Apr 272017

October 2016 – UNITY of Greater New Orleans has selected The Policy & Research Group to evaluate a new supportive housing initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Cooperative Agreements to Benefit Homeless Individuals (CABHI).

Unity of Greater New Orleans is implementing a three-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for the purposes of providing permanent supportive housing services, treatment and recovery support services, and assistance in obtaining Medicaid, and other benefits for individuals who are chronically homeless and vulnerable to homelessness. The grant recipient is the City of New Orleans Health Department and the program is called the New Orleans Equity and Inclusion Initiative. PRG will work with UNITY of Greater New Orleans to develop and finalize an evaluation plan to assess process implementation, and measure client outcomes.

SAMHSA is the federal agency within the Department of Health and Human Services that is charged with advancing behavioral health in the United States by reducing the impact of substance abuse and mental illness. Through CABHI, SAMHSA has provided funding to awardees support efforts to provide behavioral health treatment and recovery services. These services are provided with permanent supportive housing in mind for people with substance use disorders, serious mental illness and/or emotional disturbance, and co-occurring mental and substance use disorders. According to the SAMHSA website, CABHI’s primary goal is to “ensure that the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness and chronic homelessness receive access to housing, treatment, and recovery support services. These people often include veterans, families, and youth.”

Through the three-year funding for the New Orleans Equity and Inclusion Initiative, UNITY of Greater New Orleans and the City of New Orleans Health Department will provide Permanent Supportive Housing services, treatment and recovery support services, and assistance in obtaining Medicaid and other benefits for 120 individuals who are chronically homeless and 20 vulnerable homeless families with children, thereby ending their homelessness. The Initiative will play a vital role in addressing persistent inequality in New Orleans’ recovery from Hurricane Katrina and in helping to achieve New Orleans’ goals of becoming the first city to reach a “functional zero” in family homelessness and ending chronic homelessness.

In collaboration with UNITY staff and leadership, PRG developed an evaluation plan that specifies implementation objectives and anticipated client-level outcomes. The purpose of the evaluation is to assess the progress of the implementation according to these objectives and measure client outcomes against the anticipated ones over time. The aim is to help UNITY of Greater New Orleans fully realize the objectives of the initiative and to assist in their effort to reduce chronic homelessness in New Orleans. To this end, PRG will produce implementation reports on a quarterly basis that will allow UNITY leadership observe how the intervention is realizing its implementation objectives on an ongoing basis. Additionally, PRG will produce annual reports that will present a more comprehensive account of the initiative’s implementation as well as a descriptive account of client-level outcomes targeted by the program.

Since its inception in 2011, the CABHI program has awarded over $100 million to numerous community-based organizations, tribal and nonprofit organizations, and states to develop the infrastructure needed to provide accessible, effective, and comprehensive treatment services to individuals experiencing homelessness and who also have serious mental illnesses, emotional disturbances, substance use disorders, or co-occurring disorders. In the 2016 round of award the CABHI program, $19.5 million was awarded across 30 CABHI programs for communities in 25 states, tribal and nonprofit organizations, and states to make fundamental changes and improve the delivery and impact of behavioral health and substance abuse treatment and recovery services.

PRG is committed to the development of effective public policy through the production of rigorous research and evaluation. PRG works with federal, state, and local partners in the development and evaluation of programs that aim to improve social, behavioral, health, economic, and employment potential. Since 2004, PRG has developed expertise across an array of policy areas including education, public health, child welfare, work and income, housing, and adolescent risk reduction.