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PROJECT HOPE for Homeless - 1 year Extension Recommended

Topic 8-1 on the Council's January 21 agenda http://albanyca.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?event_id=1d676b08-fa0c-4f93-87a6-15abfafb64bd  is a recommendation to extend the City's contract with Berkeley Food and Housing Project (BFHP) one year to provide continuing outreach and engagement services to those homeless in Albany.  The extension cost is not to exceed 76,000, some covered by grant funds for next fiscal year.  Project Hope has been underway about six months, during which BFHP has talked with about 60, done assessments with 40, and received  enough information to create "Intake" forms for 33.  7 have been housed although only 5 remain housed now.  This BFHP extension does not appear to affect the duration of the temporary shelter now near the Bulb.

Scope of services for the next year is accessible from the linked agenda,  and also pasted below. The Scope emphasizes the need for repeated efforts to build trust and establish relationships with those who are long-term homeless, to enable them to work towards transition to permanent housing. BFHP staff would provide services throughout the City, not just at the Bulb.   

Although the Scope document is long I encourage all interested in the City's efforts to address homelessness in Albany to wade through it.  It gives a sobering picture of the efforts that go into attaining housing, and helping people remain housed, after long periods of homelessness.



Project HOPE EXHIBIT A - SCOPE OF SERVICE

The Berkeley Food and Housing Project (BFHP), (hereafter "Consultant") will provide services and activities for Project HOPE - Housing Opportunities Expanded, a City of Albany Homeless Outreach, Engagement and Case Management Program citywide using a multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary, and integrated approach.

Program Philosophy

Utilizing strength-based case management, the Project HOPE Case Manager will use a Housing First/ Rapid Re-housing approach to house homeless residents of Albany. Housing First philosophy holds that people's need for housing is a basic need that should be met as quickly as possible, without any preconditions. Consistent with Housing First principals, the program will use a Harm Reduction approach when addressing both substance abuse and psychiatric issues. Harm Reduction is a set of practical strategies that reduce negative consequences of high risk behaviors, incorporating a spectrum of interventions from safer use, to managed use, to abstinence.

Staffing: Project HOPE will be staffed by one full time Case Manager and will be coordinated by the agency’s MSC Supervisor, Jo Ferlatte. The agency’s Director of Client Services, Lara Tannenbaum, will provide program oversight, provide supervision to project coordinator, Mr. Ferlatte, and act as the contract liaison with the City of Albany. The Case Manager will work a flexible schedule, including late afternoon and evening hours in order to best connect with the homeless population. The Case Manager will be reachable to clients and Albany staff by phone.

Program Description/Services Project Hope will provide outreach and engagement; case management; housing search/landlord relationship development, housing placement; and housing stabilization and retention services to homeless residents of Albany. Each type of service is described in more detail below.

Outreach: The Project HOPE Case Manager will operate from a mobile office and will conduct outreach throughout the City of Albany, where ever there are people who are homeless. While there will be a focus to reach out to homeless on the bulb until the shelter closes, regular outreach locations will include the Albany Community Center, the parking lot at the Albany waterfront, and other locations where ever there are homeless individuals. The goal of outreach continues to be engagement and relationship building to encourage participation in services and housing. Engagement can be a long process and it can take many, many contacts with a homeless individual before the case manager may even be able to do an assessment. Asking for and verifying personal information will occur at a slower pace than with clients who are initiating contact and asking for assistance. During this relationship and trust building process the client chooses his/her level of engagement with staff and takes the lead in determining his/her initial needs and goals.

Each time the case manager engages a person, s/he will offer permanent housing assistance. The Case Manager will also try to work on meeting immediate needs, as defined by the client, so that after each experience they have with the Project Hope staff something positive has happened and there is a better, more positive and more trusting relationship. This type of consistent and 2

positive engagement is crucial, so at the time when they are interested in pursuing permanent housing, a positive, trusting client/staff relationship has been developed that will contribute to successfully helping the individual obtain permanent housing.

Outreach will continue at the Albany Bulb until the shelter closes. Initially, the Case Manager and Program Manager conduct outreach directly on the Bulb to introduce the new Case Manager to the residents. Subsequent outreach by the Case Manager will take place in the mobile office in different locations within the city. Flyers displaying outreach times will be posted at community center, senior center and be on file with the Human Services Division and City manager office for distribution to City staff as needed.

