Case Studies

Serenity Street Foundation - Raising Government Funding to Reduce the Opiate Epidemic

The heroin/opiate epidemic sweeping the nation has had a dramatic and profound impact across Ohio. In fact, a death from a drug overdose occurs every four hours. Luken Solutions raised $400,000 to combat the epidemic in one Columbus neighborhood.

Demand for services due to the heroin/opiate epidemic has tripled in the last year. In response, Ohio has taken an aggressive approach to reduce the supply of prescription opiates, make more medically assisted treatment available and invest in recovery housing to combat the epidemic.

One recovery housing provider, Serenity Street, employs a sober, safe and structured residential environment, peer support and recovery assistance to promote a radical life change, dynamic personal growth and permanent sobriety for men suffering from the devastating consequences of addiction in Columbus, Ohio.

Luken Solutions assisted Serenity Street in obtaining its first government grant of more than $100,000 and helped the nonprofit build relationships with the county to tee up $300,000 to renovate two foreclosed houses and add more recovery beds in Columbus. Working with staff and volunteers, Luken Solutions assisted in developing and tracking outcomes and economic impacts utilizing these success metrics to obtain additional funding.

“Sally Luken is the consummate professional. She did an extraordinary job in getting us grant funds as well as implementing invaluable tools to measure metrics/outcomes in various areas of our organization.” Terry Kelley, CEO Serenity Street Foundation

Jackson County, Oregon Homeless Task Force - Building a Community’s Capacity to Meet Homeless Housing Needs

A picturesque high desert community in Oregon struggles with one of the nation’s highest rates of homeless veterans living on the streets. Luken Solutions provided guidance, coaching, tools, materials and training to local teams combatting the problem.

Nestled between mountain ranges in southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley, Jackson County produces luscious pears and boasts wonderful, wild outdoor adventures. It also has a high rate of veterans who are homeless and a severe housing shortage – less than a 2% rental vacancy rate compared to a national average of 7%.

Luken Solutions provided guidance, coaching, tools, materials and training to support the local homeless task force and other key stakeholders in building support to develop more affordable housing and a plan to end homelessness. Services included preparation of a case statement on the need for more affordable, supportive housing, facilitation of stakeholder meetings, training on best practices, advice on homeless CoC governance, and a Request for Proposal for the homeless Board. Partnerships are the key to success.  Partners engaged and committed included the local community action agency, ACCESS, the City of Medford, the Portland HUD field office, the Medford Housing and Community Development Commission, Seth Kaplan Consulting and the Center for Social Ecology and Public Policy.

Outcomes:  new investments from Community Development Block Grant funds for permanent supportive housing development and hiring a west coast firm to develop the Plan to End Homelessness.

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, Ohio Chapter - Providing Housing & Healthcare

Unable to obtain adequate treatment to stabilize their chronic health issue, Ohioans with serious mental health disorders are at greater risk of relapse, a setback for the mentally ill and their families. Luken Solutions’ services have resulted in new funds and services for housing and healthcare for those with a mental health disorder.

The Adam-Amanda Mental Health Rehabilitation Center and a new Landlord Incentive Fund are just a few outgrowths of a collaboration facilitated by Luken Solutions with NAMI-Ohio and other partners.  Alternatives to hospitalization, homelessness and incarceration are in play in a manner not seen before in the Appalachian region of SE Ohio.

The Adam-Amanda is a 16-bed facility that provides short-term rehabilitation healthcare for persons who have serious mental health disorders. The Center is serving individuals who have been discharged from a psychiatric hospitalization or that can be diverted from a psychiatric readmission for treatment under a supervised living arrangement.  Lengths of stay are dictated by the healthcare needs of the person.

On behalf of NAMI-Ohio, Luken Solutions conducted the research on best practices, drafted the plan of action, and helped raise $1.25 MM capital to build the Center.  Luken Solutions developed a 5-year proforma with input from the state department of mental health and the local behavioral health authority that drove key investments in the capital and operational support.

