Case Study: Mission First Housing Group

Mission First Housing Group is a family of nonprofit organizations working together to ensure all people have access to a safe, affordable place to call home. Mission First initially provided housing for a small number of adults living with serious mental illness in Philadelphia; today, it provides a critical combination of housing and services to a diverse group of more than 4,500 residents in over 3,300 affordable apartments across the Mid-Atlantic.  A key tenet of Mission First’s growth strategy is to utilize mergers, acquisitions and alliances to preserve affordable housing assets and service programs for vulnerable individuals and families. In 2014, it merged with ACHIEVEability, a West Philadelphia-based nonprofit that first provides families with stable affordable housing and then works with them over a five-year period to help them access education and job opportunities while supporting their overall health and wellbeing.

Key Findings: Mission First and ACHIEVEability already have several connections to health care organizations in place, which they can leverage to further demonstrate their value to the health care system and ultimately expand their services. For example, ACHIEVEability has partnered with a local hospital to access state funds that provide lead remediation to families referred to ACHIEVEability from that hospital. Mission First also collaborates with a nonprofit that provides mental and behavioral health case management to many of the 1,000 households referred by the city and state to Mission First. While the organizations would like to deepen this relationship, they are limited by the fact that they do not share data and lack access to health care claim data from Medicaid. Thus, they are currently unable to quantify or track the precise health care cost savings of a Housing First model.

Key Opportunities: The Center recommends that Mission First:

  • Prioritize internal capacity to present itself to health care entities as a valuable partner and focus on enhancing its understanding of resident needs by analyzing information on their resident health and devoting leadership-level staff to invest in building relationships with health entities that are key opportunities for Mission First.
  • Strengthen its value proposition by becoming more expert in a set of health care programs for low-income Pennsylvanians, such as Community Health Choices (CHC), a new managed care program for individuals receiving long-term services to assist them with eating, bathing, dressing, preparing meals, managing medication, and housekeeping.
  • Establish itself as the go-to partner by engaging in local hospitals’ Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNAs) and participating in initiatives like Together for West Philadelphia, a new coalition including health care providers that formed to collaborate on projects for the benefit of the West Philadelphia community.
  • Create an urgent care referral center in which it can co-locate and integrate with a health care provider as an onsite clinic or a host for health care provider staff who work directly with residents to ensure that support systems are in place to adequately meet resident needs.

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