This profile examines how the Mercer Alliance has partnered with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) agency – MCBOSS – in their community to reduce family homelessness.
Together, they are working to expand rapid re-housing services and change how TANF resources are used to help families in Mercer County move quickly out of shelter programs and into housing and jobs.
In 2008, Mercer Alliance convened MCBOSS and other local homeless service funders in a year-long study of the County’s family homeless service system. The purpose of the study group was to explore what they could do locally to improve family outcomes. A financial audit found that the annual public cost of providing families with homelessness prevention assistance, emergency shelter, and transitional housing was nearly $10 million each year.
Based on the findings of their year-long investigation, the study group, comprised largely of professional social workers, committed to redesigning their family homeless system. The funders agreed to change how they used locally controlled resources to reshape the system. The study group believed that shifting what they funded and how they funded could improve coordination across programs and reduce the incidence and length of families’ homelessness.
The study group adopted the following principles for the system redesign:
Get people into homes as rapidly as possible;
Wrap services around them in their home;
Match intensity and cost of services to intensity of need; and
Reallocate public funds to pay for housing and services.
In a two year period:
The number of families in shelters or transitional housing on any given day declined by 20 percent, and
The number of families living in motels over the course of a month declined by 66 percent.
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