NAMI Ohio’s positive reputation for results, provided the opportunity to secure new money to establish a Landlord Incentive Fund for persons exiting the Adam-Amanda.  Patients leaving the Center who may be in jeopardy of homelessness or housing instability will be supported through incentives to private landlords to provide rental housing.  Luken Solutions wrote the grant to the funder, developed the implementation plan and wrote the Request for Proposal for local providers to access the $100,000 fund.   Luken Solutions continues as NAMI-Ohio’s housing consultant increasing capacity in the 21 county region served by the Adam-Amanda to build new permanent housing options.

“Sally’s vast experience in housing along with her compassion for vulnerable populations combine to make her an excellent choice to partner with to bring housing projects to fruition.”  Stacey Smith, Director of Operations, NAMI-Ohio

Pearl House supportive housing development, Lancaster Ohio

In a small city southeast of the Ohio capital, the issue of opiate addiction was taking its toll on women, their children and the criminal justice system. 

Affordable, safe housing for these women and their children during their recovery from addiction was an acute need.  Sally’s role was coach, advocate and sounding board to the development team, led by community leader and President of Fairfield Homes, Jennifer Walters.   Sally provided feedback on written materials, advised on how to positively engage the community and media, gave assistance during contentious city meetings and coached Ms. Walters on staying true to her vision despite challenges from a minority in the community.   One year after the project opened, Sally was asked to return and assess the operations and support services.  Her assessment included a tenant focus group and a written report on the strengths of Pearl House and areas for improvement.

“Luken Solutions consulting services was a perfect fit for Fairfield Homes, Inc. when we needed to evaluate the services for a PSH model. Sally is an incredible listener and trustworthy. She worked fabulously between all the partners and residents.” Jennifer Walters, President

Stepping Up, The Ohio Project

Across the nation and in Ohio, jails have become a revolving door for people with mental illnesses. There are a lot of factors that have played into it, one of which is the long-ago closure of state-run institutions for those with severe mental illnesses. Discharged into the community, these patients put a strain on the already under funded and ill-equipped community services.

Stepping Up, The Ohio Project

With Peg’s Foundation support, Sally is the housing consultant for Stepping Up Ohio.  In this role, she leads efforts in Ohio to develop local strategies and tools to house and reduce jail days for people with mental health disorders. Two specific tools developed by Luken Solutions for the Stepping Up project are:

Making the Business Case and the Landlord Risk Mitigation Fund

The Making the Business Case tool calculates, across multiple systems and multiple years, the cost of one to five people in any local community who are cycling in out of institutions without adequate mental health care and housing supports.  Working closely with Stepping Up Ohio county teams, Sally uses data provided by the local team to determine the cost of this cycling.  The tool can also model and estimate the individual’s possible lifetime costs to the public if nothing is done to intervene.

Another tool – to be launched in 2021 with State of Ohio funding, is a Landlord Risk Mitigation Fund.  Luken Solutions provided leadership, research and materials on landlord incentive funds versus landlord risk funds to a statewide work-group Sally facilitated in 2019.  Luken Solutions work concluded that both types of funds can be effective in creating more housing opportunities with private landlords for people with disabilities and histories of homelessness.  Ohio though needed the Landlord Risk Mitigation Fund.  With Sally’s advocacy and writing skills, a Pilot for Stepping Up will be available in 2021.  This Risk Mitigation Fund will offer landlords an extra layer of protection if a Stepping Up individual as their new tenant causes damages to the rental unit above normal wear and tear and/or who accumulates back unpaid rent in certain circumstances.

Improving the performance of permanent supportive housing

For several funders and operators of permanent supportive housing, Luken Solutions has offered a variety of services.  Facilitating a partners’ meeting for a national nonprofit housing provider with its strategic service partner, the local Veterans Administration’s Medical Center, Luken Solutions created an environment for constructive dialogue and provided useful tools that reaped positive outcomes.  The partners identified areas of concern, discussed methods for improvement and with Luken Solution’s assistance, created a plan for immediate action and future goals for implementation.

