A New Plan to Address Homelessness: SDHC’s Housing First—San Diego

Dear Campaign Supporters and Partners:

This month, we begin with an exciting announcement of a three-year, $200 million commitment to address homelessness called  Housing First—San Diego, administered by the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) and supported by a broad array of leaders in the nonprofit, for-profit and government sectors.

In other local news, we bring you up-to-date on the City’s winter shelter, which opened this month.

On the national scene HUD has released its Annual Homeless Report, which found that homelessness has decreased by 10 percent nationally. Specific populations, such as veterans, saw even greater decreases.

Meanwhile, we also have news on new funding opportunities and a key job opening.

As always, we welcome your feedback and appreciate your support!

Best Wishes and Happy Thanksgiving,

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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.

Keeping Families Together

CSHThis month, the Child Welfare and Supportive Housing Resource Center sponsored peer-to-peer activities in New York City to highlight and enhance the national demonstration project showcasing the Keeping Families Together supportive housing model.

The idea behind the Keeping Families Together model is simple; keeping families together by providing stable supportive housing improves lives. Launched in 2010, the Keeping Families Together New York City pilot program has helped provide supportive housing to vulnerable families, which in turn has created a safe and healthy environment for children.  Data from the program revealed no new abuse or neglect cases after placement in housing along with improved average school attendance for children.

The peer-to peer activities involved representatives from five programs located in– Broward County, Florida; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; State of Connecticut; Memphis, Tennessee; and San Francisco, California meeting with the three supportive housing providers from the Keeping Families Together pilot- Diversity Works and Fox Point Family Supportive Housing in the Bronx, and Housing+Solutions.

These peer-to-peer activities encouraged and facilitated local implementation of supportive housing with customized care and critical services for this vulnerable population. Learn more at CSH.

San Diego Selected to Participate in Zero: 2016

25 Cities San Diego to Work in Tandem with New Campaign

San Diego has been selected, along with 68 other U.S. communities, to participate in Zero: 2016, a national campaign to end veteran and chronic homelessness. 25 Cities San Diego, the local arm of a national initiative with the same aim, will work in tandem with Zero: 2016 by providing the necessary tools to ultimately end veteran and chronic homelessness in the region. To reflect this partnership, the initiative has been renamed 25 Cities San Diego, Setting a Path to Zero.

The Coordinated Assessment and Housing Placement System (CAHP) designed and implemented by 25 Cities San Diego earlier in 2014 will play a key role in laying the groundwork to meet the national campaign goals. The CAHP system creates coordinated entry points for homeless individuals to be assessed and access services and housing – while prioritizing resources on an individual basis. It focuses on a person’s specific needs versus fitting a client into a one-size-fits-all program, and replaces previously used methods that were disconnected, confusing and inefficient.

“25 Cities San Diego is building the system that will bring our community much closer to eradicating chronic homelessness,” said 25 Cities San Diego Team Leader Michael McConnell. “The multiple private and public organizations that are leading this systems design work locally will continue to work together in alignment with the new campaign to accelerate and eventually meet the goal of eliminating homelessness. The additional resources provided through Zero: 2016 will serve to further the work we’ve started.”

Zero: 2016 was established and is funded by Community Solutions, a national nonprofit based in New York City. The initiative is a rigorous follow-on to the group’s successful 100,000 Homes Campaign, which announced in June that it had helped communities house 105,000 chronically homeless Americans in under four years.

San Diego was selected for Zero: 2016 because of its participation and progress with 25 Cities. The initiative will formally launch in January 2015 during the national 2015 Homeless Point-in-Time Count, during which local volunteers will hit area streets and shelters to enumerate the local homeless population.

Last week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development released the results of the 2014 Homeless Point-in-Time Count, which shows that homelessness continues to decline across virtually all major categories, including chronic homelessness. Veteran homelessness was singled out by the report for its particularly steep decline – more than 30 percent in the last four years.

The report also showed that communities selected to join Zero: 2016 account for a combined 31,669 chronically homeless Americans and 16,218 homeless veterans. Community Solutions said it estimates an overlap of 10,000-12,000 between these two populations.

Zero: 2016 Director Beth Sandor said Community Solutions will work with communities to accelerate their housing efforts by providing hands-on coaching and data tools, and by curating a national peer-to-peer learning network to accelerate innovation across communities.

