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Working Together to End Homelessness

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1 Working Together to End Homelessness
Robyn Thibado (West cAP) & Carrie Poser (Institute for Community Alliances) – Balance of State Continuum of Care September 2014

2 Overview of the Presentation
Introduction Continuum of Care Background Purpose Definitions Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness – Opening Doors What can a Public Housing Authorities (PHA) do to help? Where do we go from here?

3 “Because far too many Americans go homeless on any given night, this bill provides comprehensive new resources for homeless Americans.” -President Obama, May 20, 2009

4 HEARTH ACT Helping Families Save Their Homes Act
President Obama signed into law on May 20, 2009 Became Public Law Division B of this law is the HEARTH Act Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Reauthorizing and amending already existing legislation, McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act HUD developed 6 sets of regulations to implement this legislation. Two relevant components to today’s discussion include the Definition of Homeless and the COC Program Interim Rule

5 Continuum of Care The Continuum of Care program is designed to assist sheltered and unsheltered homeless people by providing the housing and/or services needed to help individuals move into transitional and permanent housing, with the goal of long-term stability. According to 24 CFR Part 578.1(B), the primary purpose of the COC Program is to: Promote community-wide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness. Provide funding for efforts by nonprofit providers, States, and local governments to re- house homeless individuals and families rapidly while minimizing the trauma and dislocation caused to homeless individuals, families, and communities as a consequence of homelessness. Promote access to and effective use of mainstream programs by homeless individuals and families. Optimize self-sufficiency among individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

6 History of Continuum of Care System
HUD began implementing the COC process in 1995 through the Notice of Funding Available (NOFA). Each year, the NOFA guided the development of COCs and encouraged communities to work together to address homelessness in a coordinated manner. In addition, HUD published user guides and FAQs and other technical assistance materials to assist communities develop effective COCs. This method resulted in scattered information not easily located. The COC Program Interim Rule changes this.

7 Continuum of Care Interim Rule
The Continuum of Care Interim Rule formalizes the following COC responsibilities: Coordinating, or be involved in the coordination of, all housing and services for homeless persons within its geographic area. Coordinating McKinney-Vento funds awarded within its geographic area. Establishing & operating the HMIS within its geographic area. Establishing and operating, or designating, the centralized or coordinated assessment to be used within its geographic area.

8 What is the Continuum of Care?
In order to carry out the primary purpose of the COC Program, HUD requires representatives of relevant organizations to form a Continuum of Care to serve a specific geographic area. These representatives include: nonprofit homeless providers, victim services providers, faith-based organizations, governments, businesses, advocates, public housing agencies, school districts, social service providers, mental health agencies, hospitals, universities, affordable housing developers, law enforcement, and organizations that serve homeless and formerly homeless veterans, and homeless and formerly homeless individuals.

9 What does the Continuum of Care have to do?
Operate the Continuum of Care Conduct meetings, Monitor, Evaluate performance, Establish a coordinated assessment system with written standards and prioritization Designate & operate an HMIS Planning System Coordination Point-in-Time Count Annual Gaps Analysis Participate in the Consolidated Plan

10 Components of a Homeless System
Prevention Assist individuals and households at risk of homelessness to maintain their housing by providing housing relocation and stabilization services and/or short-term emergency financial assistance Examples: limited emergency rental assistance to prevent eviction, landlord-tenant mediation, financial counseling Outreach & Intake Assessment Services target the most vulnerable of the homeless population who are often unable or unwilling to accept emergency shelter services Examples: street outreach to people residing in parks, campgrounds, or places not meant for human habitation Emergency Services First stop – point of entry into the homeless system Examples: congregate buildings for households with children, hotel/motel vouchers, short- stay apartments

