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Homeward Bound Models Tenancy Support Services for N.C.

Researchers to learn from Homeward Bound’s success with support from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Homeward Bound case manager and volunteer assist a woman experiencing homelessness.
Homeward Bound case manager Asia Heller and volunteer Alan Steinberg assist a woman experiencing homelessness. Credit: Maureen Simon

Every person who lives in a shelter or on the streets in our community needs a combination of affordable housing, appropriate services and adequate income. The longer people are homeless, the more complex their needs become. As a consequence, homelessness ultimately costs taxpayers.

Homeward Bound, a nonprofit based in Asheville, N.C. and serving Buncombe and Henderson Counties, is dedicated to alleviating the effects of homelessness. Over the past 11 years, 89 percent of the more than 1,800 people that Homeward Bound has moved into housing have remained housed.

Now, Homeward Bound’s model of tenancy support services will expand its reach to the rest of the state. It will participate in a research project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program.

The research team is made up of two Duke University faculty members and a community advocate. They are Mina Silberberg, Ph.D., an associate professor in Duke Health’s Department of Community and Family Medicine; Donna Biederman, DrPH, MN, RN, associate professor at the Duke School of Nursing; and Emily Carmody, LCSW, program director with the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness. The Duke Council on Race and Ethnicity (DCORE) is a collaborating partner, providing consulting and staff support services to the research team.

As part of the study, the research team will conduct interviews and focus groups with staff and program participants as well as analyze program data. By closely studying Homeward Bound’s model, the researchers will learn about promising practices for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, which is interested in using Medicaid to fund tenancy support services across the state.

Information from the study will help to create a Medicaid funding stream that supports effective services in the field and provides more people with supportive housing.

Tenancy-focused case management services are not the typically considered health services, but these services contribute to better health outcomes and recovery. For those with ongoing disabilities, long-term housing subsidies and services are a lifeline. For communities, the result is reduced costs to jails and hospitals.

“Most people think of the emergency room and/or community mental health providers as those directly addressing the health issues that formerly homeless individuals are experiencing,” says Leslie Stewart, Homeward Bound Program Director. “However, tenancy support through case management is the frontline intervention that works to make that connection and facilitate long-term engagement so that individuals can experience lasting wellness and stability in housing. Housing is health care.”

Besides helping residents to get and keep housing, Homeward Bound also connects residents to community resources, teaching them skills that will help them maintain their home and find employment and volunteer opportunities.

Homeward Bound is one of the two programs in North Carolina chosen for the study because of their success in housing vulnerable populations. Two programs in Louisiana will be studied as well.

Says Stewart, “Housing stability is a crucial piece of the puzzle when considering overall health and wellness and is necessary to fully address these issues.”

For more information about Homeward Bound’s success, go to https://homewardboundwnc.org/stories.

Black Food Matters: Vegan eco-chef Bryant Terry shares his recipe for food justice

Kale, mustard greens, dandelion greens, black eyed peas, broccoli rabe.

These are foods many of our grandparents ate and grew in their gardens decades ago that are now enjoying a resurgence as people begin to embrace healthy, farm fresh meals.

Fast food alters the taste buds, said Bryant Terry, an award-winning chef, educator, author and TV personality. Terry is the author of several books including Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed. He is currently the Chef-in-Residence at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco.

More than two dozen people attended Terry’s talk Monday evening at Duke’s John Hope Franklin Center, organized by Left of Black host Mark Anthony Neal. Neal is also the director of the Center for Arts, Digital Culture and Entrepreneurship.

During his talk, Terry encouraged the audience be more attentive to food issues, to grow their own food and to connect with the food justice movement in their own communities.

“I want people to think about these issues in the context of their personal lives and community. It’s about structural issues, not just individual transformation,” said Terry who began his career as a grassroots activist railing against the industrialization of pre-packaged and processed food.

“I’m pretty sure I’m the only guest on the Martha Stewart Show who talked about food justice,” Terry said.

His philosophy on introducing people to the food justice movement is to “start with the visceral to ignite the cerebral and end with the political.”

“Heady intellectual ideas don’t resonate with everyone. For some, it’s a farm fresh meal, memories of cooking with grandparents, could be a conversation with a fast food worker,” he said.

He became politicized around food as a high school student listening to KRS-One’s “Beef,” a rap song about factory farming. And he also read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair on the horrors of the meat-packing industry.

As a college student attending NYU, Terry saw young children drinking soda and energy drinks in the morning before school. “This was their breakfast” he said, noting the link between academic performance, behavior and nutrition.

“The larger social justice movement would be remiss not to talk about the connection between healthcare issues and nutrition. Food justice and social justice are inextricably linked,” he said.

Neal raised the issue that some complain that fast food is much cheaper than healthy foods. Terry pointed to multinational corporations subsidized by the government.

“If the government supported young farmers and subsidized them, healthy food would also be cheap,” he said.

“Major companies market to kids as young as 2-years old,” he said. “They are spending more on marketing than on the product. It’s a form of psychic violence.”

When he started his ‘Be Heathy’ program, his young students didn’t even know where carrots came from.

“I wanted to raise their food I.Q. and to get them to think more critically about food. And I learned that when they prepared things, they ate it,” he said, realizing the connection between food, health and self-empowerment.

Making a meal from scratch, having a garden or a farm — these are things people in the community already know how to do, he said.

His web series, Urban Organic, explores the connections between food, health and technology. The first episode featured a tour of an Oakland, Calif. aquaponics farm. “You can do a lot with a little land,” he said.

“We need a holistic understanding around these issues and a sea change. We should be owning our own land, providing healthy, fresh food, employing people and beautifying the community.”

For more information about Terry, visit www.bryant-terry.com.