BLOG: Home for Good
NEW legislation has the potential to help move forward the goal of ending chronic and veteran homelessness in a real way! Below are brief descriptions about these pieces and links to further resources on these exciting opportunities for our LA community and those chronic and veteran homeless potentially impacted by the funding and services these pieces could bring to our local community.
AB639 Welcomes our Brave Veterans Home the Right Way
Veterans living in California may finally be able to return home with the passing of AB639. This legislation, recently signed by Governor Jerry Brown, will help reallocate funds to target California’s homeless Veteran population. As stated by Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi, co-author of the legislation, “Our veterans have risked their lives and fought for our freedom and it is only right that we now fight to protect them. Once approved by the voters [in the June 2014 primary election], [AB639] will get the resources moving to help our veterans and their families.”
Almost one fourth of the nation’s Veteran homeless population resides in California and although Proposition 12, which was passed in 2008, was meant to remedy this housing situation, there were structural issues that did not allow many Veterans to access the $900 billion in bonds available through the program for the purchase of single family homes, farms, and mobile homes. AB 639, which was introduced by Speaker John A. Perez, makes these funds more accessible by expanding the types of housing supported, including permanent supportive housing, and repurposing $600 million of the bond in support of “affordable multifamily housing and services for veterans and their families.”
AB361 Relief for MediCal Enrollees with Chronic Conditions
AB 361 impacts United Way’s community partners and their clients by providing care coordination for MediCAL patients suffering from chronic medical conditions. Chronically ill patients make up about 25% of the homeless population and yet utilize about 75% of public resources . The CA State Department of Healthcare Services will administer AB361 to address the needs of chronically ill patients enrolled in MediCAL, who have been accessing medical care through urgent care or emergency facilities, by establishing preventative healthcare measures through a specialized care coordination system called “health homes.” The Health Homes program will assemble teams of primary, clinical, and community medical and mental health providers to work collaboratively in providing the most effective care for each chronically ill patient. This program will allow for the health community to catch medical conditions before they worsen prompting visits to emergency care facilities. Overall, AB361 will be implemented to promote better outcomes for both patient and public resources by providing a continuum of care for chronic patients.
For more general information on Health Homes Program and eligibility requirements, please visit: http://www.medicaid.gov/Medicaid-CHIP-Program-Information/By-Topics/Long-Term-Services-and-Support/Integrating-Care/Health-Homes/Health-Homes.html
Thank you to all those who sent out letters and contacted your representatives to push forward these policies. Please continue to follow our blog for more legislative updates, and keep advocating for change!
David Miller is a United Way Campaign Associate. He outreaches to organizations in the community, sharing about United Way’s mission and promoting the work of initiatives like Home For Good. He shares the stories of our providers and clients with those he meets and now shares with us why he will be participating in HomeWalk on November 23.
Living in traffic-heavy Los Angeles, I use the freeway on my commute to work. Each day, I get off at the same exit and see someone asking for money at end of the off ramp. Seeing these people makes me wonder, how many millions of drivers pass them by without blinking an eye? How many people turn away to avoid them entirely?
I don’t know the answer to these unfortunate questions. What I do know is that I would not want to be in that situation myself, and NO ONE should have to live like that. There are far too many people in LA County in need of shelter, food and clothing. Far too many people, continuing to be unseen and even avoided at freeway off-ramps.
The United Way’s annual HomeWalk is one way in which we can all make a difference in the lives of these people. Together, we can create solutions and support programs working to end homelessness in LA County. I am participating in HomeWalk to help raise money and awareness on this pressing issue because something needs to be done, and something can be done.
Why do I walk? I walk for a day when there will be no more homeless people at freeway off ramps.
Join David in his efforts to change LA by signing up for HomeWalk at www.homewalkla.org! Together we can end homelessness!
The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) announced innovative new changes to their Shelter Plus Care (SPC) program, supporting the effort to end chronic and veteran homelessness by 2016. Beginning on November 1st, HACLA will require that all program participants funded through SPC meet the HUD definition of chronically homeless, and that service organizations connect with their community Coordinated Entry System wherever available.