11 Continue Components Supportive Services Transitional Housing
Those services needed for a person to move towards self-sufficiency and permanent housing. Examples: job readiness and job skill training, benefits counseling, housing search & placement Transitional Housing Interim placement for persons or households, opportunity for clients to gain stability needed to transition and maintain permanent housing Example: 24 month housing program with supportive services Permanent Housing Permanent affordable housing is long-term, safe, decent housing for individuals and households. Examples: housing vouchers, mainstream housing, project-based subsidies

12 Continue Components Rapid Rehousing Permanent Supportive Housing
Rental assistance combined with supportive services aimed to help individuals and families attain and retain permanent housing with limited stays in homelessness. Examples: financial assistance in the form of short/medium rental assistance, security deposit, first/last month rent, services tailored to the needs of the tenant Permanent Supportive Housing Combines housing assistance and supportive services, onsite or through partnering agencies. Examples: rental assistance and case management in scattered site for the homeless who have co-occurring substance use and mental illness.

13 Wisconsin HUD-recognized Continuum of Care Layout
The State of Wisconsin is divided into 4 separate HUD-recognized Continua. Milwaukee ( Racine ( Dane ( Balance of State – remaining 69 counties ( Each continua has its own leadership, governance structure, committees/workgroup, coordinated assessment system, policies, and funding.

14 Balance of State Continuum of Care
The Balance of State Continuum of Care is a 501c3 organization. Membership of the organization is comprised of 21 local continua. Each must: Represent a defined non-overlapping geographic area; Include representation from private and non-profit sectors of the community, including individuals experiencing homelessness or were formerly homeless; Meet at least quarterly; Send a representative from a local COC agency to two quarterly meetings of the Balance of State COC. The leadership of the Balance of State COC resides in a volunteer Board of Directors, at minimum 11 and at maximum 15 individuals. Robyn Thibado (West CAP) – President of the Board Carrie Poser (ICA) – Vice President of the Board

15 21 Local Continua Brown CAP Central Coulee Dairyland Fox Cities
Indianhead Jefferson Kenosha Lakeshore North Central Northeast Northwest NWISH Ozaukee Rock-Walworth Southwest Washington Waukesha West Central Winnebagoland

16 Why is the COC important?
Develop proactive solutions rather than reactive stop-gaps Coordinate targeted homeless resources and mainstream resources for a more efficient and effective system Identify common goals for which to advocate Increase community “buy-in” and access to mainstream resources

17 Homeless Definition Category 1 Category 2 Category 3 Category 4
Literally homeless individuals and families Category 2 Individuals and families who will imminently (within 14 days) lose their primary nighttime residence with no subsequent residence, resources, or support networks Category 3 Unaccompanied youth or families with children and youth who meet the homeless definition under another federal statute and 3 additional criteria Category 4 Individuals and families fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence with no subsequent residence, resources, or support networks

18 United States Interagency Council to End Homelessness (USICH)
Developed Opening Doors, the first-ever Federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. Result of a partnership between 19 Federal agencies and partners such as the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA). Opening Doors is a roadmap for joint action, providing a reference framework for the allocation of resources and alignment of programs. Includes 10 objectives and 58 strategies Requires the Federal government to work in partnership with State and local governments, as well as the private sector, to employ cost-effective, comprehensive solutions to end homelessness.

19 Federal Strategic Plan: Opening Doors
HUD is focused on the 4 major goals of Opening Doors. Funding and policy decisions are guided by these goals. End Chronic Homeless by 2015** End Veteran Homeless by 2015 End Family and Youth Homeless by 2020 Set a path to ending all homelessness Update on Chronic Homeless goal**: USICH is in the process of adjusting to extend to because Congress did not fund at the level needed to reach the goal by 2015. Progress on each goal is tracked through HUD’s annual point-in-time (PIT) data.

