Announcements, Homelessness, Supportive Housing

Reaching Home 2014 Quarterly Update

 

Since aligning with the Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness, the Reaching Home Steering Committee and workgroups have been hard at work to develop actionable strategies that move forward the goals and vision of Opening Doors – CT. In addition to announcing their second round of strategies, the six workgroups are furthering the following initiatives and will be providing similar updates on their progress on a quarterly basis. 

Increasing access to stable and affordable housing

The Affordable and Supportive Housing Workgroup has recommended 100 new units of supportive housing through new development and 100 units through a scattered-site approach. New this year, the workgroup is advocating for scattered-site vouchers and services to be able to work with existing housing and to be paired with new mainstream affordable housing development, where available. The goal of the latter is to leverage other non-supportive housing resources and “embed” units for homeless populations within the state’s affordable and mixed-income portfolio.

Additionally, the workgroup has recommended that the state direct a portion of Department of Housing (DOH) Predevelopment resources to early-stage, higher-risk activities and to capitalize the DOH’s Administrative Costs Program to provide new working capital financing to strengthen supportive housing developer capacity.

The Housing Workgroup continues to work with DOH and the CT Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) to target more housing resources toward extremely low income households through creative regulatory changes that do not require new funding from the state.

The Housing Workgroup and the Crisis Response Workgroup have also begun conversations to explore opportunities and barriers to innovative models of shared housing and roommates.

For more information, contact Betsy Crum at betsy@ct-housing.org.

Retooling the Crisis Response System

The Retooling Workgroup continues its work to facilitate implementation of Coordinated Access across the state.  CCEH, United Way 2-1-1, and the Department of Housing are meeting with each “Coordinated Access Network,” local provider groups that will provide Coordinated Access services in each community, across the state to discuss best practices, HUD requirements, and available resources for implementation of Coordinated Access.  The statewide Coordinated Access system will launch July 1, with DOH funding for 2-1-1 call services. 

The workgroup has developed and vetted a set of principles for inclusion of domestic violence providers in Coordinated Access in cooperation with the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV).  The workgroup will be seeking the endorsement of those principles by each Continuum of Care in the State.  Additionally, as part of its work to implement a statewide Coordinated Access system, the workgroup is seeking input on a new, standardized shelter intake form. 

Lastly, the Retooling Workgroup has begun discussions regarding standardized assessment tools to better indicate for each case of homelessness the best resource to address a client’s needs.  Identifying and implementing this type of tool is critical to meeting the needs of each client who enters the homeless system and to allocating as effectively and efficiently as possible the scarce resources available to address homelessness.  The ultimate goal is to have a set of assessment tools that are adopted universally across Connecticut to guide client management from the front door of homelessness to permanent housing.

For more information, contact Lisa Tepper Bates at ltbates@cceh.org

 
Increasing Economic Security

Developing concrete, actionable steps for increasing economic security of people experiencing homelessness is particularly difficult because performance requirements attached to workforce and employment funding streams lend themselves to “creaming,” (screening out people who need assistance most) and Reaching Home’s target populations are not ideal candidates for education/employment supports or programs given their housing instability. As a result, the Economic Security Workgroup has devoted significant time in brainstorming and planning for effective strategies that bridge the gap between the housing systems and workforce systems.

The workgroup will drive the development and implementation of a pilot program that targets employment supports and training vouchers to clients of rapid re-housing and better connects the workforce and housing systems. By piloting this integrated model with two Rapid Re-Housing regions, Reaching Home will be able to track outcomes, demonstrate effectiveness, and create a process for expansion.

Additionally, Reaching Home will also work with partners to drive statewide support to sustain funding on a state level for Columbus House’s Pathways to Independence (PTI) program. Reaching Home will explore the potential for an advocacy strategy that sustains and expands Pathways to Independence. PTI combines expedited access to income; assessments and support related to employment; vocational assessment; job placement and retention supports; financial literacy and financial management support.

For more information, contact Alice Pritchard at apritchard@cwealf.org.

Integrating Healthcare and Housing Stability

Expanding enrollment, retention and agency capacity for Medicaid financed services

The Corporation for Supportive Housing is launching the first Medicaid Institute for Supportive Housing Agencies (MISHA) in March 2014.  Several supportive housing service provider agencies will participate in this multi-session program aimed at building agency capacity to:

  • Improve Medicaid enrollment and retention among eligible beneficiaries.
  • Maximize current opportunities to benefit from Medicaid-billable services, either directly or via partnerships.
  • Build capacity to access Medicaid benefits as a sustainable resource for supporting services

Enhance sustainable mainstream funding for the Supportive Housing Workforce

The working Medicaid Policy Group will reconvene on January 30 to receive analysis and discuss recommendations from the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) on a feasible Medicaid option to pursue for developing an authorized package of supportive services.

