Retooling the Homeless Crisis Response System

Informed and inspired by Opening Doors, communities across the country have made tremendous advances toward retooling the homeless crisis response system. We have gained critical new insights on the necessary components of an effective crisis response system for all people who experience or are at risk of homelessness, including more advanced thinking about the critical elements of coordinated entry systems. The development of these systems is making it possible for communities to quickly and effectively connect citizens in need with support tailored to their individual, unique needs by utilizing rapid re-housing to quickly connect individual and families to the supports they need to prevent or exit homelessness, target permanent supportive housing for those who are experiencing chronic homelessness, and utilize the existing inventory of transitional housing to connect people to a safe and rapid pathway to housing stability. There is still much more work to be done, however, in furthering the development of such systems, and the implementation of such strategies, in communities across the country.

Since the launch of Opening Doors, our understanding of what works has further solidified, and we’ve seen tremendous progress. Your input is essential to the ongoing success of Opening Doors. Please share and vote for the ideas you think would have the greatest impact in an amendment to Opening Doors.

Please consider these questions when crafting your feedback and voting for the feedback you think is most valuable. And please use the Opening Doors Amendment 2014 Participation Guide for more information on what strategies are currently included in Opening Doors. Find it here: http://bit.ly/USICH2014

1. Are there additional strategies for retooling the crisis response system that you think should be reflected in an amendment to Opening Doors?

2. How would your community/organization benefit from greater clarity on issues such as: the roles coordinated assessment, rapid re-housing, and transitional housing play in effective coordinated response systems? Please explain what information would be most helpful.

3. Are there other areas of the Plan you feel would benefit from updated information or the incorporation of additional strategies?

Thank you!

Are there additional strategies for retooling the crisis response system that you think should be reflected in an amendment to Opening Doors?

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  1. Retooling the Crisis Response System with Youth Appropriate Responses

    • Increase access to prevention and early intervention services for minors and their families, such as family counseling, respite care, poverty reduction, family support in schools, family reunification services, etc.

    • Increase crisis housing and services for homeless youth and youth at risk of being homeless who are between the ages of 12 and 24.

    • Include appropriate responses for meeting the needs of and providing services to unaccompanied homeless youth who are not system-involved (child welfare or juvenile justice), including transitional housing services.

    • Provide supportive services specifically designed to meet the needs of transition-aged youth, including those who…

    106 votes
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      0 comments  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    • Develop best practices and toolkits for emergency shelter operations

      Emergency shelter plays a critical role within the crisis response system yet there are few if any best practice guides for communities or providers to use to improve the quality of emergency shelter. HUD, HHS, and USICH should develop best practices guidance and toolkits that can be implemented locally as part of retooling the crisis response system. The materials should cover general as well as the unique needs of sub-populations. The provision of services and efficient/effective operations by the shelter provider as well as strategies to integrate shelter with prevention, rapid rehousing, housing location, permanent supportive housing, and comprehensive services…

      56 votes
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      • Do more to promote best practices

        Objective 10 of Opening Doors includes the following strategy: Develop and promote best practices for crisis response programs and increase their adoption by agencies receiving federal funds.
        There is a great need in communities for best practices. This is an area that should become a priority in the upcoming year. Activities under this strategy might include the following:
        • Identify and document the most promising models of preventing homelessness.
        • Promote coordination of homelessness prevention resources with programs/systems that are functioning as the “front door” of the homeless shelter system.
        • Identify and document effective homelessness diversion strategies that expand…

        56 votes
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          2 comments  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
        • Universal screening tool

          Integrate a universal screening tool in all appropriate mainstream programs
          The VA National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans, in collaboration with the VA National Clinical Reminders Committee, developed a two-stage Homelessness Screening Clinical Reminder (HSCR) to conduct an ongoing, universal screen for homelessness and risk among veterans accessing healthcare services. The screening tool asks two simple questions:
          1) In the past two months, have you been living in stable housing that you own, rent, or stay in as part of a household?
          2) Are you worried or concerned that in the next two months you may NOT have stable housing…

          34 votes
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            0 comments  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
          • HUD should make a clear statement about what comprises an episode of homelessness for the purposes of "chronic" definition

            HUD should give clear guidance on how an episode of homelessness is defined and counted towards "chronic" (duration of episode, time in between episodes, whether shelter and/or outreach contacts count the same, etc.)

