Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance Awarded $100K

March 20, 2018 — The Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance, a Boston nonprofit that works to end homelessness across the state through advocacy, collaboration, education, housing, and the implementation of outcome-based programs, today was named the winner of the 2018 Hearst Health Prize, which brings with it a $100,000 award.

The annual award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in managing or improving health, was given to Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance (MHSA) for its program providing permanent supportive housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness.

“All of us at Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance see this award as validating the growing belief that a truly integrated healthcare system must include appropriate, supportive, safe and affordable housing,” said MHSA President and Executive Director Joe Finn.

MHSA membership includes nearly 100 community-based agencies operating programs that serve homeless individuals across Massachusetts by providing permanent housing; transitional programs; emergency shelter; outreach, assessment, and treatment programs; health services; day programs; employment and housing placement programs; economic development opportunities; and opportunities for homeless self-advocacy.

MHSA’s Home and Healthy for Good program provides permanent supportive housing to address chronic homelessness and overutilization of acute care and emergency care by removing barriers to housing. Tenants live in leased, independent apartments or shared living arrangements that are integrated into the community. They have access to a broad range of comprehensive, community-based services, including medical and mental healthcare, substance abuse treatment, case management and vocational and life skills training.

“Awarding the Hearst Health Prize to Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance acknowledges that housing and health are intertwined,” said David B. Nash, dean of the Jefferson College of Population Health. “The provision of housing and related services are interventions that have an impact on issues such as readmissions, addiction, employment, mental health and preventive healthcare.”

According to Hearst Health, the Home and Healthy for Good program:
  • Has resulted in a 78% reduction in utilization of emergency services within the first six months of housing; there is an increased utilization of mainstream systems of preventive and primary care.

  • Prior to entering the program, 29% of the participants were satisfied with their health. After housing, 63% of the participants reported satisfaction with health.

  • Since its founding, 981 adults experiencing chronic homelessness have been placed in permanent housing across Massachusetts.

  • Two thirds of the total Home and Healthy for Good population is either still housed or has left the program to move on to another type of permanent housing.
Applications for the Hearst Health Prize were evaluated based on the program's population health impact or outcome, demonstrated by measurable improvement; use of evidence-based interventions, and best practices to improve the quality of care; promotion of communication, collaboration, and engagement; scalability and sustainability; and innovation. MHSA achieved the highest score on these criteria based on evaluation by a panel of judges.

MHSA was founded in 1988 by Greater Boston homeless service providers and citizens seeking to create a coordinated strategy to end homelessness. MHSA advocates at the local, state, and federal levels for policy and practice to end homelessness through the development of strategies that address the intertwined and unmet health care, income and housing needs of homeless individuals and those at risk of homelessness.