Creating Successful Exits from Permanent Supportive Housing Vicki JudiceUNITY of Greater New OrleansNational Alliance to End Homelessness ConferenceJuly 14, 2011
UNITY of Greater New Orleans
Founded in 1992, UNITY of Greater New Orleans is collaborative of 63 agencies providing housing and services for homeless persons and working to prevent, reduce and end homelessness in New Orleans.
As the lead agency for the Continuum of Care in Greater New Orleans, UNITY conducts strategic planning and coordination, applies for and administers CoC funds for its member organizations, ensures high performance of funded agencies, and conducts training, monitoring, and evaluation of funded programs.
UNITY also operates an internet housing search database with rentals at 80% of the Fair Market Rent, advocates for sound public policies, develops PSH housing, conducts street and abandoned building outreach, and maintains a system-wide PSH Registry, currently listing 1,077 disabled homeless people awaiting housing placement.
Homelessness in Greater New Orleans
Homelessness in New Orleans: 70% increase since Hurricane Katrina
Homelessness remains a huge problem in New Orleans, 5 ½ years after Hurricane Katrina with a 70% increase in homelessness since 2005.
Between Nov. 2007 and July 2008, 452 people living in two large squalid homeless camps in the heart of downtown New Orleans were rehoused using disaster relief & HUD CoC funds with 46% later moving into PSH and another 21% moving into other stable housing.
Estimate of unmet need for PSH is 2,572 beds for unaccompanied individuals and families. Currently, we have 1,726 PSH beds listed on our HIC.
Homelessness in New Orleans: Five Factors Causing Post-K Homelessness Devastation of Rental Stock Escalating Rents Physical and Mental Health Trauma Loss of Healthcare Infrastructure Loss of Extended Family and Neighborhood Supports
How To Expand Permanent Housing for the Disabled Homeless Without Receiving Additional SHP/S+C Funds
UNITY HCV Program for PSH Graduates – A 2010 collaboration between UNITY and the Public Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) created a program in which Housing Choice Vouchers were set-aside for homeless disabled persons who are screened and referred by UNITY.
Highest priority for these set-aside vouchers were for formerly homeless individuals/families who were “graduating” from a PSH Program.
To date, 71 individuals/families have successfully transitioned their housing subsidy from a HUD SHP or S+C voucher to a HCV voucher with another 21 applications pending while waiting for HCV approval.
Most of the 71 households have transitioned-in-place, without leave their present housing unless they moved from a congregate housing placement or unit did not pass HQS.
Participant EligibilityUNITY HCV Program for PSH Graduates
Must be a formerly homeless individual with mental and/or physical disabilities & any minor children residing with them, who is graduating from a PSH Program but demonstrates a need for an ongoing subsidy.
Must demonstrate that he/she is no longer in need of supportive services and thus, can be considered a PSH Graduate.
Must have sufficient monthly income to pay for utilities (unless utilities are included in rent).
Must agree to live in HANO PHA service area.
Must meet income guidelines: 50% AMI.
Must be approved by HANO PHA (felonies or past HANO evictions may block approval.)
Must have supports in place to remain stably housed including agreement to receive at least 6 mos. of follow up case management from referring PSH agency.
Must be in good standing with the PSH referring agency.
Agency Obligations: UNITY HCV Program for PSH Graduates PSH Program referring individual must agree to replace the tenant after HCV is finalized with a client currently at the top of UNITY’s PSH Registry who is disabled, currently living on the streets or in shelter and judged by the Registry’s criteria to be the homeless person currently in greatest need of PSH. PSH Program must also agree to provide at least 6 months of follow-up case management to PSH Graduate.
Laying the Foundation(What We Had to Do to Obtain the 2010 HCV Set-Aside) Successfully advocated for HCV homeless set-asides in 2004 and 2009 ending the homelessness of 200 homeless families living in residential programs. Careful monitoring & implementation to ensure success so that future HCVs could be obtained. Concerned about the explosion of homelessness, UNITY requested in 2009 that HANO provide HCVs for the most vulnerable or disabled homeless people. In 2010, the new HANO chief signed a MOU with UNITY for 550 vouchers for the homeless – 200 for homeless families and 350 for PSH eligible-individuals. A detailed Memorandum of Understanding was developed outlining responsibilities and obligations of UNITY and HANO. HANO revised HCV Administrative Plan to incorporate new set-asides.
Role of UNITY Access to Vouchers: Notification to all CoC member agencies about availability of HCVs for PSH Graduates Accepted referral packets from PSH agencies who provided required documentation. Referral packets must include: 1) Completed application for UNITY HCV Program for PSH Graduates 2) Evidence of participation in PSH program (HMIS, recent case file info) 3) Supporting documentation of household income 4) Supporting documentation of savings or a plan for paying security deposit (could be from HPRP or other program) 5) Agreement to rent a housing unit within PHA jurisdiction 6) If applicable, evidence of rehabilitation for previous felony convictions 7) Signed Release of Information Form 8) Criminal Background Check 9) HANO PHA completed application with required documents (ID docs)
Role of UNITY Carefully review referral packets to screen applicants before submittal. Designate one staff person to serve as primary contact and liaison with HANO who submits, tracks and monitors applications and HCV issuances. Provide housing search, security deposit & furniture assistance, if necessary. Follow-up with referring PSH agencies to ensure that they fill open PSH slot with next person on PSH Registry & that they provide 6 month follow-up case management. Regularly report to CoC about utilization of set-aside HCVs. Meet regularly with HANO to discuss status of referral process and implementation of program.
Role of HANO PHA MOU states that PHA will provide set-aside vouchers for disabled and homeless on an annual basis subject to funding availability and performance review of UNITY. Provide one staff person to coordinate implementation of MOU with UNITY and serve as a liaison. Review all applications for completeness and return incomplete applications with communication about what is missing or why application was rejected.
Role of HANO PHA Verify that applicants meet income, criminal background guidelines and citizenship guidelines of HCV Program. Inform UNITY in writing of acceptance or denial into program, updates of all participants leased up in program & about participants who risk losing their subsidy. Brief eligible participants about rules of HCV program. Provide training to UNITY and PSH referring agencies on HCV basics, admission issues, HQS, housing search and housing maintenance issues.
Challenges and Lessons Learned No incentive for PSH agencies to graduate participants so hard to entice them to participate in program. Need to closely monitor application process to ensure that missing documentation is submitted, applicants meet deadlines to find a housing unit within 60 days, and replacement applications are provided for those denied. Agencies don’t want to be bothered with the hassle. Need to track timing of new HCV subsidies with landlords so that there is no duplication of rental payment for the same unit. Once MOU is signed with PHA, submit applications as quickly as possible! Although PHA may be willing to commit a designated # of HCV set-asides, availability may prevent this from occurring.
Contact Information Vicki Judice Deputy Director UNITY of Greater New Orleans (504) 821-4496 Ext. 105 firstname.lastname@example.org www.unitygno.org www.unityhousinglink.org www.facebook.com/UNITYGNO .