Operation 60

operation 60

We are pleased to feature a blog post from one of our Housing 1000 partners and leader of the Care Coordination Project, EHC LifeBuilders CEO Jenny Niklaus. Jenny discusses what the 100 day challenge means for EHC LifeBuilders AND for Housing 1000 clients. 

Operation 60

What does it take to end someone’s homelessness? To remove them from sub-standard living conditions under freeways and along our creek banks? I am asked these questions all the time and the answer I always give is simple: permanent housing. Housing is the intervention, and the faster we get people into homes the better it is for them and for our community.

EHC LifeBuilders has the privilege of being the lead agency for the Care Coordination Project (CCP) of Housing 1000. We are coordinating the housing and service resources provided throughout the community. It’s challenging work—yet we and our partners decided to challenge ourselves even further by saying that we will house 257 chronically homeless people in 100 days. That is amazing! At EHC we have personally taken this goal to heart and transformed our chronically homeless services in order to house 60 of the 257. Our Program Manager Shelly Barbieri and her team have created Operation Housing 60. And they have trained other CCP agencies to do the same so we can all share this audacious goal and make it our own.

Operation Housing 60 has already housed three individuals and six more will be housed this week. People like Tom*, who fell into homelessness in 2008 after his divorce triggered a major depression that led to drug abuse. His untreated mental illness and addiction created a devastating spiral of homelessness and incarceration. While incarcerated, Tom learned to value his sobriety and received psychiatric stabilization that helped him leave with a renewed hope for the future. This past March he found the Housing 1000 program at EHC and moved into permanent housing 70 days later. He is now seeking employment and has reconnected with his two sons.

Tom’s story shows that this works! We will be successful in meeting our goal not just because we must respond to the needs of folks like Tom, but because as a provider community, we get it and we believe it can be done!

-Jenny Niklaus, CEO, EHC LifeBuilders

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The Next 100 Days


The Next 100 Days…

Housing 1000 has already had great successes – most notably are the 409 formerly chronically homeless men and women who’ve moved into permanent housing since the start of our campaign.  But we can always do better. And we must.  There are still way too many people living outside in our community.

In May, Santa Clara County was invited to send a Housing 1000 delegation to the 100,000 Homes / Rapid Results Bootcamp in Chicago.  During the conference our national partners challenged us to find new ways to accelerate our housing placement goal and to use that work to set an aggressive 100 day housing target.

Our team worked diligently over the week and came away unanimously recommending a bold new goal of housing 257 chronically homeless men and women, with 48% being chronically homeless veterans, in the next 100 DAYS.

Wow, right? How can we possibly do this in the most expensive rental market with one of the smallest vacancy rates in America?

The simple answer is teamwork, collaboration and a common goal.  In Chicago, our Housing 1000 non profit cohort worked side by side with our government partners – the Veterans Administration, the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Clara, the City of San Jose, and the County of Santa Clara.  We set concrete goals to eliminate duplicative efforts and worked together towards reducing processes that have historically increased the time it takes to move someone from the street to a home.

We also looked at ways we can better coordinate securing rental units and improving the process of moving folks into housing.  From rental subsidies to security deposits, allocating flexible housing funds to increased and targeted case management – and all with tangible outcomes and measurements.  We have a strong and mighty team who are willing to do whatever it takes.

Join us as we move through the next 100 days – you can follow our progress on social media through Facebook and on twitter @Housing1000 #100days257homes.

Also, please consider supporting our efforts through your networks– whether by making a donation or holding a household goods drive to gather much needed move in supplies.  For more information on how to get involved, please contact Alejandra@destinationhomescc.org.

And for now, wish us luck. The thousands of homeless men and women in the streets of Silicon Valley are counting on us to continually work harder to end chronic homelessness as fast as we possibly can.

And the clock starts……NOW!

In Partnership,

Jennifer Loving, Executive Director for Destination: Home & Housing 1000 campaign partner

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Housing 1000 October Newsletter!

