Webinar: The Role of PHAs in Ending Homelessness
August 11, 2:00-3:15pm EDT
The USICH will host a webinar on The Role of PHAs in Ending Homelessness with presentations from several PHA directors and a Q and A session on August 11th at 2pm EDT. Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) are central to our efforts to end homelessness. Achieving our goal requires that people access the mainstream resources available to them – including income supports, health insurance, and housing assistance – both efficiently and sufficiently to meet their needs. Targeted homeless assistance programs always have been and always will be a significant part of the solution – but they are not the entire solution.
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Five Actions PHAs Can Take in the Next Year
Here are a summary of five actions PHAs can take in the coming year be involved in their community’s efforts to prevent and end homelessness. (Click here to read the full unedited list on the USICH web site):
- Be at the Planning Table. The reality is – particularly in our current economy – many households are one crisis away from homelessness. If the nation is going to tackle this problem in a strategic and cost effective way – everyone that administers housing assistance needs to be at the community planning table together.
- Help Build Your Community’s Permanent Supportive Housing Pipeline Through Conversion to Project-Based Vouchers. Developing permanent supportive housing requires a capital investment, service dollars, and an ongoing rent subsidy, but identifying resources for the rent subsidy can often be a challenging part of assembling the financing package. PHAs can contribute by converting housing choice vouchers to project-based vouchers. Many PHAs have found this to be a particularly effective model for serving individuals/households with disabilities and long histories of homelessness.
- Adopt and Sustain a Commitment to Deep Targeting. Extremely low-income households face the most barriers to adequate and stable housing. To make progress in ending homelessness, there needs to be a strong commitment to targeting households with the greatest need and those who, without such assistance, are most likely to become and remain homeless. So, consider whether a local preference for households experiencing homelessness is feasible.
- Review and Retool Administrative Procedures – Particularly for VASH. Over the years, many PHAs have developed policies and procedures that are inadvertently challenging to households without a permanent address or that disproportionately impact persons experiencing homelessness. Consider your application policies and procedures through the eyes of an applicant. While there may need to be a streamline processes across PHA programs, examine your local VASH program procedures in particular. Click here for information on how Washington DC achieved this.
- Review Your Admissions Policies. Many PHAs have overly stringent requirements related to criminal history that extend far beyond the Federal requirements. PHA policies regarding criminal history are sometimes one-size fits all. As Secretary Donovan urges, PHAs should consider whether there might be a more reasonable middle ground that balances the need for resident/public safety with the important role that housing plays in stabilizing vulnerable individuals and reducing recidivism rates.