3.5 What’s New in Family Homelessness Research?

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3.5 What’s New in Family Homelessness Research?

Speaker: Alvaro Cortes

Building effective homeless assistance systems requires an understanding of the characteristics of families and the effectiveness of interventions that prevent and quickly end homelessness. This workshop will provide the newest findings from the field that can be used to inform decisions and interventions that affect homelessness in your community.

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3.5 What’s New in Family Homelessness Research?

  1. 1. Linking HumanServices and HousingSupports to AddressFamily HomelessnessPromising Practices inthe FieldNAEH Feb. 9, 2012
  2. 2. Overview Policy context Methodology Ten promising practices Concluding remarks This research was funded by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Abt Associates | pg 2
  3. 3. Policy ContextTwo recent reports have brought national attention tothe prevalence of family homelessness and how toaddress it: The 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), documents a 29 percent increase in sheltered family homelessness between 2007 and 2010. Opening Doors, sets an ambitious agenda for addressing homelessness through governmental collaboration and use of mainstream resources. Abt Associates | pg 3
  4. 4. Policy Context (con’t) The underlying belief is that programs aimed exclusively at providing housing supports for homeless people cannot be expected to do the whole job of preventing and ending family homelessness. An interest in learning more about integrated approaches to housing and human service supports for homeless families prompted the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to commission this study. Goal of the study is to understand how local programs link human services with housing supports to prevent and end family homelessness. Abt Associates | pg 4
  5. 5. Methodology Based on in-person interviews with program staff in 14 communities. 7 communities were selected to demonstrate how communities partner with PHAs to provide mainstream housing assistance. Community Program Name Non-PHA Sites 1. Boise, ID Charitable Assistance to Community’s Homeless 2. Chicago, IL Family Assertive Community Treatment Program 3. Decatur, GA DeKalb KidsHome Collaborative 4. Lawrence, MA Saunders School Apartments 5. Minneapolis, MN Hearth Connection 6. Palm Beach, FL Adopt-A-Family of the Palm Beaches, Inc. 7. Pittsburgh, PA Community Wellness Project PHA Sites 1. Brattleboro, VT Pathways to Housing 2. (State of) Maine Family Housing Stabilization Program 3. (State of ) New Mexico Linkages Program 4. Salt Lake County, UT Homeless Assistance Rental Program 5. Portland, OR Bridges to Housing 6. Washington, DC Permanent Supportive Housing Program 7. Yakima, WA Serving Families and Individuals to End Serious Trouble through Agencies’ Support Abt Associates | pg 5
  6. 6. Methodology (con’t) Three approaches to identifying the 14 communities: – HUD’s 2010 National Conference – A general “call for nominations” via federal email listservs – Consultations with leading researchers and representatives from several public housing agency organizations Looked for programs that were: collaborative, implementable, replicable, measurable, and cost effective. Identified10 promising practices that facilitated the development, implementation and sustainability of the programs; not looking at effects or impacts. Abt Associates | pg 6
  7. 7. Promising Practice #1#1: Programs closely tied their overall objectives to theirtarget population, service interventions, and partnershiparrangements, resulting in more focused programs. The objective is appropriate and within reach of the target population. The service interventions are tailored to the target population to make it more likely to achieve the objectives of the program. The program partners agree with the objectives of the program and can provide the appropriate service interventions. Abt Associates | pg 7
  8. 8. Promising Practice #2#2: Programs produced lasting partnerships throughcommon missions, purposeful coordination, and bycapitalizing on established relationships. Program missions advance the goals of each partner. Deliberate coordination processes foster accountability. Models capitalize on established collaborative environments. Abt Associates | pg 8
  9. 9. Promising Practice #3#3: Nontraditional organizations outside the usual socialservice network were valuable partners in helping toprevent and end family homelessness. The constellation of partners included mortgage finance agencies, school district homeless liaisons, private housing developers, private businesses, faith-based institutions, and university personnel. Each “non-traditional” partner made important contributions. Abt Associates | pg 9
  10. 10. Promising Practice #4#4: Programs forged strong relationships between casemanagers, housing specialists, and landlords as astrategy for increasing housing options and promotinghousing stability. The relationships among case managers, housing specialists, and local landlords were designed to be mutually beneficial: – case managers and housing specialists were able to place homeless families into decent affordable housing. – landlords were reassured by the ongoing program support offered to tenants and by the promise of a stable source of rent. Abt Associates | pg 10
