4.11 Joyce Tavon and Faith Frazier


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4.11 Joyce Tavon and Faith Frazier

  1. 1. Using Diversion to Reduce Homelessness <ul><li>A Massachusetts Example </li></ul><ul><li>NAEH National Conference </li></ul><ul><li>July 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>BAMSI </li></ul><ul><li>Father Bill’s & MainSpring </li></ul><ul><li>South Shore Regional Network to End Homelessness </li></ul>Faith Frazier Director of BAMSI-Helpline [email_address] Joyce Tavon Director of Program Development [email_address]
  2. 2. Background <ul><li>Massachusetts – state mandate to shelter homeless families </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Known as Emergency Assistance (EA) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Administering agency - MA Dept of Housing & Community Development (DHCD) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Centralized intake – families apply for shelter at local welfare offices and screened for eligibility by DHCD workers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>South Shore region </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Largest city, Brockton, 25 miles south of Boston </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>93,000 pop, former shoe mill city, current “gateway city” - multi-ethnic, significant low-income population </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Brockton and surrounding towns - among highest entries to EA shelter in the state </li></ul></ul>1
  3. 3. Why Shift to Diversion in MA? <ul><li>To provide a better alternative than shelter consistent with MA’s shift to housing as immediate response to homelessness </li></ul><ul><li>To provide a better alternative than waiting in shelter for Section 8s given diminished availability </li></ul><ul><li>To address rising shelter demand and costs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Family shelters in overflow - 2,000 in shelters, 1,500 in “overflow” motel rooms statewide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Brockton/South Shore – 150 in shelters, 200 in motels </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rising shelter costs – $160M in state funds in FY11 compared to $46M in FY01 </li></ul></ul>2
  4. 4. Diversion model <ul><li>Regional with focus on priority city – Brockton </li></ul><ul><li>Community service provider (BAMSI) at Brockton welfare office front door </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Preliminary assessment – Is the need prevention or diversion? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Close coordination with DHCD shelter eligibility screening </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Diversion assistance for those screened in as eligible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Staffing and rental assistance paid for with HPRP, state funds </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Coordination with other partners </li></ul><ul><ul><li>DHCD – administrator of shelter access and of most diversion funds </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Domestic Violence Unit (by the TANF Agency) – screening/shelter placement for DV families </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community service agencies (CAPs, family shelters, others) - help at Brockton welfare office, phone coverage of smaller welfare offices, coordination of HPRP and related resources </li></ul></ul>3
  5. 5. Regional Family Triage <ul><li>As diversion model was rolled out, so was regional shelter placement and triage of families entering shelter… </li></ul><ul><li>Regional coordination for families entering shelter system </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Five agencies/9 family shelters – 158 family beds & 50-200 motels </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Local control of shelter placements - families kept local </li></ul><ul><li>A triage site as first stop for families </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment within 2-5 days </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Match shelter placement to family’s needs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify other family needs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Collaboration among all the shelters / service providers </li></ul><ul><li>Coordinated use of rapid rehousing resources </li></ul><ul><li>Shared data </li></ul><ul><li>Coordinated planning to respond to emerging needs </li></ul>4
  6. 6. Role of Regional Network <ul><li>Regional Network – comprised of nonprofits, govt, business, university, faith partners </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Neutral convening agency </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Regional Coordinator as staff person </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Leadership Council of area leaders – not service providers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Regional Family Services Committee </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Assistance with Diversion model </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Coordinate among the providers and state government agencies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Advocate with the state – raise the problematic issues when providers can’t </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assist with coordination of HPRP, state funds </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use data to build the case for resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Coordinate family service committee as forum for regional planning </li></ul></ul>5
  7. 7. Diversion Practices <ul><li>Plan with families: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>housing sustainability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>reasonable and realistic housing search criteria </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Encourage families to cooperate </li></ul><ul><li>Have established landlord relationships and provide apartment leads </li></ul><ul><li>Provide checklists for families for housing search – type of heat, de-leaded, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Conduct apartment inspections </li></ul><ul><li>Advocate for families and negotiate with Landlords </li></ul><ul><li>Share the Shallow Subsidy Agreement with tenant and landlord – so all parties know the expectations </li></ul>6
  8. 8. Importance of Stabilization <ul><li>Establish client’s responsibility for paying the rent and being accountable </li></ul><ul><li>Review good tenancy skills; lease compliance </li></ul><ul><li>Direct clients to appropriate resources </li></ul><ul><li>Get rent receipts showing client share is paid </li></ul><ul><li>Conduct regular home visits, meetings and phone contact </li></ul><ul><li>Develop relationship with Landlord - this is key </li></ul><ul><li>Work with clients on job search, budgeting and finances </li></ul><ul><li>Address barriers to acquiring housing and employment </li></ul>7
  9. 9. Benefits of Diversion <ul><li>Families remain in their own community </li></ul><ul><li>Families can more easily maintain employment and family supports </li></ul><ul><li>Children can remain in their own schools </li></ul><ul><li>Diversion is less expensive than Emergency Shelter </li></ul><ul><li>Families are not subjected to the stress of living in a shelter </li></ul>8
  10. 10. Challenges of Diversion <ul><li>Having consistent and adequate funds for up-front costs and shallow subsidy payments </li></ul><ul><li>Subsequent loss of income by Head of Household after diversion plan is implemented </li></ul><ul><li>Landlords’ willingness to take tenants with poor or no references </li></ul><ul><li>Poor economy </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of child care vouchers </li></ul><ul><li>Poor tenancy skills </li></ul>9
  11. 11. Diversion Outcomes & Costs <ul><li>Ten-month pilot period: 137 intakes, 64 diverted </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For every 10 shelter entries, approx 2 diverted </li></ul></ul><ul><li>$6,000 - average cost of client assistance for shallow subsidy (3-12 mos) </li></ul><ul><li>$3,500 - average cost of client assistance for one-time payment only </li></ul><ul><li>$8,700 - average cost of client assistance and staffing </li></ul>10
  12. 12. Next Phase - HomeBASE <ul><li>Effective FY12 - MA shifts from shelter for all homeless families to diversion and rapid rehousing for most </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Statewide goal of up to 60% avoid shelter </li></ul></ul><ul><li>State funds will pay for staffing and client needs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Increased diversion staffing at front door </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>up to $4,000 for diversion (rental arrears, utilities, furnishings, other) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1-3 years of rental assistance for some </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Very limited stabilization services </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Possible use of HEARTH for some funding </li></ul>11