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Monday, July 29, 2013

SNAPS Weekly Focus:

Developing Viable Communities through Housing, Services, & Economic Opportunities
Leveraging Mainstream Services Funding

Community Planning Development
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

We all know that ending homelessness is going to take more than what is available through HUD’s ESG and CoC Programs alone. We have been, as a homeless services provider community, collectively discussing for a long time how the use of mainstream resources – like mental health, substance abuse, health care and other benefits – can help both the people we serve and the system as a whole.
But something has shifted in this discussion. It now reaches beyond homeless service providers to the very programs and resources we have been working to engage in our mission. For the first time in my memory, we have intensive coordination and collaboration happening at the national level. The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and our federal partners at VA, HHS, Education and others have worked tirelessly to create meaningful partnerships that we hope will be in place for years to come. 
Now we need to figure out how to use that momentum to make the same conversations happen where we actually serve people experiencing homelessness – at the community level. And resources need to be part of that discussion.
There was a time when HUD awarded more funds for supportive services under the homeless assistance competition than on housing. By paying for services that should have been available to people experiencing homelessness through public systems, we were effectively reducing the potential stock of housing available to people experiencing homelessness. Tremendous progress has been made to shift this balance so that more of HUD’s funds are paying for housing costs than supportive services—however, close to 30 percent—or $460 million—of funds awarded through the competition are still for supportive services costs. While the CoC Program allows for the use of funds for services, HUD encourages CoCs to consider: 1) if the services being funded is also eligible under other mainstream Federal programs; and 2) whether they are essential to helping people connect to or maintain permanent housing.
USICH is working on a tool in coordination with HHS and other agencies that will make it easier for CoCs and homeless service providers to identify these resources. Individual projects should seek out these mainstream resources to pay for service costs currently charged to the CoC Program grant, which would free up CoC Program funds that could then be reallocated to create more units of housing. CoC leaders can help in this effort by ensuring that all recipients within the CoC are aware of other funding opportunities, and that programs already receiving funding from multiple sources maximize those resources.
Here are some examples of resources that CoCs and project recipients can consider regarding coordination of HUD housing resources and mainstream service dollars that would allow for a more efficient use of all of these limited resources.
  • Did you know that Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding is a great possible source for addressing family homelessness? In February 2013, HHS issued guidance on the Use of TANF Funds to Serve Homeless Families and Families at Risk of Experiencing Homelessness. One significant way in which TANF funds could be leveraged with either ESG or CoC Program funding is through the provision of rapid re-housing. TANF funds may be able to be used for employment services and a range of supportive services, for example, while CoC  Program or Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) funding could pay for the housing costs. To learn more about ways that communities can leverage HUD homeless and TANF resources, download the slides from a joint HHS-HUD webinar called Leveraging TANF Funds and Strategic Partnerships to Improve Housing Stability and Economic Outcomes for Low-Income Families.
  • The Affordable Care Act (ACA) increases opportunities to pay for services for people in supportive housing. Getting there is complicated but feasible. Here is some preliminary information to get you started.
  • ACA gives states the ability to extend Medicaid to all persons living under 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level and expands services that can be funded by Medicaid. Even in states that have not yet opted into expansion, there may be opportunities to use Medicaid funding for services for people who are already Medicaid eligible.
  • Depending on what state you are in, Medicaid is a potential source of financing of: case management, life skills, health and behavioral health services in permanent supportive housing, and the formation of health care and social services partnerships.
  • The following is a menu of potential features (authorities) of your state Medicaid plan that may provide funding for the above services:
  • Home and Community Based Services,
  • Rehabilitation Option,
  • Targeted Case Management
  • Health Homes
USICH has some great resources on this topic on their Using Medicaid to Fund Supportive Services page.