            26 votes
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            • Build on progress with mainstream resources

              Strategy B: Determine opportunities to utilize mainstream resources to provide housing stabilization to clients who are homeless or at high risk of homelessness.
              There has been significant progress in the last few years in this arena. Recently HHS has issued Information Memorandums re: how TANF and Community Services Block Grant can be used to support rapid re-housing. USICH should examine ways to build upon this progress by ensuring that local communities and mainstream agencies are aware of such opportunities by developing a communications strategy to promote them.

              23 votes
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                0 comments  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
              • Learn from HPRP

                Strategy D: Should be updated to reflect the passage of time: The strategy states” Ensure continuity in the provision of homeless prevention and rapid re-housing services to families, youth and individuals – including Veterans and their families – through HUD’s Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program.”
                • Much has been learned over the last few years, through HPRP and implementation of SSVF. The strategy should be rewritten to ensure that we continue to compile knowledge from previous efforts and they are used to refine and promote the most successful strategies.

                20 votes
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                  0 comments  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                • Coordinated Assessment and Crisis Housing for Homeless Unaccompanied Minors

                  Homeless minors need crisis housing and an assessment completed by a case manager who understands the unique issues facing homeless youth. Runaway and homeless youth basic centers funded by HHS have standards and experience serving the population. The assessment needs to address family reunification and/or placement in safe housing. Youth running away from foster care or a juvenile justice facility have unique needs that must be included in the assessment. Crisis housing for youth is not just shelter -- it includes 24/7 supervision beginning with a comprehensive assessment. The assessment will determine the services and approach. Services ususally include: individual…

                  16 votes
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                  • Move funding from the lowest-performing quintile (fifth) to the highest-performing quintile.

                    Track the cost, speed, and long-term success of programs that result in homeless people getting housed, either directly or by increasing income so that they can return to self-sufficiency.

                    Those programs in the bottom 20% of ratings in any of those categories should be retooled or eliminated. Their funding should go to those programs which are in the top 20% in ALL of those categories.

                    Program comparisons may need to be kept within certain parameters so that "like" is compared with "like" (apples with apples, not oranges).

                    14 votes
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                    • Remove barriers to services for homeless children, youth, and families

                      One of the listed goals for retooling the crisis response system is removing low barriers for services. This is very applicable for children and families who are living doubled-up or in motels, and may not be considered eligible for transitional housing and other HUD services if they don't meet the "imminent risk of homelessness" definition under HEARTH. The number of homeless children, youth, and families living in these situations continues to increase. Therefore, local service providers should have the freedom to assess the need in their community, and make decisions to prioritize these children, youth, and families for services based…

                      14 votes
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                      • Self Discovery Form

                        The "Self Discovery Form" should have questions that seeks participates strengths, values and actions needed to regain self sufficiency. This form would validate participates of their ability to become self sufficient and change perspectives of "Being Helped," to "Empowerment." Services provided should incorporate their existing strengths and ideas to promote skills needed to become self sufficiency.

                        13 votes
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                        • Include well-targeted diversion strategies as a key aspect of crisis response, closely linked to coordinated entry.

                          Poorly targeted prevention does not effectively reduce homelessness, but there is increasing evidence that well-targeted diversion does and can free up system resources for other needs. Communities need to learn more about how to do this well and also have the flexibility to use resources for this purpose.

                          11 votes
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                          • (:Amen. Provide funds for after hours services ? Here in world famous skid row,CA we see the need to have after hours serviecs ?

