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City of Chicago Announces Expansion of Flexible Housing Pool

9/11/2019, noon | Updated on 9/11/2019, noon
Thanks to a $1.5 million investment from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and Advocate Aurora Health over the ...
The City of Chicago recently announced that the Flexible Housing Pool, a resource for homeless individuals to connect with affordable housing, would be expanding thanks to the programs first private donors. Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois/Ben Hershey

City of Chicago Announces Expansion of Flexible Housing Pool

BY KATHERINE NEWMAN

Thanks to a $1.5 million investment from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and Advocate Aurora Health over the next three years, the City of Chicago was able to announce the expansion of the Chicago and Cook County Flexible Housing Pool which supports residents experiencing homelessness with wrap-around services and access to affordable housing.

As one of the initial private funders for the Flexible Housing Pool, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois will be investing $1 million in the program to help secure affordable housing for homeless residents and hopefully improve their quality of health as a result.

“The average life expectancy among America’s homeless is between 42 and 52 years old, much lower than the life expectancy for the general population at 78 years,” said Dr. Derek Robinson, chief medical officer for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. “One estimate is that more than 80 percent of all homeless people have at least one chronic health condition. By taking away the obstacle of homelessness, we can empower individuals to better manage their medical conditions and avoid complex problems like kidney failure, heart attack, stroke or blindness.”

The Flexible Housing Pool was created in 2018 with a $500,000 investment from the Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund, $500,000 in 2018 City corporate funds, and $800,000 in housing and urban development funds from the Chicago Housing Authority, according to information provided by the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services.

The Flexible Housing Pool’s target clients are homeless individuals who frequently cycle through the criminal justice system or who often use local crisis response systems such as hospital emergency rooms, police stations, and paramedic services.

Outside of helping homeless individuals quickly connect with housing options, the Flexible Housing Pool also provides health and social support services for the residents they serve, according to information provided by the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services.

“Homelessness should be everyone’s concern, and that is why we are joining forces with private and public entities to support a subsidy that quickly houses and provides supportive services for some of the hardest-to-reach homeless residents,” said Mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot. “We are grateful for those hospitals and organizations who have come forward to help address homelessness, and we hope others will follow suit.”

The first Flexible Housing Pool participant received housing in March 2019 and since then, there have been a total of 26 individuals who have been housed, according to information provided by the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services.

“We invested in this program because we know helping people live well is about more than what happens when they see their doctor. Having a safe place to live is a big part of that whole-person care,” said Dr. Alvia Siddiqi, vice president of Population Health at Advocate Aurora Health. “We’re always looking for innovative ways to attend to important social needs that are fundamental to managing population health, and we’re proud to be a part of this effort.”