BOSTON – Since 2015, the Commonwealth’s Pay for Success partnership to reduce chronic individual homelessness has provided stable housing for 1,014 homeless individuals. Over 87% of the people aided by this program continue in the program or have transitioned to a healthy living situation. This program has not only enabled participants to live a life of dignity and safety, but it has also saved Massachusetts an estimated $2.2 Million in shelter, emergency room, and inpatient hospitalization costs.
To build and expand on the success of this innovative, first-in-the-nation program, United Way is announcing today it has hired Christi Staples to work with the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance, Corporation for Supportive Housing and the existing Pay for Success partners and providers, to create a statewide plan to continue to end homelessness for individuals, youth and young adults and families across Massachusetts through permanent supportive housing.
COVID-19 has forced shelters and homelessness providers to “depopulate” in order to quarantine infected or exposed residents and observe social distancing within the shelters. The impact of the pandemic has left hundreds of chronically homeless individuals with no permanent supportive housing.
“The need to provide permanent supportive housing to chronically homeless individuals has never been more acute,” said Staples. “Homelessness is a public health crisis, and as our state continues to face the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must reimagine and rebuild the systems to provide safe, stable housing for everyone.”
Staples is a leader and problem solver with 15 years of experience in health and housing policy. She comes to this role having served as the Director of New England at the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), where she oversaw all CSH’s training, lending, technical assistance, and systems change work throughout the state.
“We are so grateful for the creation of this effort by UWMB to increase collective advocacy for permanent supportive housing and believe Christi Staples brings the perfect balance of energy and expertise to this effort,” said Joe Finn, president and executive director of the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance.
“Homelessness should never be a way of life for anyone in our communities,” said Bob Giannino, President and CEO at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “Our Pay for Success partnership consistently exceeds the targets we set with the Commonwealth and demonstrates that we can effectively provide stable, supportive housing to chronically homeless individuals. Christi’s deep experience in this work will be key to our next chapter to scale up permanent supportive housing in Massachusetts.”
In her new role, Staples will develop a unified, collective strategy to create housing and supportive services for high need/high user populations to save lives and public resources.
Working with key stakeholders, Staples will establish a multi-sector stakeholder workgroup that will design, implement and oversee the Campaign across the state.
“We look forward to working with Christi and the United Way on a supportive housing strategy across the state,” said Lyndia Downie, President and Executive Director, Pine Street Inn. “We know that housing is the solution to homelessness, and we are grateful to the United Way for this initiative and their leadership as we work together to end homelessness in Massachusetts.”
“The United Way has always been a champion for our communities’ most vulnerable children,” said Larry Seamans, President at FamilyAid Boston. “We are delighted to have Christi’s leadership in forging a unified path to housing for all, including a growing number of homeless children and parents.”
This will be the first initiative funded by United Way’s Mind the Gap Tribute Fund, which was created to honor the legacy of Michael K. Durkin, who retired from United Way last month.
ABOUT CHRISTI STAPLES
United Way is pleased to announce the hiring of Christi Staples as the new Director of the Statewide Campaign to End Homelessness, effective July 13th, 2020.
Christi is a leader and problem solver with 15 years of experience in health and housing policy. She comes to this role having served as the Director of New England at CSH, where she oversaw all CSH’s training, lending, technical assistance, and systems change work throughout the state. She was responsible for setting the direction and annual goals for the New England region, and fundraising to cover the Program’s local costs.
She also directly provides training, technical support, and advisement to numerous supportive housing providers and public funding agencies on creating a range of supportive housing models for people experiencing homelessness and exiting institutional settings. Prior to joining CSH, Ms. Staples was the Deputy Executive Director at the Partnership for Strong Communities, the backbone agency for ending and preventing homelessness in Connecticut.
Christi has served on the MA Equity Task Force and understands that a racial equity lens is critical to considering access to housing. She has commissioned several strategic plans, and all have included that lens. She is deeply committed to ensuring that no one has a difficult time accessing housing because of their race, class, or any other aspect of their background.
Ms. Staples holds a master’s degree in Social Work. She is a Connecticut Health Foundation Health Leadership Senior Fellow, focusing on increasing leadership knowledge and skills to better advocate and improve the health and well-being of those vulnerable to racial and ethnic health disparities.
*Photo available upon request