                            More funds should go to after hours service ? Here in world famous skid row,CA the homeless capital of the USA
                            We find most of our homeless US Vets sleeping every where ?
                            For more info to help ?
                            Vets Helping Vets Homeless Feeding & Toy Drive
                            6262773457 ask for Coach Ron the one and only.

                            11 votes
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                            • Help clarify the role of assessment tools as triage devices; encourage and promote progressive engagement.

                              There is a lot of confusion about the use of assessment tools and how much to ask. HUD's requirement for a "comprehensive assessment" and the belief among some that assessment during crisis can result in accurate predictions may be causing communities to over-assess at the front door, rather than triage and then use progressive engagement approaches to meet household needs through the rehousing process.

                              The amended plan could have more support for progressive engagement strategies and a crisis response approach, not just in rapid rehousing but throughout the system - a reorientation of the system to one that responds to…

                              9 votes
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                              • Addressing Objective 6

                                The data below shows that many homeless people may neither meet the HEARTH Act priorities, nor be able to be rapidly rehoused without assistance.

                                Maricopa County HMIS Homeless Single Adults Data 2013

                                Total Single Homeless Adults 9,084 (100%)

                                Older (Age 45 – 61) 3,975 (44%)

                                Disabled 4,081 (45%)

                                Disabled, Not Chronically Homeless 3,021 (37%)
                                (4,081 disabled – 1,060 chronically homeless)

                                No Income Reported 5,629 (62%)
                                (Reported “$0,” “Unknown” or “Refused”)

                                With the aging of the homeless population and the SSDI backlog, the assumption that "newly homeless" people who are older or disabled will rapidly leave homelessness is no longer true.…

                                8 votes
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                                • Continued Person centered

                                  Hello,

                                  Thank you for the opportunity to share. I would like to start with I have personally experienced homelessness. I was sadden and challenged by life. I was a single parent with no support from the father of my child. I had spiraled into a very dark place in my life.
                                  Drugs had taken my job, my housing, my spirit. The shelter I stayed in was very instrumental in assisting me with finding housing and our local DSS assisted with furniture voucher which they no longer do. It was one shot deal (furniture) and I was able to take it.…

                                  8 votes
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                                  • Automate the housing process

                                    As soon as a person or family is identified as being imminently at-risk or has just become homeless, they should be entered automatically into a centralized housing waitlist database. If they do not have the income to pay market rate rent, they will need subsidized or "below market rate" housing, so why wait for them to find out how to get on this or that waiting list and make them fill out a separate application for each one?

                                    At-risk people might avoid homelessness if an affordable unit were available at or before they are in crisis, but they don't know…

                                    6 votes
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                                    • Ask for additional support from the Social Security Adminstration

                                      Every day the Social Security Adminstration (SSA) suspends or stops the issuance of SSI payments when recipients (already determinined to be aged, blind, or disabled) fail to comply with a request from SSA. When an SSI recipient's checks stop, this means the safety net for this individual is non-existent and without income, there is no hope for a place to live.

                                      We need to work with this federal agency to be more considerate before they stop the issuance of SSI payments.

                                      An SSI recipient is either aged (over 65), blind, or disabled (documented and proven). Many cannot work and have…

                                      3 votes
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                                      • Provide ongoing funding sources for HPRP services, and include housing retention data requirements

                                        After the loss of HPRP funding, communities struggle to provide the services with limited HOME TBRA funding and Emergency Solutions Grant funding.

                                        3 votes
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                                          0 comments  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                        • Houusing and services are critical

                                          Ultimately, if we really want to help people move from homelessness into housing we need to invest in more affordable rental housing, including supportive housing. We should recognize that without more housing “retooling” the homeless crisis response system will not end homelessness. In addition, there needs to be funding for strong, evidence-based supportive services that help people stay housed.

                                          1 vote
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