HPRP Youth Program Profiles: LifeWorks

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National Alliance to End Homelessness

Solutions Brief | September 21, 2010

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nameLifeWorks, located in Austin, TX, is the city’s only nonprofit organization offering youth and families a range of housing, counseling, and education services that address critical needs while helping homeless youth develop self-sufficiency and long term success.

HPRP Initiatives
Since September 2009, LifeWorks has been utilizing HPRP funding to prevent homelessness and relocate applicants of any age. Assistance can range from rental and utility arrears to security deposit and moving assistance. Subsidies can be one-time or ongoing for up to 18 months though the most common subsidy lasts from one to three months. LifeWorks offers integrated wrap-around services. All HPRP clients receive case management though not all receive financial assistance. The case management is an intensive, strength-based approach involving weekly meetings and consistent assessment of each client’s progress. Youth HPRP clients are also able to access LifeWorks’ other programs, such as workforce training and employment assistance, as it fits in with their goals and case plan.

Community Partnerships
LifeWorks is a primary HPRP grantee and benefits from the flexibility of being their own fiscal agent. Scott O’Brien, a supervisor at LifeWorks, credits their successful grant application to the organization’s strong infrastructure and capability to absorb new funding. As a result, LifeWorks started using their HPRP funding months before other organizations
in Austin.

LifeWorks is not the only organization in Austin that administers HPRP. The city of Austin, another HPRP grantee, contracts LifeWorks to be the fiscal agent for Caritas’ subcontract. Caritas, a local non-profit that works with low-income and homeless families, provides case managementto the city’s HPRP clients.

In addition to HPRP contracts and formalized partnerships, LifeWorks has many memorandums of understanding with a variety of nonprofits, public agencies, and private businesses. In particular, the organization’s connections with a variety of landlords allow HPRP applicants to bypass shelter and quickly move into housing.

Constraints
According to Scott O’Brien, “one of the biggest challenges of HPRP is not being able to serve everyone who needs help. Saying no is very hard.” In this case, budgetary concerns are a factor but it is also a matter of balancing the number of high-needs clients with those who have fewer service needs.

Achievements
Every month there are at least 24 open youth HPRP cases and roughly five exits and five new cases opened each month. As of July 2010, LifeWorks had served 138 households for a total of 369 individuals with HPRP assistance.

LifeWorks’ position as a primary grantee and the extensive community connections allow the organization to leverage their resources in effective and creative ways while preventing and ending homelessness for hundreds of Austin residents.