2.3 Retooling Transitional Housing I: Examining the Options


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2.3 Retooling Transitional Housing I: Examining the Options

Speaker: Michelle Heritage

Many providers and community leaders are exploring options for retooling their transitional housing programs in order to improve their communities’ performance. This workshop will provide an overview of the options available and helpful strategies for deciding which options are preferable.

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  • I’m Michelle Heritage, Executive Director of the Community Shelter Board in Columbus, Ohio.
  • The Community Shelter Board is a public-private partnership organization working to end homelessness. We bring together many organizations to work together as a system focused on ending homelessness. We allocate over $13 million annually to support homeless programs and services at several provider agencies.
  • CSB is responsible for leading the community’s plan to end homelessness. We are the primary funder of homeless services in the community. We study best practices and facilitate implementation of the right programs to meet community needs. We foster collaboration between systems of care. We lead grant application processes and work hard to increase available resources. We broker relationships and manage community relations around the issue of homelessness.
  • We provide program support for development of new programs and new providers. We facilitate meaningful vehicles for client input, such as our consumer advisory council. We serve in an ombudsman role to respond to client, funder and partner agency needs. And it’s mentioned last but it’s one of the most important things we do – we manage multi-faceted contract, evaluation, data compliance and accountability processes.
  • CSB is responsible for a community-wide, strategic plan to end homelessness in Columbus and Franklin County, called Rebuilding Lives. It involved an 18-month process to create comprehensive strategies to guide the homeless services system in the future. To develop these new strategies, we involved more than 100 community leaders, homeless advocates, consumers and providers.
  • These are partner agencies of CSB that provide homeless services and programs in our community.
  • Our family shelter system emphasizes efficient use of resources, close collaboration among partner agencies, streamlined admission, and quick re-housing of families with appropriate supports. The model centers on a “front-door” approach to shelter admission, with a single shelter — the YWCA Family Center — managing all initial requests for shelter and providing triage, referral and emergency shelter when safe, alternative housing is not available.
  • Traditionally, “Tier II” shelters served families who could not be quickly re-housed in permanent housing due to various barriers such as eviction history, credit problems, criminal history and poor work history. All referrals to Tier II shelter come only from the front door shelter, the YWCA Family Center. Two agencies, HFF and VOA, were providing a total of seventy (70) Tier II fixed shelter units for families. While in Tier II shelter, families worked on securing income, budgeting, parenting and family issues, and other concerns inhibiting long-term housing stability. Shelter was provided for up to three months while families received services and addressed barriers. Families in Tier II shelter were required to eventually move out of the shelter unit and into other permanent housing.
  • When we studied our system carefully and developed new strategies for our Rebuilding Lives plan in 2008, we reconsidered our approach with Tier II shelters. If families were not required to move from the front door shelter to a Tier II shelter apartment and then into their permanent home, it would significantly decrease disruption for the family and conserve staff resources. Converting Tier II shelters to permanent housing with transitional support would achieve efficiencies for the family and the system. Tier II providers and property owners in the community indicated an interest in this approach. Tier II providers could potentially reduce operating costs related to apartment turnover and maintenance while still providing supportive services through conversion of Tier II units that are master-leased. The Rebuilding Lives plan called for conversion to occur in the form of a “rolling stock” approach, where the Tier II provider initially master leases a unit, allowing families who otherwise may not qualify for housing to be placed. The assisted family eventually assumes the lease following a brief period. This allows capacity to flex up or down according to need.
  • We decided to go for it. We asked our two Tier II providers to move into a rolling stock model where apartments are initially leased by them and eventually transferred to the family. Transitional case management services would taper off as family stability increases. There would be individualized service delivery, with intensity, frequency and duration determined based on needs of each family. Average length of service would be 90-100 days, which was how long families previously stayed in fixed Tier II shelter apartments. We hoped for reduced maintenance and operational costs. And we knew this would give us flexible capacity based on system needs. We had to be patient because we were tied to a program model built around long-term leases with landlords. We had to allow HFF and VOA to carry out these contractual commitments and convert units slowly, as leases expired.
  • Families were staying at the YWCA Family Center for 1 month, then staying in a Tier II shelter unit for 3 months, then moving into their own housing. The driver behind our decision to convert to this new model was the positive impact on families. If a family can move once instead of twice, the children will re-stabilize more quickly and don’t have to change schools. Now families move into their own home within 1 month of their entry into the homeless system.
  • Operating under a Tier II fixed shelter model, HFF was reaching 75% successful housing outcomes. Under the Direct Housing model, they have achieved 98% successful housing outcomes. A similar trend is seen for Volunteers of America. Their successful housing outcomes increased from 73% to 88%.
  • From a system perspective, we now have more options for families who need housing. We’ve got 4 direct housing programs providing 3-4 months of case management for families. But each provider offers varying amounts of rental assistance for families coming out of shelter. The YWCA Family Center decides which program to refer a family to, based on the needs of the family. SA – 1 mo rent HFF – 3 mos rent VOA – 4 mos rent J2H – 6 mos rent + employment assistance
  • We encountered some barriers along the way. The transition was slow and spanned 3 years. The strategy was announced in 2008. Providers began converting units in 2010. One provider struggled quite a bit with the transition. Shelter was their business model. There was resistance from the Executive Director and the Board of Trustees. The provider positioned the transition as a loss of beds and decreased capacity to serve families. One provider was unsure of whether they would go along with the transition. In that case we would have de-funded them. The providers had concerns about being able to locate apartments QUICKLY. Both providers added a Housing Locator position, funded by the Columbus Foundation.
  • CSB had to intervene at a system level to address referral issues among the front door shelter and the two direct housing providers who were converting from fixed shelter units. We had to educate and re-educate around the fact that capacity is now defined as clients housed, not clients on the caseload. We put in standards and guidelines around the referral process because families were not being moved through the system quickly enough. Step 1 – front door shelter meets with families within 2 days of arrival at shelter. Step 2 – front door shelter has 1 day to email notification of referral to a direct housing provider. They prioritize the family into whichever program best fits their needs. The direct housing providers notify the front door shelter daily about the number of referrals needed. Step 3 – the direct housing provider assigns a case manager and the intake appointment is completed within 2 business days of receipt of referral. Step 4 – the family moves into housing within 10 days of intake with the direct housing provider. We are currently tracking all this information on a spreadsheet to monitor the timeframe for each family.
  • It’s too soon to tell if there are cost savings in this new model. Units were slowly converted beginning in 2010 and throughout 2011. 2012 will be the first full year that we are operating completely in the Direct Housing rolling stock model. What I can tell you is this: Providers no longer have maintenance staff. They now spend that money on case managers who are housing experts and know how to help families be successful in keeping their home. Both providers added a housing locator position focused on landlord relationships. That’s a much better resource for the family than a maintenance man. Families take more ownership of their apartment because they are a leaseholder. They are more motivated to be successful. We now have a capacity of housing that’s flexible. There are no fixed shelter unit costs, so we don’t incur any costs if we see fewer families in a given month.
  • 2.3 Retooling Transitional Housing I: Examining the Options