20 Homelessness by the Numbers in WI
In 2013, there were 27,556 people that experienced homelessness (reported by providers who use HMIS). 18% increase since 2010 64% meet the definition of “newly homeless” During the January 2014 PIT, there were 6,058 people experiencing homelessness on 1 night. Provider Type* # of People Household Composition Sub-population Emergency Shelter 3,111 Household with children 3,129 Chronic Homelessness 448 Transitional Housing 2,544 Household without children 2,910 Veterans 542 Unsheltered 343 Household with only children 19 Victims of DV 1,380 *There were also 60 people in Safe Havens.


22 National Success vs. WI Success
Using the January PIT count, the number of people experiencing homelessness in Wisconsin has increased since 2010. However, using the same measurement, the number of people nationally has been decreasing! Nationally Balance of State Dane Milwaukee Racine Total # Persons Decrease Increase No Change # Sheltered # Unsheltered # Persons in families # Chronic Homeless # Veterans

23 PIT data indicates that between 2012 – 2013 chronic homelessness increased 19.10% in Wisconsin.

24 What can Public Housing Authorities (PHA) do to help?
The real work of ending homelessness happens at the community level, through partnerships between homeless service providers, COC leaders, municipal and State governments, philanthropy, community & business leaders, and public housing authorities. According to HUD, there are 6 specific ways PHAs can partner to end homelessness: Establish Homeless Preference Move-Up Strategy Implementation Screen “In” Streamline Application Processes Create Eviction Prevention Program Project-based vouchers to create supportive housing with on-site services

25 HUD Notice PIH In June 2013, HUD provided guidance on housing individuals and families experiencing homelessness through the Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs (Notice PIH ). This guidance encourages PHAs to: Review discretionary admissions and termination/eviction policies to determine if any changes can be made to remove barriers for serving the homeless population. Manage the waiting list to provide homeless populations increased access to the PHA’s programs. Partner with homeless service providers, Continuums of Care, and other organizations to serve the homeless population.

26 Homeless Preference According to HUD, “Homelessness and waitlists don’t mix well. A PHA’s greatest tool for increasing program access for individuals and families experiencing homelessness is establishing a preference in their admissions policies.” PHAs can take a variety of actions to allow homeless populations better access to their programs, including: Establishing a strong outreach strategy in partnership with the local continua, Strengthening the process for contacting applicants on their waiting list (e.g., contacting applicants via or phone), Establishing flexible intake and briefing schedules (e.g., provide a window of time for appointments), & Establishing nondiscriminatory preferences in their admissions policies for persons experiencing homelessness. The preference could also be a subset, such as: chronically homeless, homeless veterans, homeless identified as most vulnerable through community-based assessment strategies.

27 To determine local need, PHAs should:
Work collaboratively with the local continua. Use COC HMIS data and PIT counts in order to determine whether and to what extent there is need for a homeless preference. By coming to the table, PHAs are able to use the resources available to the local continua and the local continua can better understand the pressures and competing demands facing PHAs – including limited supply of vouchers and units. COCs and homeless service providers can benefit the PHA by: Identifying and “pre-qualifying” eligible people who are experiencing homelessness, Making referrals to PHAs, Making supportive services available to households that qualify for PHA waiting list preferences, Providing assistance with the PHA’s application process, and Helping with housing search, move-in costs, providing furniture, food and other essentials (when available).

28 Real Life Examples of this Working
The Housing Authority of the City of Asheville, NC (HACA) actively participates in the community’s 10-year plan to end homelessness and ongoing collaboration meetings with community partners. When initially implemented, the homeless preference was limited to chronic homelessness. Now, it has expanded to include those that have been homeless for more than 90 days. The Loudoun County Virginia PHA amended its administrative plan to establish a waiting list preference for persons experiencing homelessness. As housing vouchers become available through turnover, every tenth (10th) voucher is made available to a person who is homeless.  