Though our community’s creation of a Coordinated Entry System was in part spurred by the HEARTH Act mandate of coordinated assessment, the larger motivation of Home For Good stakeholders was an acknowledgement that our maze-like system has been too cumbersome for our most vulnerable homeless neighbors to successfully navigate. Coordinated Entry will ultimately enable us to quickly link every homeless person in our system with the permanent supportive housing that best meets their needs.
HACLA has been an integral part of building this system, alongside other public and private funders and services and housing providers across the region. They have been a strong partner of Home For Good since its inception and continue to create policies and priorities that thoughtfully serve all homeless populations, including the hronically homeless.
The change in requirements came as a product of HACLA’s continued commitment to provide housing for our most vulnerable populations. This commendable step, changing SPC requirements, is the beginning of continued integration of these systems changes into the fabric of our sector’s resources. HACLA is active in helping to create a sustainable system, and committed to not only the process, but also the implementation of change for the betterment of our community and all its residents.
For more information on the Coordinated Entry System, please visit “Skid Row Pilot“
For an overview of the definition of chronic homelessness, visit www.caction.org/homeless/documents/DefinitionOfChronicHomelessness.pdf
We are excited to be partnering with our friends at the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) to host two FREE half-day seminars this month!
Sign up for all workshops at is.gd/octoberseminars
United Way: 1150 S. Olive St., 4th Floor Conference Center, Los Angeles, CA 90015
Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority: 811 Wilshire Blvd., 6th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90017
For more information, contact Michael Nailat at email@example.com or (213) 808-6448
Home For Good, an initiative of United Way of Greater Los Angeles in partnership with the LA Chamber of Commerce, has been nationally recognized as one of 10 organizations to receive the Secretary’s Award of Public-Philanthropic Partnerships from The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Council on Foundations. The Secretary’s Award recognizes excellence of over 125 cross-sectoral partnerships impacting low-income communities. Read more here.
To tackle the complex issues of homelessness in Los Angeles, Home For Good launched and created a five-year plan to end chronic and veteran homelessness by 2016. Today, we are now more than halfway towards our goal.
(From Left): HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Peter Lynn (HACLA), Director of Housing Stability, Christine Marge (United Way), Maria Funk (LA County DMH), Bill Pitkin (Hilton Foundation), Marc Trotz (LA DHS) and Vikki Spruill (Council on Foundations).
More Groundbreaking Acheivements and Recognition
$200 Million for “Housing First”
For the second year in a row, the Home For Good Funders Collaborative has aligned more than $100 million in public and private resources for permanent supportive housing, bringing the total community investment in our “housing first” model to more than $200 million. Because of this generous investment, thousands of homeless people this year will be connected with permanent supportive housing.
United Way in the National News on NPR
National Public Radio (NPR) released this story, which aired across the country, on the Coordinated Entry System that we’re leading in Skid Row. It’s the latest piece of our effort to end chronic homelessness in L.A. County.
These recent accomplishments make us realize how crucial it is to continue our efforts and to give everyone a deserving home. We thank all our partners, supporters and staff for reaching these milestones!
To become involved with United Way’s work creating pathways out of poverty, take action here.
Currently, 1.4 Million Californian living below the poverty line are uninsured. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there is the potential for many of these low-income individuals, including those experiencing homelessness, to access needed medical services. ACA offers a tool for providers and increased services for clients, supporting Home For Good’s goal of ending chronic and veteran homelessness in Los Angeles by 2016.
With the implementation of ACA, many people experiencing homelessness should become eligible for health insurance through the expansion of the Medicaid program, however not all states have opted-in to this ACA provision. Even though, “the federal government will pay for 100% of the expansion for the first three years,” there is a concern that federal subsidies plan to “gradually reduce… to 90% by 2020.” Additionally, with the Supreme Court rulings on ACA, some states are unfortunately finding ways to opt out of insuring our nation’s most vulnerable populations.
Though it is true that many states are avoiding opting in to ACA, California has already taken steps to adopt the ACA. As California Senator, Mark Leno of San Francisco, puts it, California hopes that with the implementation of the Medicaid expansion we will prove that “health care is not considered a privilege of the fortunate few but… [is] a basic human right.” Beyond the ethical arguments for ACA though are strong studies showing favorable outcomes for both state budgets and low- to moderate-income residents. As a recent study published by the US Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) highlights, residents may have previously been bypassed for mental health care due to their uninsured status, forcing them to rely on public health care services funded through state and local resources. With this expansion fiscal pressure on the states is reduced as individuals enroll in Medicaid programs, “fully covered by the Federal government.” As a result, healthcare providers and hospitals will see fewer “uncompensated visits and less crowded emergency rooms,” meaning an overall cost savings to state and local agencies which could be diverted to other community programs and projects.
