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
Following nearly a decade of naval service in Vietnam, Larry began a promising career as a chef, but lingering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder effects led to alcohol and drug abuse, loss of employment, and battered family relationships. When his wife passed away fourteen years ago, his situation worsened. He lost his home and any semblance of sobriety
After being homeless for more than a year, living out of his car, Larry learned of Los Angeles Family Housing’s (LAFH) vet program. He arrived in June 2012. Since then, Larry has obtained new eyeglasses, was connected to mental health services, received much needed dental work – “I’m able to smile again” – and is awaiting approval of his VASH voucher that will help him move into his own place within months.
Larry is now getting his life back together. He has given up drinking, is looking for work, and has had a chance to reconnect with his twelve grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He beams, “Number five is on the way! If LAFH wasn’t here, I would have relapsed. I appreciate this place so much.”
LAFH is a Home For Good Partner, committed to ending chronic and Veteran homelessness in Los Angeles County. For more information on LAFH visit www.lafh.org
NoHo Senior Villas
Forty-nine low-income seniors, including 30 of whom were homeless and living with a mental illness, now have safe, permanent homes thanks to the recent completion of NoHo Senior Villas, located in the heart of the NoHo Arts District.
On November 29th , co-developers Clifford Beers Housing and PATH Ventures celebrated the occasion with Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian, as well as representatives from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, the City of Los Angeles Housing Department and the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee.
“Our most effective tool to prevent homelessness and to empower and enrich the lives of seniors struggling with mental illness and other challenges is permanent supportive housing that brings together effective services and a comfortable place to live, such as NoHo Senior Villas,” said Councilman Paul Krekorian.
Designed by Killefer Flammang Architects (KFA), the five-story, 49-unit project was specifically created to provide a supportive environment for a special needs population, including those living with physical and mental disabilities. In addition, the project was built to Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) for Homes Platinum standards. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED is a voluntary, consensus-based, market-driven program that provides third-party verification of green buildings. From individual buildings and homes, to entire neighborhoods and communities, LEED is transforming the way built environments are designed, constructed, and operated. Participation in the voluntary LEED process demonstrates leadership, innovation, environmental stewardship and social responsibility. LEED provides building owners and operators the tools they need to immediately impact their building’s performance and bottom line, while providing healthy indoor spaces for a building’s occupants. LEED projects have been successfully established in 135 countries outside the United States, and make up more than 50% of the total LEED registered square footage. (For more information about LEED visit: https://new.usgbc.org/leed)
60-year-old Deborrah Rogers, who has been homeless off and on since escaping an abusive relationship, stated “When I first moved in, there was a lot of anxiety because I’d been homeless so long,” said Rogers. “But sitting on my bed and looking down at the traffic going by on Lankershim, I’m just overwhelmed. I never expected to get a place of this caliber. I’m pinching myself to make sure it’s true.”
Thanks to Clifford Beers Housing and PATH Ventures, Deborrah and 48 other seniors now have a safe place to call home.
For more information on the developers visit www.cbeershousing.org and www.pathventures.org
Full Press Release
Years ago, Steve Hatter was one of 51,000 homeless individuals struggling to survive on the streets of L.A. County. But thanks to two local UWGLA partners, he now has an apartment of his own and serves as a Resident Ambassador – sharing his journey from tragedy to triumph with others. Read on to learn more about Steve’s amazing life and meet him in person at our Sixth Annual HomeWalk this Saturday!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m 53 years old and originally from Oklahoma. I graduated from Southwestern Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor’s in English and taught for a year as a Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana.
Explain how you first became homeless and how it made you feel.
I was severely depressed but had no community resources to call upon. I couldn’t afford to pay my bills and eventually wound up living in a homeless shelter for 18 months. It made me feel worthless, like I wasn’t a part of society.
What was the real turning point in your life?
One day, I came across a Diet Coke can on the ground, spun it around and watched as it pointed west – twice. So I hitchhiked from Oklahoma City to Fountain Valley, California where I was stranded for two days. I reached a point where I realized I was probably better off dead so I swallowed my blood pressure pills thinking I’d simply fall asleep and never wake up. Luckily, someone nearby saw me collapse, called 911 and had me rushed to the ER.
How did you finally get the help you needed?
After the attempted suicide, I was placed in a mental health unit which connected me to two wonderful organizations funded by United Way of Greater L.A.: LAMP Community and Skid Row Housing Trust. LAMP provided me with social services and SRHT provided me with an apartment at the Abbey hotel.
Discuss the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced.
Losing my eyesight – I’d always been nearsighted but as the years passed, I began to lose my depth perception and started tripping all the time. I was referred to the Braille Institute where I learned orientation, mobility and how to move around safely using a cane. The whole experience actually gave me a shot of self-confidence; I realized this was something I could deal with and learn from.
Why did you decide to become an ambassador for Skid Row Housing Trust?
I wanted to contribute to society. SRHT’s ambassador program trains residents to become spokespeople for what they do and I now have a chance to share my experiences with others. What’s most often overlooked about homeless individuals are our skills, gifts and abilities – homelessness takes away so much of our humanity, forcing us to become nameless, faceless statistics. I like to think that my gift is having the ability to share my views as a SRHT resident as well as the language skills to articulate them.
What are your views on United Way’s Home for Good plan?
We waste a huge amount of resources trying to manage homelessness rather than end it. The Home for Good plan, however, proves that it makes far more economic sense to offer permanent supportive housing than to fund costly social services. Its “Housing First” approach is based on the idea that you don’t have to earn your right to have a home. Instead, homeless individuals are welcomed with open arms, housed and stabilized before addressing substance abuse and/or mental health issues. Once we end this vicious cycle – what I refer to as the “hamster wheel of homelessness” – then we can finally solve this problem once and for all!
