Thanks to all who participated in a successful meeting on Friday, September 21, at Holyoke Community College. Special thanks to Ita Mullarkey and Rosa Maria McLaughlin of DHCD who shared the workings of two very successful housing programs (Transitional Housing Program and Housing First Program) that housing authorities can consider implementing, individually or as a consortium, to house homeless families and secure case management and support services.
Please find meeting minutes below. If you’re interested in obtaining DHCD hand-outs on the Transitional Housing and Housing First programs, please email Pamela Schwartz at email@example.com.
Over the coming weeks, the Network will facilitate county-level meetings of housing authorities to pursue the potential for creating consortia that will enable us to bring these resources to our region. Thanks to all for your continued partnership.
Local Housing Authority/Network Collaboration
September 21, 2012
In attendance: Monica Blazik, Chicopee Housing Authority, Thomas Brown, West Springfield Housing Authority, Maureen Cayer, Agawam Housing Authority, Carl Cignoni, Hampshire DOC/Re-entry Services, Joe D’Ascoli, Springfield Housing Authority, Charity Day, Franklin Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Dave Havens, Mental Health Association, Jonathan Hite, Northampton Housing Authority, Jennifer Hohn, North Adams Housing Authority, Steve Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council, Denise LeDuc, Amherst Housing Authority, Joanne Glier, DTA, Charlie Knight, former consumer, Faith Lafayette, DPH FOR Families, Ann Lentini, Domus, Rita Maccini, Holyoke Housing Authority, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Ashley McGurn, DPH, Kevin Noonan, Craig’s Doors, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Brenda Pagan, River Valley Counseling Center, Jim Reis, HAPHousing, Alicia Rodriguez, Valley Opportunity Council, Magda Rodriguez, Springfield Housing Authority, Pamela Schwartz, network coordinator, Lynne Wallace, Dietz&Co. Architects and Network chair, Pam Wells, Springfield Housing Authority, Sue White, VA Health Center, Chris Zabik, Dept. of Mental Health
Special Guests: Ita Mullarkey, DHCD; Rosa Marie McLaughlin, DHCD
Ita and Rosa presented on DHDC program:
Local Housing Transitional Housing Program: started early 90’s, DTA/DHCD partnered on a grant to US Health and Human Services; solicited housing authorities for running transitional housing program with state aided housing development. 7 housing authorities participated. National model – received a lot of money to run program. Targeted “hard to house” families in shelter. Housing authorities provided public housing units; DTA would identify families who were candidates, provided funds for case managers, 2 year pilot. Very successful, but money disappeared. Mid-90’s DTA agreed to provide money to DHCD to resurrect program. New program provides 9 month to year stay for families (avg length of stay for families in traditional shelter). Gave money to housing authorities for case management staff, project coordinator, provided leasing money. Family enters program and not considered tenant – still “sheltered” – DHCD paid tenant’s portion for rent; provided support services budget. Target population was more concentrated on families that didn’t have as many barriers (where 1 year period would be sufficient to go under lease with housing authority).
Referrals come from DTA; case managers typically work for housing authorities. Person comes with case management support. First preference goes for people in community.
Housing authorities needed to commit to 10 units to allow for cost of case manager.
Per unit: $345.
Average salary for case manager is $63-64,000, with benefits. Also can have part-time family life assistant. Many housing authorities have opted to eliminate family life assistant because not enough money.
For 10 unit program, $6-7,000 for support services. Misc. furniture, house supplies, transportation.
Operating budget $5,000 – e.g., book keeper, computer costs, telephones
The total package is about $115,000-119,000.
Currently, 7 housing authorities participating.
Big part of start-up is hiring case manager, referral process, getting units. No program can start with 10 empty units, understand it will increase based on turnover. Have to have 6 month plan to be close to capacity in order to justify having a full-time case manager.
Must also consider families “graduating” program, have to bring new units into the program. Have to think of your vacancy levels and how often units become available. Ideally, just as a family is due to graduate, LHA has another unit at the ready.
Families in these units are still considered “sheltered” under EA rules – must follow same termination process, tenants have the rights of an EA client. Over years of running program, very few terminations. With a good case manager and good screening, the risk of non-compliance is lower.
After tenants are leased up, they receive stabilization services for 6 months.
Housing First Program
Serves people with the most barriers, longtime homelessness, multiple issues, possible substance abuse history (not current). Mission: house them and provide wrap-around services. Support to ensure ultimate goal of good tenant, self-sustaining.
Run through housing authorities. Springfield Housing Authority was one of the first to do Housing First – is a model for other housing authorities.
Everybody has a service plan. Works within 9 month-1 year period, may start with more intense case management and then lighten.
Upon entry, families become tenants of housing authority (distinct from transitional housing).
After graduation, if tenants regress, can bring them back into program in order to get them more stable.
Budget is similar to transitional housing., except DHCD doesn’t pay $345 for rent. Clients already have a lease so they are paying for their portion of the rent.
Case manager salary is $64,000.
Supportive Services: $4,000.
Operating budget: for 10 units $5,000.
Can only do transitional housing in state-aided public housing because HUD requires a lease.
Housing First works for federal housing because there is a lease.
Capacity/turnover issue is key.
There is an opportunity to be a consortium – e.g, 5 housing authorities that put up 2 units each.
Encouraging housing authorities to consider these programs – win-win – gives case management capacity, gets families out of motels. Transitional housing offers the advantage of having a “trial” of a tenant before leased up, can be comfort to housing authorities.
Issue of waiting lists. Not asking for all of turnover. Just a little bit – consortium allows for smaller number. Aiming to be fair and equitable while doing some innovation, which is a positive thing.
Family in shelter costs $34,000. Trying to move shelter funds to housing funds.
Review of units available:
Amherst Housing Authority: 22 state, 15 federal non-federal state housing. Would have to partner with another agency.
Northampton Housing Authority: 80 units at Hampshire Heights. 50 at Florence, federal.
West Springfield Housing Authority: 88 state units.
North Adams Housing Authority – 96 federal. Would like to convert 689 units.
Chicopee Housing Authority – 150 federal family; 226 state units. Would be interested in consortium concept. Springfield – 1,000 family units.
Holyoke Housing Authority – 12 state units. Federalized 488 units.
Springfield Housing Authority – over 1,000 family units.
Agawam Housing Authority – 44 state family units.
Franklin County Housing Authority – roughly 27 federal family units
Springfield runs transitional and housing first programs (since 2005). Successful, serving close to 200 families. Since 2006, only 3 evictions. The program really works. Established relationship with DTA – important to do one on one. Screening has been vital.
Consensus in the room: continue conversations re: potential for regional consortium for transitional and housing first programs. Pamela will follow-up to schedule smaller sub-regional meetings.