John Lovelace
John Lovelace

The Cultivating Health for Success program has a clear and simple goal: Getting homeless Medicaid recipients in Allegheny County off the streets and into structured, long-term care by combining the resources of UPMC Health Plan and the housing-focused Community Human Services (CHS).

On Monday, those two organizations announced an expansion of their joint program, known as CHFS. 

Since its creation in 2010, the program has housed and offered counseling to about 25 participants each year, according to UPMC Health Plan. Under the expanded program, the partners hope to serve around 250 patients annually over the next several years, a tenfold increase.   

John Lovelace, president of government programs for UPMC Health Plan, describes the effort as a “blending or braiding” of the two organizations’ funding “to create more opportunity by being more efficient with our resources.” 

Some enrollees exit the program after a few months, but all have the option of staying enrolled for several years.

“We have found that when people have a stable place to call ‘home’ and are supported by compassionate individuals who coordinate their care, they are happier and healthier and lead more fulfilling lives,” said Diane Holder, president and CEO of UPMC Health Plan.

In addition to providing support for some of the most underserved populations in the county, data provided by UPMC Health Plan claims that the program actually saves money by getting participants in front of medical professionals before their problems can escalate into long and costly emergency room visits. According to the UPMC Health Plan data, the CHFS program saves an average of $6,384 in Medicaid funds per enrollee each year.

Speaking to the media at CHS headquarters in the Strip District, Lovelace said the expansion will start in Allegheny County, but the broader goal is for the program to reach beyond the county to cover all the larger cities in Western PA.

He said they hope to start putting enrollees of the expanded program into new homes by January of 2019.

Jeremy Carter, chief housing officer with Community Human Services, said houses will be sourced from the same pool of private landlords that CHS currently works with in the Pittsburgh region, and they will build new partnerships as necessary from there.

According to the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, more than 16,000 people statewide struggle with home security in a given year.

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.