29 MaineHousing has given people experiencing homelessness a preference (extra points toward accessing the wait list) for Housing Choice Vouchers. There are also cumulative preferences in order of priority for victims of domestic violence, veterans and homeless families 2+, disabled, elderly and individuals. In response to data identifying approximately 1,000 to 1,200 individuals experiencing homelessness who are frequent users of emergency departments, the Ann Arbor Housing Commission jointly applied for a grant from the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) with local COC partners. With this grant, these partners are linking supportive and health services with housing resources provided by the Ann Arbor Housing Commission. These resources were made possible by the Commission’s adoption of a limited preference that makes available public housing and Housing Choice Vouchers available for up to 40 individuals identified as high utilizers of crisis health services.

30 Additional Resources – Homeless Preference
USICH Solutions Database contains profiles of model programs and practices that have demonstrated results, including profiles of programs that are implemented in partnership with PHAs that have established waiting list preferences for persons experiencing homelessness. Corporation for Supportive Housing’s (CSH) PHA Toolkit includes profiles of several PHAs that have established waiting list preferences for persons experiencing homelessness. These PHAs have established partnerships with community organizations to identify, refer, and provide ongoing support services, as needed, to people who qualify for housing assistance based on these preferences.

31 Move-Up Strategy One of the strategies in Opening Doors is to create greater incentives for people to move on from Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) as they are ready, but the lack of affordable housing stock in many communities creates barriers to making this a reality. PSH is long-term, community-based housing combined with supportive services, for people with disabilities who are homeless. There is no time limit. Because it is a scarce resource, it should be targeted to serve those who need it most. EXAMPLE: a single male enters a PSH 5 years ago with no income. He needed counseling, case management, and help applying for SSI. However, he remains in the program because his limited income makes it impossible for him to remain housing stable with a rent subsidy. To free up the spot for someone in crisis who needs to intensive services available in PSH, a PHA could establish a preference that would allow for a “move up” or “move on” strategy for these clients. It would help a formerly homeless person stay stably housed & open a PSH slot to someone with higher service needs, been homeless the longest, and/or has the greatest vulnerabilities. In partnership with the COC, the COC could identify persons or families in PSH that meet criteria- no longer need supportive services to remain stably housed but need affordable housing & wish to move on.

32 Real Life Examples of this Working
The Chicago Housing Authority launched “Moving On,” a pilot program for persons living in PSH who no longer need intensive services and want to move to other affordable housing in the community. Applicants with stable housing histories can move on to other housing using a Housing Choice Voucher. The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) has created a “Moving On” preference by including an admission preference in the Housing Choice Voucher program for formerly homeless Shelter Plus Care (S+C) residents who have stabilized their lives in that program and no longer require the supportive housing environment in order to maintain their housing. Transfer to the voucher program enables people who previously experienced homelessness to exercise tenant mobility and move on with their lives, and this frees up their supportive housing unit for a new person experiencing chronic homelessness who needs it.

33 Screen In Many PHAs can modify their tenant screening criteria, policies, and procedures in an effort to reduce barriers to housing access for people experiencing homelessness. This is particularly important for those people who have had contact with the criminal justice system as a result of problems with mental illness or substance use. Federal law gives substantial flexibility to PHAs and housing providers to adopt local policies regarding criminal backgrounds and other screening criteria. Required prohibitions include: Lifetime sex offender registrant Methamphetamine production in federally assisted housing Within 3 years of federally assisted housing eviction for drug-related crime Currently engaged in illegal drug use or threatening activity HUD has provided encouragement to PHAs, including a letter from the Secretary of HUD sent to all PHA Executive Directors. The letter specifically asks PHAs to: Review their policies related to criminal history Consider more flexible, reasonable admissions policies Balance safety concerns with the importance of providing individuals a second chance at improving their lives and becoming productive citizens.

