Ceasefire Detroit, a data-driven program, has helped reduce violent crime arrests by 47 percent from 2013 to 2016, as well as increased participants’ employment rates by 237 percent and safe housing obtainment by 44 percent in 2019 compared to 2018.
Ceasefire’s success and metrics showing the need for greater capacity have grabbed key local and federal funding partners’ attention as well as been included in successful applications for funding from philanthropic organizations.
Community Health Corps leverages data to tackle poverty through an intense, restorative case management model.
Strengthening the Safety Net
Another example of how Detroit’s consistent investments in data-driven and evidence-based strategies are improving the lives of residents is the Community Health Corps (CHC). The basic idea of this first-of-its-kind program — launched in 2020 following a community needs assessment conducted by Detroit’s health department — is to tackle poverty through an intense, restorative case management model. CHC staff connect vulnerable residents to the right services provided by government and nonprofits — everything from food to rental assistance to behavioral health services. Demand for help spiked in 2020 as pandemic-related job losses rose sharply.
Whereas Ceasefire leans on data to analyze program results and then course-corrects, CHC leverages data to identify people in need. The initial method was by finding residents who had fallen behind on city utility bill payments. “Data was a crucial starting point for this whole effort,” says Sheilah Clay, CHC’s executive director. “I think that speaks to how established and valuable Detroit’s data culture is.”
Launched by the City in fall 2019 with an initial $1.4 million from the federal CARES Act, CHC offers individuals a team of a case worker and community health workers, whose job it is to ensure they get the help they need. Too often, people in need are given referrals to services but give up when they hit a snag — like lacking information to complete a required form or missing an appointment due to lack of child care.
“We’re going to be right there in the trenches with you until you no longer need our hand,” says Clay. She expects this to take 9–12 months on average; that kind of intensive case management in a city-backed program is groundbreaking.
When they started calling to offer help, many people were surprised and skeptical, Clay says. “We showed up at doorsteps with food boxes and cases of water to show we are serious. People were crying.”
With 200 cases being actively managed and more than triple that number of people on a waitlist, CHC is currently at capacity. Case workers have helped residents fix cars so they can get to work, replace a boiler so they can heat their home, repair leaky pipes to reduce water bills, and connected people to job training and employment opportunities. CHC has partnered with the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions to evaluate the impact of the funds it distributed in 2020, and continues to track program data to understand the program’s value and guide expansion. It has also surveyed the initial cohort of clients and plans to survey staff.
Data-driven analysis will be essential for proving CHC’s impact, and will hopefully help sustain the program beyond CARES Act funding. Nearly $1 million in donations has already been raised, and the City will also push for ongoing state and federal funding. (Initially launched by the City of Detroit, CHC is now an affiliated nonprofit.)