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!
1. What is your mission?
The development of service-enriched, affordable housing for veterans and other special needs groups.
2. What supportive services are provided at Cloudbreak Communities’s housing developments?
Cloudbreak Communities is a family of mission-driven, limited liability companies owned and operated by Cantwell-Anderson and engaged solely in the development of special needs housing with support services. We are fiercely loyal to the notion of “collaborate in everything, be redundant in nothing” and thus we focus on our expertise of real estate development and property management and partner closely with other organizations who are experts in providing support services. Current on-site service partnerships include the VA and U.S. VETS in all localities, as well as Goodwill, Community Bridges, Inglewood Adult School, The Salvation Army, PATH and many other community and faith-based groups in each specific locality. These partner agencies collectively offer Case Management, health care, life skills development, recreational programs, crisis intervention, employment services, substance abuse counseling and other support services on-site in most cases.
3. Why are you working to end chronic and Veteran homelessness?
Cloudbreak Communities and Cantwell-Anderson have been engaged in the mission of ending homelessness among veterans through a coordinated continuum of care including transitional and permanent supportive housing since 1993 when it first opened Westside Residence Hall, a 500 bed, 8 story dormitory for homeless veterans consisting of 160 transitional housing beds and a capacity of 340 permanent housing beds. Concern for ending chronic homelessness among veterans is a natural fit for our communities.
4. Describe Cloudbreak Communities using three words.
Mission-Driven. Collaborative. Accomplished.
While numerous nonprofit organizations, foundations, and the public sector have been working to address chronic homelessness for a long time, there have not been strategic attempts to coordinate public and private funding for the services and resources needed to address the issue. That changed in 2011 when public and private funders came together as part of the Home For Good initiative to create a more coordinated approach to funding permanent supportive housing (PSH) for chronically homeless people through the Home for Good Funders Collaborative.
Prior to the Collaborative, providers interested in developing or operating PSH generally applied for funds from a multitude of sources with different funding cycles, priorities, and availability, any of which could obstruct the project. The Collaborative was formed to bring public and private partners together to create a single funding application process, align funding priorities around PSH, and make funding decisions collaboratively.
From December 2011 through March 2012, the Funders Collaborative developed and released its first RFP for $105 million in private and public resources for PSH. Grantees were selected in June 2012. The Funders Collaborative recently released its second RFP and will announced grants by August of 2013.
Abt Associates, as part of a larger evaluation of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation’s Chronic Homelessness Initiative, conducted interviews with stakeholders in the Funders Collaborative process and reviewed the formation of the group. The results were compiled and used to create a report, which is meant to serve as an overview of the Funders Collaborative and outline lessons learned by participants during the first RFP process. The report provides important information for communities interested in creating their own funders collaborative to leverage public and private resources while streamlining the funding process for PSH.
Download the full report: HFG Funders Collaborative: Lessons Learned from Implementation & Yr 1 Funding
In March of this year, Home For Good launched a Pilot Coordinated Entry System in Skid Row which is focusing on creating a comprehensive system to quickly and effectively match homeless individuals to housing and services. This week organizations participating in the pilot celebrated the completion of the first 100 days of the pilot by sharing their impressive accomplishments with over 100 community stakeholders.
The new CES, which was designed by on-the-ground service staff and is supported by government and philanthropic leaders, has housed more than 37 of the area’s most vulnerable people in just over three months. The system provides permanent supportive housing more quickly and democratically than ever before, and it has also empowered local agencies to radically improve the way they work together.
Over the last 100 days, teams participating in the Pilot CES have put together a four step process to move people into housing:
1.) Universal Assessment: Administer an assessment to determine a person’s needs.
2.) Navigation: Assist homeless individuals with housing navigation by assuring they have interim housing and documentation needed to access permanent housing placement.
3.) Matching: Have housing providers pull clients from a unified housing list while assuring prioritization of the most vulnerable individuals.
4.) Lease-Up: Once a client is matched to housing, assure a fast and smooth move-in process.
The system the teams have created is detailed in their Coordinated Entry Manual which also lists policy recommendations for scaling up CES countywide.
So what’s next for CES in Skid Row? The teams will be coming together to determine how they will work on refining their process in the second 100 days. In addition, policy leaders will be participating in their own 100 day pilot in which they will undertake important systems change to assure a countywide implementation of CES.
