National Alliance to End Homelessness
Solutions Brief | September 21, 2010
Volunteers of America - Dakotas operates a variety of programs for at-risk and homeless youth throughout communities in South Dakota, including Sioux Falls, Rapid City, and Aberdeen.
In addition to the South Dakota Runaway Network, a 24/7 crisis hotline, street outreach, independent living preparation program, and a youth drop-in center, Volunteers of America (VoA) offers HPRP assistance to eligible youth.
Volunteers of America-Dakotas has been offering HPRP assistance in Sioux Falls and Aberdeen since early 2010. Youth between the ages of 18 and 22 are referred to the HPRP program by other community organizations and VoA’s programs, particularly the street outreach program. An HPRP applicant is eligible for rental assistance if they are at risk of homelessness or already homeless. They must also be willing to work with a VoA case manager. Applicants are not required to have an income and can be finishing
school while receiving assistance. Once their eligibility is determined, every HPRP client develops a transition plan that identifies their needs, goals, and a plan to achieve safe independence. The case management is intensive and includes at least once-a-week home visits and an array of employment, education, and life skills assistance.
HPRP will cover rent and security deposits. The length and type of assistance varies for each client, although the most common types of rental assistance are shallow or graduating subsidies. Clients are eligible for HPRP assistance for up to 18 months and are also offered access to VoA’s aftercare and alumni services.
VoA has developed close partnerships with their county governments, the local public housing authorities, and private market landlords to help their young clients find safe and affordable housing. When possible and appropriate, VoA will also refer clients to other organizations for services including food stamps, health services, and other needs.
Volunteers of America-Dakotas receives two HPRP grants. In Sioux Falls, VoA has partnered with Minnehaha County and three other community-based organizations to administer HPRP to youth. In Aberdeen, VoA is the primary HPRP grantee and offers housing location assistance and case management services similar to those in Sioux Falls.
Like many other providers, VoA has found that HPRP funds are helpful but do not match the level of need and the number of applications received.
VoA serves 15 youth per month with HPRP funds in Sioux Falls and Aberdeen. While limited, HPRP in Sioux Falls and Aberdeen has filled a service gap and is allowing for a continuum of services for the most needy youth population. Although Stephanie Graeb, the Director of Eastern Regional Services, acknowledges that it is a continual education process to advocate for homeless youth needs, VoA’s participation in the local homeless consortium and ability to collaborate on service delivery is key in receiving the funds.