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CAHPS PROGRAM PARTICIPANT SUCCESS STORIES
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VeteransFamiliesIndividuals
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Nick is a young veteran who returned home from the military with a traumatic brain injury. Struggling to adjust to civilian life, he soon became homeless. From time to time, service providers in both Weld and Larimer counties would see Nick and try to help him, but he had difficulty remembering things and following through. Without a phone number or address, providers would fall out of contact with him, and then later he would resurface. After CAHPS was initiated, service providers in both counties worked together to locate Nick, help him quickly move into housing, and offer him a variety of supportive services. Nick is now stably housed and working through the issues that caused his homelessness.Brittany and her two sons, James and Derrick, were moving from Cheyenne to Larimer County for Brittany’s job promotion, but they faced barrier after barrier in getting there. First, Brittany’s transfer paperwork for her job was delayed almost three months due to the previous boss walking out. During their move, the family spent some time couch surfing with someone Brittany thought was a friend, but they were kicked out soon after, due to the homeowner beginning a new relationship. The homeowner also threw out Brittany’s mail, so she didn’t receive her utility company’s deposit refund, and eventually, Brittany and her sons were sleeping in their car along with their large dog, Ozzie. In a stroke of bad luck, all of their belongings were destroyed in her storage unit. All the while, the family was using the Family Housing Network’s day center and case management services to both meet their basic needs and to try to get back on track. Finally, the family’s housing voucher came through, but it was set to expire in just one week. Through CAHPS, the Family Housing Network, Neighbor to Neighbor, and One Community One Family came together to provide the family’s deposit and first month’s rent, so that they could secure housing. Today, James is going through the process of entering the military, Derrick is finishing high school, and Jennifer and Ozzie are enjoying their family’s new home.Soon after the CAHP System was established in Northern Colorado, an apartment at Redtail Ponds, a permanent supportive housing community, opened up. To fill the spot, SummitStone Health Partners, the Murphy Center, and Homeless Gear coordinated to identify chronically homeless folks and assess them for vulnerability using the standardized CAHPS tool. A gentleman was immediately identified; he was someone who almost every provider of homeless services knew well but previously had been unable to help. This gentleman lost his job during the Great Recession and shortly after, lost his housing. While he continued to try to gain employment, his health deteriorated significantly from the stress of living on the streets. Soon he got to the point where he was disabled and no longer capable of working, which made his prospects of gaining stable housing even more unlikely. The CAHPS vulnerability assessment tool made it clear that this gentleman desperately needed housing and additional supports. Within two weeks of being assessed, he was able to move into Redtail Ponds. On his moving day, many services providers joined him or sent gifts and well wishes. This success of housing someone considered to be one of the ‘hardest to house’ gave hope to other experiencing homelessness and service providers alike.
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Recently a Veteran was able to obtain housing at Redtail Ponds Permanent Supportive Housing through the Coordinated Access and Housing Placement System. The gentleman had been stably housed for years, but following a stroke, he not only lost the use of the left side of his body, but also his housing. Confined to a wheelchair, this Air Force Veteran was forced to sleep on the streets. As things got worse for him, he began to lose hope and eventually stopped trying to meet even his most basic needs. Fortunately, the VA, VoA, Outreach Fort Collins, and the Murphy Center all stepped up. They began engaging with this Veteran and trying to assist him in getting the medical and mental health services he needed. The organizations also administered the standardized CAHPS assessment tool to determine his level of vulnerability. Based on his score it was determined that without housing, he had a high likelihood of dying while homeless. Through CAHPS this gentleman was connected with Housing Catalyst and was referred to Redtail Ponds. Under the old system he would have been placed on a waitlist and likely would have waited years to come to the top of the list. Considering his high level of medical needs it is very probable that he would not have been able to survive this long. Instead, with the CAHP System, he was able to access housing within months and now is stably housed, healthy, and happy.Through the CAHP System, One Community One Family (OCOF) was connected with a family that had been living in their vehicle with their dog for a couple months. They had become homeless after their landlord didn’t submit the needed paperwork, causing the family to lose their housing voucher. Because the family had been assessed with the VI-SPDAT (the CAHPS standardized assessment that quantifies vulnerability of dying from living on the streets) and was then placed on the community-wide by-name list, OCOF was able to connect with them and offer them services they would not have had access to otherwise. OCOF was able to assist the family with obtaining housing through the Loveland Housing Authority, and through continued case management, the family is already seeing a significant increase in income!Ten years ago, a nurse practitioner developed a medical condition that prevented him from continuing to work. He eventually lost his home, and began to live on the streets. The devastation of losing his job and his home, along with the burden of the medical issues he was dealing with, led him to turn to alcohol to cope. Fast forward ten years; this gentleman was still living on the streets, but was now battling both brain and lung cancers, had a broken back, and a multitude of other medical conditions. Though he had tried numerous times to get into housing with the help of local service providers, it never seemed to work out due to a variety of barriers, including his reliance on alcohol. When the CAHP System was introduced in Northern Colorado, the service providers used the standardized assessment tool to determine this gentleman’s vulnerability. While in the past they had recognized and been troubled by the fact that this individual would likely not survive much longer on the streets, the service providers didn’t have a way to help him. Now they had a tool to quantifiably compare his vulnerability to other homeless folks, one community-wide by-name list of people in need of housing, sorted by vulnerability, and one community-wide list of available housing. This gentleman was high on the list, and within a month of being assessed, he was moving into Redtail Ponds Permanent Supportive Housing. Upon showing this gentleman his apartment, he broke down crying, overwhelmed with several emotions. Not only did he gain housing the day, but also the beginning of the realization that he is a person of value and worthy of a safe home.