Housing 1000 October 2012 Newsletter

Interview with Dr. Nancy Peña, Director of Mental Health, County of Santa Clara

Dr. Nancy Peña, Director of Mental Health, Santa Clara County

“It’s our job as fellow human beings to respectfully and with humility offer the help and hope that we might one day need ourselves. That to me is the essence of humanity.” Nancy Peña is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, who has been working in the field of Mental Health for the past 34 years. She has spent her career serving in various management roles in the Mental Health Department, and currently serves as the Director of Mental Health, a position she has held for the past twelve years. The County has been a key partner in the Housing 1000 Campaign.

Read more.

Success Story: Meet Frank

Frank in His New Home

Change has come for Frank. After being homeless off and on since 1986, he is finally in a home of his own. “It’s a lovely feeling,” Frank said excitedly as he thinks about what it means to have a place to call home. He fondly remembers the day he was at St. James Park when a friend told him that Housing 1000 was looking for him. Frank quickly got in touch with Housing 1000 and in doing so, took the first steps to a whole new life.

Read more.

Housing 1000 Spotlight: St. James Pilot Project

Councilmember Sam Liccardo at St. James Park, during Housing 1000 Registry Week

The sometimes overwhelming amount of men and women who sleep in St. James Park has long seemed like an intractable problem. Until recently, that is. Because now the City of San José and the County of Santa Clara have teamed up to do something about it! There have been many complaints from downtown residents and businesses about homelessness and substance abuse in the park and the impact it has on the surrounding community. The St. James Park Pilot Project is leveraging the strengths and resources of critical public and private sector entities to innovatively end homelessness for 15 chronically homeless individuals who currently call St. James Park their home.

Read more!

Housing 1000 Campaign Update

Did you know that the Housing 1000 campaign has housed 157 chronically homeless men and women since the start of our campaign?

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Interview with Dr. Marcella Maguire, Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health

Housing 1000 had the chance to interview Dr. Marcella Maguire from the 100K Homes Campaign calendar recently.  Dr. Marcella Maguire, is Director of Homeless Services for the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health.  You can also view the full calendar with twelve months of amazing innovations including a month dedicated to Housing 1000.

Dr. Maguire is determined to help Mayor Michael Nutter achieve his goal of making Philadelphia the first city in America to end homelessness!  Philadelphia is doing amazing work in targeting Section 8 vouchers in ending chronic homelessness.  Marcella is a key force behind this initiative!

Dr. Marcella Maguire, Director of Homeless Services, Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health

Spotlight on Solutions: Philadelphia

Housing Choice vouchers are one of the most powerful resources our nation has in the effort to end long-term street homelessness, but in many places, homeless people struggle to access them. Philadelphia’s Blueprint to End Homelessness is pioneering a smart, multi-sector effort to better utilize Housing Choice vouchers to permanently end street homelessness.

In 2008, Mayor Michael Nutter demonstrated his deep commitment to ending and preventing homelessness by directing the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) to dedicate 200 Housing Choice vouchers per year to individuals experiencing long-term street homelessness. This annual 200 voucher commitment combines PHA vouchers with Medicaid-funded case management resources, effectively leveraging two critical, mainstream funding streams in the fight to end homelessness. The program is a win for service providers because it helps them pay for housing, but it is also a big win for the Philadelphia Housing Authority, which can now outsource the retention and case management of formerly homeless tenants to experienced, well-funded local service providers. With a 93% success rate to date, the program has already helped 700 Philadelphians move into permanent supportive housing. It has also helped to strengthen relationships across city/county agencies, streamline data collection efforts, and create an effective housing pipeline for formerly homeless individuals who may not have been able to secure housing previously.

This innovative national model represents a bold political commitment to improving systems of care for formerly homeless individuals, ensuring clients have the most appropriate resources for their individual needs, and making smart, targeted use of Housing Choice vouchers.

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Interview with Greg Shinn, Associate Director of the Mental Health Association in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Gregory A. Shinn, MSW, is the Associate Director of the Mental Health Association in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  His organization is part of the 2.5% percent club of 100,000 Homes Campaigns that are on track to ending homelessness in their communities within four years.  As the Associate Director of Tulsa’s Mental Health Association he is responsible for the development and implementation of many affordable housing programs and additional services for persons with serious mental illnesses.

