1.6: Addressing Family Homelessness in Rural Communities


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Presented by Kim Leach.

Responding to rural family homelessness is complicated by problems of identifying homeless families and allocating scarce resources across wide service areas. Rural communities across the country have made significant progress in reducing family homelessness and increasing the effectiveness of their Continuums of Care (CoC). This workshop will profile the strategies of effective rural programs and communities and identify how these strategies can facilitate successful HEARTH implementation.

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  • Clallam County’s 10-Year Plan and my part in Housing First.Ending homelessnessThis is our mission – to reduce homelessness by 50% within 10 years.Our resources usedResults and lessons learnedStrategy for improvement
  • 9 citiesThe average person in older and there are less children.3 Indian Reservations with 6 Tribes represented.Hoh Tribal Business Committee 2294 Lower Hoh Rd  Forks, WA 98331Makah Culture and Research Center Neah Bay, WA 98357Jamestown S'Klallam Tribal Office 1033 Old Blyn Highway  Sequim, WA 98382Quileute Tribal Council PO Box 279  La Push, WA 98350Lower Elwah Klallam Tribal Community Center  2851 Lower Elwah Rd  Port Angeles, WA 98363Quinault Indian Affairs Forks, WA 98331
  • Count is concurrent with ongoing service throughout the year. The Count has been refined some, using HMIS this year to count all homeless already in the data collecting system. We continue to collaborate across the county to implement the Count.
  • Success in reducing homelessness is measured in multiple ways. The PIT Count shows a direct correlation between reduction in numbers to increased in housing options. Post-program-exit interviews are conducted at the 6-month mark and housing stability is measured in terms of housing retention. Income development is also a strong indicator of success and future expected success. We continue to build capacity in the areas of employment and education. Children’s services are increasingly becoming part of the homeless prevention goal.Added availability of housing options reduce the backlog of homeless households and guide families to the best option available.Working together as a community, Clallam County is making great strides in ending homelessness. Relationships are fostered and built upon in addressing housing needs. People work together to “get the job done.”With political support, the advancement of ending homelessness is greater and reaches farther into the community and into the state. Advocating for housing needs at the state level increases. County Commissioners and Area Representatives are neighbors and community members in a rural county. They witness the need for affordable and homeless housing needs and work toward housing their “neighbors”.
  • SPN responded to the call for Continuum of Care plans. The Homelessness Taskforce was a result of the Continuum of Care plan and was enacted through the County Commissioners/E2SHB2163 to devise and monitor the 10-year plan to reduce homelessness. The goal is to reduce homelessness by 50% within 10 years.1. 2. HRC’s point of entry, screening and placement into a variety of housing options.3. Individualized housing and supportive service options. Track housing stability and progress through case management, HMIS and post-exit surveys.4. SPN, COC, Homelessness Task Force, Annual Forum, Homeless Connect, Veterans Stand Down, partnering with key agencies. Variety of funding sources to ensure sustainability.5. Point in Time Count to identify needs; HMIS for tracking & gathering, reporting & sharing; DSHS & School Districts
  • By identifying who, where and what needs our homeless and at-risk population have, we’ve tailored services and housing options to increase chances of success in housing retention. Since developing the 10-year Plan, we added multiple layers of housing services and options across the county.Having trusted relationships with landlords and property managers allows quicker placement of homeless individuals and families and helps in times of homeless prevention. Relationships are built through direct communication over housing needs, public awareness and education campaigns, and networking with housing groups such as the Landlords Association. Landlord incentives and case management work to stabilize or house folks now, and households in the future.Once basic homeless services are in place, the need to assist specialized populations takes focus. Working within target population systems, we’ve increased housing options tailored to the needs of those households. Examples are youth, veteran, inmate populations. Permanent supportive housing is offered to folks with high barriers and inadequate options.
  • Providing a single point of entry for people in housing crisis reduces barriers to quick resolution. Access to housing related services such as utility deposit assistance make the “job” of securing housing less stressful, timely, and costly to an already depleted household.Onsite service partners offer housing related support to individuals and families in crisis, reduces the impact on community resources. The can aid housing stability through classes such as Ready To Rent, rental deposit assistance, utility deposits and energy assistance programs. ESHP – HGAP – HPRP – Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing (THOR – Transitional Housing, Operating and RentRapid Re-housing – pilot program with Whatcom Co
  • Point of entry for support and servicesCase managers meet with folks right away to assess needsQuick follow through with services Services might include:Housing counseling and referrals for acquisitionHomeless prevention through advocacy or funding (HPRP, THOR, XXHousing program referrals and placementsCrisis reduction services such as childcare, substance abuse services, etc.Interim housing might be shelter or transitional housing.
