Line up the supply

Step 3: Line up the supply

Admittedly, this is the hardest part of the local campaign team’s effort to find and house the most vulnerable homeless.  Be sure to celebrate each new commitment for housing and services resources, no matter how small.  It is difficult, but it is also do-able.  The key is to negotiate “wholesale,” that is, instead of trying to get one person through your housing pipeline at a time, to negotiate with the mainstream sources of housing and services resources en masse, driven by the person-specific data you’ll gather during the Registry Week.  One example of securing resources en masse might be to secure the commitment of the local VA to provide VASH vouchers for all vulnerable veterans.  A strong local team, bolstered with the facts gathered during Registry Week and the increased political will that will result from high volunteer participation and positive local media coverage, can succeed! 

The challenge:

  • Significant mainstream housing and services are difficult, if not impossible, for the most long-term and vulnerable homeless to access through normal channels.
  • Local communities erect barriers to housing resources even beyond those federally mandated.
  • Vacancies or newly developed units in the pipeline of supportive housing are not dedicated to the most chronic and vulnerable homeless.
  • Non-traditional sources of abundance like volunteers who are willing to work in soup kitchens could be recruited to actually help house the homeless.  If we knew what to ask them to do, they would willingly do it.  
  • Housing is often allocated first-come, first-served.
  • Housing resources beyond those labeled specifically for homeless (e.g. Housing for People Living With AIDS and Section 202 Housing for Seniors) are not regularly leveraged.

The solutions:  

  • Find out the total scope of housing resources in your community, and who is in charge of each housing source, including but not limited to:

       o    Veterans Administration
       o    Housing Authority for Shelter Plus Care and Section 8 vouchers
       o    Redevelopment Authority for pipeline of supportive housing projects
       o    HUD office for 202 and HOPWA housing providers
       o    Continuum of Care for existing supportive housing providers
       o    Any local housing assistance funding
       o    Community Development Block Grants
       o    State Mental Health Block Grants

  • Secure a limited local preference with your housing authority for the most chronic and vulnerable homeless people in your community (i.e., some housing authorities have a preference for those who are chronically homeless, some have been able to carve out a preference for those who are victims of disaster, etc).
  • Secure VASH vouchers for the long-term and vulnerable homeless veterans from your VA.
  • Secure HUD 202 housing for all senior citizens on the streets.
  • Secure HOPWA resources for housing and services for all people living with HIV+/AIDS.
  • Ensure that you are maximizing your Shelter Plus Care resources.
  • Invest in the expansion of Federally Qualified Health Care Clinics to provide Medicaid reimbursable services linked to housing.
  • Use HOME funding to create local, flexible housing vouchers.
  • Use Community Development Block Grant ( CDBG) funding to create supportive service subsidies.
  • Negotiate a waiver for all criminal background restrictions other than the two that are federally mandated (crystal meth production and people on the lifetime sex offender registry).
  • Harness non-traditional abundance from volunteers i.e. faith groups to assist with move-in kits or to create private rental subsidies (most programs need about $1000 per tenant for move-in:  furniture and household items).
  • Work with local philanthropic organizations (United Way) to maximize leverage/impact.

Tools:

  • Abundance Index e.g. the community housing/services supply worksheet.
  • Memorandums Of Understanding (MOUs) that other communities have negotiated to modify their Housing Authority’s Administrative Plan or work with their Veterans Administration on housing the most chronic and vulnerable:

       1.  DC's MOU with the Veterans Administration
       2.  DC's MOU with the PHA
       3.  Denver's MOU with the PHA

  • Project H3 volunteer survey to harness non-traditional sources of abundance (Phoenix volunteer survey on Wufoo).

What you need to do: 

  • Attend Quarterly Campaign Cohort Calls on Lining up Housing and Support Resources.
  • Complete the Abundance Index to get an initial sense of where the housing and services resources are within your community, who controls them, and the relevant eligibility requirements.  
  • Before the Registry Week, approach each agency in your community that controls housing and services resources.  Tell them about the 100,000 Homes Campaign, your Registry Week plans, and find out what you need to do to secure a commitment of resources within their portfolio that can house the most long-term and vulnerable. Invite them to join the Campaign Team and/or a relevant Task Force.  
  • Begin efforts to modify policies and procedures as needed e.g. modify housing authority administrative plan to create a local limited preference, eliminate locally imposed criminal background restrictions for Section 8 vouchers, etc.  
  • Identify gaps in what will be available through mainstream resources and create a plan to fill those gaps by tapping into non-traditional sources of abundance, e.g. generosity of volunteers, student groups, faith groups, local landlords, etc.  Know before your Registry Week what you will ask volunteers to do in addition to surveying!  
  • During the Registry Week, schedule pre-briefings of the data before the Community Brief Back, where survey results are announced to the community, in order to prepare key stakeholder, politicians, and organizations with resources. Give them a chance to do something great at the brief back!
  • Approach hospitals to begin negotiations about outpatient primary care and case management services for identified frequent users.
  • Schedule meetings with the appropriate sources of housing and services supply for the week immediately following your Registry Week so you can begin by-name coordination as quickly as possible.  Go from abstract to concrete as quickly as possible.  
  • Don’t give up until you’ve exhausted every single possible local resource.  
  • Once you’ve exhausted all local resources, join similarly situated communities to jointly approach state and federal sources. 

Promising practices:

 

  • The District of Columbia and Phoenix both negotiated a change to their respective housing authority’s administrative plan to create a limited local preference for most chronic and vulnerable off their registries
  • The District of Columbia secured a commitment from the VA for VASH vouchers for all 105 of the most vulnerable veterans found during their registry week.  
  • San Francisco and Los Angeles County invested in the expansion of Federally Qualified Health Clinics to provide Medicaid reimbursable supportive services linked to housing
  • Santa Monica used HOME funds to create a flexible, local housing voucher
  • New Orleans used CDBG funds to create a supportive service subsidy
  • The District of Columbia used general funds to create a case management RFP.  They then assigned providers a person-specific caseload of the most vulnerable people with the responsibility to help them obtain and maintain housing.  
  • Baltimore negotiated a waiver with their housing authority to bypass the additional criminal background restrictions (beyond the two mandated by HUD) during a pilot program.
  • Fort Worth and Orange County, CA, were able to recapture unused Shelter + Care resources that would have otherwise been returned to HUD by negotiating with their local HUD office.  As long as services were matched, they were allowed to retain their housing vouchers.  Fort Worth was able to house an additional 100 people this way.  
  • Denver’s Road Home leverages in significant private resources through their partnership with Mile High United Way.
  • King County, WA allocated a fraction of a percent of local sales tax to pay for services in permanent supportive housing.
  • Phoenix and Hollywood raised over $50,000 each for flexible move-in supports during their Registry Week community de-brief.

Key lessons: 

  • It’s best to negotiate housing resources wholesale, e.g. in bulk, for specific sub-groups that you will know by name once your Registry Week is complete.
  • Never take no for an answer!  In many cases, these resources were intended for the homeless and will go uncaptured if you don’t claim them for your most vulnerable homeless.