Greg Shinn, Associate Director of Mental Health Association in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Q:  How did you become involved with the efforts in Tulsa?

Greg:  I moved to Tulsa from NYC in 2001.  I had spent my career in a variety of homeless shelters and service settings in NYC, Chicago, and other urban settings.  I saw time and time again that my clients faced challenges in accessing housing and how folks were cycled through systems instead of being placed in permanent housing.

I had the good fortune of working with Sam Tsemberis, the “Godfather” of Housing First as he conducted his Housing First pilot project.  They housed people who were severely mentally ill and were still using drugs.  At the time I thought, “There is no way this is going to work.”  However, the results demonstrated that 80% of the folks who would have been considered the “hardest to serve,” were still housed 1 year later.  After that, I became a Housing First believer!  Then when I had the opportunity to take this job and be a part of increasing housing as the primary solution for chronic homelessness I knew this was the right answer and evolution of my career.  Eleven years later, I’m still here and I oversee all the supportive housing projects for the Mental Health Association in Tulsa.

Q:  I understand that in Tulsa, ending chronic homelessness has also become a jobs strategy.  Can you tell me a bit more about how Tulsa is doing that? 

Greg:  We’ve created so many new jobs!  Here at the Mental Health Association in Tulsa, 65% of our employees have a mental health disorder, and over 50% are formerly homeless.  The more we can house people the more I can employ them both within our company and in our community.  We are seeing a lot of our clients find employment once they have as stable place to live.

Operating the housing has also created a lot of jobs, from our internal property management to a variety of trades. We contract with local companies who hire local workers and purchase supplies from local vendors.  We were also able to hire during the recession.

Q:  How have you been able to house 8.9% of your chronically homeless population each month?

Greg:  Owning and operating the housing has been the singular key to our success.  Our folks would be screened out of housing if we relied on our local Housing Authority, private landlords, or other housing options.  We’ve been able to create a very aggressive screening process to ensure the most vulnerable clients in our community are housed. At this point, we have identified the 100 most vulnerable men and women and are housing them right now. We are housing an average of 7-10 vulnerable homeless persons per month.  What’s even better is we are creating jobs along the way.

In addition to developing the housing, we created A Way Home for Tulsa, which is a consortium of services providers in our local Continuum of Care.  Each organization is funded to sit at the table and collaborate and coordinate services to prioritized chronically homeless individuals and families  This consortium of entities was already on board when 100,000 Homes was launched, which made it easy for our community to decide to join the movement with our local campaign.

Q:  How did your community decide to prioritize ending chronic homelessness?

Greg:  Tulsa began to implement supportive housing programs in 1990. At the time, the Mental Health Association Board of Directors decided to buy and renovate a building that would be used as a transitional residence for chronically homeless clients that were mentally ill. We used funding from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development to create a residence that provided shelter for 12 folks.  A few years later, the Board decided to purchase a 16-unit building and then decided they were in the housing business.  Having access to housing that could be used for our clients was critical.

An MHA Board Member, Mac Rosser, then had a vision for a larger capital campaign that would help us develop even more housing. The campaign was launched in 2001 and raised $5.2 million that we used to develop 6 additional properties.  As a result, Tulsa has a safe haven and permanent residences for chronically homeless men and women that suffer from mental illnesses.  When this happened a few prominent philanthropists recognized the capacity and success of MHA and decided it was possible to end chronic homelessness in Tulsa. They set a goal to create 511 units – with half of them dedicated to chronic homelessness.

The model we use is a 50% supportive housing model, which means that half of each development has low-income units and the other half are supportive housing with dedicated services.  Many of these units came on line in 2008, which coincided with a cost study that showed that permanent housing was cheaper than people living on the streets.  The capital campaign raised a total of $27.5M, some of which allowed us to build or renovate over 210 new units for chronically homeless men and women.

Q:  How permanent is permanent supportive housing? 

Greg:  That is a question we think about all the time. Some communities are building the concept of “graduating” folks from supportive housing – a graduation process that is understood from the beginning of the relationship.  In Tulsa, if you can graduate 30 people a year from the program, then you have created a continuous supply of housing for those who need it most. The key is having access to more housing after people have “graduated” from permanent supportive housing.