34 Real Life Examples of this Working
The Housing Authority of the City of Dallas, Texas revised tenant screening standards to conform to the federal requirements. This eliminated some standards that had created barriers to using PHA programs to assist people experiencing homelessness. The Housing Authority’s Executive Director participates as a member of the board that governs the Metro Dallas COC and the decision was informed and motivated by her involvement in the region’s collaborative efforts to end homelessness. The Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) changed its tenant screening criteria in an effort to reduce barriers to housing for people experiencing homelessness. Before making the change, SHA had required a waiting period ranging from 2 – 20 years (depending on offense) after an applicant has been released from incarceration. Instead, SHA adopted a uniform time of 12 months following release from incarceration. A profile is included in the CSH PHA toolkit, including the resolution adopted by SHA’s Board of Commissioners, the background memo for the Board of Commissioners explaining the rationale for the proposed policy change, and the changes SHA made to its Administrative Plan.

35 The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) modified its tenant screening policies in collaboration with advocacy organizations working to end homelessness. When HUD PIH-Notice made clear that homeless admission criteria may not differ from the standards for other applicants, HACLA amended its Administrative Plan to reduce the admission barriers for all applicants. Through the Section 8 Administrative Plan process, HACLA: Sharply reduced the number of years for denial of admission due to criminal convictions, Permitted treatment options for drug and alcohol related convictions, and Eliminated some kinds of criminal activity from the list of denial reasons

36 Coordinated Assessment
HUD is requiring all communities funded through its Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) or COC program to implement a centralized/coordinated intake and assessment system. The purpose of this system is to ensure that access to homeless services in a community are streamlined and quickly accessible. To determine need, the system relies on a common set of measures or tools for assessment. Type of system: Centralized - a single point of entry for accessing all types of homelessness assistance. Coordinated system – multiple points of entry. Referrals are based on consistent criteria and a comprehensive understanding of each program’s requirements, target populations, and available openings and services.

37 Housing & Service Intervention
Pre-coordinated Assessment Is this person eligible for my program? than is this person eligible for any program in my community? Each organization’s documents and intake policies & procedures are different and unique. Coordinated Assessment Is this person eligible for any program in the community? Standard forms and assessment are used by everyone, for every client. HEARTH Act forced communities to creates a client-centered, system driven, and accessible process.

38 PHA Involvement with Coordinated Assessment System
As one of the larger providers of affordable housing in the community, PHAs can be a critical contributor of this process. Such as: Identifying applicants for rental assistance who are experiencing or at-risk of homelessness and encouraging them to also seek assistance through the community’s coordinated entry system Provide housing opportunities for individuals and families based on referrals from the community’s coordinated entry and centralized assessment process.

39 Real Life Examples of this Working
Chicago has implemented a Central Referral System (CRS) for PSH and PH with short- term support services. The Central Referral System prioritizes people for these housing resources based on responses to the Vulnerability Index and length of homelessness. The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) cross references applicants to the CRS against its waiting lists, which allows them to make more targeted referrals to PSH that use project-based vouchers provided by CHA. The supportive housing providers work with community partners to reach out to these individuals. The executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of Dallas, Texas is on the board of the metro Dallas COC, and she participates in regional planning efforts related to ending homelessness. Participation in collaborative planning with other community organizations has informed the housing authority’s decisions to: Expand programs and partnerships to facilitate access to permanent housing for homeless people, Modify tenant screening policies to reduce barriers to housing assistance for persons experiencing homelessness. Dedicate project-based housing vouchers to help develop PSH

40 The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) collaborated with Home For Good, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, County departments, the VA of Greater Los Angeles, and other partners to develop a pilot coordinated entry system for chronically homeless persons in the Skid Row area. During the pilot: They adopted a standardized assessment tool that prioritizes persons based on length of homelessness and vulnerability. They adopted a streamlined, universal application form for PSH. They used this process to prioritize clients for some of HACLA’s targeted housing choice vouchers, Shelter Plus Care subsidies, project-based voucher-funded PSH, and HUD-VASH vouchers. Now they are expanding the pilot beyond Skid Row and into other communities in the city and county of Los Angeles, with a goal of the coordinated entry system becoming the standardized system through which persons are prioritized for and access all PSH.

