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July 15, 2015
Salt Lake City is buzzing with excitement over Pay for Success (PFS). The GHHI PFS team traveled to Salt Lake City on June 26 to kick off its asthma-focused PFS feasibility study and was met with a crowded room of interested community leaders. GHHI team members present were President & CEO Ruth Ann Norton, Vice President of Policy and Social Innovation Michael McKnight, Social Innovation Specialist Trent Van Alfen, Senior Associate for Research, Policy and Environmental Health Science Brendan Brown and Pay for Success Project Lead Eric Letsinger. GHHI is also conducting groundbreaking feasibility studies in four other cities with funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Social Innovation Fund.
Over the course of the next year, GHHI will work with awardees in the five cities to assess the feasibility of a PFS partnership involving home-based interventions to reduce asthma in low income communities and generate cost savings for healthcare organizations. By June 2016, GHHI will complete an analysis for project partners and investors to use in determining if they want to move forward with a PFS transaction similar to the one GHHI is developing in Baltimore.
The purpose of this kick off meeting in Salt Lake City was to establish a common understanding of the PFS feasibility study among all the project stakeholders—healthcare organizations, service providers, as well as government and university departments. The convening allowed everyone to get on the same page regarding roles, responsibilities, goals and potential resources for the project. The quality of discussion and amount of business cards being passed back and forth were good indications that the Salt Lake partners were taking ownership of the project, making connections and striving to make it successful. By the end of July, GHHI will have conducted similar kick off meetings with the other four PFS awardee cities.
University of Utah Health Plans and the Salt Lake County Office of Regional Development are the two PFS feasibility awardees in Salt Lake City. They brought in several professionals and organizations for the site visit who may potentially become involved in the project, including representatives from Green & Healthy Homes Initiative Salt Lake, University of Utah Department of Pediatrics, Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity, Salt Lake County Health Department, Utah’s Pediatric Improvement Partnership (UPIQ), the Policy Innovation Lab at the University of Utah and the Salt Lake County Mayor’s Office.
It seemed to be perfect timing for this asthma-focused PFS feasibility study. The county’s Health Department recently received a grant to provide home- and school-based asthma education; UPIQ is developing its leadership in quality improvement for clinical asthma management; and University of Utah’s Department of Pediatrics is conducting studies fostering empirical evidence for the ability of home-based interventions to reduce asthma triggers. Representatives from all of these initiatives expressed that they would like to be involved with GHHI’s PFS work whether as direct partners in service provision or as resources in knowledge sharing throughout the project. Multiple people throughout the day said they were “so pumped up!” about this project and the feeling was contagious.
Utah is one of the leading states in Pay for Success—in large part due to the attention Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams has given to the field. Mayor McAdams joined us for lunch on June 26 and offered several great insights. His office is currently conducting three PFS projects focused on maternal/child health, criminal justice and homelessness. Another one of the Social Innovation Fund PFS grant awardees, the Policy Innovation Lab, is located in Utah and is also conducting several PFS feasibility studies out west. A representative from the Lab discussed their work to the group and expressed their willingness to collaborate and share knowledge with GHHI as they both seek to advance the PFS field nationally.
One of the major highlights of the day was when GHHI President & CEO Ruth Ann Norton presented Mayor McAdams with a GHHI pin and thanked him for his support. The Mayor touted the outstanding reputation and track record of GHHI and discussed the enormous potential Pay for Success represents for improving social outcomes. He joined everyone else in saying that he was “pumped up!”
July 1, 2015
Title: GHHI Jackson Outcome BrokerHometown: Jackson, MS via Birmingham, ALEducation: Master of Arts in Urban and Regional Planning (Jackson State University); Bachelor of Arts in Communication (University of Tampa)Dog or Cat Person: Both (she has two dogs and one cat)
Catherine Lee was an instrumental in GHHI Jackson’s launch well before she officially joined the team. As special projects officer for Jackson, MS Mayor Harvey Johnson, she coordinated the initial meetings and ultimate compact signing with the national GHHI office and recruited local partners. She even attended GHHI’s 2012 Executive Leadership Institute in Chicago.
After Mayor Johnson left office, Catherine joined Midtown Partners where she managed housing and neighborhood development programming, working closely with the newly formed GHHI Jackson as a unit production partner. Being an early supporter paid off, as Catherine was recruited for GHHI Jackson’s outcome broker position in October 2014. As outcome broker, she works with local government, nonprofit organizations and community leaders to formulate and implement the GHHI model.
“I felt like I would make a bigger impact with GHHI,” Catherine said. “I love working directly with clients, but I found a lot of barriers that I couldn’t change. A family came to my office one day looking for a place to rent because their home was infested with bed bugs and they couldn’t afford pest services. They felt leaving was there only option, even if it meant walking away from all of their belongings and ruining their credit. I wanted to do more for them, and as part of GHHI, I can make a difference.”
1. What have you learned in your role at GHHI?
I feel like I learn something new every day. I’ve gotten to learn so much more about the actual inspection and repair process of housing, and have especially learned a lot about energy efficiency. I didn’t know much about all of that before I started, like what the standards are, the best building materials to use, etc. I’ve also discovered a lot of resources and ideas that I myself want to use. I went to a utility showcase and learned about efficiency programs, and thought ‘man I need to call my energy company and get them to do a free audit!’ I didn’t know that was an option for me.
2. What has been your biggest accomplishment so far at GHHI?
GHHI Jackson is providing technical assistance and workforce training resources to support Mayor Yarber’s plans for the Jackson Gateway Project, which is a combination of neighborhood revitalization resources that includes comprehensive housing repair. We hosted a comprehensive assessment training session in April, and 21 housing inspectors and contractors (from both the public and private sector) signed up. That’s a huge victory for capacity building efforts here.
