December 11, 2015

Joseph’s Home navigates changing landscape of homeless services

Joseph’s Home is a unique ministry in Cleveland dedicated to helping homeless men heal after hospital stays and further achieve their journeys to independence. The latest issue of the Joseph’s Journey newsletter shares the story of Mr. Benz, who stabilized his health while at Joseph’s Home after multiple surgeries and regained his strength to live independently in his own apartment.

A message from Board Chair Kathy Heigle in the newsletter outlines the challenges Joseph’s Home faces as the landscape of homeless services has been changing over the past few years. An excerpt from her letter appears below.

A MESSAGE FROM THE JOSEPH’S HOME BOARD CHAIR

Is homelessness in our country increasing or decreasing? It depends on who you ask and how they classify homelessness, whether it means sleeping on the streets, living “doubled up” for reasons of economic hardship, or staying in emergency or transitional housing. Regardless of the answer, Joseph’s Home still has a steady stream of men without resources who need help to heal and achieve independence.

While the need for Joseph’s Home hasn’t changed since being founded in 2000, the homeless services landscape has changed dramatically. With the enactment of the federal Homelessness Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act in 2009, our sources of government funding have placed more emphasis on outcomes such as reduced length of stay and successful exits to permanent housing. As a result, all homeless service providers are being held more accountable for the outcomes their programs produce.

Additionally, local and national government emphasis on funding rapid re-housing programs has started to reduce available funding for transitional housing programs like Joseph’s Home. And, changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act have radically impacted access to health care for the homeless men we serve.

Because of these changing circumstances, expectations and funding priorities, the board has begun analyzing the Joseph’s Home program model to ensure we are optimally configured to meet the needs of the homeless in our community while maintaining our funding.

Toward this end, Joseph’s Home hired a consultant to work with the board and staff to create a program outcomes dashboard, showing areas where we can improve and also providing data on the benefits residents receive and the benefits we bring to the greater Cleveland area.

We are already moving in the right direction by measuring outcomes (pre- and post-discharge), but we need to evaluate the services we provide to maintain those outcomes. Our new executive director will do this in part by identifying opportunities for strategic partnerships. He/she will continue to lead the effort in moving residents into permanent housing while ensuring they have both physical and mental health. It will also be increasingly important that Joseph’s Home remains in contact with our alumni after their discharge to help make sure they do not fall back into homelessness.

Joseph’s Home is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.

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From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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