Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota

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Best Practice | August 11, 2006

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota is facilitating the rehousing of homeless youth and families in several rural counties in Minnesota through their Housing Options for Everyone Program. The Family Homelessness Prevention and Assistance Program helped the agency respond to the increasing numbers of their clients who reported having a housing crisis. Although a grantee and direct provider, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota benefits from the FHPAP requirement that an advisory group comprised of local community members and organizations develop the program and program goals and assess progress toward measurable outcomes. As an agency, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota is invested in promoting a "housing first" approach--rapidly returning those who experience a housing crisis to permanent housing and linking them with the available supports to promote future housing stability. Intervention to stabilize families and individuals in housing--including financial assistance, landlord mediation and case management--are similar for those who are rehoused and those whose homelessness was effectively prevented.

 

Target Population:

  • Families with dependent children, youth under 22 and single individuals who are homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness.

 

Referral Process:

  • Central agency administering several programs (including LIHEAP, credit counseling, financial education) and an on-site Housing Resource Center is initial point of contact. The agency developed the program as they identified housing needs among clients served.
  • Receives referrals from county administered programs, churches and Community Action Programs (CAPs).

 

Services:

  • Provides financial assistance for those at risk of losing housing.
  • Provides direct assistance in form of rent deposit, first month rent, mortgage assistance for those who are homeless or facing homelessness.
  • Provides assistance in locating housing, case management services, education about tenant rights and responsibilities.
  • Conducts a self sufficiency plan with the family, identifies budgeting, housing subsidies and increasing familial financial resources as paramount to preventing future episodes of homelessness.
  • Connects family members with resources in the community, builds self-advocacy skills, provides follow up case management weekly during initial stabilization period, may decrease in intensity, however, family remains eligible for case management services for 12 months following intervention.

 

Resource Development:

  • Dedicated housing staff with background in property management develops relationships with landlords, works with housing authority to identify available rental assistance resources and participates in housing membership organizations.

 

Source of Funding:

  • Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program (FHPAP) that includes TANF block grant and state general revenue funds
  • Small grants and funding through local churches
  • Community Action Program (CAP) agencies
  • United Way award

 

Objective/Service Utilization/Outcome Data:

  • Served 212 households from 1999 to 2001
  • 94% of total households were in permanent housing twelve months after receiving assistance
  • 85% of families who were homeless were in stable housing nine months after receiving assistance
  • 90% of families have accessed at least 40% of community resources listed in their self-sufficiency plan