Community Collaboration Working to Reduce Evictions

There are a complex mix of personal, societal, and structural causes that result in someone becoming homeless. Solving such a multifaceted issue requires a wide range of approaches that not only focus on providing assistance to people who have become homeless, but also developing methods toward preventing housing loss.

In July 2017, an enthusiastic collaboration of five Lane County agencies launched the Housing Retention Program, with funding provided by Kaiser Permanente. This new initiative’s goal is to improve housing retention rates for tenants who struggle to maintain their housing due to behavioral health issues.

The program was developed during several community conversations with Homes for Good (Lane County’s Housing Authority), which helped uncover that 80 percent of eviction proceedings could be traced to untreated behavioral health problems.

ShelterCare, Homes for Good, Cornerstone Community Housing, Laurel Hill Center, and Trauma Healing Project have been working together to help combat this community issue.

The Housing Retention Program connects at-risk tenants to a Community Health Worker or Housing Retention Navigator, who works to help them maintain their housing.  ShelterCares’s Housing Retention Navigator, Dylan Cromartie, helps individuals with skills coaching, connections to behavioral health services, interpersonal commination, budgeting, job searches, and landlord mediation.

Over the past eight months, Dylan has successfully engaged 13 individuals who were at risk of losing their housing. One of those individuals was a man in his 60’s who had a history of substance abuse and health issues. Working together, they were able to stabilize the client’s housing by working on his health needs, which included connecting him to a physician who he now sees monthly. Meanwhile, the client has also begun focusing on his sobriety. Over the past eight months, this program has been able to stabilize housing for seven clients and have several still engaged in services.

Our partners in this project have also been making progress.

  • Cornerstone Community Housing has been advocating with state and local workgroups to highlight the connections between housing and health. As a way of improving housing stability, they have been ardently promoting the expanded use of Community Health Workers to help improve health outcomes for clients.
  • Homes for Good has been referring at-risk individuals to the program, as well as educating property managers how to help tenants with behavioral health challenges.
  • Laurel Hill Center has been a connection point for clients in the program to receive behavioral health treatments, as well as attend trainings such as “Ready to Rent”, a program specifically designed for at-risk tenants with behavioral health challenges.
  • Trauma Healing Project created workshop curriculum for property managers on trauma-informed care. These workshops will provide information on the connections between trauma, behavior, and homelessness as well as practical tools and resources to support more positive interactions and relationships with challenging tenants. They held their first workshop this month.

We are incredibly proud to be a part of this dream team of local agencies. Each partner is bringing their unique expertise to the table to help fill a gap in the community.  It is only the beginning, and we are optimistic about how the Housing Retention Program can help individuals on the verge of a housing crisis learn the skills they need to maintain their housing and have ongoing positive relationships with landlords in the future.

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