Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio recently announced new grant funding to support the Community Action Commission of Fayette County’s work to expand housing options for people facing homelessness in Fayette, Clinton, Highland, Pickaway and Ross counties.
Statewide, Anthem teamed up with the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO) to create a new fund to help local agencies like CAC of Fayette County recruit more landlords to participate in a program that helps move people out of homelessness and into permanent housing.
“Rapid rehousing is the best way to stabilize people who suddenly find themselves homeless before the long-term effects of homelessness make it even harder to rebuild their lives,” said COHHIO Executive Director Bill Faith. “Rapid rehousing is a proven, cost-effective way to end homelessness, but it requires private-sector partners to work. Anthem’s support will help build that private sector participation.”
With a $75,000 contribution from Anthem, COHHIO developed the Landlord Risk Mitigation Fund to help recruit more landlords to participate in rapid rehousing and supportive housing programs. CAC of Fayette County was one of six local homeless services agencies in Ohio awarded a portion of the funding to cover potential costs to landlords.
“Anthem is focused on building healthier lives and communities,” said Anthem Medical Director Tiffany Inglis. “One way we do that is by partnering with the local agencies that know their communities and have established systems in place to make impactful change. Working with COHHIO and CAC of Fayette County, we can begin to remove housing insecurity as a barrier to health.”
Faith said rising rents, low wages and the opiate crisis are driving more and more people into homelessness. Rapid rehousing and supportive housing are critical tools to get people back on their feet. But rural communities don’t have enough apartments available to help everyone facing homelessness. The Risk Mitigation Fund assures prospective landlords that they will be covered if they experience unanticipated costs.
CAC of Fayette County’s rapid rehousing program moves newly homeless families into private apartments and provides temporary rental assistance and support services that help them resolve the underlying problems that caused their homelessness, like a lack of adequate income, domestic violence, or healthcare issues. Supportive housing restores stability to the long-term, chronically homeless. However, homeless agencies – particularly in rural areas – often struggle to find landlords willing to rent to people enrolled in these programs.
“Our clients are good tenants, but we know more landlords will partner with us if they know we’re going to be at their side, assuring a smooth process and helping resolve any unexpected problems,” Dreama Brown, RRH coordinator, said. “The Risk Mitigation Fund will increase the number of rental homes available to advance our efforts to end homelessness in Fayette, Pickaway, Ross, Clinton and Highland counties.
Anthem, with 3.6 million members in Ohio, has invested heavily in addressing housing insecurity in the state as part of its broader effort to build healthier communities. In addition to the COHHIO grant, Anthem recently announced housing and mental health focused grants totaling more than $500,000 targeted to central and southeastern Ohio.
Anthem’s Dr. Inglis said that housing is preventive medicine, noting that research has shown that housing insecurity and homelessness greatly increases the risk of mental illness, substance abuse, infant mortality, asthma and other conditions, particularly in children. She said Anthem plans to continue investing in Ohio communities in all parts of the state.
Landlords interested in participating in local rapid rehousing or other homeless programs should contact Dreama Brown at CAC of Fayette County for more information: 740-335-7282.
COHHIO has awarded funding to six regional lead agencies in Ohio to administer Risk Mitigation funding in the following Ohio counties: Defiance, Fulton, Williams, Henry, Paulding, Van Wert, Putnam, Hancock, Hardin, Wyandot, Crawford, Marion, Lake, Ashtabula, Geauga, Portage, Trumbull, Licking, Knox, Fairfield, Holmes, Coshocton, Fayette, Pickaway, Ross, Clinton, Highland, Athens, Gallia, Jackson, Meigs, Vinton, Hocking and Perry.