Zero: 2016 will align with other large-scale initiatives working to help communities end homelessness, including the 25 Cities initiative, as led by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Mayor’s Challenge to End Homelessness, championed by First Lady Michelle Obama. Community Solutions has coordinated extensively with VA and other federal agencies to ensure that all initiatives complement each other.

For more information about 25 Cities, visit www.25cities.com, and for more information on Zero: 2016, visit cmtysolutions.org/zero2016.

About 25 Cities San Diego, Setting a Path to Zero
25 Cities San Diego, Setting a Path to Zero is the local arm of a federal initiative to end veteran and chronic homelessness initiated and funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. The initiative focuses on collaboration between multiple private and public organizations, which include the Regional Continuum of Care Council, the entities that comprise the Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego, the San Diego VA and Community Solutions. For more information on 25 Cities San Diego, visit www.housingsd.org.

U-T San Diego Op-Ed: Housing First Model Benefits Entire Community

Dear Campaign Supporters and Partners:

This month, our newsletter is packed with news about San Diego’s progress toward ending homelessness. We begin with a great op-ed column from Sunday’s U-T San Diego that talks about the effectiveness of the Housing First model, crediting the hard work of the Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego.

In related news, we have the latest on the revamped operations plan for the City’s winter shelter and a push for new technology to streamline service provision.

Also on the local front, it was gratifying to see the police unit that is directly responsible for helping homeless individuals get off the streets and into services receive a richly deserved award from the Downtown San Diego Partnership.

On the state and national scene, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins announced millions of dollars in federal grants to fight veteran homelessness in California, while CSH and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation take their partnership to a higher level with a major grant to build supportive housing in Los Angeles County.

Meanwhile, we bring you up to speed on newly signed laws that bolster homeless services.

As always, we welcome your feedback and appreciate your support!

Sincerely,

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U-T San Diego Op-Ed: Housing First Model Benefits All San Diegans

“Let’s talk about homelessness,” begins an op-ed in Sunday’s U-T San Diego. “But wait – this time, remarkably enough, the news is promising.”

Thom Reilly, professor emeritus at SDSU’s School of Social Work, wrote the column, which discusses the benefits of the Housing First model and credits the hard work of the Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego, a broad-based coalition of leaders from the public and private sectors, nonprofits and government.

“What they’ve found is eye-opening. It costs less to keep (homeless individuals) off the streets than to do nothing,” Reilly wrote.

Reilly notes that the number of unsheltered homeless people has decreased over the last two years. Further, the tangible benefits of reducing homelessness extend beyond those who are housed. Matching homeless individuals with appropriate housing and services helps strengthen the economy, creates jobs and eases the burden on public services.

Jennifer LeSar, President and CEO of LeSar Development Consultants; and Toni Atkins, who today is Speaker of the California State Assembly, brought the Campaign to San Diego in late 2009.

Currently, the Campaign is co-chaired by LeSar and Kris Michell, President and CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership.

Faulconer, Gloria Push for Improved Tech for Homeless Service Providers

The City is moving to a single software system that will streamline the ability of homeless service providers to coordinate care for the City’s homeless population.

Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer and City Council President Todd Gloria said in a recent statement that this approach will greatly enhance providers’ effectiveness.

mayor“By coordinating our efforts we will never miss an opportunity to connect a homeless individual or family with an open emergency bed or housing unit,” Faulconer said. “We’re using the power of technology to make real change in people’s lives. I funded this initiative because it’s a major leap forward in San Diego’s mission to end homelessness.”

“Investing in this system is essential to bringing more annual federal funds to the City and County of San Diego for homeless programs and is a critical step in delivering coordinated and efficient services to the homeless,” Gloria said.

todd GloriaThe Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) allows for improved care for the regions’ homeless by providing real-time data on individuals that will help match them with housing and identify appropriate services.

The move involves a $400,000 allocation to the San Diego Housing Commission, which will use those funds to execute an agreement with the Regional Task on the Homeless to switch three major providers – Episcopal Community Services, Father Joe’s Villages and Veterans Village of San Diego – to ServicePoint software.

“The San Diego Housing Commission is pleased to collaborate with our partners to support the ‘Housing First’ model in the City of San Diego, which is to provide housing as quickly as possible, with supportive services as needed,” said Richard C. Gentry, president and CEO of the San Diego Housing Commission.

The move was seen as good news by St. Vincent de Paul.

“It is critical that the community have a coordinated system and St. Vincent de Paul is dedicated to that,” said Ruth Bruland, Executive Director.

All providers are expected to be using the same system by June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

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.