In 2017, the Partnership for Better Health launched a new initiative to reduce homelessness in Cumberland and Perry Counties by advancing systemic strategies that will increase access to permanent housing and expand economic opportunities for low-income individuals and families. Understanding that success will require many partners working together on shared goals, we formed a Leadership Advisory Council on Housing Systems Change.
In January 2018, the Advisory Council developed and adopted a Housing Systems Change Roadmap for Cumberland and Perry Counties. The purpose of the roadmap is to:
- Guide future Partnership for Better Health grants and investments in systemic change strategies that are comprehensive in nature and designed to improve all aspects of how a set of organizations or systems
- Inspire, engage and mobilize public, private and nonprofit organizations to work collectively towards a better system for connecting families and individuals experiencing or at risk for homelessness with safe and affordable housing opportunities; and,
- Ensure residents have full access to the Eastern Pennsylvania Continuum of Care’s new Coordinated Entry System for accessing federally and state-funded homeless prevention, housing and supportive services.
The Partnership and the Leadership Advisory Council envision a coordinated and robust housing system, in which:
- Homelessness is rare, brief and non-recurring for all families and individuals;
- All residents have access to safe and affordable housing opportunities;
- People can easily access childcare, education and employment opportunities, as well as health, legal, mental health and other services that foster permanent housing stability and self-sufficiency; and
- A safe place to call home is the cornerstone for healthy people, thriving communities, educational success and a vibrant economy.
In order to advance our vision for change, cross-sector partners in government, philanthropy, business and the nonprofit sector will work together to achieve the following strategic goals over the next three years.
- Coordinate access, assessment, prioritization and referral for housing and services that end and prevent homelessness for all families and individuals, including specific strategies to address the needs of: 1) children, 2) people fleeing domestic violence or abuse, 3) unaccompanied youth, 4) veterans and 5) people with disabilities.
- Create more affordable housing opportunities by engaging landlords, securing adequate resources for Rapid Re-Housing and Supportive Housing programs, and advocating for the development or rehabilitation of affordable housing units.
- Streamline and increase access to employment and job training opportunities for people experiencing homelessness or housing instability, including supportive employment for people with disabilities.
- Build the collaborative capacity and resiliency of nonprofit organizations delivering affordable housing and homeless services.