HOW TO DECIDE: HEAP Funding

About 15 people in our weekly Homeless Action! meeting did a 20 minute brainstorming exercise on the question,  “If we were in the decision-making position for the HEAP grants, how would we prioritize the money?”  We thought you might be interested in the result.    Adrienne

1) MOST IMPORTANT
Renewed Hope
Get it done! (cheapest cost – largest outcome)
Ground up! Immediate, Imminent…tent, safe parking, villages…progressive stages of housing.
Get homeless people Out of The Elements.
Ask “How Many? How Fast?”   Fund what serves the most people in the shortest time.
Time is of the Essence

2)  FUND PROJECTS WITH SOME OR ALL OF THESE THINGS (in no particular order)
A Path to Permanence
Office/desk space for homeless guests where they can pull their paperwork together
Improvement in Income and Benefits (such as General Assistance)
Data showing improved Mental and Physical Health
Measures of success in ‘soft’ areas, well-being in addition to paths to housing.
Measures of clear outcomes rather than process measures.  (ie number of people sheltered for more than 6 months vs number of people served.)
Self-Satisfaction Surveys for homeless guests
Data on number of involuntary exits per month and number of appeals per month.  (Fund those with low numbers.)
Lack of barriers, low barriers to services.
Peer training so that homeless people learn good ways to stay in shelter and housing
Clear timelines and step-by-step goals…(In the way contractors are given conditions of contract)
Clarity of detail and accountability
Inclusive secular daily recovery groups
Meals as part of the service
Number of people who are given intensive case management or other counseling  (intensive = more than 2 X a week)
Post-management work for Community Development Commission (CDC).   Technical Advisory Committee and Leadership Council direct CDC to manage programs as a partnership, rather than top down business-management approach in order to get the best bang for the buck in everything that is funded.

Adrienne
Homeless Action! Member
(707) 795-2890 home landline

Access, Security, Opportunity Advocacy

Yesterday, I realized that there were three words which pretty much defined the core of my homeless advocacy. And they were the exact goals that were described in greater verbiage throughout federal and state guidelines. They formed the basis of the conversations I was having with my homeless friends, city and nonprofit agency staff, or lawyers and judges. We were all trying to improve the access, security, and opportunities for those without a permanent place to live.

We’ve seen the impact of NIMBYism restrict affordable housing development, and turn an element of the American dream into a nightmare. Lately, the alarming lack of access to permanent housing has found a voice in the public dialogue, and public incentives to the housing development community are being adopted to reverse the trend.

But reducing the price of housing isn’t all we need to do to address homelessness. An equally-important issue facing us is how we provide security in living environments for all people now. Judicial and governmental rulings recognizing the rights and value of a place to sleep, denied only through leaseholder-like violations, are the new standards called for in the State and Federally-adopted Housing First.

Finally, the full understanding of the personal barriers facing episodic and chronic homeless in their acquisition and retention of permanent housing has reinforced our convictions that we must fully integrate service and benefit opportunities into any solutions we implement.

In the implementation of HEAP, and any other initiatives we undertake to improve our efforts to address homelessness, we have to make sure we are providing full and fair access to our resources, are insuring the highest level of security against the loss of the living environments our clients obtain, and that we provide a wide variety and depth of opportunities to assist them to build self-sufficiency and self-improvement.

Measuring Homelessness


The European Federation of National Associations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA) put forward the ETHOS typology in 2005.21 It classifies people who are homeless according to their living or ‘home’ situation: roofless (without a shelter of any kind, ‘sleeping rough’), houseless (with a place to sleep, but temporary in an institution or shelter), insecure (threatened with severe exclusion due to insecure tenancies, evictions, domestic violence) or inadequate (in caravans on illegal campsites, in unfit housing, in extreme overcrowding).

  • Roofless – on the street
  • Houseless – in shelters
  • Insecure – housed, but fragile tenancy
  • Inadequate – in cars, trailers, and over-crowded and unfit housing

The Point in Time Count should report how many homeless there are in Sonoma County in the four categories above, and how that compares with previous year counts.
Types of Homelessness

  • Transitional or Situational –  This is when someone is forced into homelessness because of uncontrollable circumstances such as losing a job, important material lost, lost of main breadwinner(father, husband, wife) etc.
  • Episodic –  This is when a person repeatedly falls in and out of homelessness. This often happens with drug addicts and with people experiencing mental health issues. The person might live episodes of severe depression cyclical way and fall back in homelessness when these occur. Same for someone with drug abuse issues. The person may be able to stop consuming for certain periods of time and get off the street, while being at high risk of homelessness all the time.
  • Chronic – This is when an individual is in the street for a long period of time and very few or no resources are at their disposition to modify their situation. Often, these people will suffer from mental health issues. They won’t have the ability to modify their situation without the support of others. It is very rare that someone will be homeless all of his or her life on a voluntary basis.  

The definition of ‘chronic homelessness’ that was adopted by the United States of America (USA)’s Federal Government and the Interagency Council on Homelessness among others reads as follows: ‘An unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition who has either a) been continuously homeless for a year or more OR b) has had at least 4 episodes of homelessness in the past three years’. Disabling conditions refer to mental health issues, alcohol and drug abuse, and medical comorbidities.

