Things to consider if your community lost funding for transitional housing

Last week, homeless service providers ranked in “Tier 2” of their Continuum of Care (CoC) applications learned if they received funding. As Steve noted in his blog The Continuum of Care “Tier 2” awards: What happened?, this competition awarded more points for permanent housing programs, and fewer for transitional and services-only programs.

This means that some transitional housing programs lost money critical to running their programs and will have to close. It also means some households living in these programs will have to find somewhere else to live. While we believe the allocation of funds in this year’s competition will ultimately result in more people exiting homelessness, there is critical work some communities must do right now to ensure these households do not end up with nowhere to go because of this change.

So what can communities do? Here are some things to consider:

  1. Can these households reunify with family or friends? Using mediation and motivational interviewing techniques, case managers can help clients explore if there are safe an appropriate places these households can stay so they do not have to enter shelter or sleep unsheltered.
  2. Can rapid re-housing programs help? Almost all communities have rapid re-housing programs. In the past few Notices of Funding Available (NOFAs), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has restricted eligibility for rapid re-housing funded by the Continuum of Care to exclude households exiting transitional housing. However, the Emergency Solutions Grants Program has no such restrictions, and many communities’ rapid re-housing programs have other sources of funding.
  3. Talk to your TANF director. TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) funds can be used for short-term, non-recurrent benefits to help families address a one-time need. Many rapid re-housing programs for families use TANF funds.
  4. Talk to your Housing Authority. Better FY 2016 funding for Section 8 has allowed many PHAs to scale back up their voucher programs after reductions due to funding cuts three years ago.
  5. Do you have HOME funding? The Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) can, among other things, pay for tenant-based rental assistance. HOME got a small increase in FY 2016 and that money has already been awarded to states and localities.
  6. What resources can the households leverage? Sometimes, all a household needs to exit homelessness is help locating housing and negotiating rent. If your community has housing location support this may be enough to help some households exit homelessness.
  7. Plan as a community. As you can see, most of these suggestions require the assistance and even resources of other homelessness programs or community resources. The priority should be ensuring these households do not have to enter shelter or sleep unsheltered.