Homeless Congress Notes for November

November 10, 2016---Cosgrove Center

Upcoming events were addressed and it was announced the Councilman Reed was asked to attend the meeting, but he couldn’t because he is out of town. 

Ruth Gillett, Office of Homeless Services, attended the meeting and talked about the changes to the OHS Advisory Board and participation by three members of Homeless Congress.  She also discussed the Rapid Re-Housing Program that is tentatively set to begin in November (now it looks like January 2017).  She explained that the staff at the two big shelters will be trained on how to refer residents to the program.  This will include making certain that the resident being referred meet the criteria.  She informed the members that the purpose of the program is to help move out of the shelter.  Some income will be necessary to maintain housing, but it will provide three or four months worth of rental assistance to move into housing.

The target population from those staying at the shelter will be residents that have been there the longest and have the ability to pay rent with employment or disability assistance.   There will be a housing locator assigned to the participant to assist in locating affordable housing.  Shared housing with a roommate was an option discussed as a way to be able to afford and maintain housing. 

One of the members wanted to know who is supervising the program.  Gillett informed him that the program is a collaborative effort between the Office of Homeless Services, EDEN, and Frontline Services.  Another member asked who determines whether or not housing passes inspection because there have been problems with the housing he is seeking.  It has not passed the inspection three times.  He was informed that there is a standard set of regulations that the housing must pass to receive any government money. 

There was a question about getting Housing Choice Vouchers and the waiting list and everyone was informed that Voucher Program will not be available until around 2018.  Ruth Gillett went on to say that the Rapid Re-Housing Program is not only for long term disabled homeless residents.  She said this program should be able to assist 300-400 single adults.  She also informed members that utilities are not included in the rent vouchers, so anyone interested in getting housing through Rapid-Rehousing should seek housing that includes utilities.  They will be responsible to pay them otherwise.

EDEN has developed a list of landlords that are willing to participate.  One of the members wanted to know how to resolve a back payment for past EDEN housing.  Ruth explained that he could make payment arrangements by calling the EDEN office.

Bidding for providing services for the women’s shelter was the next topic discussed.  The deadline to submit the bid to oversee the shelter was November 29, 2016 (extended to January 2017 after the meeting).  Brian Davis, NEOCH, feels this is not enough time for interested agencies to prepare and get their bid submitted.  Due to holidays and Election Day, this will make it very difficult to prepare and coordinate information to be able to bid.  He and Loh asked if there was a chance for an extension.  Disputes between residents residing at the women’s shelter was the next concern addressed. There was some discussion about the conditions at the shelter and the problems with the fights between residents.  There was a question about the County allowing for the women to move women who are disruptive to be moved to another facility.  What was the County's recommendation for where a woman stays after there is a dispute between shelters? There is nothing formally in place to address this except to suspend one of the residents from the shelter, especially if there is a restraining order in place.  Ruth stated that at this time, if one resident files a restraining order against another, North Point could be used to house one of the residents. 

Next, there was a discussion about the priority list for the issues at the women’s shelter and the meetings with Frontline Services over the list.   They were informed about the surveys that will be distributed to the current and past residents of the women’s shelter.  They had received copies in their packets and they were asked to read over the surveys and if they felt any changes needed to be made.  They were also asked to think about what changes they feel should be made for the Homeless Congress future in response to the election.  They were also asked if funds should be focused on overflow for shelters or funding organizations to work on public policy changes.  The unanimous decision was overflow.  Overflow was supported as the highest priority.

*The next meeting date is December 8, 2016

by Ramona Turnbull

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