Annual Harm Reduction Housing Conference (2011-present)
In collaboration with membership of the Harm Reduction Roundtable, the Midwest Harm Reduction Institute convenes an annual Harm Reduction Housing Conference. Year one of the conference focused on how far we’ve come in Chicago, while year two focused on how we could reach beyond housing providers to marshall resources from other service providers to increase the stability of our participants in housing. More about out annual conference
Permanent Supportive Housing Provider Training and Technical Assistance (2009 – present)
In 2002, the Chicago Continuum of Care announced that homeless providers must adopt a housing first approach. This means housing individuals as quickly as possible, then following up with a range of supports to help them stay housed without requiring abstinence from alcohol and other drugs as a criterion for admission and continued residence. At least 40 percent of participants admitted to housing have substance use problems, however, and most providers struggle to adequately meet their residents’ recovery needs without defaulting to the traditional abstinence-based approach. Thanks to funding from The Chicago Communtiy Trust, MHRI has been able to provide training and technical assistance to a variety of housing programs in the Chicago area. The Harm Reduction Technical Assistance Project addresses the barriers to implementing a harm reduction philosophy and strategies, in order to help agencies meet the housing first mandate. The long-term goal related to the housing system is to improve access to and retention of housing by people who are homeless and who engage in high-risk behaviors. MHRI has been working with a growing number of housing providers over the past three years and hopes to reach more as this project continues to grow.
Harm Reduction Roundtable (October 2008 – present)
In collaboration with the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness, the Midwest Harm Reduction Institute convenes a monthly Harm Reduction Roundtable. The roundtable is comprised of Chicago area housing providers who are committed to or interested in utilizing Harm Reduction and Housing First philosophies to help end homelessness in Chicago. We also welcome other related service providers whose services and collaboration contribute to maintaining housing stability for our participants.
The group functions as a networking opportunity, consultation group, information exchange and learning collaborative. We also work together to plan an annual Harm Reduction Housing conference in Chicago.