Homelessness Reduction Progress?

Posted June 18th, 2014 @ 9:31 AM by

This report drives me nuts – what are we measuring and why? And why can’t we admit we are failing? The sugar coating and number manipulation here is almost comical, if it weren’t so serious. 1 – 2 – 3 sweep it under the rug with me!

Seriously, no mention of gap services? No mention of herculean grassroots efforts going on in the community? No mention of increased services by Bethel? Not even a mention of the new coordinated intake services the city is spending over $100,000 a year one? Still holding on to the dream of the day center opening in November (which we all know is a joke, 4 years running) The “job-related” rides is hysterical, as those are the 2-ride passes Porchlight gives out to anyone who makes it to the Hospitality House and those have NOTHING to do with jobs. And less evictions files in Dane County tells me that tenants are leaving before they get an eviction on their record and don’t know what their rights are, I see that as a problem not a success with all these new laws and the vacancy rates ma.king it extremely difficult to find housing and people would rather not have an eviction on their record.

The number of people served in shelter decreasing while the number of people who have been identified as homeless is a HUGE problem. People can’t find housing and get out of shelter, so they are spending more days in shelter, so less people are being served, especially in family shelter. If people can’t get out of shelter, then less people can get in to shelter, the waiting lists are long just to GET IN to EMERGENCY shelter for families. Meanwhile, women and men are limited to 60 days per year, so you don’t see an increase because people use their 60 days then spend the rest of the time on the streets. And of course, they stop trying to get in to shelter, so they don’t show up as being turned away.

I’ll have to figure out what the housing subsidy numbers are, but if you decrease the amount of assistance to clients, you can serve more, and that may be all that is going on. Plus, federal funding has been up and down all over the place, so it just may reflect those changes, its not like the community has invested in funding to make housing affordable. I have seen no 59% increase in my work at the Tenant Resource Center, in face, getting rental assistance seems as difficult as ever.

Ok, no pull the wool over your eyes, stick your head in the sand and read on . . . sugar coating is free!

To: Homeless Services Consortium & Board of Directors
From: Community Plan Oversight Committee
Date: June 6, 2014
RE: 2013 Results of Community Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness Action Steps

The Community Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness in Dane County was a result of a year- long community effort by the Homeless Services Consortium to create a blueprint for ending homelessness. The 2006 Plan was revisited and updated in 2011. The Vision remains the same: All households in Dane County should have the opportunity to secure and maintain safe, stable affordable housing.

There are three goals in the Community Plan: 1) Provide support services to homeless and at-risk households to enable them to access and maintain stable housing; 2) Provide a housing safety net with a move to stable housing as quickly as possible; and 3) Provide an adequate inventory of affordable housing units whether by creating new units or making existing units affordable.

Dane County’s service providers, government entities, funders and advocates collaboratively achieved progress in the objectives and strategies outlined in the Plan. Each year the Community Plan Oversight Committee reviews data collected by public and private sources to report on progress in meeting the goals. While there has been progress made, there remains a number of challenges. For example, in 2013, the number of homeless families increased slightly at the same time the number of supportive permanent housing units increased.

Goal: Provide support services to homeless and at-risk households to enable them to access and maintain stable housing.
• In 2013, 2,330 families received case management services, a 41% increase over the number in 2005; 85% of a sample of those households maintained housing at the 12 month mark.
• The number of SSI/SSDI benefit cases approved more than doubled over 2012.
• Over 50,000 job-related rides were provided through free bus tickets and YW Transit services.
• There were 450 fewer evictions filed in Dane county Small Claims Eviction Court.

Goal: Provide a housing safety net with a move to stable housing as quickly as possible.
• While the number of emergency shelter beds remained the same, the total number of homeless persons served in shelter declined slightly, as did the number of persons turned away without shelter.

Goal: Provide an adequate inventory of affordable housing units whether by creating new units or making existing units affordable.
• 16 additional supported permanent housing units created.
• 59% increase in the number of rent subsidies available to make housing affordable.

For 2014, plans are underway for two projects, heavily funded through the City and County. The first is new construction project with 60 efficiency units on Madison’s eastside. The units will be targeted to homeless single adults who will also receive on-site supportive services. The second is a permanent day resource center scheduled to open in November. The Center will be open 7 days a week and provide a home for a number of resources utilized by homeless and those at risk.

Here’s the chart that goes with this report – Goals Objectives Strategies Table. I’m not impressed with any of the number in there either, raises more concerns.

Overall, this kind of shit really angers me. Nothing to see here, we’re all doing a great job in partnership with our non-profits who have no problems at all. If there are clients out there not getting services, well, its their fault, their just alcoholics and mentally ill and hard to serve.

Removing tongue from cheek now . . . can we all just be honest about the state of affairs in homeless services? Look honestly at the issues we are facing as a community and find solutions.

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