For a local behavioral health authority, Luken Solutions conducted an in-depth review of policies, procedures and practices in supportive housing with a local nonprofit provider.  The in-depth review included site visits to projects, a focus group with consumer tenants, a discussion with staff and funders and a complete review of written materials.  The outcome was a multi-pronged matrix of areas that could be addressed to meet HUD and the homeless CoC Board’s requirements and to implement best practices.  Luken Solutions further assisted in critiquing and advising on draft materials and processes put in place over a year to enhance the supportive housing.

Consulting with Sally Luken has had a very positive impact on our organization.  Her vast knowledge of all things housing, along with her diligence, attention to detail and excellent communication skills have made her an invaluable asset to our Board.  Her consultation has had two primary benefits.  First, Ms.  Luken has aided our Board staff in recognizing the gaps in quality housing in our community.  More importantly, her consultation has assisted our Board staff in generating solutions that will yield an improved continuum of housing services.  I would strongly recommend Ms. Luken to any public entity seeking to improve the quality or range of housing services within a community.  Kathleen Kern, Ph.D., Executive Director, Lorain County Board of Mental Health

Thanks, Sally!  Look at how much progress we’ve made! I don’t think we would be here this quickly without the team building session you facilitated.  Thank you!   The results of our session were even better than I hoped for…  Great job!   Thank you so much for your work on this!  Colleen M. Bain, M.Ed., L.S.W., Vice President of Supportive Housing, National Church Residences

Helping homeless Continuums of Care assess program and organization’s ability to change

The numbers of homeless people in the US has been dropping but work must continue  to end and prevent homelessness for good.  

As an approved federal Housing & Urban Development (HUD) technical assistance provider, Sally has assisted continuums of care (CoC) across the country to improve their homeless system’s performance, access nonprofit organization’s capacity to change program structures and gain wider community involvement to end homelessness, especially for Veterans.

Homeless CoCs assisted spanned the gamut in size, complexity and location.  A $20MM faith-based organization based in Detroit was reviewed by Sally on behalf of the Homeless Action Network of Detroit (HAND) to determine whether the largest site based transitional housing program in the city, run by the faith-based group, was able to improve performance and/or convert to another type of housing program.  HAND, Detroit’s CoC manages over $26MM in CoC funds.  At the opposite end of size and scale, Sally provided technical assistance to a $357,000 CoC which serves a rural, 4-county area in northern Florida.  For this CoC (Columbia, Hamilton, Lafayette, and Suwannee Counties) Sally worked with a cross-section of stakeholders including the local United Way, the Veterans Affairs healthcare for homeless Veterans staff and several nonprofit providers.  With Sally’s assistance, this CoC implemented best practices to end homelessness among Veterans.

“Sally is a knowledgeable, trustworthy, and dedicated professional and colleague.  Sally has provided TA (technical assistance) as a HUD (federal department of Housing and Urban Development) TA provider; worked closely with affordable housing professionals throughout Ohio; and successfully created and launched new initiatives…”  –  Liz Drapa, Managing Director of Consulting and Training, CSH (Chicago)

“Sally is an excellent program evaluator. Sally worked the Indiana Balance of State CoC evaluate Transitional Housing Programs considering reallocating CoC funds to Permanent Housing.”  –  Rodney Stockment, Research and Innovation Indiana Community Housing Development Agency, (Indianapolis)

“Sally’s knowledge, experience and guidance were invaluable to the Upstate SC Continuum of Care Vets@home initiative. She was able to facilitate the collaboration of a variety of stakeholders that made the initiative that much more successful.” Diane Cilento, CEO, United Housing Connections

Sally demonstrated professionalism during collaboration and dedication to achieving our ultimate goal. We are grateful for her expertise and assistance.

- Jamison Hild, Black Hills Health Care System
Luken Solutions