The Kansas City, Missouri Health Department (KCHD) participated in the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) Special Programs of National Significance (SPNS) Improving HIV Health Outcomes through the Coordination of Supportive Employment and Housing Services from 2017–2020. Through partnerships with Catholic Charities and reStart, KCHD developed KC Life 360 to expand housing and employment opportunities for people with HIV. KC Life 360 contributed to positive housing, earned income, and viral suppression outcomes for clients.
Kansas City, MO
Recognizing the positive relationship between stable housing and outcomes on the HIV care continuum, the KCHD Planning Council advocated for more funding for safe, affordable, and permanent housing options for people with HIV. The RWHAP SPNS initiative helped KCHD leverage employment support and additional housing resources to meet this need.
KC Life 360 served a total of 115 clients between May 30, 2018 and September 29, 2020. As part of the SPNS evaluation, KCHD collected clients’ demographic, service, and medical data.
Percent of participants who accessed earned income, including through employment or Social Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), or housing—either permanent or temporary—at some point in the program. KCHD also measured the percent of participants that achieved or maintained viral suppression.
*Program administrators note that some of these individuals eventually lost employment or housing.
“We started to have that conversation about how do we transform our housing programs so that we're not warehousing people, but we're really actually looking at how we move them along that continuum of care? Then [we started] to put the pieces in place that were needed to build that. KC Life 360 represented the culmination of that [work].”
- KCHD contracted with a housing agency, which was a pre-existing subrecipient through Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) and RWHAP Part A, and a new partner, Catholic Charities, for employment services. Despite lack of RWHAP experience, Catholic Charities quickly integrated with KC Life 360 given the alignment of its mission with the program and positive reputation in the community.
- The participating agencies met on a bi-weekly basis to discuss process, improve coordination, and share client experiences for input.
- KCHD added participating agencies to the KCHD data management system, SCOUT, which is also used by the Missouri and Kansas Part B programs, to give them access to clients’ medical and support service information. KCHD recognized that giving housing and employment specialists access to the “comprehensive chart of a client” helped them better meet client needs and coordinate with other providers.
- reStart leased a 22-unit building for transitional housing placements as allowable by Policy Clarification Notice #16-02 Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Services: Eligible Individuals & Allowable Use of Funds (PCN 16-02). This leasing process took almost two years to finalize. The leasing costs of the building were covered by HOPWA and RWHAP Part A, and KC Life 360 funds supported clients through case management related to housing and employment.
- Catholic Charities modified a pre-existing employment training curriculum to better serve people with HIV by adding components related to disclosure and health.
- KCHD put sustainability mechanisms in place to fund the strategy once the RWHAP SPNS initiative ended.
- The agency relies on steady HUD funding for housing placements. In addition, KCHD hired the SPNS housing specialist as a full-time employee by reworking the use of HOPWA formula funds.
- In addition, the participating housing and employment agencies have other funding streams to continue providing services. For example, individuals can still be referred to Catholic Charities for employment support after the SPNS program ended.
“Outside of formal sub-recipient contractual relationships, the key was to keep that kind of referral network and those wraparound services in the network.”
- Given three different agencies provided services, referrals and coordination needed to be seamless to keep clients engaged. Therefore, staff often moved from location to location to serve clients instead of asking clients to travel. For example, if clients had an employment training at Catholic Charities, the housing specialists might meet them there to discuss housing issues. This co-location of services ensured that specialized staff and agencies provided housing and employment supports without requiring clients to move locations.
- Similarly, staff met clients in community locations, such as the library or food establishments, to reduce transportation barriers and better serve them.
- Catholic Charities identified job opportunities near bus stops, provided reimbursement for transportation costs, and distributed bikes to remove transportation-related employment barriers.
- KC Life 360 was able to secure HUD subsidies, but finding apartments to take those subsidies posed another challenge. The availability of one-bedroom apartments near public transportation is low in the Kansas City area. To address this issue, KCHD and reStart undertook a two-year initiative to sign a master lease with a 22-unit building. HOPWA covered leasing costs, and RWHAP Part A and KC Life 360 covered the costs of housing supportive services.