A $5 million federal grant has been awarded to create an innovative new housing program that the state Department of Children and Families, along with partners at The Connection Inc., a community development agency, and University of Connecticut researchers, intends to keep at-risk families intact.
The grant, awarded by the federal Administration for Children and Families, will enable the creation and implementation of the state’s first Intensive Housing Support for Families program. The program will not only provide stable housing to families at risk of chronic homelessness, but will include interdisciplinary professional support, and vocational, mental health, and educational support. The program will also include rigorous analysis of short and long-term outcomes, as well as a comprehensive cost analysis, with the goal of making it a model that can be used around the country.
“The traditional view has been that stable housing reflects family stability,” said Anne Farrell, a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at UConn, and along with fellow UConn family studies professor Preston Britner, one of two principal investigators on the research that helped secure the grant.
“That notion has been turned upside recently,” she said. “We’re starting to think of housing as essential to securing family stability, not the other way around.”
UConn researchers will work to design and evaluate the program as it rolls out over a five-year period, beginning with an initial phase that started this fall, during which the plans, procedures, and cross-agency collaborations are being finalized. After about eight months, 240 families will be chosen to participate in a study of how the new intensive program compares with current supportive housing policies. Half the families will be enrolled in the existing Supportive Housing for Families program, while the other 120 will participate in the new, intensive program.
Ultimately, the program will expand throughout the state by the end of five years, reaching between 500 and 780 at-risk families.
The Connection, a leading human service and community development agency with a proven track record in supportive housing, will provide primary services for the families in the program.
“This is a culmination of more than 15 years of advocacy and research on behalf of individuals and families in need of stable housing with intensive supports,” said Lisa DeMatteis-Lepore, senior director at The Connection. “We are thrilled to provide this program to benefit Connecticut families.”
The $5 million grant was one of five awarded by ACF this year, and the only one with impact across an entire state. UConn, The Connection, and DCF will partner with other state and local agencies on the program, including the state Office of Policy and Management and the state Department of Social Services. The ACF initiative is the product of a novel partnership between the federal government and four private foundations: Robert Wood Johnson, Annie E. Casey and Casey Family Programs, and Edna McConnell Clark.