 An important strategy for leveraging Medicaid is the forming partnerships between homeless services providers and health care entities that are credentialed to provide Medicaid services.
CoCs have an important role in ensuring that all who are eligible get enrolled in Medicaid, especially in states that are opting into expansion. In April 2013, CPD’s Office of HIV/AIDS Housing (OHH) and Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs (SNAPS) implemented an ACA Technical Assistance (TA) initiative through OneCPD TA. TA providers will research, develop, and disseminate information, resources and other technical assistance related to Medicaid Expansion and to new health insurance options under the ACA. Roll-out of these materials will be made available over the coming months. The information will also be posted online on the OneCPD Resource Exchange. This information will help HUD programs to assist beneficiaries in accessing health care and to enable beneficiaries to understand eligibility and health options so that they can obtain and retain appropriate, high quality coverage. It will also help both homeless and AIDS services providers to meet credentialing requirements to receive Medicaid funding for services.
  • HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Health Care for the Homeless program provides grants to community health centers to provide primary health care, substance abuse, emergency care with referrals to hospitals for in-patient care, and/or other needed services and outreach services to assist difficult-to-reach homeless persons in accessing care, and provide assistance in establishing eligibility for entitlement programs and housing. Many of the primary care and behavioral health care services currently funded by CoC grants may be services that Health Care for the Homeless grantees are already able to provide through their HRSA grants or through Medicaid reimbursement. In addition, community health centers that are not Health Care for the Homeless grantees, particularly those with Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) status, may be able to provide the same health care services to people experiencing homelessness. CoCs are encouraged to partner with Health Care for the Homeless and Federally Qualified community health centers. More information on where Health Care for the Homeless and other community health centers are located can be found on the Health Resources and Service Administration website.
  • A possible resource for CoC grantees that provide substance abuse treatment services is Access to Recovery (ATR). ATR is a program administered by HHS’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that is designed to provide client choice among substance abuse clinical treatment and recovery support service providers, expand access to a comprehensive array of clinical treatment and recovery support options (including faith-based programmatic options), and increase substance abuse treatment capacity. These funds are awarded to single-state substance abuse agencies to carry-out voucher programs for substance abuse clinical treatment and recovery support services. More information on Access to Recovery can be found on the SAMHSA website.
  • The VA has issued funding under the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, which provides homelessness prevention or rapid re-housing assistance to homeless veterans and their families. See the VA Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program page.
I hope that this list, while not exhaustive, will spark some good conversations in CoCs across the country on how to use these types of funding streams to free up CoC funds so we can increase the supply of housing for people experiencing homelessness.
Don’t forget to check back to SNAPS Weekly Focus page over the coming weeks as we will continue to post related materials and TA products related to each weekly focus, as they become available.
As always, we thank you for your commitment to ending homelessness.
Ann Marie Oliva
Director, Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs

Giving Priority to Chronically Homeless Persons

SNAPS Weekly Focus: Giving Priority to Chronically Homeless Persons

Community Planning DevelopmentU.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Welcome to week two of SNAPS Weekly Focus! Last week's message talked about changing the way we do business. This week I am going talk in more detail about one of the changes that you can make within your CoC or permanent supportive housing (PSH) project that will help to end homelessness for the most vulnerable people we serve – persons experiencing chronic homelessness.

The first goal of Opening Doors is to finish the job of ending chronic homelessness by 2015. We are now at year three - and while we have seen annual reductions in the number of chronically homeless persons counted during the Point-in-Time count each year, we still have a long way to go and will not meet the goal by 2015 without implementing new strategies. In 2012, there were still 99,894 people identified as chronically homeless in the United States, according to the 2012 PIT Estimates of Homelessness: Volume I of the 2012 AHAR.

PSH is designed to provide housing and services for people who are homeless and disabled – in other words, it should be used to house those that, without this type of assistance, would continue to live on the streets. Unfortunately, we know that this limited and intensive resource is not always being prioritized for the population that has been on the streets the longest. Only about 40 percent of CoC-funded PSH serving single-person households is currently dedicated (i.e., serving this population is a requirement of the grant agreement with HUD) to persons experiencing chronic homelessness. The remaining 60 percent are serving homeless persons with disabilities, but are not necessarily serving or prioritizing persons experiencing chronic homelessness.

In order to make the progress we want and need to make towards ending chronic homelessness, we need to make a change in the way we operate our PSH. In particular, HUD is asking CoCs and PSH providers to prioritize chronically homeless persons and persons that are the most vulnerable in all PSH units as they become available, for both individuals and families.

