Archive for August 15th, 2012

15th August
written by Kate Seif

This summer, we’ve heard a  lot about how there may not be enough funding in fiscal year (FY) 2013 to cover all Continuum of Care renewals within HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants. With the release of the CoC interim rule (HEARTH Regs) and the prolonged August congressional recess and seeming quiet from Capitol Hill, it is easy to forget that this short-funding remains a very real possibility.

Fortunately, there’s still plenty we can do about it! The House’s proposed funding level for the McKinney program of $2.005 billion – aka the increase that isn’t really an increase – is not yet finalized. Anyone concerned about potential funding cuts to their CoC program should act now! Members of Congress are home in their states and districts until Monday, Sept. 10, so advocates and any concerned stakeholders have a perfect opportunity to show them the positive impact these programs are having in their districts!

Conduct a Site Visit!

The Congressional Management Foundation recently reported that Members of Congress rate site visits (tours of or visits to local, federally-funded programs) as one of the most valuable ways to collect constituent views and information. Take this opportunity to join the McKinney Site Visit Campaign and invite your Member of Congress to tour your McKinney-funded program!

To help you plan and execute your visit, we’ve created a website where you can find sample materials and a recording of a webinar held on Thursday, August 2, which included funding updates on the McKinney program and tips and tricks for a successful site visit. Our site visit toolkit includes a checklist to give you an idea of what you might need when planning your visit. In addition, the Alliance is here to help! Just email me with any questions or other requests!

Get on the Map!

To show that this is really a national effort, we have created a map that includes markers on the communities planning or conducting a site visit. A few site visits have already been scheduled! If you’d like to conduct a site visit and get on the map, let me know! If your community or organization is already planning on conducting a visit, but it’s not included on the map, let me know and I’d be more than happy to include it!

We need to make sure that as many Members of Congress understand the great work these programs are doing in preventing and ending homelessness in our community. The best way to do that, and make your case for increased funding for these programs, is to SHOW them!

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15th August
written by Kim Walker

When it comes to coordinated assessment, one of the trickiest questions advocates must consider is how best to serve survivors of domestic violence. The safety and, in some cases, the lives of survivors of domestic violence depend not just on ready access to crisis-oriented services and a safe place to sleep at night, but also on the confidentiality of sensitive information.

We at the Alliance are developing a checklist that will help you ensure that your coordinated assessment system is equipped to meet the needs of survivors of domestic violence, but in the meantime, I would like to share with you what our friend Joyce Probst MacAlpine says staff at provider agencies in her community of Dayton/Montgomery County, OH, are currently doing to integrate their domestic violence (DV) and homeless assistance systems.

In Dayton, their domestic violence shelter is one of the community’s “gateway” shelters to their coordinated assessment system, meaning it is one of the shelters where people experiencing homelessness must go before gaining access to homeless assistance services. Here staff use the same assessment tool and decision tree process for referrals as at all the other gateway shelters, but they do their assessments on paper, not in the Homeless Information Management System (HMIS), a precaution designed to protect the private information of DV clients.

Staff at the domestic violence shelter also conduct a lethality assessment to determine how much danger a DV client might be facing in order to serve them accordingly. Once the assessment process is complete, the client is assigned a number. That number, along with the intervention they scored for, and any other basic, non-identifying information needed for the referral is sent to a centralized waiting list. No identifying information about the household is shared and no information is entered into HMIS.

When an opening becomes available and the client’s number comes up, the DV shelter and the agency to which the DV shelter is referring the client each receive an email. At that point, the client must then give permission to release their assessment information to the agency they’re being referred to. If the client agrees, their paper assessment is released to that agency and the connection between the household and the provider is made.

The staff at this second agency will then engage the client in an intake process for their specific program. If the program is not a DV program and the client signs a data release, the information from that intake process can then be entered into HMIS without compromising or sharing data from the client’s initial entry into the system via the domestic violence system. The information entered into HMIS will show that the client came to the program from shelter, but will not reveal which one.

HUD doesn’t currently require that communities have one comprehensive coordinated assessment system that incorporates DV and other homeless assistance providers, though HUD is seeking comment on the interim Continuum of Care regulations on this issue. Using one assessment process instead of two certainly does seem to have its advantages in terms of coordination, and the Dayton example shows that it is possible for communities to accomplish such coordination without compromising the safety or privacy of survivors.

We’re sure there are plenty of other models out there, and we’d love to hear how other communities are working to connect and coordinate their domestic violence and homeless assistance systems. For more information on how to work with domestic violence survivors, make sure you check out our Domestic Violence page. To see the latest materials we have on coordinated assessment (including the checklist, once it’s available), read through our Coordinated Assessment Toolkit.

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