    1. 1. Retooling Transitional Housing Michelle Heritage Executive Director Community Shelter Board www.csb.org National Conference on Ending Family Homelessness Los Angeles, CA February 9, 2012 1
    2. 2. 2
    3. 3. Community Shelter Board <ul><li>Leads the community’s plan to end homelessness </li></ul><ul><li>Primary funder of homeless services, $13M annually </li></ul><ul><li>Studies best practices & facilitates implementation </li></ul><ul><li>Fosters collaboration between systems of care </li></ul><ul><li>Leads grant application processes and other activities to increase available resources </li></ul><ul><li>Brokers relationships and manages community relations </li></ul>3
    4. 4. Community Shelter Board <ul><li>Provides program support and development for prevention, shelter, and housing related services </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitates client input </li></ul><ul><li>Offers ombudsman services to meet client, funder and partner agencies’ needs </li></ul><ul><li>Manages multifaceted contract, evaluation, data, compliance and accountability processes </li></ul>4
    5. 5. 5
    6. 6. Partner Agencies AIDS Resource Center of Ohio Amethyst Catholic Social Services Community Housing Network Communities In Schools Gladden Community House Homeless Families Foundation Huckleberry House Lutheran Social Services/Faith Mission Maryhaven National Church Residences The Salvation Army Southeast, Inc./Friends of the Homeless Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio YMCA of Central Ohio YWCA Columbus 6
    7. 7. YWCA Family Center 7
    8. 8. Tier II Shelters 8
    9. 9. 9
    10. 10. Conversion <ul><li>“ Rolling stock” model </li></ul><ul><li>Services taper off </li></ul><ul><li>Individualized service delivery </li></ul><ul><li>Reduced maintenance costs </li></ul><ul><li>Flexible capacity </li></ul>10
    11. 11. 11
    12. 12. Successful Housing Outcomes Homeless Families Foundation Volunteers of America 12
    13. 13. Menu of Options 1 month $ 3 months $$$ 4 months $$$$ 6 months $$$$$$ 13
    14. 14. x 14
    15. 15. 15
    16. 16. 16
    17. 17. <ul><li>Questions? </li></ul>17