Access: The TAC Blog
Forging Partnerships to Bring New Housing Vouchers into Your Community
In April, The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for $100 million in new "Mainstream" housing vouchers for non-elderly people with disabilities - with a focus on those who are living in segregated settings (such as institutions), homeless, or at risk of one of these conditions. All told, the federal FY 18 appropriation included an estimated total of $385 million in new mainstream voucher funding, so additional NOFAs are expected soon.
As the first major infusion of resources into the Mainstream Voucher Program in many years, this NOFA offers a welcome means of boosting stable, affordable, and community-integrated housing opportunities for people with disabilities. To promote the program and support the development of strong partnership applications for the new funding from communities across the country, TAC worked quickly to develop and broadcast four webinars with our partners at the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Housing Task Force, and the National Council of State Housing Agencies. Over 1,200 agencies participated in these webinars, which focused on building effective partnerships between Public Housing Agencies, homeless service providers, and disability groups - both to meet HUD's scoring criteria for this NOFA, and for long-term success. The recorded webinars are available on TAC's new resource page created for potential applicant agencies and partners.
Section 811 PRA Grantees Share Successes and Strategies for Integrated Housing
Earlier this month, HUD Section 811 Project Rental Assistance grantees gathered in Washington, D.C. for an 811 PRA Institute. The event brought together housing and service partners from 22 states, all dedicated to creating integrated supportive permanent housing for extremely low-income people with disabilities. The Institute, which was organized and facilitated by TAC and included officials from HUD, provided an opportunity for grantees to share and learn about best practices in program implementation, including key strategies in unit identification and effective practices in referrals and leasing. Visit TAC's Facebook page to see a slideshow from the event!
TAC Staff in Action
TAC Associates Ellen Fitzpatrick, Lauren Knott, & Ashley Mann-McLellan headed to Las Vegas to help launch "Dream Big," a campaign to end youth homelessness in Southern Nevada; Lauren also participated in the Point Source Youth symposium in New York City, while Ashley stayed in the Southwest to facilitate planning meetings to ramp up efforts to end Veteran homelessness in Albuquerque, NM and assist in coordinated entry efforts for rural areas in the state; Lisa Sloane, TAC's Senior Policy Advisor and Christine Gault, a TAC subcontractor, helped Oregon's Supportive Housing Strategy Workgroup develop permanent supportive housing recommendations for the state's housing and Medicaid/behavioral health agencies; and in April, Associate Douglas Tetrault and Senior Consultant Jim Yates helped plan a full-day strategy meeting focused on emerging practices in homelessness diversion and rapid shelter resolution, with the goal of developing a new pilot in the Department of Veterans Affairs' Supportive Services for Veteran Families program.
FAIRBANKS IS THE REGIONAL HUB for interior Alaska, an area larger than the state of Texas. The city’s need for supportive housing is amplified by its remote rural and frontier location and extreme arctic conditions. Although the number of people experiencing homelessness in Fairbanks — approximately 250 people at any given time — seems small compared to what other major U.S. cities report, the impact of homelessness in this community is an important factor: Even during bouts of -50° Fahrenheit temperatures, Fairbanks routinely has more than 50 people trying to survive in local encampments. There have been times when dramatic temperature changes caught encampment residents off guard, resulting in numerous cold weather injuries and even some deaths.
Since 2014, TAC has worked with state and local partners on strategies to create permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing opportunities for Alaskans. Last December, TAC was invited to facilitate the Fairbanks Symposium on Homelessness, with the goal of generating momentum toward a community planning strategy for tackling homelessness in some of the most diverse geography and climate in the United States. As in other cities and towns across the country, both the cost of housing and a lack of available units present significant challenges. But the "must do" attitude of the local Fairbanks community has already resulted in remarkable progress, and can serve as a beacon for those working in other rural communities to prevent and end homelessness.
The Fairbanks Housing and Homeless Coalition is leading the charge, representing more than 20 local organizations that provide shelter, support, and opportunities for community members struggling with housing barriers. Since the Symposium, the city’s housing and homelessness coordinator has brought local agencies together for more planning. Collectively, the group has contributed an estimated $58,360 worth of in-kind donations to initiate a program that can quickly connect families and individuals experiencing homelessness to permanent, private market housing through intensive case management, applicable employment services, and tapering financial support. Just this month, the Alaska Mental Health Trust announced that it will fully fund this local rapid re-housing program!
The Fairbanks Rescue Mission, which is already implementing rapid re-housing for Veterans through a federal Supportive Services for Veteran Families grant, has been designated as the lead agency for the award. The funding provided by the Trust will allow the new program to hire two full-time staff members and assist approximately forty families a year with housing, case management, and landlord support. The Trust has given a further boost to efforts in the region by providing funding for the Alaska Coalition on Housing and Homelessness to hire a rural housing planner who can help build local coalitions in rural Alaska and improve the region’s readiness to apply for funding to meet its needs.
Fairbanks’ challenging environmental conditions and extremely rural setting make providing effective and targeted services to the community’s most vulnerable individuals a high priority. Fortunately, the community’s determination to make life better for its least advantaged members is just what is needed.