In response to the goal of eliminating chronic homelessness, and the request that federal agencies increase their level of collaboration to accomplish this goal, members of the Interagency Council developed a new federal initiative entitled, Collaborative Initiative to Help End Chronic Homelessness (CICH). Through this program, persons experiencing chronic homelessness receive permanent supported housing funded by HUD, and supportive primary healthcare and mental health services provided by the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations (SAMHSA) of DHHS, and by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) of VA (NOFA, 2003). A chronically homelessness person is defined, in this initiative, as "an unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition who has either been continuously homeless for 1 year or more or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past 3 years".
The key components of the CICH intervention involve: 1) providing comprehensive primary health, mental health, and substance abuse treatment services linked to housing; 2) creating additional permanent housing; 3) increasing the use of mainstream resources that pay for services and treatment for this population; 4) replicating service, treatment and housing models that have proven to be effective ( e.g. Stein & Test, 1980; Tsemberis & Eisenberg, 2000); and 5) supporting the development of infrastructures that sustain the housing, services and treatments and interorganizational partnerhips beyond the designated CICH funding period.
Out of the more than 100 communities that applied for CICH funds, 11 were selected in October 2003 to receive funding. Funding varies by federal agency and types of service provided. HUD provided 5 years of funding to those sites with Shelter Plus Care programs and 3 years of funding to sites implementing Supportive Housing Programs. DHHS provided funding for 3 years for substance abuse, mental health and primary care services. The 11 communities included Chattanooga, TN; Chicago, IL; Columbus, OH; Denver, CO; Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Los Angeles, CA; Martinez, CA; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Portland, OR; and, San Francisco, CA.
Each of these communities (sites) developed a comprehensive plan to end or reduce the prevalence of chronic homelessness in their community through the development of sustainable, cost-effective partnerships among providers in the private and public sector. The specifics of these plans vary across communities but each plan includes strategies for providing permanent housing, linking comprehensive supports with housing, increasing the use of mainstream services. integrating systems and services, and, ensuring the sustainability of these efforts beyond the funding period. A brief summary of programmatic efforts at each site is presented in Table 1 (National Technical Assistance Center [NTAC], 2006)