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Jim had always been able to make ends meet, despite disabilities stemming from military service. But when he got divorced, his family split apart and he found himself living out of his car. After three years, Jim reached out to Catholic Charities for help; while he continued to live out of his car, Jim began to access needed services. In addition to laundry and other basic needs assistance, he was connected with the Veteran Service Office so that he could receive Veteran benefits and complete pending claims. In time, during a bi-weekly CAHPS Veteran case conference meeting, a HUD-VASH voucher became available; because of Jim’s vulnerability from living outdoors, he was at the top of the Veteran by-name list, and he was offered the voucher. Soon after, Jim moved into Redtail Ponds, a permanent supportive housing community. Jim says that he now feels like he has a community again; he’s also gained employment and is inspired to help other Veterans who need help. One of the service providers who helped him said afterward, “This Veteran’s success has proven the CAHP System is vital in supporting homeless Veterans and can be life changing for those involved.” The Brown family had spent much of the last ten years living with various family members and moving from state to state, trying to find stability. When they became part of the CAHP System, the Browns were living in shelters when there was space, and in their car when there wasn’t. They were working with various community partners, but hadn’t been able to access stable housing yet and were feeling helpless. The CAHPS process began with a standardized assessment tool that quantifies a household’s vulnerability of dying while living on the streets; once assessed, the family was added to the community-wide by-name list of households in need of housing, ranked by their vulnerability score. It took a month for the Brown family to move to the top of that list, but once they did, they were able to move into an apartment that was owned by a property management agency that had developed a relationship with CAHPS. Since moving into their apartment, the Browns are feeling the effects of stability: the children are doing better in school, the parents’ relationship has improved without the stress of being homeless, and the father is working full-time, helping the family gain self-sufficiency.Sue began to experience significant health problems as a child. The health problems worsened as she got older and when she was a young adult, she struggled with depression and began to self-medicate with alcohol. Unfortunately, the alcohol quickly developed into a powerful addiction that drove her into homelessness. As time moved forward, Sue experienced trauma after trauma while on the street. Homelessness magnified her problems and her alcohol use increased to the point where she was drunk much of the time. This only led to more problems and trauma. Luckily, Sue learned about a local resource center and began receiving services there. Sue was able to access mental health support, and after almost a decade on the streets of Denver, Sue got placed on the CAHPS list in Northern Colorado. Soon after, Sue was invited to move into a project-based unit at Redtail Ponds, a local permanent supportive housing program. She was both ecstatic and nervous about the transition into housing, but she found that her apartment was peaceful and that the community was welcoming. It wasn’t long before Sue started making changes. After nearly two decades of heavy alcohol abuse, Sue decided that she didn’t want to drink anymore. Once she settled into her new apartment, she began to decrease her drinking and with the support of her new team, began to address her health problems. Currently Sue is doing well and has substantially reduced her drinking and her health is improving. Sue has this to say: “Just having my own bed and safe place to lay my head is tremendous. It means so much to me. Truly. Being able to have a home has allowed me to take big steps in my life. Thank you!”