Q:  How do you work with the public and private sectors to leverage funding?

Greg:  It’s simple once people truly understand that homelessness is bad fiscal policy. Having people sleeping outside costs us money, and once we all agree that it’s smart fiscal and community policy, it’s something everyone can get behind.   Our private donors realized this and made some generous investments in our campaign. We’ve used the funding from the private sector to leverage more public dollars, and vice versa.

The project has leveraged a lot of private and public dollars, including local, county, and state dollars.  We’ve also received federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, stimulus funding and other federal appropriations.

Q:  When will Tulsa end chronic homelessness?

Greg:  We learned recently at the National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference that homelessness is hitting a plateau.  While we are housing more and more people in our nation, folks are entering homelessness through the side doors.  Also, more folks are becoming chronically homeless as they begin to age.  Our plan is to start with the top 100 most vulnerable homeless persons in our community and incorporate chronic homeless prevention. In Tulsa, we think we can approach the eradication of chronic homelessness in the next two to three years.

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Interview with Mark, a Housing 1000 Client

Meet Mark, a 56-year-old veteran and Housing 1000 client.

I became homeless when my wife kicked me out of the house. At the time I was deep into gambling. I’m bipolar, and people who have bipolar disorder are more likely to have a gambling problem. The rush makes you feel better when you’re down. It got to the point where my wife wouldn’t allow me back in the house. I’d been living with her and my 12-year-old step-daughter, at the time. She’s 19 now.

I have a 21-year-old son from my first marriage who I haven’t seen since he was 14. I’m rekindling my relationship with him right now, but it’s been hard. I haven’t come through for him when I said I would, and that takes time to heal. He’s in college, now, learning about computer animation.

After becoming homeless I was in shelters on and off, and at one point I moved to Stockton to take care of an ailing fellow veteran who had melanoma. He battled it for nine months. I was with him until the end.

I came back to Redwood City and I found out that I’d gotten a HUD VASH voucher. So I got an apartment. I lived there for about seven months, until I couldn’t afford my rent anymore—HUD VASH doesn’t accommodate child support, and at the time I was paying $441 per paycheck. I was working and working and working for nothing. At the end of the day I had $70 left over for food, insurance and other expenses, and it just wasn’t enough to live on. So I became homeless again. It was terrifying, and there was no end in sight.

After that I enrolled in classes for veterans with Goodwill. Thanks to their help I got my current job with Creative Security! I was still living in Redwood City at that time. They would drive me there and back which made a huge difference, but it was still a three-hour commute each way. I worked the midnight to 6am shift six nights a week.

I had an epiphany back in February of 2011, and the epiphany was that I had to change. I had to give up gambling and get right with God. I had to really get my act together.

And I did. I’ve kept my nose to the grindstone, I’ve gone to work. I’ve tried to be nice to people, and just to give back as much as I possibly can. Being bipolar means I have ups and downs, but I take medication, and I’m pretty much evened out. My faith in God has helped me be able to weather all storms. I still get depressed, but my faith in God and Jesus as my Lord and Savior has saved me from having to worry about everything that’s going on in this world.

Last August I got surveyed for Housing 1000, and in April I got this place. I feel so blessed. My favorite part about having my own place is coming and going as I please. In the shelter you’re very constrained—for good reasons, but it gets old. I enjoy having privacy, and having a sense of belonging is also very major. Shelters are great but they can be very isolating. I’m a people person, and I like getting to know my neighbors.

I feel like I’ve been swimming underneath the current for so long, and I’m just trying to get my head above water. It gets wearisome, but my faith keeps me going. I’ve been at my current job with Creative Security for 15 months. They just bumped me up to full-time—over full-time, actually. My schedule is five 9-hour days, which means five hours of overtime a week! I’ve also worked with my case manager to lower my payments to $135 per paycheck. I’m very grateful and very appreciative to have a job, and to be able to pay my rent.

