“The Housing Is platform is redefining how we do our work and is needed now more than ever.” -- Feedback from a 2018 Housing Is Summit Attendee
Over 260 attendees participated in CLPHA’s Housing Is Summit on May 3-4, 2018. The event formerly known as the Affordable Housing & Education Summit introduced a health track for the first time this year. Representatives from the housing, education, health, academic, government, and foundation sectors led sessions, shared expertise, asked questions, made connections, and learned from peers on how to improve life outcomes for low-income and homeless individuals across the United States. CLPHA members in particular continue to show how they lead cross-sector efforts with education and health entities, and we were pleased to highlight our members’ innovative efforts while also furthering our work at the national level.
Each day of the Summit started with keynote speakers who spoke to the importance of collaboration among the housing, education, and health sectors. On Day One, Secretary Ben Carson addressed attendees by mentioning his recent visits to communities on the opioid crisis and Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) projects, as well as discussing his EnVision Centers and telling attendees that the mission statement process is nowhere near complete and he is not backing away from Fair Housing. The Secretary took a few pre-selected questions from CLPHA board members regarding the leadership role HUD could play on improving education and health outcomes, HUD’s existing and potential partnerships with other federal agencies, and HUD’s data sharing efforts with other federal agencies. The Secretary said he wanted to establish more inter-agency partnerships, but did not go into further detail. Friday’s keynotes from Founder & CEO of Civic Enterprises, John Bridgeland, as well as Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago Research Fellow Matthew Morton, focused on current research around homelessness and inspired attendees on where to focus future efforts. Summit participants appreciated how Morton punctuated his presentation with the words “Housing Is” from our initiative (e.g. Housing Is Return on Investment, Housing Is Not an Event, Housing Is Not the End Game) combined with his personal experiences with homelessness and his current research on the topic.
The Summit’s four plenary panel sessions focused on issues that require multi-sector collaboration such as anchor institutions, data sharing and use across fields, innovative solutions to addressing homelessness, and the central role philanthropic institutions play in fostering work between and across sectors. The panels brought together researchers, executives, and practitioners from all three sectors, with representation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Education, Brookings Institution, Urban Institute, UnitedHealthcare Community & State, Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), SchoolHouse Connection, Democracy Collaborative, Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness (ICPH), Kresge Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Attendees were also invited to attend a “Washington Power Lunch” where representatives from Capitol Hill provided updates about hot topics in Congress related to housing, education, and health policy.
The Summit’s 15 breakout sessions kicked off with concurrent sessions that sought to help translate key concepts across sectors: Housing for Other Sectors, Healthcare for Housing Providers, and Education for Housers. These overviews highlighted essential components of each system – housing, health, and education – that have the greatest importance to partners in other sectors such as critical funding streams, major players, and influential programs. Most breakout sessions focused on collaboration between housing and education or housing and health, with a few sessions exploring cross-sector partnerships more generally on topics like metrics and collective impact (check out our report on elements of a successful partnership!).
Education-focused breakout sessions examined introductory concepts such as funding streams and salient legislation, as well as language translation with important school acronyms; data sharing federal guidelines and case study highlights from PHAs and their partners; examples of early childhood work from different communities and how the work can be replicated; ways PHAs are supporting residents to pursue post-secondary education; examples of quality out-of-school time programming and lessons learned in that space; and how to fund education efforts in your community. CLPHA members, their partners, nonprofit housing providers, and national nonprofits continue to show deep interest in intersecting housing and education with especially exciting innovations coming from many CLPHA communities. Attendees noted that they wished many sessions were longer underscoring the importance of these topics and the ability to learn from other communities.
The 2018 Summit marked the first Summit to include health-related content. In addition to having representatives from public health and the healthcare industry in plenary session panels, the Summit included health-focused breakout sessions that helped break down the health sector for housing providers, highlighting innovative partnerships and data collaborations between these sectors as well as emergent opportunities for growth. Attendees learned about the ways in which residents in HUD-assisted housing often connect with the healthcare system, through programs like Medicaid and Medicare, as well as health condition prevalence and health service utilization data. Across the health breakout sessions, it was clear from housing providers that there is intense interest in resident health but lingering questions about what types of partnerships with the health sector are most advantageous. Attendees interested in the intersection of housing and health agreed that data sharing and collaboration were critical steps in strong partnerships – similar to learnings about PHAs’ partnerships with schools and other education partners – but specific applications of that data vary widely. Health partners repeatedly referenced data suggesting housing as a key social determinant – both for quality outcomes and rising costs – while housing providers with health data sought to leverage that information for targeted service coordination, place-based interventions, and other efforts to align systems. Undergirding themes was a new report CLPHA released at the Summit that details the findings of a new national survey of PHAs about their engagement with the health sector. The study found that there is broad engagement between PHAs and a wide range of health entities whose goals and activities together vary greatly.
Thank you to everyone who provided verbal and written feedback of the Summit! We were pleased that attendees agree that cross-sector collaborations are critical to achieve joint goals. Please continue to engage with us and your peers on housingis.org and on twitter at @Housing_Is, and reach out to us by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any feedback or questions.