HUD’s Annual Report Shows the Housing First Model is a National Success

HUDNational homelessness has decreased by 10 percent, according to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. The report revealed even greater declines in homelessness among veterans and persons living on the street.

The report states that 578,424 persons were experiencing homelessness on a single January night in 2014, according to the annually conducted point-in-time counts.

“As a nation, we are successfully reducing homelessness in this country, especially for those who have been living on our streets as a way of life,” HUD Secretary Julian Castro.

The overall decrease in homelessness can be largely attributed to the collaborative Housing First approach.

“The federal government, in partnership with states, communities, and the private and not-for-profit sectors, is focused on widespread implementation of what works to end homelessness,” said Laura Green Zeilinger, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. “Continued investment in solutions like permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing using a Housing First approach is critical to the effort of every community to one day ensure homelessness is a rare, brief, and non-recurring experience.”

Since the 2010 launch of the Obama Administration’s Opening Doors campaign, there has been a 33 percent decline in homeless veterans, a 21 percent reduction in chronically homeless, a 15 percent decrease in the number of families with children experiencing homelessness and a 10 percent reduction in overall homelessness.

Despite these promising numbers, more work is still needed across the nation and locally in San Diego.

To learn more about the report, click here.

If you wish to volunteer for San Diego’s 2015 Annual Homeless Count, click here.

Public Comment Period Opens for VHHP Draft Guidelines

glassesThe public is invited to comment on the newly released draft guidelines for the initial funding round of the Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention (VHHP) Program.

Written comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. Dec. 10 and should be submitted using the online public comment form located on the VHHP Program website.

Originally approved by voters as Proposition 41 last June, VHHP provides $600 million in general obligation bond funding to help build, rehabilitate and acquire multifamily housing developments for low-income veterans. The money comes from the $1 billion underutilized California Veterans Farm and Home Loan program (CalVet).

Proposition 41 also permits the funds to be used for the provision of wraparound services for veterans once they are placed in affordable housing units.

Public hearings on the guidelines are scheduled for Dec. 8 in Los Angeles and Dec. 10 in Oakland. For the Los Angeles hearing, participants are being asked to RSVP to mayor.veterans@lacity.org. To register for the Oakland hearing, click here.

The VHHP NOFA release date has been pushed back approximately one month to December 2014, although no precise date has been given yet. Accordingly, the NOFA workshop dates have also been pushed back one month to December 2014/January 2015. The anticipated application date (initial NOFA) is still expected to be March 2015, with the anticipated award date in June 2015.

For more information on VHHP, click here.

Department of Housing and Community Development Announces nearly $10M in Grants to Fight Homelessness

Approximately $9.9 million in Emergency Solutions Grants have become available to assist persons experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, homelessness. Eligible projects will provide supportive services, emergency shelter/transitional housing, homelessness prevention assistance and permanent housing.

Organizations that provide assistance to persons experiencing homeless or persons at risk of becoming homeless are encouraged to apply. Please note restrictions on eligible counties.

The deadline for completed applications is December 15, 2014, 5pm.

To learn more about the state-level process, please visit HCD’s website.

For information on the local application process, please visit the CoC San Diego’s website.

Speaker Atkins: California’s Homeless Veterans will be Better Served with VA Grant

AtkinsVeterans Village of San Diego and two other members of the California Association of Veteran Service Agencies will receive a total of $21.6 million in federal funds to provide services for veterans.

The money is part of a $53 million grant program called Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“As we work to end veterans homelessness, it will take a real partnership between the State of California, the federal government, and the non-profit organizations dedicated to serving our veterans,” said California Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) in a statement. “This funding from the Veterans Administration will help several outstanding organizations in California who are working hard to make sure everyone who put on the uniform has a roof over their head.”

“Thanks to this remarkable program, California veterans and their families now have an expanded resource to help prevent the misery of homelessness and move towards a brighter, more productive future,” said Phil Landis, President and CEO of Veterans Village of San Diego.

The other two members of the California Association of Veteran Service Agencies to receive funding are Swords to Plowshares and U.S. VETS.

Key Homeless Legislation Becomes Law

State PicturenewsletterA pair of bills that will provide new services and protections for homeless people have been signed into law.