Working with Housing 1000 has been fantastic. It all happened so fast. I started looking at places with my case manager and then all of a sudden I’m paying my own rent, I’m cooking my own meals. They helped me find a landlord who doesn’t worry about your credit, and I have bad credit so that would have been a huge barrier. They’ve done a great job.

My Housing 1000 case manager, Tonya, is a gem. I can’t say enough nice things about her. If I need anything, I can ask her. She helped me find my apartment, she helped me get a background check for my current job, and she’s just so approachable. She’s as busy as a one-armed paperhanger, but she always makes herself available. I really respect and admire that.

Housing 1000 is committed to helping the homeless get housed and stay housed. They’ve been exactly what I needed. Housing 1000 has really stood behind me and made sure that I’m getting through this rocky time. Thank God for Housing 1000.

Everybody has worked so diligently with me and I’m just incredibly grateful. Housing 1000 has given me a new lease on life. They came along and gave me an opportunity, and I want to make the best of it that I possibly can.

Interview conducted by Katherine and Alejandra.

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Interview with Kevin Zwick, Executive Director of Housing Trust of Santa Clara County

Kevin ZwickKevin Zwick now leads Housing Trust of Santa Clara County, but his first job out of college was with Project Open Hand in Oakland. Project Open Hand provides food for folks with HIV and critically ill clients, including many homeless men and women. Kevin visited clients where they were—in their homes, in shelters, sleeping on couches and more. He was able to see first-hand how homelessness impacts the very sick.

Q: What happens to somebody who’s sick when they lose their housing?

Kevin: When Project Open Hand clients became homeless, which would happen periodically, they would deteriorate rapidly. Becoming homeless was a huge predictor of health. Once our clients lost housing they were no longer able to stick to their medication schedule, they couldn’t make it to the pharmacy, and they had trouble getting to doctor appointments. Some of them didn’t survive becoming homeless.

For the very sick, it’s clear to me that housing is a matter of life and death. For our ill clients at Project Open Hand, housing wasn’t a luxury—it was what kept them alive. That’s why I’m really in awe of the efforts here around Housing 1000. It’s a way to address that situation. The vulnerability index is a way to measure exactly where you can have the greatest impact and when housing will save a life.

Q: How did you get involved with the Housing Trust?

Kevin: I’d been working affordable housing in Berkeley for a few years when I heard about Housing Trust of Santa Clara County. I was really struck by the way the business community, the County and local housing advocates came together to look for solutions. Homelessness is one of three core areas for Housing Trust, which I think is a legacy of early Board members Sparky Harlan and Don Gage who are so dedicated to the cause of fighting homelessness. The Housing Trust is engaged in many areas around affordable housing, including home ownership and rental housing issues as well as homelessness.

We’re excited right now about two new programs to combat the foreclosure crisis. The first is our new Foreclosure Help Center. People can come in and talk to a volunteer to get up-to-the-minute information on foreclosure prevention resources.

The second is a program to help people stay in their homes. If you’re under water on your mortgage now, you might not be able to afford to continue owning your home. But we’re making it possible for clients to rent—with the opportunity to buy again later—and in the process, they get to stay in their family homes.

Q: Can you tell us more about the Housing Trust’s new security deposit program?

Kevin: Our new deposit program, called Finally Home, helps people who can afford housing pay the security deposit so they can move into a new place. Sometimes the best solution to a problem is simple, yet still elusive. I participate in Destination: Home’s Housing Work Group,  and this year we realized that we can find people who need housing, and we can find affordable housing. But when you’re living on a fixed income, it’s almost impossible to save up $1,500 for a security deposit.

So starting in June of this year we’ve been providing grants to help homeless families and individuals move into new places. This funding targets the homeless—people apply through a case worker at our partner organizations (Community Services Agency, Family Supportive Housing, InnVision Shelter Network, Next Door Solutions, Silicon Valley Independent Living Center, Unity Care Group, and West Valley Community Services).

Two thirds of our grants so far have gone out to chronically homeless folks, and half have gone to people with kids. There’s not just one type of homelessness, and there’s not just one type of chronically homeless person or family. The need is diverse, but we’re funding solutions that work.

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