10. Conversion of resources from emergency shelter to innovative approaches: Over the past 30 years, MHSA has helped programs repurpose state dollars from emergency and transitional programs to permanent supportive housing, including funding Eliot Community Human Services’ mobile Enhanced Navigation team, which has rehoused more than 150 people from the former tent encampment located in Boston at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard, known colloquially as “Mass and Cass”.
9. Evolution of discharge planning: In the 1990s, MHSA pioneered the concept of “discharge planning” that set standards to ensure people who were discharged from hospitals and other settings had appropriate support in place and would not return to shelter. These remain the guiding principles and best practices today.
8. Creation and collaboration related to ARPA Funding: MHSA recently secured $15 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for the creation of permanent supportive housing for people experiencing chronic and long-term homelessness.
7. Critical advocacy during the COVID-19 Pandemic: MHSA raised urgent concerns from the field, worked with communities to depopulate emergency shelters, advocated for non-congregate shelter, and secured an additional $5.8 million in COVID-19 relief funding for permanent supportive housing providers.
6. Introduction of Housing First to Massachusetts: Beginning in 2003, through the design and adoption of Community Support Programs for Persons Experiencing Chronic Homelessness (CSPECH) and the creation of Home and Healthy for Good (HHG), MHSA provided the first systemic approach to supportive housing and introduced Housing First principles to Massachusetts nonprofits. This approach would later be adopted by Governor Patrick’s administration as the default strategy to end chronic homelessness.
5. First systemwide rehousing response for individuals experiencing homelessness in Greater Boston: MHSA created the Greater Boston Housing Initiative in 1994, now known as HomeStart, which sent housing workers into shelters across Greater Boston to help rehouse individuals at a time when the standard thinking was adults who were in shelter were “not ready for housing.”
4. First non-congregate shelter through the Y-Initiative: In the 1990s, we converted dollars used for overflow shelters in state armories and similar settings to pay instead for rooms and services at YWCAs and YMCAs, giving those experiencing homelessness their own room as an alternative to mass shelter.
3. Special Initiative to House the Homeless Mentally Ill: Our work during the 1990s also included advocacy for a unique approach of matching Massachusetts service dollars with federal housing dollars, which created a significant number of units for people with mental illness who were experiencing homelessness.
2. Creation of supportive housing models – Home & Healthy for Good (HHG) and Pay for Success (PFS): In 2006, building off the success of CSPECH, MHSA created the first flexible funding for supportive housing in Massachusetts, through HHG. In 2015, with the creation of the Massachusetts Alliance for Supportive Housing (MASH), MHSA launched the first PFS program in the nation to house people experiencing homelessness and helped to expand the concept of Medicaid funding for services. HHG and PFS have housed over 2,000 people.
And finally. . .
1. Creation of CSPECH as Medicaid-funded tenancy services: In 2005-2006, MHSA’s advocacy led to the first utilization of MassHealth (Medicaid) to provide supportive services for people experiencing homelessness with complex medical and behavioral health conditions. In 2017, after the initial success of the Pay for Success (PFS) program, MassHealth made CSPECH a covered service.