Monday, June 27, 2016

Feds give region $17.9 million to reduce homelessness over next four years

With the introduction of the new federal budget this year, additional funding has been allocated to communities to reduces homelessness under the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS). This strategy seeks to provide long-term solutions to reducing the number of people experiencing homelessness in the country.

Funding is allocated to various “Community Entities” throughout the country. In our region, Metro Vancouver is the Community Entity. Between this year and 2019, Metro Vancouver will be given around $17.9 million for projects that align with the HPS.

One of the big pushes in the HPS is focusing on Housing First initiatives. 65% of all federal funding must be allocated to Housing First projects. The HPS has six mandatory principles that must be including in all Housing First initiatives.

  1. Rapid housing with supports: This involves directly helping clients locate and secure permanent housing as rapidly as possible and assisting them with moving in or re-housing if needed. Housing readiness is not a requirement.
  2. Offering clients choice in housing: Clients must be given choice in terms of housing options as well as the services they wish to access.
  3. Separating housing provision from other services: Acceptance of any services, including treatment, or sobriety, is not a requirement for accessing or maintaining housing, but clients must be willing to accept regular visits, often weekly. There is also a commitment to rehousing clients as needed.
  4. Providing tenancy rights and responsibilities: Clients are required to contribute a portion of their income towards rent. The preference is for clients to contribute 30 percent of their income, while the rest would be provided via rent subsidies. A landlord-tenant relationship must be established. Clients housed have rights consistent with applicable landlord and tenant acts and regulations. Developing strong relationships with landlords in both the private and public sector is key to the HF approach.
  5. Integrating housing into the community: In order to respond to client choice, minimize stigma and encourage client social integration, more attention should be given to scattered-site housing in the public or private rental markets. Other housing options such as social housing and supportive housing in congregate setting could be offered where such housing stock exists and may be chosen by some clients.
  6. Strength-based and promoting self-sufficiency: The goal is to ensure clients are ready and able to access regular supports within a reasonable timeframe, allowing for a successful exit from the HF program. The focus is on strengthening and building on the skills and abilities of the client, based on self-determined goals, which could include employment, education, social integration, improvements to health or other goals that will help to stabilize the client's situation and lead to self-sufficiency.

Metro Vancouver has a two-step Request for Qualification/Request for Proposal process to determine what initiatives will receive funding. Applicants can include provincial and local governments, individuals, and organizations. 50 submissions will be moving onto the second step of the process for our region. Funding announcements are scheduled to be made on October 1st.

This model of funding delivery makes a lot of sense to me. The federal government is able to set the broad outcomes of programs while letting local governments, with local knowledge, evaluate and allocate funding to initiatives that make the most sense in their communities. Hopefully funding is further increased in future years for this program.

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