  • What has been the success of shelters, transitional housing, and permanent supportive service housing in reducing episodic homelessness?
    • How many disabled homeless with 4 or more episodes of homelessness in the period from 2012-2015 experienced an episode of homelessness during the period from 2015-2018?  How many were homeless at the end of 2017-18?
  • What has been the success of existing shelters, transitional housing, and permanent supportive service housing in reducing chronic homelessness?  
    • How many disabled homeless who were continuously homeless during the period from 2014-15 were still homeless at the end of each successive program year?
  • What has been the success of supportive services in retaining permanent housing?  
    • How many homeless who were placed in permanent supportive housing in each of the program years from 2015-16 retained their housing for six months, 12 months?
  • What percentage those contacted by the outreach and navigation workers throughout the County over the past three years who were in transitional or situational homelessness are still homeless?
  • What evidence that our homeless facility and service expenditures have impacted the ability of those housed in our shelters, or placed in transitional or permanent housing, to improve their capability to avoid homelessness?  Have their incomes increased? Have they achieved their own rental leases? Have they attended and completed rehabilitation programs? Are they receiving public benefits not enrolled in previously? Has their self-sufficiency by any measure improved?
  • Have we, or are we, working toward becoming capable of collecting this data or using these measures to decide how to develop effective solutions to achieving our goals?

Dec 29th, 2019 HEAP Deadline Met

For the last two months, a process for awarding grants to provide emergency aid to homeless and those at risk of being homeless was being put in place. A year in the design phase, a new joint powers agreement involving representatives from the County Board of Supervisors, the cities of Santa Rosa and Petaluma, and four members of their own Technical Advisory Committee, the Home Sonoma Leadership Council met last week to select its officers, review staff and community recommendations for grant program priorities, and request $12.1 million in up to five budget categories from the State.

As they deliberated, the State had already received applications from about a third of the counties, and they had begun the process of soliciting proposals from their communities to provide the emergency aid. HEAPA, a statewide organization providing research on the HEAP implementation, has released its first spreadsheet containing information about those early decisions by counties, contact information for applicants, and links to webpages which describe their decision-making processes.

Dec 3rd HEAP Comment Deadline

The Sonoma County Homeless System of Care Leadership Council will meet on December 10th to give staff direction on, and authorize submission of, the application for $12.1 million in state funding “to address the emergency homelessness needs” of the county and cities in our area.  On December 5th, the staff will release a report on the public comments submitted by the December 3rd deadline.  Address for those comments to county staff is 1440 Guerneville Rd, Santa Rosa.  Emails can be sent to Michael.Gause@sonoma-county.org.

HEAP Funding Ideas

While the process of constructing the new public/private Homeless System of Care Leadership Council, and its 25-member Technical Advisory Committee is not completed yet, the suggestions from government and providers as to what they want funded began on Monday at the last meeting of the now-defunct Continuum of Care (CoC) Committee.

Held in the Sonoma County Community Development Commission Office on Guerneville Road, the meeting agenda contained an item titled “HEAP  Input Session – HEAP Funding Priorities”.  Framed as the opportunity for the CoC to advise the new Leadership Council of its recommendations for  the expenditure of $12.1 million in available state budget funding for “immediate emergency assistance to people experiencing homelessness or at imminent risk of homelessness”, the discussion wasted no time before identifying project expenditures supporting a wide range of short, medium, and long-term housing solutions.

Kelli Kuykendall, representing the City of Santa Rosa advocated that the funds be used to provide a new roof for the Sam Jones Homeless Shelter.  Jennielynn Holmes, of Catholic Charities, advocated for another Palms Inn.  Tom Bieri, of Community Support Network, advocated for permanent and supportive housing.  Gale Brownell, an unaffiliated member, advocated for rapid re-housing and expanded supportive services.  Turning to the only current member of the new Leadership Council, Jennielynn made her pitch to Julie Combs, Santa Rosa City Council member, sitting in the back of the room.  Clearly, the lobbying has begun in the effort to carve up the state funds among everyone’s pet projects.

Our Calendar will list every meeting we can identify where members of the public can pitch their preferences to members of the Leadership Council.  This next month will be a unique opportunity for our community to increase the understanding of community  leaders on the needs for homeless housing and supportive services.  Let’s not miss out on the  chance. 

Homeless Housing Conference: It Worked

On Friday, Oct 12th, almost a hundred people came together for four hours at the Center for Spiritual Living on Stony Point Road to share and inspire each other about their ideas for new housing and supportive service program designs.  Sponsored by several organizations, the gathering focused on what participants have found works to support those living without permanent shelter.  Twenty speakers took up to ten minutes each presenting slideshows, videos, architectural drawings, and personal stories to advocate for a wide variety of solutions which new state funding could implement.

Homeless Action! Activist Adrienne Lauby commented “We need to work on these ideas together, and make sure they are presented and considered seriously by the new Continuum of Care Leadership Council for HEAP funding.”    The Leadership Council is being formed on Oct 18th at the County Community Development Commission office, 1-4pm, at 1440 Guerneville Road, Santa Rosa.  The nine-member, multi-jurisdictional body will lead and coordinate decision-making on homeless facility and program funding.  

The conference was video-taped, and we will post a link to it here when finished.  Here is a link to the conference folder on Google.

A Very Sad Day

As the five of us sat around Kathryn’s kitchen table, making plans to assist local government officials to respond to the homeless housing crisis, less than one-half mile away police were destroying the homes and property of city residents.   Posted today in the “Voices on Homelessness” Blog  are the accounts of two at the table, Scott Wagner and Kathryn Jurik, concerning the actions of Santa Rosa Police.  “A Cold City September Response” and “Where Do We Go” are provided to give readers a sense of the pain and anguish experienced by our friends on the streets.