Starting with the FY2013 CoC Program Competition, HUD will begin looking to CoCs and recipients of CoC Program PSH funds to move away from a “first come, first served” approach to filling program vacancies. Instead, available PSH units should first be offered to persons who are chronically homeless and who meet the other criteria required by the program. For example, if you have a PSH project that currently targets individuals with mental illness and a unit becomes vacant through turnover, you should first offer the unit to a chronically homeless person with a mental illness.  If no persons within the CoC meet the definition of chronically homeless, the unit can then be made available to other eligible persons, ideally those that are most likely to become chronically homeless if they do not receive PSH.

HUD will issue additional guidance later this summer about how to implement this type of prioritization strategy. Later this week you will hear from representatives from a CoC where implementation of a prioritization strategy has made a tremendous impact on reducing the number of chronically homeless persons in their continuum. USICH also recently discussed this topic on its blog.

Over the next eight weeks, you'll hear more about other strategies that your CoC can implement to make further progress at meeting the goals of Opening Doors such as adopting Housing First, partnering with your PHA(s), and implementing a coordinated assessment system. 

As always, thank you for your service to people who are homeless and at-risk of homelessness.

Ann Marie Oliva
Director, Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs

Friday, July 19, 2013

Tell a colleague....

If you have a colleague who has not yet joined this blog, please spread the word!  

Thank you!

Silvia Moscariello
On behalf of the Re-tooling the Crisis Response System Work Group
Greater New Haven Opening Doors

Greater New Haven Regional Supportive Housing Program Blog:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

We've added a new link to learning about Benefits.

Welcome to!

Do you want to find out if you qualify for Food Stamps or Medicaid without waiting at crowded agencies, get help with your heating bills, or connect to Tax Credits worth up to $5,800?

The EarnBenefits program is a link to benefits available in your community that can help you increase your take-home pay, build savings, and more!

Click on a location below to find information on benefits available in your area and locations where EarnBenefits representatives can help you with the application process.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Town of Portland - Opens Wait list

The Housing Authority of the Town of Portland will be opening its waiting list for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program.

Link to Application:  Portland Housing Authority

Monday, July 8, 2013

Eviction/Foreclosure Prevention Program/Security Deposit Guarantee Program

Dear Community Providers: 

DSS is re-contracting for its Eviction/Foreclosure Prevention Program (“EFPP”) and also contracting for the application assistance for the Security Deposit Guarantee Program. In the past Community Mediation has been the lead for New Haven County for the EFPP program and the service provider in the City of New Haven and surrounding towns. Community Mediation decided not to re-contract for this work. DSS has awarded the lead role in New Haven County to TEAM, Inc and the service providers for the City of New Haven will be Liberty Community Services and the Community Action Agency of New Haven. The contract with DSS has not been finalized so more details about the transition will be forthcoming when we have the contracts in hand. The Security Deposit Program has not transitioned yet and people should follow the current process and guidelines. The descriptions of the programs themselves have not changed and the descriptions are linked below. But as of July 1, New Haven area residents should be directed to either Liberty or Community Action Agency for the EFPP Program. The contact at Liberty is Kim Tchakirides and her telephone number is 203-495-1750. The contact at the Community Action Agency of New Haven is Luis Hutcherson or Marcia Harvey at 203-387-7700.  

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me via email or at 230-736-5420 ext. 234. Thank you. Diane

Monday, July 1, 2013

Columbus House HUD Scattered Site Waiting List - OPEN 7/1/13


The Columbus House HUD Scattered Site waiting list is open as of today (7/1/13). HUD Scattered Sites offers permanent housing to individuals who are chronically homeless with a disabling condition. Individuals must be living in the shelter or on the streets in order to be considered chronically homeless. Case management services are also offered.

Attached is the Universal Housing Application. On the application the HUD Scattered Sites are listed as “Col. House-- BOS 2010 NOFA” and “Col. House-- EHO 2010.” The BOS is for apartments in Hamden and West Haven and the EHO is for apartments in New Haven.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Rebekah Ohlsen
Permanent Supportive Housing Manager
Columbus House
592 Ella Grasso Blvd.
New Haven, CT 06519
Phone: 203.772.4200 ext. 2145

To apply, please use this form:  Universal Referral Form