41 Collaboration with Local Continua – Real Life Examples
The Loudoun County Virginia PHA is part of the county’s continuum of care. The PHA provides the local continua with space and facilitation for monthly meetings, a coordinator, and administrative support. The PHA has strengthened working relationships with nonprofit organizations that serve people experiencing homelessness. The PHA has also established a waiting list preference for homeless applicants as a direct result of its collaboration with community organizations. MaineHousing provides funding for staff to convene and support the Continuum of Care. PHA staff provide leadership and support to engage community partners in using HMIS and participating in the PIT count. The PHA administers other sources of funding for housing programs. The PHA has invested in the goals and priorities established by the COC and Maine’s Plan to End & Prevent Homelessness.

42 So what are we asking for?
Get involved with your local continuum of care. Handout – contact name & information Come to the table – share your expertise. Attend the next local continua meeting Discuss what you do and what you have to offer Hear what barriers to ending homelessness exist in your community Consider making some changes to the way you do business. Based on the needs and barriers in the community, what changes would you consider to the way you do business? Think about how the homeless service providers can be of assistance in return. What assistance could you use from the homeless service providers and other local continua members? What issues are you struggling with?

43 Final Thoughts HOUSING Homelessness is a complex problem.
The response to homelessness is complicated. But the solution or cure is simple. HOUSING If we don’t do it, then who? If not now, then when?

44 Additional Resources: HUD Guidance
HUD COC 101 for PHAs Webinar, August events/courses/coc-101-for-phas-webinar/ HUD Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing: Defining “Homeless.” CFR 91, 582, and 583. December pdf HUD Implementing a Move-Up Strategy Webinar, November webinar/ HUD PHA 101 for COCs Webinar, August events/courses/pha-101-for-cocs-webinar/ HUD Study of PHA’s Efforts to Service the Homeless, December

45 Letter from HUD Secretary, Shaun Donovan to PHA. http://portal. hud
Letter from HUD Secretary, Shaun Donovan to PHA. meless.pdf Overview of PIH Notice : Guidance on Housing Individuals and Families Experiencing Homeless Through the Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher Program Webinar. Joint webinar between CPD and PIH, August pih-notice guidance-on-housing-individuals-and-families- experiencing-homelessne/ Trenessa Sidney, HUD PIH. Partnering with PHAs to End Homelessness, May wPHAs.pdf US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Public and Indian Housing. NOTICE PIH (HA), June

46 Additional Resources: USICH
Kristy Greenwalt, former USICH Director of Housing Policy. Why PHAs? June Marking the Case: Partnering with Public Housing Authorities. NAEH Conference Presentations, February making-the-case-partnering-with-public-housing-authorities PHA Guidebook to Ending Homelessness. United States Interagency Council to End Homeless (USICH). USICH: Opening Doors.

47 Additional Resources: Best Practices
Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH). Public Housing Agencies Toolkit. CSH: Working with Public Housing Authorities to Catalyze Homeless System Transformation. May Dallas Housing Authority. A Housing Authority and Homeless Coalition Partnership: Permanent Supportive Housing, May Deborah De Santis, President & CEO of CSH. Public Housing Authorities are a Critical Partner to Supportive Housing, November Housing Authorities: Essential Partners in Ending Homeless. A publication of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA), EssentialPartnersinEndingHomelessness.pdf Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA). Brining Opportunity Home, May Houston Housing Authority, May

48 Judson Brown, Dallas Housing Authority
Judson Brown, Dallas Housing Authority. Ending Homelessness in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex by Targeting our Resources, May ty.pdf Preston Prince, CEO & Executive Director of Fresno Housing Authority. Fresno Housing Authority: Working to End Homelessness in their Community, November SAHA: San Antonio Housing Authority, May uthority.pdf Texas Homeless Network: May 21-22nd, hority.pdf Tory Gunsolley, President & CEO of Houston Housing Authority. Project-Based Vouchers Can Help End Homelessness: Our Work in Houston, May

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