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Moving Out of Poverty Suzanne F. Clifford President of inspiring Transformations, Inc. Former Director of Mental Health and Addiction for Indiana June.

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Presentation on theme: "Moving Out of Poverty Suzanne F. Clifford President of inspiring Transformations, Inc. Former Director of Mental Health and Addiction for Indiana June."— Presentation transcript:

1 Moving Out of Poverty Suzanne F. Clifford President of inspiring Transformations, Inc. Former Director of Mental Health and Addiction for Indiana June 2009

2 Suzanne F. Clifford, IHCDA, June Agenda The critical combination: employment and housing Policy issues and barriers to employment What can you do? Questions and comments

3 Suzanne F. Clifford, IHCDA, June Housing and Employment A critical combination Hard to sustain one without the other Housing provides stability, promotes health and sleep, facilitates personal hygiene, etc. Employment generates income to pay for housing and other needs, builds social network and self esteem, etc.

4 Suzanne F. Clifford, IHCDA, June Barriers to Employment Perceived and actual cash, housing and healthcare disincentives Lack of access to affordable healthcare Lack of follow-along services to help people keep a job Discrimination Lack of outreach to businesses Criminal histories Gaps in employment

5 Suzanne F. Clifford, IHCDA, June Financial Stability Policy Issues: Healthcare Healthcare work disincentives Lack of affordable healthcare creates a dependence on Medicaid and Medicare However, people can earn money up to a certain point without losing their Medicaid & Medicare eligibility (Get benefits counseling!) If a person is receiving SSI or SSDI, they are entitled to free benefits counseling & access to the Ticket to Work program Improvements are needed!!!!

6 Suzanne F. Clifford, IHCDA, June Financial Stability Policy Issues: Cash Cash work disincentives – Social Security Work with your service providers to maximize the New Ticket to Work program If you are receiving SSI or SSDI, you are entitled to free benefits counseling More improvements are needed!!!

7 Suzanne F. Clifford, IHCDA, June Financial Stability Policy Issues: Housing Housing work disincentives Income limits Lack of affordable housing Shelter rules that unintentionally discourage employment

8 Suzanne F. Clifford, IHCDA, June Financial Stability Policy Issues: Criminalization Criminalization of homelessness Arrests and convictions on a person’s record significantly limit employment and housing opportunities Diversion programs are critical and have a high human and economical impact re: employment

9 Suzanne F. Clifford, IHCDA, June What can you do? Areas within your control Focus on employment Do you know the job goals and financial stability interests of each individual? Promote an employment-oriented culture and system that helps people reach their financial stability goals Help with resume writing, applications, and interview skills Focus on a good job match Understand the needs of the business!!! Interests of the job seeker Skills of the job seeker Work environment, hours, etc.

10 Suzanne F. Clifford, IHCDA, June Benefits of a Good Job Match Improves fiscal stability and the ability to pay for housing Increases self-esteem Provides structure Enhances social integration and friendships Encourages the person to think about something other than their problems Increases society’s understanding of people who are homeless

11 Suzanne F. Clifford, IHCDA, June What can you do? Leverage resources and build partnerships Coordinate with other service providers currently working with the indivdual Work with your local service providers to maximize the New Ticket to Work program Work with your local service providers to maximize employment programs and streamline the processes for Vocational Rehabilitation, TANF, criminal justice re-entry, etc. Strengthen relationships with primary care, mental health, and addiction treatment providers (Example: Homelessness & Mental Health Work Group)

12 Suzanne F. Clifford, IHCDA, June What can you do? Leverage resources and build partnerships (cont.) Collaborate with Workforce Investment Boards/Work One offices and educational institutions to leverage training, understand business needs/trends, design training Foster peer support focused on employment Increase the use of asset building techniques and financial literacy programs Partner with organizations that have transportation Refer people who receive SSI or SSDI to free benefits counseling Partner with or build supported employment programs

13 Suzanne F. Clifford, IHCDA, June Foster the Principles of Supported Employment* A single-minded focus on competitive employment Eligibility for services based solely on client choice, with no exclusion on the basis of work readiness, substance use, lack of motivation, treatment non-compliance, etc. Rapid job search upon program admission Attention to client preferences in job search, rather than dependence on a pool of available jobs Close integration between the employment services and mental health treatment team Ongoing, individualized support after clients obtain employment Systematic benefits counseling * Bond, 2004

14 Suzanne F. Clifford, IHCDA, June What can you do? Communicate – Write letters/talk with elected officials, the media, etc. Reinforce the importance of employment at national, state and local levels Reduce state and federal healthcare work disincentives (Medicaid, increase access to affordable healthcare, etc.) Reduce federal cash and housing work disincentives Increase federal resources for benefits counseling Improve supports and benefits to employers

15 Suzanne F. Clifford, IHCDA, June What can you do? Partner with businesses Ask businesses what they need and create win/wins Customize services and supports Work with the business people on your organization’s board Maximize the federal bonding program for job seekers with criminal histories Provide tax credit training and support Work with a business leaders to engage other businesses (Example: The Employment Network in Indiana) Form training and employment projects that fill workforce gaps (Example: Hospitality Certification Program in Indianapolis)

16 Suzanne F. Clifford, IHCDA, June The Employment Network of Indiana CMHCs VR & VA Medicaid Others Social Services DMHA Consumers, Families & Advocates Homeless Programs Employ & Educat City Lilly & Other businesses To increase employment for the citizens of Indianapolis that have a disability and are often homeless

17 Questions or comments? For more information, contact Suzanne Clifford at


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