We are excited about the incredible work that will be taking place in the next couple of months, and would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the dozens of partners who have made incredible change possible during the first phase of this pilot!
Visit our Facebook page for pictures from the event and be sure to read yesterday’s article in the LA Times.
We would like to acknowledge all of the organization’s in Skid Row that have worked tirelessly to create a system to support our homeless neighbors at risk of dying on our streets -Homeless Health Care Los Angeles, Downtown Women’s Center, Lamp Community, LA Mission, Midnight Mission, Skid Row Housing Trust, Weingart Center Association, Exodus Recovery, LA Christian Health Centers, SHARE!, SRO Housing Corporation, St. Vincent DePaul, and FASGI, Volunteers of America. Also a special thanks to Community Solutions, the Rapid Results Institute, and the policy makers and funders that have supported the teams during the first 100 days – LAHSA, HACLA, DMH, DHS, CSH, Veterans Administration, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
The 100,000 Homes Campaign is a national movement of over 175 communities working together to find permanent homes for 100,000 chronic and medically vulnerable homeless Americans by July 2014. Earlier this month the Campaign announced that it has already housed over 50,000 individuals across the United States!
Want to be part of this incredible movement? The Campaign is holding their second to last Registry Boot Camp in June and is inviting communities across Los Angeles to participate. When communities decide to join the Campaign, they send 5-7 representatives to attend the Registry Week Boot Camp. There they learn how to execute a Registry Week, creating a by name list of the most vulnerable individuals living on their streets. Communities then use this list to prioritize their most vulnerable neighbors – those most likely to die on the streets – for housing.
Registry Boot Camp
When? June 10 & 11, 2013
Where? At USC School of Social Work (satellite campus), 2300 Michelson Drive Irvine, CA 92612.
Register. To register click here.
To join the Campaign and for questions contact Linda Kaufman, the 100K Homes National Field Organizer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.425.0611
Download the flyer
Help make a house a home by donating a knit blanket.
In partnership with United Way of Greater Los Angeles, PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) will be placing 300 homeless individuals in permanent housing by the end of June. Tanya Aguiniga, an Artist in Residence at Dwell on Design, is helping create 75 move-in-kits for newly housed individuals. The kits will contain a number of items including a modular stool, a side table, wall art, and, of course, a knit blanket.
Tanya needs your help! She is hoping to include one knit blanket in every move-in-kit that is created. She is looking for knitters that would like to donate blankets. There are no parameters for the size of the blankets, or restrictions on material. All Tanya asks is that you mail in your hand-knit blanket by June 10th to:
DoD Move-in Kits
3245 Casitas Ave. Suite 110
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Please include a small note or card with your name on it so the recipient can know who made it.
Dwell on Design will take place June 21-23, 2013 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, during this time Tanya’s participants will be fabricating the components of the move-in-kits with audience participation. If you will be sending in a blanket or if you are interested in more information about Dwell on Design, please email Tanya@aguinigadesign.com
In 2009, the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program (HPRP) created the first nationwide implementation of housing first and prevention strategies for reducing homelessness. The three year program was comprised of homeless prevention services for those in danger of becoming homeless, and rapid rehousing assistance for people experiencing homelessness and in need of permanent housing.
After three years of HPRP implementation, local project evaluations highlighting lessons learned are beginning to emerge. A couple of weeks ago, Our Place Housing Solutions (OPHS) released its report “Internal Evaluation of the Homelessness Prevention & Rapid Rehousing Program Administered.” The report looks at HPRP in East Los Angeles County between 2010 and 2012, and the 360 clients and their households assisted during this period.
One of the most notable findings of OPHS’s evaluation was that rapid rehousing required 58% less direct financial assistance than prevention, but more effort from case managers who had to spend significant time assisting with housing location. The median amount of assistance received by rapid rehousing clients was $2,344, while that of prevention clients was $4,064. Also important to note was that a significant minority of those enrolled in prevention stated that they did not believe they would have become homeless “if not for the assistance” as was required by HUD.