Chronic and Veteran Homeless Populations
For chronic and veteran individuals experiencing homelessness, the Medicaid expansion will provide highly needed supportive services, like mental health care, in a stable and affordable way, currently unavailable to many. Though this will open a door to access services, clients will still need to be educated and connected to the system. Unfortunately, there is no magic wand that when waved will create an easy inflow of Medicaid enrollees from the chronically and veteran homeless population. Limited knowledge of the programs and reduced access to technology will act as barriers to enrollment. For these reasons, USICH study urges service providers to focus on community outreach and engagement to increase enrollment in Medicaid, especially for states that have already opted in, like California.
Ultimately, the Medicaid expansion helps to increase health services for chronic and veteran homeless. As this is an important resources for the partners and clients involved in Home for Good, we plan to strategize on how to support partners in accessing these benefits, and continue to inform partners about resources, such as the ones listed below, they can use when outreaching to clients and enrolling them in the expansion programs under ACA. And, of course, Home For Good continues to work to end chronic and veteran homelessness in LA County, beliving that, as one of our partners notes in our featured picture, that “Housing is healthcare.” Together, with housing and health care reform we work to create a healthier LA.
Tools and Resources on ACA:
- For information on health reform, an enrollment tool kit, and taped webinars trainings visit the National Health Care for the Homeless Council website.
- Read this informative blog, “Housing is Health Care,” written by Bill Pitkin at the Hilton Foundation on the important impact of housing and homeless services on the health of clients and the potential cost savings to the health care system from housing our most vulnerable.
- To discover how “stable housing can significantly improve health outcomes for chronically homeless individuals,” visit the US Department of Housing and Urban Development website.
- Learn about the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs implementation of ACA for veterans at www.va.gov/health/aca
Home For Good Standards of Excellence Seminars:
“Strengthening Outcomes through Continuous Quality Improvement”
Thank you to everyone who joined us at last week’s seminars for Permanent Supportive Housing and Outreach programs! For those who were unable to make it last week, please consider joining us next week for our last three seminars on this topic. Though they are designed for Emergency Shelter Providers, they are open to any and all housing/service providers who are interested in attending!
Each FREE day-long seminars will provide supervisors and program mangers working in homeless service settings with a conceptual framework and practical strategies for strengthening program outcomes. Participants will also have an opportunity to apply for free technical assistance to help implement continuous quality improvement in their own programs.
For Emergency Shelter Providers (but open to all housing/service providers)
September 16, 17, OR 18, 2013
9:30 AM to 4 PM
More info and register at http://is.gd/seminar2
All seminars take place at: United Way of Greater Los Angeles, 1150 S. Olive St., 4th Floor Conference Center, Los Angeles, CA 90015
REGISTRATION REQUIRED FOR ACCESS TO BUILDING! Please only register for one date per program area, as the subject matter is repeated on all 3 days for each.
For more information, please contact Michael Nailat at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (213) 808-6448.
Every quarter Home For Good partners pull together service data and client stories that are published as a quarterly update on the progress of the initiative to end chronic and veteran homelessness. This report is an opportunity for partners to share major achievements, discuss shortfalls to overcome, and set priorities for next steps.
Check out the Year 3, Quarter 2 Quarterly Progress Report to see how far Home For Good has come and where we go from here!
Year 3, Quarter 2 Quarterly Progress Report
Recently, our intern Emma had the chance to visit one of Home For Good’s partners, Downtown Women’s Center. Before she finished working with us, she was nice enough to share her experience at DWC in this blog below.
As a new addition to United Way, I was lucky enough to join the Loaned Executives on their visit to Downtown Women’s Center last week.
The minute I stepped in the building, I saw smiles on the women’s faces and immediately knew DWC was an amazing community. DWC Development Manager Audrey Kuo began our tour by telling us that “at Downtown’s Women Center, we strive to bring women back into the community.” Not only does DWC offer meals women in need, but also provides job training, training and support groups, and a health clinic for all women in the area.
