Hearth Connection is a leader in Minnesota’s use of innovation and data to improve services for people experiencing homelessness. We are dedicated to data analysis and holding organizations accountable in their use of public funding. Outcomes of our programs are evaluated internally with customized software and by independent research. We continuously track results to ensure performance, improve our service model and make sure that we are reaching those most in need.
Reports and Evaluations
Step Down Pilot Project
Step Down assists a household’s transition from a site-based permanent supportive housing program to a less intensive, scattered-site option that offers an appropriate level of supportive services. By helping stabilized households exit to more independent housing, Step Down results in cost savings and improved participant independence, while creating space for households just leaving homelessness and in need of a higher level of services.
A 2019 evaluation of the project found improvements to participants’ health, well-being and social relationships as a result of their enrollment in Step Down. The report was co-produced by Hearth Connection and the Wilder Foundation, and funded by Minnesota Housing and the Heading Home Minnesota Funders Collaborative.
Coming Home is a partnership with St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Paul and St. Cloud Hospital in St. Cloud that works to connect frequent visitors to the hospitals’ emergency departments to supportive services. Previously, participants experiencing homelessness who visited the emergency room would be discharged before completing the paperwork necessary to connect them with services—then, once they were readmitted, the process would start all over again. Coming Home connects participants with case managers who can provide them with services and support even after they are discharged from the hospital.
Follow this space for a forthcoming evaluation of Coming Home.
Not every pilot project turns into a permanent Hearth Connection program—but that doesn’t mean that they don’t offer valuable insights into ways to improve and innovate Minnesota’s homelessness response system. Click on the dropdowns below for descriptions and evaluations of since-discontinued Hearth pilot projects.
Hearth’s Hospital to Home (H2H) pilots focused on engaging individuals experiencing long-term homelessness who were also frequent visitors to hospital emergency departments and faced other barriers to housing, such as chronic medical conditions and mental health challenges. Program participants were connected with supportive housing and case management services.
The pilot began in 2009 as a partnership among Hearth Connection, Guild Incorporated, the Minnesota Department of Human Services, and Regions Hospital in St. Paul. The pilot initially enrolled seven individuals, offering housing subsidies and intensive case management services. A two-year report issued in 2011 showed positive outcomes for the seven participants, including reduced emergency department visits, improved housing stability, improved indicators of self-sufficiency, and improved consistency in accessing health care. You can read that report here.
In 2010, Hearth established its second H2H pilot in partnership with Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis and the Collaboration of Housing Resources team, a group comprised of service providers from Spectrum Community Mental Health, St. Stephen’s Human Services and Simpson Housing Services. A 2014 evaluation of the pilot showed decreased participant usage of emergency departments and ambulance services; a shorter duration of acute medical crises for participants; and a decrease in total costs per participant per year. Read more here.
Hearth’s involvement in the H2H pilots ended in 2015, with some households joining our Metro Regional Project and others continuing in a H2H program with Guild Incorporated.
In November 2012, Hearth Connection began a partnership with Medica Health Plans to work with 75 frequent users of emergency health services who met the state definition of long-term homelessness. Modeled on Hearth’s successful Hospital to Home pilot project, Hearth Connection administered housing and service funding to local nonprofits to find stable housing for Medica participants, address barriers to housing and appropriate health care, and improve participants’ well-being.
The Medica Supportive Housing Project enrolled its first participants in December 2012 and wrapped up in 2016. Over the course of the project, we served 140 participants in 138 households. On average, medical claims for participants who were housed for at least two years decreased by 35%. Household income for employed participants increased by almost 40% from the first month of enrollment to the last, and the program led to increased enrollment for social security benefits for participants who qualified.
Read more about the Medica Supportive Housing Project’s impact in its final evaluation report here.