  • Once a household is assessed for housing needs, stabilization can begin. The Housing Resource Center can offer homeless prevention services such as advocacy or referrals, rental assistance, start-up monies. Housing counseling is a key component of the HRC’s in helping people with housing needs.Emergency shelters are located at sites across the county. Shelters are individualized to meet the needs of specific populations, i.e., family shelters, adult, street, youth shelters, domestic violence. Emergency services such as drop-in centers are a valued aspect of households trying to stabilize.Having a variety of transitional programs offer support at different intensities. True transitional housing offers intensive service to persons and families with critical barriers such as eviction, multiple felonies, high collections debt. Wrap around services support the entire household and provide the greatest support for barrier resolution. Permanent housing can be Short-term Rental Assistance programs, Transition-in-Place programs or Permanent Supportive Housing programs. Short-term Rental Assistance and Transition –in-Place programs offer wrap around services and cater to a population with low to moderate barriers and leave the family permanently housed at the end of supportive services. Permanent Supportive Housing is critical to a portion of the population with very high barriers.We’ve used permanent supportive housing for individuals and families since 2008. These programs continue to evolve as we gain experience and knowledge. Networking with other PSH programs and gaining knowledge through staff trainings serves as a tremendous advantage to serving a difficult population.
  • Our Family Shelter units are located among other housing options within the same two complexes. For example, the Horne Building (upper left) was purchased and acquired several long-term tenants lived in the building. The Port Angeles complex is coupled with 4 units of permanent supportive housing for families.Owning the property/ real estate allows for flexibility in how to help clients in more unusual or difficult situations. Serenity House offers affordable rents for tenants and savings only programs for Shelter families. We’ve been able to move clients into units as Shelter then transition into permanent housing programs. Housing First practices avoid shelter and minimize the impact of continued homelessness on the families, agencies, community resources.
  • Transitional housing allows high needs families time and experience in housing stability prior to maintaining property of their own. It’s a time to heal and make changes in life that promote ongoing family and housing stability.Transitional housing combines intensive supportive services with a rental unit for up to 2 years. Evergreen Family Village is agency owned. Serenity Court, a neighboring tax credit property and partner in housing, leases program participants with an addendum tying their program contract into their lease requirements.
  • Partners:Housing Authority for the subsidy.Apartment owners and Property Managers for other rentals.West End Outreach for case management of families in their area.
  • It’s all about who you know.Multiple services located in one building or within a short distance.Case managing is a “group project” – sharing information (CPS and LIFT Staffings) and sometimes staff time between organizations (program vouchers are case managed by service agencies making Housing Authority staff case load a little lighter.)Trainings are often limited. Prevention Works with the County HHS coordinate and provide relevant trainings on a regular basis, bringing in national speakers and focusing on topics used with prevention practices.Volunteers are limited but when something needs covered, the rural community of neighbors pulls together and gets the job done.AmeriCorps has proven to be a great resource for our county.
  • Clallam County has a strong sense of unity and care for addressing social service needs. Housing has been a focus for many years. The Shelter Providers Network formed in 19XX in response to housing needs across the county. The SPN meets monthly and presents a yearly community forum. The Forum serves as a report to the community on progress around homelessness prevention and services.The Continuum of Care group responded to the call for 10-Year Plans by organizing the Homelessness Taskforce. The Taskforce is supported by the county’s Health and Human Services Department and County Commissioners.The Homelessness Taskforce and the Shelter Providers Network have worked to address homelessness in multiple ways, from advocacy and policy change at the state level, to community events to address homelessness, to development and implementation of the 10-Year Plan. Leadership and vision are vital in the plan to end homelessness. The dynamics of a rural community can be a fantastic resource as folks pull together as friends and neighbors to solve problems in their “community.”
  • Monies to implement come partly from the Homeless TaskforceOpen to public and advertized across the countyPrinted progress report available to publicIncludes data from PIT Count and data around housing and supportive services offered throughout the yearCollected through HMIS
  • First Homeless Connect held January 2010. XX persons accessed services on that day. We’ve had XX stand downs over the last 3 years across Clallam County with each growing in community support and attendance from professional and veterans.
  • As intended, the Point In Time Counts have provided a central location to compile data on homelessness in Clallam County. Serenity House has led the Count with direct involvement from the Shelter Providers Network of agencies, community members and volunteers. HMIS was used this year in counting households already in the homeless system. Our PIT Count continues to remain consistent with day to day experiences. HMIS is proving to be an ever increasingly valued tool for client tracking and data collection. Multiple housing service providers are now online with the HMIS system and reliability of real-time data gets better each day as case managers and service workers use the system and build that time into their schedules. Reports needed by Commerce or some funders can be done directly through HMIS instead of paid staff, relieving staff to work on other projects. Case management tools are helpful with HMIS and lend to serving clients across programs or time.Clallam County is now partnered with the Department of Social and Health Services for data on housing and homelessness among DSHS clients. The Local Area Director has become a “housing hero” and an important part of the housing community.
  • We need housing options to fit housing needs.
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