FY 1998 SuperNOFA Guidebook

Coordination Among Applicants Example 1:
Continuum of Care Homelessness Assistance

A growing city in the Southwest had reached a critical point in its expansion. Its economy was thriving¾ creating a healthy supply of well-paying jobs and a strong housing market. While these dynamics were celebrated by city boosters, politicians, and residents, they had a negative side¾ increased homelessness. The problem was caused by a combination of factors, including the tight housing market; an in-migration of poorer, lower skilled residents seeking jobs; and other more subtle factors that the city leaders were unable to disentangle completely. Having witnessed the experiences of older cities where homelessness problems had become significant, political, business, and community leaders decided to forge a strategy to address this emerging issue.

City leaders held a summit of government officials; community groups; homeless housing providers, care providers, and advocates; foundation representatives; and members of the housing industry to discuss homelessness. The result of the summit was the formation of a community-wide planning process to develop a comprehensive Continuum of Care system to address the growing problem. The city integrated this planning process with its efforts to conduct housing and homelessness needs assessments and a housing market analysis, as required for its Consolidated Plan. The first step of the planning process was to assess the extent of homelessness and the needs of homeless people in the community. Once this was completed, the community evaluated how it had been responding to those needs. The evaluation revealed that some organizations were addressing the issues, but their efforts were not coordinated in any significant way. Moreover, many of the organizations needed help to increase their capacities to deal with issues. The community then took the third step�designing a way to meet the needs of homeless people. HUD�s Continuum of Care programs for homeless individuals and families were viewed as a strong source of support for meeting these needs.

The first step in implementing the homelessness strategy was to improve the provision of emergency shelters. The city used its formula-based Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) funds to set up a homelessness prevention program that paid rent for persons receiving eviction notices and increased the service capacity of an over-burdened emergency shelter system. Emergency shelters were only a temporary fix, however. They did not address long-term housing needs, nor did they tackle the problems that lead to homelessness. To address some of these needs, a local nonprofit applied for funding from the Supportive Housing Program (SHP) to provide both transitional housing and support services to help the homeless overcome some of the problems that made them homeless, such as lack of jobs and poor health. SHP funding also enabled the nonprofits to assist the homeless in obtaining permanent housing. The public housing agency helped by assisting a private, nonprofit owner of a deteriorating single-room-occupancy facility to acquire a Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation Single Room Occupancy (SRO) grant. The grant provided rental subsidies to the owner of the facility for homeless individuals renting units that were rehabilitated by the owner. The owner used a portion of the rental assistance to help pay for the debt incurred for the rehabilitation. As a by-product of the homelessness planning process, community leaders also recognized a housing issue that the community had not addressed�the enforcement and awareness of fair housing laws. Although housing discrimination did not appear to be a major problem, some community leaders were concerned that the continuing influx of Hispanic immigrants might cause discrimination to become an issue. Discrimination did not seem to be a major cause of homelessness, but it did relate to the availability of housing for minorities, which could impact the extent of homelessness and overcrowding. The community felt that increasing awareness and enforcement of the issue would be a useful tool in the overall housing strategy; however, no qualified fair housing enforcement organizations existed in their region. Community leaders convinced a qualifed fair housing enforcement organization from outside the community to apply for a Fair Housing Initiatives Program Fair Housing Organizations Initiative grant to create a new fair housing enforcement organization to conduct fair housing activities in their region.

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Content Archived: July 19, 2012