Improve integration of housing and health services

Last June, the workgroup hosted an IForum “Healthcare, Housing, and Homelessness: Target. Connect. Save.” The event served as a launching pad for ongoing partnerships between health care and housing assistance stakeholders, particularly the hospital stakeholders. As a result, an auxiliary workgroup will be convened with the CT Hospital Association to coordinate an effort focused on tracking housing status in the hospital system, improving discharge planning, and connecting hospitals to community care team programs.

Additionally, CSH has secured a grant from the Liberty Bank Foundation to help in disseminating the Community Care Team model developed and led by Middlesex Hospital

Reduce re-incarceration-homelessness, and integrate with healthcare

The FUSE (frequent users of criminal justice and shelter systems) Steering Committee has been expanded to include Social Innovation Fund's (SIF) CT Integrated Health and Housing Networks (CIHHN) project which focuses on high-cost, high-need Medicaid recipients who are homeless.
A policy group is working to support FUSE expansion by 160 units (proposal currently in back of budget)

For more information, contact Kevin Irwin at kevin.irwin@csh.org or Sarah Gallagher at sarah.gallagher@csh.org.

Meeting the unique needs of runaway and homeless youth

Invisible No More,” Connecticut’s first-ever report describing the experiences of homeless youth in our state, was completed in December 2013.  The report was released at a forum on December 12, at the Legislative Office Building and televised on CT-N.  Presenters at the forum were Robert Pulster, US Interagency Council on Homelessness, Dr. Derrick Gordon, Yale Consultation Center and author of the report, youth who had experienced homelessness, and state agency partners.

Prior to the release of the report, members of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Workgroup met with state agency partners to review policy recommendations from the report and determine which low-hanging fruit could be addressed at the outset.  These meetings have been collaborative and productive.

The next phase of work is to dive into a planning process to address systemic reform recommendations.  Three subgroups of the Homeless Youth workgroup will work to create a blueprint to address data gaps, housing needs and supports/services for homeless youth. The Melville Charitable Trust has funded a Project Director position for this planning project.

The immediate legislative priority for the homeless youth workgroup is to restore the funding to a bill passed in 2010 establishing a much needed crisis response system (Conn. Gen. Stat. §17a-62a).  The bill established funding for the Department of Children and Families to create two regional teams to address outreach, drop-in services, host home/respite and limited transitional supports for homeless youth.  The funding was suspended in the budget mitigation process in 2011. 

For more information, contact Stacey Violante Cote at sviolant@kidscounsel.org.

Ending Homelessness Among Veterans

Since releasing its Strategic Plan to End Veteran Homelessness in November, the Veterans Workgroup and the Connecticut Heroes Project have been working on several fronts to implement the Plan’s key recommendations. Among our key accomplishments are:

  • Launched an innovative program through the West Haven Housing Authority to provide security deposit loans to veterans in the HUD-VASH supportive housing program. This dovetails with an ongoing effort using new data analysis to identify ways to further speed up the HUD-VASH lease-up process.
  • Received a $25,000 grant to seed the Veterans Opportunity Fund, which will fund employment specialists to work with veterans in housing programs across the state. The first of these specialists will be hired within a month at the Errera Center.
  • Established thorough, coordinated outreach and referral mechanisms for veterans across the state, including: (1) HMIS lists of veterans distributed monthly to the VA and other key service providers, and (2) Concise veteran referral sheets distributed to hundreds of providers across Connecticut.
  • Designed policies to promote independence for veterans in housing programs, including a battery of new initiatives to encourage transitions to self-reliance from HUD-VASH, and a statewide overhaul of veterans employment services — both to be implemented shortly.
  • Connected National Guard units more closely to services, by bringing officers on tours of the Errera Center and incorporating units into outreach plans.
  • Made significant progress on: improving services for justice-involved veterans; using data systems to create a comprehensive and detailed picture of veteran homelessness; and updating and streamlining veterans resources listed on 2-1-1.

For more information, contact Greg Behrman at g_behrman@yahoo.com.

Homelessness in Connecticut can be erased. Opening Doors - Connecticut, the strategic statewide framework kicked off in January 2012, is inspired by the vision that no one should experience homelessness – no one should be without a safe, stable place to call home.
 

 
 

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