What advice would you give to someone who’s currently homeless?
Be patient. There are a lot of good people out there working hard to change your life for the better. I understand that, as a homeless person, being on a waiting list is incredibly discouraging but please don’t lose hope. I was once in the same position and now, I can open the front door of my apartment and see all of my neighbors, a beautiful courtyard filled with bamboo trees and finally feel like I’m home.
1. Why was Would Works’ established?
Would-Works was established to address a need for the men and women who come to or live in the Skid Row area. Through my work in Skid Row, I heard over and over that men and women “would work” if they could. Over the past few years, it seems that social service agencies are losing funding, day labor agencies are overrun and manufacturing jobs have long-since left the Skid Row area. We wanted to offer a new solution. We wanted to create a way for men and women to work for a specific goal while creating hand-finished products.
2. How is Would Works helping homeless individuals transform their lives?
At Would-Works, we address the immediate need. Often when someone is homeless or living in poverty, they are so consumed with their immediate needs, they don’t have the opportunity to create a long-term plan. We want to relieve the immediate financial stress by offering a way to work for a specific goal, while helping the individual create a long-term plan. We call the individuals we employ “Artisans” which is a skilled craftsperson. Through this process we work to give the individuals we employ a new skill, confidence, and a sense of community.
3. What role does housing play in the lives of homeless individuals that Would Works employs?
We want to allow people the opportunity to work and change their situation. Often we see men and women who need to work for things that are barriers to housing. They can work for a new ID, for their security deposit, or for items in their new home. Housing is often an eventual goal of the men and women we employ. We want to help to elevate barriers to housing by offering a way to work.
4. What is Would Works’ favorite tree and why?
We love working with oak and maple as evidence by the products on our website. These trees are more sustainable than other trees and we love the look. Our Artisans work by hand-finish boards in both oak and maple, so we have multiple options for cutting board styles. If one can’t decide which wood they like better, we also have our Five-Stripe board which combines both woods.
Connor Johnson is the Founder of Would-Works. For more information visit www.would-works.com
Have you ever seen a sleeping giant?
There is one in Cortez, Colorado. If you have heard of Cortez chances are you have probably heard of the “Sleeping Ute,” which is a small mountain range on the northern edge of the Ute Mountain Reservation. Viewed from a distance these mountains resemble a giant warrior sleeping with his feathered headdress and arms folded across his chest. Local legend has it that this warrior may someday rise again.
I see another sleeping giant in our region. All across Southern California you will find people of faith gathering in temples, churches, houses, mosques, clubs, parks, schools and more. Historically, communities of faith have played a major roll in assisting the homeless and providing important services. In regards to creating permanent solutions – a missing piece in efforts to build public and political will around ENDING homelessness in Los Angeles has been the collective involvement of the faith community.
‘Our Faith Matters’ provides an opportunity to unify our actions and strengthen advocacy around permanent solutions to homelessness. We do this by shifting the current paradigm of having congregations only feeding the homeless to one in which congregations enable the homeless to become housed. That’s why “Our Faith Matters”…..matters!
Here is one opportunity – join the “Our Faith Matters” team for the United Way’s HomeWalk 2012! The United Way is a leading voice in ending homelessness in our region and the HomeWalk brings everyone together – from all sectors and walks of life – to advocate for the homeless and for permanent supportive housing. Join the team and help us raise much needed funds. We just learned that thanks to a generous grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, they will match – dollar for dollar – all contributions of $100 or more to HomeWalk 2012!
I don’t know about you, but I am highly motivated to be a part of real, permanent solution to ending homelessness in our region. Let’s awaken the giant!
Jesse Ross is a Pastor at Live Church LA. He is also helping lead this year’s Our Faith Matters HomeWalk team!
1. What is West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation’s mission?
WHCHC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit housing development corporation founded in 1986. It provides apartments for low-income people in West Hollywood and the greater Los Angeles Metropolitan area. WHCHC partners with city government, funders, social service providers, community residents, architects, contractors and property managers to build and manage projects.
Project residents include people with disabilities, seniors, people with HIV/AIDS, transition age youth and formerly homeless individuals. Because many residents are elderly and/or disabled, they need a variety of social services to continue living independently. WHCHC offers service-enriched environments which are essential for residents with special needs. Resident Services staff and the Enhanced Management Program combine standard property management practices with referrals to community agencies, crisis intervention, and community-building activities. The goal of the program is to protect residents’ tenancies and provide the best quality of life possible.
2. Why did West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation decide to join the Home For Good movement?
WHCHC partners with the City of West Hollywood and the County of Los Angeles to provide housing for recipients of Shelter Plus vouchers and services. As WHCHC develops additional housing it will target units to individuals and households which are either homeless or at risk for homelessness. WHCHC is committed to working with its service and government partners to reduce and ultimately end homelessness on the streets of Los Angeles County!
3. Why is it important for the City of West Hollywood to opt-in to the 2013 Homeless Count?
WHCHC has participated in the last three Homeless Counts in West Hollywood. The information resulting from the count and the interviews is invaluable in targeting housing development, housing operations, and resident services programs. In 2013 all staff will again be participating by volunteering to count homeless people in census tracts within West Hollywood. WHCHC needs to know where its residents are coming from in order to serve them effectively and the count gives an opportunity to truly understand from a street level, what these people are facing night after night and what they need to change their situations.
4. What 3 words best describe West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation?
“Building with care.”
Watch “Changing Lives” a video featuring various clients housed by WHCHC.
For more information on WHCHC visit www.WHCHC.org