Checking In: Where Are We on Ending Chronic Homelessness?

A Recap:

In March, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced his continued support for The Way Home, the collaborative model to prevent and end homelessness in our area. The Mayor outlined steps the city would take to support The Way Home, including a push to house 500 chronically homeless individuals by September through increased outreach, Housing Navigation, landlord partnership, and more. Continue Reading

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Houston’s most vulnerable homeless individuals get faster move-in at The Way Home’s Navigation Event

twh_nav_event_tags_032817As The Way Home strives to end chronic homelessness in Houston, strong partnerships bring us closer to our goal. Chronic homelessness requires a strategic response and most often, the work of multiple agencies to help our most vulnerable clients reach that final step: moving into Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH).

On Tuesday, March 28, The Way Home brought staff members from more than 20 partner agencies together at The Beacon in downtown Houston to help nearly 100 chronically homeless individuals fast-track through the housing process at a Navigation Event.

The Way Home chronic homelessness workgroup (led by the Coalition for the Homeless as lead agency to The Way Home), is keenly focused on three things: securing more housing, refining Coordinated Access (the system-wide housing intake process), and accelerating move-in. To support faster move-ins, the workgroup brought clients and providers together in one place to complete a process that can currently take more than 60 days – in just one day. Continue Reading

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JN’s Way Home

Authors: Jonathan Danforth and Michael Garcia, Houston Area Community Services

*Client’s name changed to protect privacy.

JN* is a wheelchair-bound, 55 year-old, African American man. He struggled in the midst of poverty and homelessness for most of his life and had found it difficult to find food and a safe and secure place to sleep for the past several years. His physical disability made traveling difficult and he was frequently an easy target for thieves and predators. Continue Reading

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Houston’s Homeless Outreach Team featured on Nationswell, Huffington Post

December 18, 2014

This Is How Cops Should Treat Homeless People
Huffington Post

The Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) started as a pilot program in January 2011, and was made a permanent program in the department after a successful six-month pilot. Led by Sergeant Stephen Wick, the team helps homeless individuals with housing, shelter referrals, employment, IDs, and much more. The HOT Team is a valuable collaborative partner of The Way Home.

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VA Partnerships Showcase

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

On November 18, 2014, VA hosted three Google+ Hangouts.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hosted another “Partnerships Showcase” on Tuesday, November 18, 2014. This event showcased three public-private partnership (P3) presentations on ways the Department is working to reduce and address homelessness among our Veterans and their families. Ms. Sandy Beahm, Coordinator of the Healthcare for Homeless Veterans Program at VA Butler Healthcare, and Mr. Anthony Love, Director of Community Engagement for VHA Homeless Programs, are VA subject matter experts who highlighted successful non-monetary P3s between the VA and a non-governmental organization.

Click here for more information and to view the recorded Google+ Hangouts.

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Houston Celebrates Milestone in New Service Delivery Model

November 24, 2014

IMG_2981On October 31, the City of Houston and the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County gathered more than 40 service provider staff members to celebrate a milestone in the implementation of a new service delivery model to better serve our homeless neighbors. In the past few months, 130 individuals have been housed, and another 20 enrolled for housing through the hard work and incredible collaboration of local service partners: Houston Area Community Services (HACS), Healthcare for the Homeless – Houston, SEARCH Homeless Services, New Hope Housing, Inc., and the Houston Housing Authority.

This new service delivery model is built upon the creation of integrated care teams that are comprised of primary and behavioral health care clinical staff, on-site case managers, nurse case managers, community health workers, and licensed chemical dependency counselors. These integrated care teams support people living in Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) and ensure that they have more immediate access to both primary and behavioral health care clinical services.

The seed funding for this new service model came from the City of Houston Health and Human Services Department 1115 Medicaid Waiver. The 1115 funding offered our community a way to partner with Federally Qualified Health Centers to create these integrated care teams and provide comprehensive and immediate access to the full range of services that chronically homeless individuals need to maintain success in housing.

“You took a vision and made it a reality,” said Mandy Chapman Semple (Mayor’s Special Assistant on Homeless Initiatives, City of Houston) as she addressed the crowd of homeless agency staff members who gathered on Halloween to celebrate their early successes. “You have made a difference and changed 150 lives for the better. Stephen Williams, Director of the City of Houston’s Health and Human Services Department, was also on hand at the celebration to express his gratitude to the providers as well.

