences permanent supportive housing programs are assessed every 90 days by a third party evaluator to gauge their quality of life, health status, and satisfaction levels. This monitoring has shown that these clients stay healthier and make fewer trips to the hospital.
In addition to the health services, Bain says the other key factor in their program’s effectiveness is its community engagement/employment component. All residents in the permanent supportive housing units (currently about 450 people across the five Ohio sites) are required to become engaged in employment, education, vocational training, and/or community volunteer service within 12 months of moving into their apartments. “The goal of the program is to provide opportunities for residents to give back to the community, while creating pathways to employment,” Bain reports. “We’ve always wanted to add this sort of component, since volunteering and working enhance people’s sense of purpose and self-worth.”