New Study to Evaluate Chicago’s Plan to End Homelessness Is Plan Proving Effective?

Chicago, IL – July 8, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — To gauge the progress of Chicago’s Plan to End Homelessness since its introduction six years ago by a broad coalition of public and private partners, Chicago is launching the first-ever evaluation of a city’s Plan to End Homelessness.  Led by nationally-renowned homeless policy experts at the University of Chicago and Loyola University Chicago in conjunction with the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness, the evaluation is a comprehensive, two-year, community-driven effort to answer the question: is Chicago’s Plan effectively preventing and ending homelessness for individuals and families in Chicago?

The evaluation is funded by local foundations plus the City of Chicago:  The Chicago Community Trust, the Michael Reese Health Trust, Polk Bros. Foundation and McCormick Foundation. “The Plan to End Homelessness holds the promise of a major breakthrough in the way we work together to ensure that everyone has permanent housing,” said Terry Mazany, president and chief executive officer of The Chicago Community Trust.  “In these trying economic times when resources are scarce it is especially important to evaluate and strengthen Chicago’s Plan to help more people move from homelessness into stable and productive lives.”

Chicago’s Plan to End Homelessness, initiated in January of 2003, radically transformed Chicago’s homeless system from one that manages homelessness to one that ends homelessness by moving people quickly into permanent housing. The Plan’s bold, new strategies for addressing homelessness have attracted more than $76 million in new funding since its inception.  Nancy Radner, CEO of the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness, notes: “Since homeless services in Chicago have been profoundly affected by the Plan’s recommendations, this mid-course evaluation comes at the perfect time to allow us to evaluate our progress and improve implementation going forward.”

Chicago is a leader among more than 300 U.S. locales that have developed plans to end homelessness.  Chicago’s Plan won a 2004 award from the National Alliance to End Homelessness in Washington, D.C., whose president called it “the most comprehensive and cutting-edge 10-year plan in the country.”  Chicago’s Plan was developed and endorsed by nearly every organization with experience working on homelessness in the city.  Additionally, it was endorsed by Mayor Richard Daley, making Chicago the first major U.S. city with a plan endorsed by its administration.  Mayor Daley has made the Plan to End Homelessness a major priority of his administration.

The three primary tenets of Chicago’s Plan to End Homelessness are:

1.Preventing individuals and families from becoming homeless in the first place,
2.Placing individuals and families in permanent housing as quickly as possible when they do become homeless, a strategy called “Housing First,” and
3.Providing wraparound services when appropriate to promote housing stability and self-sufficiency.

Visit the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness’ website to find a copy of Chicago’s Plan at www.thechicagoalliance.org.

The evaluation of Chicago’s Plan to End Homelessness will have four research components:

Follow 600 people as they navigate Chicago’s homeless system and study what happens to them over the course of a year.

Interview clients and conduct focus groups to document, from the client perspective, how well the current homeless system meets their needs.

Create a service inventory to track how homeless services have changed since the Plan’s implementation.

Conduct a comprehensive survey of homeless service agencies to identify successes in implementing best practice models and services gaps.

“Taken collectively, the four research components will provide the essential data and develop the knowledge needed to continue to create effective programs and policies to end homelessness in Chicago,” said Michael Sosin, Co-Principal Investigator and Emily Klein Gidwitz Professor in the School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago.

The study will be housed at Loyola University Chicago’s Center for Urban Research and Learning.  “This evaluation fits with our center’s past work with community-engaged research focusing on the reduction of homelessness,” said Christine George, Loyola Co-Principal Investigator.  “The collaborative nature of this project has insured that the research is tied to the key pressing questions.”

From initial project design to evaluation launch, this first-of-its-kind research has been driven by community input and needs.  Key partners include: the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness, the private sector partner on Chicago’s Plan to End Homelessness; the city of Chicago; homeless service providers; individuals and families who have experienced homelessness; and the philanthropic community.  These stakeholders will continue to participate during the two-year evaluation process, providing expert feedback on research findings and next steps.

Interim results of the evaluation of Chicago’s Plan will be available in the spring of 2010, with final results available in the spring of 2011.  Early results indicate that an increasing amount of homeless resources are now being directed toward permanent housing, resulting in the creation of 1,500 new units of permanent supportive housing and new rental support for over 580 homeless households.

The Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness saves lives and improves the quality of life for everyone by leading an effective and cost-efficient new way to end homelessness.  The Alliance brings together key stakeholders involved in ending homelessness: philanthropic leaders, the research community, people who have experienced homelessness and over 70 homeless service agencies.  The mission of the Chicago Alliance is to create, support and sustain effective strategies to end homelessness in Chicago.

About The Chicago Community Trust
For 94 years, The Chicago Community Trust, our region’s community foundation, has connected the generosity of donors with community needs by making grants to organizations working to improve metropolitan Chicago. In 2008, the Trust, together with its donors, granted more than $100 million to nonprofit organizations.  From strengthening schools to assisting local art programs, from building health centers to helping lives affected by violence, the Trust continues to enhance our region. To learn more, please visit the Trust online at www.cct.org.

Contact:
Nancy Radner
Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness
(312) 223-9870, ext. 11
nradner (at) thechicagoalliance (dot) org
Eva Penar
The Chicago Community Trust
(312) 616- 8000, ext 161
evap (at) cct (dot) org

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