  11. 11. Promising Practice #5#5: Case managers played a central role in linking humanservices with housing supports, and the strongest linkageswere based on deliberate planning, thorough clientassessments and intensive case management. Linkages were informed by a detailed assessment of the household’s service and housing needs. Case managers saw themselves as active enablers who “do what it takes” to ensure that clients are applying for and receiving eligible services and housing supports. Case manager role was reinforced by regular meetings, home visits, ongoing communication with service providers, mediation with landlords, and monitoring of children’s school attendance, behavior, and performance. Abt Associates | pg 11
  12. 12. Promising Practice #6#6: The long-term stability of program funds was oftenuncertain, and programs pursued many different fundingmodels that tapped into a breadth of funding streams. Models tapped many federal programs: CDBG, ESG, FEMA Food and Shelter Grants, Historic Tax Credits, HOME, HPRP, HCV, HUD-VASH, LIHTC, Medicaid, Neighborhood Stabilization Program, S+C, SHP, TANF, and TANF Emergency Funds. Supplemented with many other funding streams: city funds, county property taxes, faith-based organizations, foundations, individual donations, private businesses, state general and housing trust funds, United Way and the YMCA. Abt Associates | pg 12
  13. 13. Promising Practice #7#7: The development of standardized intake and assessmenttools and data-sharing systems across partners streamlinedprogram operations, eliminated duplicative assessments,improved service delivery, and provided common metrics forgauging progress. Several programs mandated the use of standardized tools to reduce the duplicative work conducted by referring agencies and case managers, resulting in operational efficiencies. Data-sharing systems exposed program partners to information that was previously unavailable, giving staff a more comprehensive picture of a familys issues, needs, and housing options, which in turn resulted in better program decisions. Abt Associates | pg 13
  14. 14. Promising Practice #8PHA-specific#8: Programs developed a “continuum of housing” by usinglocally-funded housing supports as a gateway to federalsupports provided through the PHA. The temporary housing assistance was often for two years and structured similar to HUD’s HCV program, using the same eligibility criteria, payment agreement, housing quality, rent reasonableness, and fair market rent standards. Upon enrollment into the program, families were simultaneously added to the HCV waiting list in their areas. The goal was to channel families into permanent, deeply subsidized housing. Abt Associates | pg 14
  15. 15. Promising Practice #9PHA-specific#9: Streamlining the PHA’s process for leasing private-markethousing occurred through the re-tooling of PHAadministrative procedures and the use of program partners toconduct activities on behalf of PHAs. At one site, clients completed the voucher application process at the same time as the housing inspection, allowing clients to complete the lease-up on the first visit to the PHA rather than during multiple, time-consuming visits. A more common strategy was to utilize program partners to conduct activities on behalf of PHAs—e.g., assist with program application, housing search, and unit inspection—and thus ease the administrative burden on PHAs. Abt Associates | pg 15
  16. 16. Promising Practice #10PHA-specific#10: Programs created “PSH-like” environments byintegrating intensive case management and services with theHousing Choice Voucher program, allowing mainstreampermanent housing subsidies to be used by families with highbarriers to housing. The housing subsidy was typically a tenant- or project-based voucher, public housing, or tax credit unit. The supportive services component often had two common characteristics: 1) detailed assessments to target the neediest families; and 2) intensive, structured case management. Abt Associates | pg 16
  17. 17. Concluding RemarksThese 10 practices: Highlight the need to forge intentional, well-defined partnerships with entities (inside and outside the traditional network) that can offer appropriate services to target populations and expand housing opportunities. Suggest that linking homeless families to services and housing supports requires the active participation of many different community resources, as well as the involvement of a committed group of well-trained case managers. Reinforce the advantages of standardized processes across participating partners to screen, enroll, and assess clients, which seemed to produce program efficiencies and may have helped to transition clients to permanent sources of housing supports. Show considerable diversity in funding sources that can be tapped to sustain them, including the use of mainstream housing programs administered by local public housing agencies. Abt Associates | pg 17
  18. 18. For More Information The full research brief is available at: http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/11/FamilyHomelessness/rb.shtml Abt Associates: Alvaro Cortes – 301.634.1857 – alvaro_cortes@abtassoc.com ASPE: Alana Landey – 202.401.6636 – Alana.Landey@hhs.gov Final report is expected in early Spring 2012 Abt Associates | pg 18

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