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Resources for Meeting Ann Oliva’s Recommendations
May 8, 2013
On Monday, Ann Oliva, Director of the Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs at HUD released a letter (read it in full here) with information and recommendations for CoC leaders and stakeholders. The letter outlined four things community stakeholders should consider in striving to reach the goals laid out in Opening Doors. We have a number of resources on our website that address the various recommendations in Ms. Oliva’s letter, and I wanted to highlight them today because I know our website can be a little overwhelming at times.
Recommendations from Ms. Oliva’s letter are in bold; our resources are underneath each one:
1) Develop a community-wide plan to address homelessness, including a conscious strategy of how to use CoC and ESG Program funds to support the strategy.
The Alliance has two calculator tools that can help spark discussions on community-wide funding priorities:
- Homeless System Evaluator Tool. This tool allows communities to input their data to determine whether their homeless assistance system moves people into permanent housing quickly, helps people remain in housing, and generates these and other positive outcomes cost-effectively.
- Performance Improvement Calculator. This tool allows a community to experiment with their data to determine what impact changes in funding or performance on different homelessness interventions can have.
Ms. Oliva’s letter also encourages communities to “prioritize the use of ESG funds for proven strategies, especially rapid re-housing” when developing these funding priorities. Published last year, our paper, “The New ESG: Using the Lessons of HPRP and Other Initiatives to Inform ESG Implementation,” provides six recommendations for doing just that.
2) Direct assistance to those who need it most and in ways that promote ending homelessness.
Implementing a coordinated assessment process in your community makes it more likely that homeless household will be served by the right intervention more quickly. Our Coordinated Assessment Toolkit is continuously updated with new tools and community examples.
Targeting resources to “those who need it most” is very important in a time of limited resources. Two presentations from past Alliance conferences explore this further:
- First Served: Prioritizing Tenants for Permanent Supportive Housing. Permanent Supportive Housing is one of the most robust and costly interventions, and it should be prioritized for people experiencing chronic homelessness.
- Developing System-Wide Prioritization and Targeting Standards. In these conference presentations, HUD provides direction on how to develop these standards, and Lianna Barbu from Columbus, OH presents her community's standards as an example.
We also need to make sure we are not excluding those most in need of our serves by imposing program admission criteria that rejects people based on sobriety status, employment status, or criminal history. One way to incentivize programs to serve more difficult households is by risk adjusting performance measures.
3) Invest in and use data to drive decision-making on homelessness, both for the overarching plan and for annual allocation decisions.
Measuring our performance with data is the only way we can know if we are succeeding in our goal of ending homelessness. I recommend the following resources on this topic:
- The Importance of Performance Measurement. This blog post provides a conscious introduction to performance measurement.
- What Gets Measured, Gets Done: A Toolkit on Performance Measurement for Ending Homelessness. This toolkit is your Performance Measurement 101. It addresses how to design a system, using data to manage or change a homeless system, and understanding and implementing system-level performance measurement.
- The Columbus Model: Becoming a Data Driven System. There is no need to design a performance measurement and improvement system from scratch. Columbus, OH has an effective data-driven system, and this toolkit provides you with their tools and strategies for adoption in your own community.
4) Form strategic partnerships with mainstream agencies and funders to prevent and end homelessness.
Innovative communities are leveraging a variety of mainstream resources to help end homelessness. I recommend the following resources on this topic:
- Making Effective Use of TANF. It is possible to use TANF funds for short-term rent assistance to help families avoid or quickly escape homelessness.
- Five Strategies for Building a Successful Relationship with Your Local VA. This paper was the result of interviews with various communities’ that have forged successful partnerships with their VA.
- Creating Successful Partnerships with Public Housing Authorities. These conference presentations discuss this issue from the perspective of homeless service organizations, and Housing Authorities themselves.
- FACT SHEET: Homeless Services and Medicaid Enrollment. It is important that homeless service providers prepare for their role in helping with enrollment in new health care coverage. This Fact Sheet highlights key information needed to begin conversations with community leaders and partners, including where to go for more specific information, and will be updated as new materials become available.
- Changing Child Welfare’s Response to Unaccompanied Minors. This short blog post discusses what role child welfare agencies can play in ending homelessness.
The Alliance recently released our own set of recommendations, “Recommendations for Effective Implementation of the HEARTH Act Continuum of Care Regulations,” which contains even more resources.