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Debbie is a Veteran in her 70s who lives on a fixed income. When her apartment’s lease was up, she was told her rent would increase by $100 per month. Debbie couldn’t afford this drastic increase, and ended up being evicted. With nowhere to go, Debbie was homeless. During an annual Point-in-Time count, Debbie was identified and connected with Neighbor to Neighbor and Volunteers of America. She was assessed using the VI-SPDAT, the CAHPS standardized assessment tool that quantifies a person’s vulnerability of dying from living as homeless. Based on her vulnerability score, Debbie was added to the community-wide by-name list of those in need of a home. With the help of Volunteers of America, Debbie located and secured housing that met her needs and her budget. Through the CAHP System, Debbie was also referred to the VA for additional services, including securing in-home health care. Today, Debbie remains stably housed and happy!Once a chronically homeless individual moves into stable housing, continued assistance is often critically important to helping them remain housed. This was the case with Harry, who had spent 30+ years in the prison system and was not used to the rules of a community. Soon after moving in to his new apartment, many of his neighbors began to complain to the property manager that Harry constantly had a stream of friends coming in and out at odd hours of the day. The property manager requested a meeting with Harry and his case manager, and said that if she got another complaint, she would have to start the eviction process. Since then, Harry’s case manager has helped him to reduce the amount of foot traffic entering and exiting his home. Harry has been stably housed for five months now, and has stated on many occasions that if it weren’t for the organizations that came together, he would still be living on the streets.
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“It is hard to articulate in words how much Volunteers of America has helped our family. Our homelessness was a result of a sudden tragedy: the death of our only child. The grief from our loss left us ill-equipped to handle even the most basic life functions. Neither my husband or I were able to work for several months. We went from being financially stable to being evicted from our home in just a few months.”

After they were evicted, Brittany and Dave’s friends and family scraped together enough money to put them up in a hotel for a week and a half while they waited for a place in their local shelter. When they moved in, a CAHPS assessment uncovered Dave’s previous military service, and Volunteers of America reached out. While Dave had spent a few years in the military, he never felt comfortable calling himself a Veteran as he was not deployed during his service. VOA assured Dave he was a Veteran and had every right to participate in programs that benefit Veterans and their families. VOA helped the couple find housing, and provided their deposit and first month’s rent. In total, the couple spent six weeks in the shelter. Brittany says, “Today, we are still grieving, but still, we are so much better off than the day almost two months ago when we first walked into VOA’s offices.” Once they were in stable housing, they were able to focus on employment, and Dave was hired at the first place he interviewed.
Armando was a regular client of Outreach Fort Collins for two years before housing became a possibility. In the past, his severe PTSD and alcohol abuse would have prevented him from being eligible for any housing assistance, however, with the CAHP System and Housing First framework, that all changed. Armando was assessed using the CAHP System’s standardized assessment tool, which quantifies a person’s vulnerability to dying from living as homeless. He was then added to a community-wide by-name list of those in need of housing, sorted by vulnerability score. When a unit at Redtail Ponds permanent supportive housing community opened up, Armando was at the top of the list. Unfortunately, at the time, Armando was in jail and almost missed the opportunity. Because SummitStone Health Partners, Outreach Fort Collins, and Housing Catalyst worked swiftly and carefully, the opportunity didn’t pass Armando by. These organizations were able to meet Armando in jail to complete the necessary paperwork, and worked with the justice system to secure a release date. They supported Armando through his transition to housing, and stood by him as he’s adjusted to his new life. While he’s had a difficult time changing past behaviors and staying out of trouble, Armando remains stably housed at RedTail Ponds, and continues to be surrounded by his supportive team as he’s navigated his legal and medical issues. Very recently, Armando began talking about sobriety, and perused residential treatment through North Range Behavioral Health. While stable housing doesn’t automatically fix the problems people are experiencing, it does lay the foundation needed to catalyze change.
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After 12 years of chronic homelessness, Ben has a place to call his own. Like many others who have transitioned from living on the streets to being housed, Ben’s journey has included many unexpected turns and some challenges remain. Outreach Fort Collins (OFC) has been working with Ben since their first weeks in operation. At first, time was spent simply building rapport. Some of the early interactions were tense; over time, however, his disruptive behavior became less frequent, as he worked closely with his parole officer and therapist, and OFC formed a trusting relationship with him. A housing placement that fell through at the last moment was a major setback in Ben’s journey. Later, after the CAHP System was introduced in Northern Colorado, Ben was again offered a housing placement, due to his high vulnerability to dying living on the streets. Many agencies collaborated to help Ben secure the placement, move in, and start to furnish his space. Lisa, a Behavioral Health Clinician for OFC shared that, “It feels like a big success. He had a significant history of homelessness and many layers of complexity. But change is possible.”
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