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Florida Blue gives Ability Housing $150K to house homeless, study issue

 The North and Central Florida nonprofit Ability Housing has received a $150,000 grant from the Florida Blue Foundation to support The Solution That Saves, a statewide pilot providing Florida-specific data on the effects of providing permanent supportive housing to high users of crisis services. Examples of that include arrests and/or involuntary commitment to mental health facilities.

“This grant from the Florida Blue Foundation is a significant boon to The Solution That Saves,” said Shannon Nazworth, executive director of Ability Housing. “It is being leveraged with several other sources to fund a three-year state pilot that will provide critical data necessary to inform state policy. The Solution That Saves could result in significant systems changes that will enable more people to exit homelessness and others to live independently within the community.”

Nazworth says the pilot will evaluate the health and quality of life consequences on the individuals served as well as the utilization of publicly funded systems of care.

The Solution That Saves will serve an estimated 70 to 90 homeless adults in Duval County who have very low incomes, chronic behavioral and/or physical health problems, and are frequent users of crisis health services.

Pilot participants will receive access to stable housing, adequate healthcare and public benefits (like Social Security and Medicaid), along with case management services and transportation to access care. Because of their access to affordable and nontraditional health services, it’s hoped those served will be able to avoid preventable hospitalizations, reduce their use of emergency room and crisis services, maintain stable housing, and become productive.

Ability Housing’s model combines affordable housing and individualized supportive services, and is a widely recognized national best practice for ending homelessness and helping adults with disabilities to live independently.

No word on where the homeless adults will be housed. Ability Housing has received strong pushback for another initiative to house disabled and homeless veterans in Springfield.

Florida, meanwhile, is making headlines this week as one of the least affordable states in the nation for rental housing, demonstrating the need for these types of programs, Nazworth says.

Written By

In addition to her work writing for Florida Politics, Melissa Ross also hosts and produces WJCT’s First Coast Connect, the Jacksonville NPR/PBS station’s flagship local call-in public affairs radio program. The show has won four national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). First Coast Connect was also recognized in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 as Best Local Radio Show by Folio Weekly’s “Best Of Jax” Readers Poll and Melissa has also been recognized as Folio Weekly’s Best Local Radio Personality. As executive producer of The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State, Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the “Documentary” category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards. The 904 examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital. During her years in broadcast television, Melissa picked up three additional Emmys for news and feature reporting. Melissa came to WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism/Communications. She can be reached at

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