The 180/180 Santa Cruz initiative reached its goal last week of housing 180 chronically homeless individuals and families in Santa Cruz County -- over a month ahead of the July target date.
A multi-agency initiative in Santa Cruz County, 180/180 was launched in May 2012 with a goal to help 180 chronically homeless and medically vulnerable individuals and families make a "180 degree change" in their lives by moving into long-term permanent housing, with supportive services to improve health outcomes, housing stability, and community integration.
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180/180 credits the accelerated pace to the shared commitment of many partners involved in the initiative, including service providers, community volunteers, faith-based groups, business leaders, local government officials and agencies.
Enthused by their success, leaders of the initiative will continue working to house more of the County’s most vulnerable members.
“It’s amazing what we can do when we come together as a community,” says Phil Kramer, director of 180/180.
“We’ve proven this works, yet the need is greater than the 180 we’ve helped so far. According to the most recent homeless census in 2013, there were 989 chronically homeless individuals in Santa Cruz County. So we’re scaling up our efforts to connect more people who are homeless with housing and support.”
180/180 will celebrate reaching the 180 goal at noon on July 17 at Simpkins Swim Center.
At the celebration, the next phase for the initiative and future goals to reduce and end homelessness in Santa Cruz County will be announced.
"Our community is healthier and more vital when our most vulnerable, homeless neighbors are housed", said Mary Lou Goeke, executive director of United Way, Santa Cruz County. "I'm thrilled that 180/180 has reached their goal and is committed to continue this great work."
180/180 uses the evidence-based Housing First approach to end chronic homeless. After identifying the most vulnerable, long-term chronically homeless individuals, case managers and housing navigators move these individuals into stable housing as quickly as possible and then coordinate with other service providers and volunteers to ensure these individuals receive the services they need to retain their housing.
According to the “Where We Sleep” study conducted in Los Angeles in 2009, the Permanent Supportive Housing model has been proven to be a more cost effective use of community resources when compared with expensive emergency services such as hospitals, emergency rooms, and jails.
Independent researchers from UCSC are currently working on a study to evaluate the outcomes and cost savings of the 180/180 initiative.
In addition to the work being done to house the most vulnerable members of our community, 180/180 has also worked to change how Santa Cruz County addresses chronic homelessness, developing new ways to manage and streamline service delivery.
Strategies have included partnering with the Housing Authority of Santa Cruz County and local landlords as well as conducting a successful multi-agency 100 day effort to house high-impact homeless individuals in the downtown corridors of Santa Cruz and Watsonville.
Key partners of 180/180 include: City of Santa Cruz, City of Watsonville, County Administrative Office, County Human Services Department, County Health Services Agency, County Department of Mental Health, County Homeless Persons’ Health Project, Santa Cruz Probation Department, Santa Cruz Police Department, Watsonville Police Department, Homeless Services Center, Encompass Community Services, Pajaro Valley Shelter Services, Grace Harbor - Pajaro Rescue Mission, Housing Authority of Santa Cruz County, Veterans Affairs, and numerous other business partners and service agencies.
For more information, to volunteer, or to donate, visit http://www.180santacruz.org.