As we went through the building, we were greeted by a woman who lives at DWC. In her six years of residency, she has discovered an impressive writing ability, and just published her own poem in the local paper. In the five minutes we stood in the beautifully decorated lobby, we witnessed her excitement at this event; not once, but twice did she insist on getting a staff member their own copy of the newspaper.
The next resident we met is going on her tenth year at DWC. After living alone on the streets for almost seventeen years, she felt as if she would never recover. Now, she is forever grateful for how DWC has transformed her life. She is a member of the DWC Residents’ Club and with them, puts on a different activity each month. When asked what she most appreciated about her new life, she told us that DWC had made her into a new, happier person with a sense of responsibility, leadership and compassion.
Not only does Downtown Women’s Center give women a permanent home, but it provides them with a supportive family. Anyone can read about what a place like DWC does and know it provides amazing help to those in need; once one actually sees the excitement and gratitude of the women, that person will know that DWC gives those most in need a new and hopeful life.
We ended our tour in the Made by DWC store, where the women get experience and training in various day-to-day jobs such as sewing, baking, selling, marketing and packaging. I purchased two handmade, stuffed animal key chains to always remember these women and the beautiful transformations they went through.
This trip showed me the impact a home and community can have on a person’s life, and convinced me that together we can end homelessness and turn even the biggest frowns into smiles.
A big THANK YOU to Emma for all her hard work!
Happy August everyone! Thank you again to all of you who attended our convening last month. We were especially thrilled to share with you our progress in building the Standards of Excellence (which you can see here), and we will have even more exciting things to share in the coming months.
Thank you to Reina Turner at LACDMH and Luther Richert at OPCC SAMOSHEL for their presentations on the Standards at the Home For Good Convening. And, of course, an extra special thanks to David Howden and LouAnne White at CSH, and Steve Renahan and Nicky Viola at Shelter Partnership, whose tireless efforts in pulling the community together to create the Standards has brought us to where we are today.
Of course, there’s still work to be done before truly putting the Standards into action, including redoubling our commitment to building our community capacity in order to meet challenges. To that end, we are excited to announce a new set of Standards of Excellence Seminars for September!
Entitled, “Strengthening Outcomes through Continuous Quality Improvement,” these sessions will provide Supervisors and Program Managers with tools and strategies for achieving and improving upon their programs’ quality and outcomes. Additionally, and perhaps even more importantly, participants will get an opportunity to apply for free technical assistance to help ensure that the concepts learned in the seminars are effectively applied. In other words, not only will we talk about continuous quality improvement, we will also walk participants through the process of implementing it in their programs. All for FREE!
Our last round of Seminars were so successful that we ended up training nearly DOUBLE the number of participants as set in our initial goal. To ensure everyone gets a chance to join us this time around, we will be offering three different sessions for each type of program currently covered by the Standards for a total of NINE seminars:
Standards of Excellence Seminar:
“Strengthening Outcomes through Continuous Quality Improvement”
For Outreach Services Providers:
September 3, 4 OR 5, 2013
9:30 AM to 4 PM
More info and to register at http://is.gd/seminar1
For Emergency Shelter Providers:
September 16, 17, OR 18, 2013
9:30 AM to 4 PM
More info and to register at http://is.gd/seminar2
For Permanent Supportive Housing Providers:
September 3, 4, OR 5, 2013
9:30 AM to 4 PM
More info and to register at http://is.gd/seminar3
ALL seminars located at:
United Way of Greater Los Angeles
1150 S. Olive St.
4th Floor Conference Center
Los Angeles, CA 90015
REGISTRATION REQUIRED FOR ACCESS TO BUILDING! Please only register for one date per program area, as the subject matter is repeated on all 3 days for each. Also, depending on the response, space may be limited to two (2) participants per program/site, so please plan accordingly.
HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!
The Standards of Excellence are a set of performance and quality goals for permanent supportive housing programs, emergency shelters, and outreach programs. An initiative of Home For Good, in coordination with CSH, Shelter Partnership, CUCS, and Housing Innovations, they are a list of the most critical outcomes necessary to effectively reduce and end homelessness, and are a set of best practices to which service providers should aspire. More information about the Standards of Excellence and Home For Good can be found at http://www.unitedwayla.org/home-for-good/