3. What are some of your “other duties as assigned”?
I want to be a problem solver for our partnering organizations, so I find myself telling them “please let me know how I can help, whatever the issue is” on a regular basis. Recently one of those tasks was collecting green cleaning supplies on behalf of the City of Jackson from the Mississippi State Department of Health, which in practice was loading heavy boxes of glass vinegar bottles into a van in a warehouse.
I also think GHHI Jackson is able to catalyze innovative collaborative work with our partners, even things that go in that “other” category, because we have a successful model. In a recent unit production meeting, Voice of Calvary Ministries discussed their work with a veterans counseling program, and Jackson Housing Authority was able to relay information about the VASH vouchers they have. I’m proud that we were able to connect these organizations to improve delivery of services that are reducing veterans’ homelessness in Jackson.
4. Do you play a musical instrument?
I have no musical skills what so ever. I like to go see and hear live music, especially Phish. We plan our vacations around concerts. This summer, we’re traveling to Chicago to see the Grateful Dead.
5. What is your favorite travel spot?
Florida panhandle area. There’s a scenic highway, 30-A, there are a ton of nice beaches around there. Seaside was the town featured in “The Truman Show” and is one of my favorite places to go. I used to go there as a kid because my grandparents lived nearby.
6. What do you do when you’re not at work?
I am a member of the 2014-2015 class of the Leadership Greater Jackson program, so a lot of my extra time recently has been spent working on my class project with a nonprofit called Springboard to Opportunities. Springboard’s mission is to connect families living in affordable housing with resources that help them advance in school, work and life. My group is working with middle school and high school students in two multifamily properties in to complete a service learning project—the youth have identified community needs at both apartment complexes and raised funds to meet those needs by organizing a 5K run/walk. We raised enough funds for every household in the complex to get bags of household items, plan summer enrichment programs for the kids and give a donation to Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital.
7. Finish this sentence: People would be surprised if they knew that I…
like comic books. When I started to watch “The Walking Dead,” I looked into graphic novels and went down the rabbit hole of comics. “Saga” and “The Manhattan Projects” are two of my current favorites.
June 26, 2015
At the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 83rd Annual Meeting, Mayors adopted resolutions supporting three issues critical to advancing healthy homes for all. The resolutions support:
The Green and Healthy Homes Initiative and Efforts to Produce Sustainable Green, Healthy and Safe Homes
Federal Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Programs
Social Impact Financing and Pay for Success Models
After adoption, the resolutions become the official policy of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
On behalf of the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, I would like to express sincere appreciation to the Mayors for shining light on these important issues that affect millions of families’ health and ability to thrive. Additional healthy homes and lead poisoning prevention funding is needed at the federal level, and systems reforms are required at federal, state and local levels across the nation to advance the creation of healthy homes — which in turn produce health, economic and social outcomes for families. And we must not stop there; we must continue to find creative pathways to sustaining this work, through social impact financing and pay for success.
Special thanks to Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter for submitting these important resolutions to the 2015 Conference.
June 19, 2015
For the entire month of June, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is celebrating Healthy Futures for Vulnerable Citizens. The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) is currently working with the Social Innovation Fund to promote healthy futures by breaking the link between unhealthy housing and unhealthy families.
GHHI is proud to have been featured in this month’s Social Innovation Fund Spotlight for our Pay for Success program. Through our work, we help people live in safe, healthy, energy efficient homes while reducing overall healthcare costs and increasing their quality of life. Read more in our Grantee Spotlight.
June 8, 2015
This week I am delighted to be attending CGI America 2015 in Denver, Colorado, along with our outstanding mission partners from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
Collectively, we recognize that healthy homes have a profound effect in ensuring that kids are safe, healthy and ready to learn. The components of academic achievement, such as attendance and performance outcomes, is related to interactions among multiple biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors:[i]
A systematic review conducted by the Children's Health Fund shows that risk factors such as childhood asthma and lead poisoning, especially during the crucial developmental period of early childhood, are significantly contributing to poor academic achievement. Unhealthy housing can lead to learning disabilities, decreased intelligence, speech development problems, hyperactivity and asthma, which is the number one medical reason for school absences. In 2008, asthma attacks led to an estimated 14.4 million lost school days (7.1 million children have asthma)[ii]. Home-based asthma triggers cause 40% of asthma episodes, which are entirely preventable[iii]. These triggers include mold, pests, dust mites, poor indoor air quality, cockroaches and tobacco smoke.
I sincerely look forward to furthering the dialog with our partners at HUD and CGI around housing as a platform for health and educational outcomes. Part of the conversation this week will include the exploration of pathways to expand healthy homes interventions through healthcare and social impact financing, which is critical to effectively scaling the impact of this work in communities across the nation.
I will provide updates and observations throughout the week via Twitter @RuthAnnNorton, and of course there will a rich conversation occurring at the official meeting hashtag #CGIAmerica. I hope all of our partners in healthy homes, education and healthcare will get a chance to tune in and engage at some point throughout the week!
[i] Roy Grant and Arturo Brito. Chronic Illness and School Performance: A Literature Review Focusing on Asthma and Mental Health Conditions. Children's Health Fud, New York, NY: June, 2010
[ii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey Raw Data, 2011. Analysis by the American Lung Association Research and Health Education Division using SPSS and SUDAAN software.
[iii] Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build A Healthier America. Beyond Health Care: New Directions To A Healthier America Report. April 2009