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  • 1. Local homelessness research: the impact of data in Richmond, VA
    Margot Ackermann, Ph.D.
    Richmond, VA
  • 2. Local Climate
    Homeward’s role
    Multiple jurisdictions
    Involvement of business community
    Private funding (67%) for homeless services
    Large number of non-profits and other stakeholders
    Involvement in Community Criminal Justice Board (CCJB) and plans for new jail
    Majority of homeless population = single adult ex-offenders
  • 3. Timeline
    • Collection of consistent point-in-time (PIT) data begins
    • 4. Introduction of summer PIT
    • Frequent user HMIS data match with jail
    • 5. Convened local FUSE group
  • 6. Point-in-Time Count and Survey
    Conducted in January and July of each year
    Sheltered count done by shelter report; unsheltered count is conducted by survey
    Survey conducted in shelters, through street outreach, and local meals programs (includes people not currently experiencing homelessness)
    Partners include shelters and other service providers, departments of social services, police, and community volunteers
    Anonymous, self-report survey includes informed consent and questions on housing, employment, history of incarceration, service use, foster care, mental health, substance use … and more
  • 7. How We Use PIT Data
    Describe people experiencing homelessness in our community
    Compare people experiencing homelessness with others to identify risk factors for homelessness
    Determine whether there is support (or not) for perceptions
    Establish need
    Build partnerships
    Get ideas for futureresearch
  • 8. Impact of PIT Data
    Community members are more educated about people served
    Local agencies have access to timely data
    Strengthen and create partnerships
    With agencies that serve people experiencing homelessness
    Others interested in poverty and housing
  • 9. Background: Homeless Ex-offenders
    72.9% of adults experiencing homelessness in the Richmond region report that they have spent time in jail and/or prison (January, 2011).
    Jail = 60.8%, prison = 3.4%, jail + prison = 35.9%
    33.3% homeless before incarceration, 50.3% homeless upon release.
    Compared to others experiencing homelessness, ex-offenders are more likely to have a substance abuse problem.
  • 10. Homelessness and Unstable Housing Plans (5/09)
    Obtained list of 111 respondents; 50 were surveyed
    Administered the PIT survey used in 06/08, along with questions on housing barriers, job skills, and social support
    Research question: Among jail inmates, what characteristics distinguish those who have been homeless from those who have not been homeless – and what characteristics predict housing instability at discharge?
  • 11. Homelessness and Unstable Housing Plans (5/09)
    Main findings were that those with a history of homelessness:
    Reported lower social support of friends, family, and significant others;
    Were more likely to have a current substance abuse problem; and
    Were less likely to have a checking account.
    The small sample size made it difficult to find significant differences, but the fact that those with a history of homelessness reported lower social support on three subscales was intriguing.
  • 12. Overlap Between Jail and Shelter Use: 5/09 – 4/10
    In September 2010, one year’s worth of data on adults from the Homeward Community Information System (HCIS) and the Richmond City Jail (RCJ) was matched to examine the overlap between people who use area shelters and the RCJ.
    31.5% (828/2627) of adults who had stayed in area shelters had been in jail during the year.
    7.4% (828/11,203) of RCJ inmates had been in an area shelter during the year.
  • 13. Highlights
    Shelter Jail and shelter Jail
    More episodes of homelessness
    Higher classification levels
    Held longer prior to sentencing
    No differences in gender or family status
    No differences in sentence length or gender
  • 14. Frequent Users of Jail and Shelter
    In March 2011, we decided to match five year’s worth of data (2006-2010) on adults from the Homeward Community Information System (HCIS) and the Richmond City Jail (RCJ) and look at clients within the overlap who could be considered frequent users of both systems.
    32.4% (2685/8289) of adults who had stayed in area shelters had been in jail during the five-year period.
    7.4% (2685/36,377) of RCJ inmates had been in an area shelter during the five-year period.
  • 15. Frequent Users of Jail and Shelter
    Of the 2685 clients who had spent time in both jail and shelter, 1623 (60.4%) were frequent users (4+ stays) of jail or shelter.
    40.8% (1095/2685) qualify as frequent users of shelter.
    33.3% (893/2685) qualify as frequent users of jail.
  • 16. Frequent User Highlights
    Shelter Jail and shelter Jail
    No significant differences in gender, family status, disability status, and veteran status
    Unaccompanied by children in shelter
  • 17. Mr. A’s Story
    Median total time in jail and shelter: 277 days (41 shelter, 236 jail)
    36 year old, single adult Black male.
    Has been in shelter four times. Spent a few weeks in shelter in early 2005 and then returned a few more times in 2005-2006.
    When he first sought shelter, he had been homeless and living outdoors for at least a couple years.
    Beginning in May 2007 through August 2010, he went to jail six times. Once, he was released in the same day, but a few times, he stayed at least a month. The past two times he was arrested, he’s only been in jail for a couple days.
    Has been in and out of jail since 1992, with a break in 1994-2001 when he was in prison.
    Usual charges: felony narcotics, felony forgery, larceny, and felonious assault.
  • 18. Mr. B’s Story
    Median jail time: 146 days; 97 days in shelter
    Mr. B. is a 47 year old, single White male who has physical and alcohol-related disabilities.
    Has been incarcerated 13 times during this five year period, mostly for just one or two days. The one exception is a stay of about three months.
    During this same period, he has been in and out of shelter many times, with most stays being fairly short – a week or two. He has had eight shelter stays during this time.
    History of incarceration in RCJ goes back to 1997, with multiple convictions for drunk in public, trespassing, and petty larceny.
  • 19. Mr. C’s Story
    Median shelter time: 74 days; 1140 days in jail
    Mr. C. is a 52 year old, single Black male.
    He has drug and alcohol-related disabilities and has been incarcerated 12 times during this five year period. Although he has had some brief stays, he has also had several longer period of incarceration (e.g., 4-6 months).
    He has been staying in area shelters for the past seven years, usually just for a night, though he did try to get treatment for his substance abuse problems in 2008. It appears that he left the program and was arrested just a few days later. Overall, he has had five stays in shelter.
    Has had charges of trespassing, felony narcotics, drunk in public, disorderly conduct, and an old DUI, as well as a couple assaults on law enforcement.
  • 20. Local Impact
    Engagement of high level stakeholders and elected officials
    Partnership with law enforcement and RPD Homeless Outreach and Partnership for Enforcement (HOPE) unit
    Ongoing data matching with Richmond City Jail
    Data will help guide programs and funding related to alternatives to incarceration
    Establishment of Richmond City’s mental health docket (4/11)
    Homeward’s FUSE coordinating council (6/11)