Although homelessness prevention may be more effective in avoiding the personal and social trauma of a household becoming homeless, the implications of this evaluation are that future programs modeled on HPRP and operating with limited funding may be able to help more clients and achieve more concrete results fighting homelessness by prioritizing rapid rehousing over prevention strategies.
Download the full report for more information: full report
Congratulations to PATH (People Assisting The Homeless) for being awarded the Veteran Administrations (VA) case management contract! PATH will now be implementing and case managing HUD/VASH voucher allocation for the Greater Los Angeles area.
The VA’s contract with PATH is an exciting new partnership which is designed to help us better meet the needs of our homeless veterans. As a contract partner, PATH will speed up the housing process by centralizing intake and assuring consistency in case management. The VA has also asked PATH to prioritize our neediest vets for housing. As a result, the following sub-populations will be givien priority: chronically homeless veterans, mentally ill veterans, veteran families with minor children, and veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Service providers in the LA area should note that there is a new referral process. In order to make referrals to HUD/VASH, providers must now complete a new referral form (attachment below) and email completed forms with all relevant supporting documentation to VASHReferrals@epath.org. Once the form is received, referrals will be assigned to PATH program staff who will conduct eligibility screening within three days of receiving the initial referral.
If you have questions or concerns regarding the VASH referral process, please call (424) 294-VASH (8274), Monday to Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Download the new form here: VASH Referral For
Last month, 200 volunteers participated in the Skid Row Homeless Count. The count was led by Downtown Pathway Home and Lamp Community, in partnership with the Los Angeles Central Providers Collaborative, Community Solutions, and the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority (LAHSA).
Over the course of three nights, volunteers engaged and successfully surveyed a total of 532 individuals. Surveyors collected basic demographic data, which will be utilized by LAHSA for their annual count. They also administered the vulnerability index, a method designed to identify demographic and clinical factors associated with an increased risk of death in homeless individuals. Of those surveyed, 329 individuals, 62%, are chronically homeless. This means they have been homeless for a year or more and have serious health, mental health, or substance abuse problems. 199 individuals, 37%, are vulnerable based upon health conditions and other indicators associated with high mortality. 83 respondents, 16%, were Veterans, 35 (42%) of which are vulnerable and at a high risk of dying on our streets.
On average, vulnerable individuals have spent 6 years living on the street. Due to health problems, these individuals are frequent users of health services including in patient care are emergency room visits. In total, respondents reported 771 inpatient hospitalizations in the past year. Assuming an average cost of $2,566 per day, these visits total an estimated annual cost of $2 million. Research shows that it is much cheaper to house our homeless neighbors than to leave them on the streets cycling in and out of hospitals.
The information collected during the count will serve to augment Skid Row’s current by name registry. The list will then be used by Downtown Pathway Home (DPH) to prioritize the most vulnerable individuals for housing. Over the next several weeks, outreach workers will canvass the community to begin the housing process and bring our most vulnerable neighbors home for good.
For more information on Skid Row’s homeless count, download the full report.
Mike arrived at First Day Whittier on February 18, 2010 when he was just 18 years old. Growing up Mike’s family faced various struggles. His family moved many times and as a result Mike had to attend several different High Schools. Despite his family’s struggles and instability, Mike strived to be an “A” student.
Eventually losing his home, he lived from shelter to shelter. With the help of friends, he was able to graduate from High School and found a job in Uptown Whittier while residing in an East Whittier shelter. However, he had to leave the facilities early in the morning while his job did not start until 4:00 pm. When he got off of work at midnight, the city buses had stopped running and he was forced to walk 1-2 hours to get back to the shelter. He was only able to get 3 hours of sleep.
One day Mike walked by First Day where he sought information. “I was welcomed into First Day and my life changed.” Mike was given a place to live and connected to the various resources offered by First Day. Mike said the organization gave him “the opportunity to be a resident” and get his “life back on track.”
Mike is now 21 and serving in the U.S. Army. He is currently deployed near Kandahar Afghanistan. He is now married to Mary and has a daughter, Jonnie, and a son, Michael.
Mike has fond memories of First Day and will be the Honorary Chair of First Day’s new campaign to help Whittier Vets get off the streets and into housing.
Thanks for your service, Mike! We look forward to welcoming you home.
For more information on Home For Good Partner Whittier First Day please visit: www.whittierfirstday.org