One client whose life was changed, Ms. Harris, found herself homeless and had been staying at Star of Hope. She was assessed for housing on June 2, 2014, referred to the 1115 program, and moved into a New Hope Housing unit on July 7, 2014. Since moving into her new home, Ms. Harris has thrived – helping with the community garden and preparing hot dogs for fellow tenants at community events. Ms. Harris also recently referred a friend she had met at Star of Hope to the 1115 program, and even arranged transportation for her friend to ensure she could receive her voucher and move into housing as well. The case managers who worked with Ms. Harris are incredibly proud of her and can’t wait to see what she does next to continue to create community within her new home.

Two lead providers were selected to provide integrated care teams: HACS and Healthcare for the Homeless – Houston/SEARCH. The Houston Housing Authority provided vouchers for the 1115 clients, and New Hope Housing provided the bulk of the housing. All of the providers involved have done tremendous work in getting this new delivery model off the ground.

The next goal for the 1115 funding specifically is to enroll and house another 100 individuals by October 2015. Additionally, this service delivery model will be applied to all future PSH units in Houston, Harris County, and Fort Bend County – no matter what funding is used. Providers couldn’t be more excited, as this model has shown early success and will work to keep formerly homeless individuals stably and appropriately housed.

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Houston Housing Authority Wins Multiple Awards

The Texas Chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) awarded the Houston Housing Authority (HHA) the following awards in April of this year: Media Recognition, Best Newsletter, Best Other Publications, Resident of the Year, and Member of the Year. Texas NAHRO is an organization that promotes quality affordable housing and sustainable communities in Texas through advocacy, education, and empowerment, and announced the winners at its 38th Annual Conference in Corpus Christi, TX.

HHA received the Media Recognition award for the well-executed media coverage on its new smoke-free policy, the Best Newsletter award for its quarterly public housing newsletter, “The Home Edition,” and the Best Other Publications award for its quarterly newsletter “Building Connections,” that is distributed to landlords participating in its voucher program. The Resident of the Year award was given to the children at Clayton Homes who participated in last year’s Lemonade Day and donated a portion of the proceeds they earned from selling lemonade to victims of the tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.

The final award, NAHRO Member of the Year was given to Mark Thiele, Vice President of Housing Choice Voucher Program at the Houston Housing Authority, for his commitment, dedication, and constructive service to Texas NAHRO, the Houston Housing Authority, and the Houston Community.

“We are proud to receive these awards, which serve as symbols of the hard work and dedication of the Housing Authority staff,” said Houston Housing Authority President & CEO Tory Gunsolley. “We are committed to transforming the lives and communities of those that we serve, we are pleased that Texas NAHRO recognized us for our work.” As a valued partner of The Way Home, we would also like to congratulate the Houston Housing Authority for their dedication to changing the path for Houston’s homeless neighbors.

The Houston Housing Authority provides affordable homes and services to more than 60,000 low-income Houstonians, including more than 17,000 families housed through the Housing Choice Voucher Program and another 5,500 living in 25 public housing and tax credit developments around the city. HHA also administers the nation’s third largest voucher program, exclusively serving homeless veterans. More information about the Houston Housing Authority can be found at: www.housingforhouston.com.

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The Women’s Home Receives Tax Credits for New Permanent Supportive Housing:

In March, 2014, the Houston City Council voted yes to a Resolution of Support for a tax credit application for The Women’s Home Phase II housing project. This affirmative vote helped bring The Women’s Home one step closer to significant funding that will aid in the construction of an additional Permanent Supportive Housing complex for women and their families. More than 44 speakers were present at the City Council meeting the day before the vote, including Board Members and volunteers from The Women’s Home, Spring Branch neighbors, and representatives from other partners of The Way Home.

We received this update over the weekend from Paula Paust, Executive Director at The Women’s Home:

“We are so excited to announce our award for the 9% tax credits for The Women’s Home Housing Project Phase II. This represents a $10 million award! We could not have accomplished this without the commitment and support you gave us by speaking and providing letters to the City Council on our behalf. You helped us convey the message of our mission to show that those most vulnerable in our community are worthy of support from all of us. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

For more information on The Women’s Home, visit their website.

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