The Boston Foundation Awards $600,000 to Chelsea Health Starts at Home Collaboration

Chelsea, MA – The Boston Foundation announced that the Chelsea Health Starts at Home collaborative is one of four health and housing organization teams to receive $600,000 apiece over three years in the next stage of Health Starts at Home (HSAH), an initiative addressing the negative impact that a lack of stable, affordable housing has on children’s health outcomes.

“From the start, Health Starts at Home has taken a unique approach to compel experts in different fields to pool their knowledge, resources, and energy,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “The result of this initiative has been the formation of amazing partnerships drawing from the best in the worlds of health and housing to bring stabilization and improved health to the lives of countless children and families. The Boston Foundation will continue to help the initiative’s grantee partnerships grow stronger, as they implement their strategies to improve lives through long-term housing and preventative healthcare.”

Chelsea Health Stahsah-logorts at Home is a collaboration between The Neighborhood Developers (TND), Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center, Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership (MBHP), and Roca, Inc.  The affiliation is designed to stabilize families’ housing and to measure the accrued health benefits for children in a stable home environment. The program expands on the CONNECT platform of co-located, multi-partner workforce development, financial capabilities, and housing assistance programming, managed by The Neighborhood Developers.

In Chelsea, 50% of residents cannot afford stable un-subsidized housing. MGH Chelsea, the healthcare provider serving the majority of community households, and Roca’s program for high-risk young mothers will screen families for housing instability as a part of their regular course of care.

The screening will provide insight to refer families to existing, robust services at CONNECT, a collaborative financial opportunity center housed at The Neighborhood Developers, including access to short-term rental assistance and long-term stabilization supports such as benefits screening, financial coaching and services, workforce development resources, housing counseling, and peer supports.

Annually, CONNECT serves 4000 clients and, in 2015, provided one-on-one financial coaching to 310 individuals and income and housing stabilization services to 398. Coached clients saw significant income growth, with median increases of $716 per month. By co-locating and integrating service providers, CONNECT makes it easy for clients to access multiple services, and clients who do so are found to achieve key outcomes, such as significant increases in credit score, net assets, and income, at a much higher rate. Sixty-one percent  of coached clients who bundle three services, and 70% who bundle four services, achieve these key, stabilizing, financial outcomes.

“We know that CONNECT is a game changer for our clients and we are excited to leverage our results with MGH, Roca, and MBHP to help vulnerable families achieve stable housing and good health,” said Ann Houston, Executive Director at The Neighborhood Developers.

MGH Chelsea was selected as the primary point of entry for participants because of its ability to track individual health outcomes in conjunction with the center’s commitment to partner with community stakeholders to improve the social and economic factors that impact health outcomes. Regardless of a patient’s immigration status or ability to pay, MGH clinicians provide 30,000 pediatric and prenatal patient visits annually. With support from 45 outreach workers, community health workers and a diverse group of navigators who speak more than 20 languages, MGH Chelsea reaches an estimated 5,000 pediatric patients each year.

“The most important people to reach when it comes to a family’s health are parents and caregivers,” says Joan Quinlan, vice president of community health at MGH. “This creative approach to addressing some of the underlying causes of poor health, namely housing security, is a first step in eliminating disparities and improves the lives of our patients in Chelsea.”

Additionally, a portion of the Chelsea HSAH program’s clients will draw from Roca’s Young Mothers Program that serves 200 pregnant and parenting young women (ages 12 to 24) who are involved in risky behaviors that put themselves and their young children in harm’s way. Roca’s high-risk young mothers include 100% school drop outs with little or no employment history, 30% homeless or living in unstable housing, and 58% victims of violence.  Other high-risk factors include justice system involvement, child welfare involvement, and substance abuse.

“Stable housing is critical for each young mother we serve in our programs” says Molly Baldwin, founder & CEO of Roca. “This is an exciting opportunity to expand our partnerships with CONNECT, MGH and the other great partners in this project, and help more parents and children in Chelsea live safe, healthy and happy lives.”

The initiative’s goal is to increase the capabilities of parents, thereby improving the health of their children. MBHP, a founding partner of CONNECT, provides short term housing stabilization services, including housing counseling, housing search assistance, and access to state-funded short-term, flexible financial assistance to remain in current housing or to secure new housing. Other CONNECT services to help participants maintain stable and secure homes for their children include benefit enrollment, free tax preparation, employment services, credit counseling, adult education, and financial coaching.

“MBHP is very pleased to deepen our partnership with CONNECT and other partners, and continue bringing our housing expertise to the communities where our clients live,” said Maura Pensak, Director of Housing Supports for MBHP. “Through this initiative, we look forward to helping more Chelsea families secure stable, affordable housing while also helping them live healthier lives.”

The Boston Foundation’s award for Chelsea Health Starts at Home is funded in partnership with the Kresge Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA Foundation, and Partners HealthCare. The Boston Foundation will devote $200,000 each year of the three year grant period to evaluations of the partnerships and their work.

CONNECT is a novel, collaborative model for delivering financial opportunity to residents. Its mission is to help people achieve sustainable, living-wage jobs and financial resilience by partnering to provide essential skills, knowledge, and social capital in one central and supportive location. CONNECT provides services through the partnership of five Chelsea community organizations – Bunker Hill Community College, Career Source, Metro Credit Union, Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership, and The Neighborhood Developers.

The Neighborhood Developers (TND) is a non-profit Community Development Corporation that believes great neighborhoods empower people to grow and thrive. TND’s mission is to bring its core strengths – building homes, engaging neighbors, and fostering economic mobility – to community partnerships that create great neighborhoods where all people can thrive.

Founded in 1979, TND spent its first 25 years developing great, affordable places to live in Chelsea. In 2006, TND expanded its emphasis from solely building affordable homes to building vital neighborhoods, focusing on both the people and the place. Its programs are delivered in Chelsea and Revere. Follow TND on Facebook and on Twitter, @TND_inc.

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