AB 1733, introduced by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego; Assembly Member Brian Maienschein, R-San Diego; and Assembly Member Sharon Quirk-Silva, D- Fullerton, will establish a fee waiver for homeless people who need to obtain a certified copy of their birth record from the Department of Public Health or a state identification card from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The bill solves a major problem for many homeless people who need identification to access certain government programs, including those that provide housing, employment and nutrition.

AB 1806, introduced by Assembly Member Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, extends rights afforded to students in foster care to students experiencing homelessness, as well. Many homeless students were at some point in their past part of the state’s foster care system, and the two cohorts face similar challenges and have similar emotional and legal needs.

CSH to Provide Training and Assistance to Health Centers Serving High Utilizers

csh1CSH will offer webinars beginning next month to introduce a new program to provide training and technical assistance to medical centers and other agencies that serve frequent users of the healthcare system.

CSH is partnering with the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, National Association of Community Health Clinics and others on this project.

CSH is currently involved with several supportive housing pilot programs. These programs target the frequent-user population by placing individuals in supportive housing, which has been shown to reduce healthcare costs. Frequent users are categorized by their extreme utilization of emergency, crisis and urgent care centers and often lack stable housing.

To make this all possible, CSH received its first National Cooperative Agreement grant from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) this summer.

The grant will provide three years of funding to enhance and extend CSH’s relationships with community health centers including Federally Qualified Health Clinics. CSH will provide training and technical assistance that focuses on increasing coordination and collaboration among managed care, behavioral health providers, Medicaid offices and supportive housing to improve care for these frequent users.

Throughout the grant period, CSH will also provide a variety webinars. To register for the first introductory CSH webinar training on November 13, click here.

Housing California Announces Support for Homelessness Legislation

Housing CaliforniaLast week, the Housing California board announced its support for AB 1806, AB 1029, and AB 2129—all homelessness bills that were recently introduced in the state.

AB 1806 (Bloom) seeks to guarantee that homeless youth continue to take part in the educational system.

SB 1029 (Hancock) is designed for former drug offenders who have not been incarcerated to participate in the CalWORKs and CALFresh programs in efforts to prevent recidivism and homelessness by allowing them to enroll in low-income assistance programs.

AB 2129 (Jones-Sawyer) creates a re-entry program for prisoners expected to be released from prison six months prior to their release date, which includes voluntary participation in counseling, job training, and housing assistance.

Governor Brown Delivers State of the State Address

Gov BrownLast month, Governor Brown delivered his State of the State Address, in which he discussed several of California’s achievements in recent years and the challenges that lie ahead.

He highlighted a number of triumphs that the state should be proud of, including the growth in the availability of jobs, a surplus in the state budget, and an increase in the minimum wage.

In his closing remarks, he stated, “We still have too many struggling families, too much debt, and too many unknowns when it comes to our climate. Overcoming these challenges will test our vision, our discipline and our ability to persevere. But overcome them we will and as we do, we will build for the future, not steal from it.”

California Homelessness Legislation

CA LegThe Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Bond Act of 2014—which was introduced as AB 639 and signed by Governor Brown in October of 2013—will now be up for public vote as Proposition 41 on the June ballot. The bill is intended to provide greater assistance to homeless veterans.

Last month, Assemblymembers Brian Maienschein and Mark Stone introduced two bills in efforts to make modifications to the CalWORKS Temporary Homeless Assistance Program, which provides temporary and permanent homeless assistance to homeless individuals.

Maienschein’s AB 264 proposes that rather than giving homeless individuals a one-time opportunity to receive assistance for a maximum of 16 consecutive days, they are granted roll-over days if the individuals seeking assistance do not exhaust the number of days they are provided all at one time.

Stone’s AB 1452 intends to increase the amount of monetary assistance that families receive on a daily basis by $10 and is designed to allow for the modification of this number in the future to more adequately match the cost of living.

California Pay for Success Program

James IrvineThe Nonprofit Finance Fund and the James Irvine Foundation recently announced their $2.5 million “California Pay for Success” initiative aimed at supporting and enhancing better-quality social services in California.

Nonprofit FinanceUnder this initiative, organizations from the government or social sectors will be selected to participate in establishing and implementing Pay for Success contracts. Funding resources, technical assistance, and additional support will  be provided to these leaders as they create and implement Pay for Success agreements with other entities.

The Nonprofit Finance Fund is currently accepting applications from organizations interested in implementing Pay for Success initiatives and would benefit from this program. The application deadline to apply to be a Pay for Success Leader is February 28, 2014.