Case Management:

Assessment

As the Case Manager develops relationships with homeless individuals s/he will begin the process of assessment and case planning. The initial case management assessment focuses on information directly relevant to the client’s homelessness and its resolution. The goal of the assessment process is to understand:

 Immediate health or safety risks

 Housing history ( i.e. why they lost housing or are facing the loss of housing)

 Strengths in obtaining and maintaining housing

 Barriers to obtaining and maintaining housing

 Preferences for housing.

There are two main areas of focus in the assessment. These areas include

Tenant Screening Issues

o What are the barriers that may prevent a landlord from wanting to rent to this client or retain this client as a renter

o What are the client’s strengths that would be attractive to landlords

Housing Retention Issues

o What are the barriers that impact the ability to remain housed, such as having enough income to pay rent and understanding the responsibilities of being a tenant

o What are the client’s strengths that would allow them to maintain their apartment

o Additional areas of assessment include managing mental health symptoms, managing medications, parenting skills, relapse prevention planning, and other similar issues

Homestretch Assessment

In addition to the areas above, the Project Hope Case Manager will also assess all clients for placement on Alameda County’s Home Stretch list. Home Stretch is a pilot project of EveryOne Home and Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services and uses a coordinated assessment to develop a single list of chronically homeless people prioritized by vulnerability, barriers to housing, and cost to other systems such as health care, social services and law enforcement. The prioritized list is used to match highly vulnerable homeless people to permanent housing and services. Operators of permanent supportive housing draw from the Home Stretch list to fill new and vacant units in their portfolios more efficiently. 3

Housing Case Plans

After completing the initial assessment, the case manager and client create a Housing Case Plan together. The Housing Case Plan is the basis for all service provision and is a guide for moving the participant households toward resolving any immediate crises and obtaining sustainable and appropriate, permanent housing as quickly as possible. All Housing Case Plans are composed of goals and objectives that are reasonable and realistic for the client to achieve. Some common components of a Housing Case Plan may include obtaining ID, the creation of a monthly household budget and assistance with financial planning; completion of a tenancy/life skills curriculum; employment search; addressing poor credit and past evictions; managing mental health symptoms.

Referrals and Linkage to Other Service Providers

Case managers work with each participant to identify types of services that will help the household reach stability. Housing plans may include referrals to other mainstream services to help people obtain and maintain housing. The first priority in assisting clients with referrals and linkage to other providers is to address health and safety concerns. This could include linking to resources for medical care, domestic violence, etc. Additional priority areas are connecting clients to resources to assist them in increasing their income and with resources that can help address some of their tenancy barriers such as poor credit, or an eviction on their record. The Project Hope Case Manager will assist clients with transportation to these other service providers. Agencies that clients will be connected to include: Berkeley Mental Health, Homeless Action Center, Lifelong Medical, Bonita House, BOSS and other BFHP Programs. In addition, clients will be connected to resources such as Albany non-profits and volunteers.

Housing Search

The Project Hope Case Manager is the primary staff who will have contact with landlords. The Case Manager’s role is to locate units, build relationships with landlords, and work with the client on the move in process. For those clients interested in obtaining permanent housing, the case manager and client will establish housing search parameters taking into consideration a number of factors, including: household budget, desired neighborhood/community, rental history, household size, pets, etc. This conversation may require a ‘reality-based’ discussion of what is truly affordable and sustainable in the face of limited budgetary resources.

The Project HOPE Case Manager provides a wide range of services directly related to establishing and maintaining housing stability. These include:

 Linking eligible clients to available move-in assistance and utilities subsidy programs. The Albany Housing Subsidy of $35,000 will be used until gone.

 Discussion of housing options with the household

 Research of housing options and encouraging the participant household to research options themselves.

 Providing tools and instruction to participant households regarding how to present themselves favorably to landlords

 In the event that a prospective unit is identified, contacting landlord to arrange for the participant to see the unit.

 Negotiation and mediation with landlords around rents and tenant relationships

 Complete all necessary housing paperwork in collaboration with the landlord, including the lease agreement and IRS Form W-9

4

 Viewing the unit to ensure it is habitable and safe

 Work with the landlord to arrange for lease signature, coordinate household move-in, and arrange for payment of rent and/or security deposit as negotiated.

Relationship Development with Landlords

Strong partnerships with property owners are crucial to the goal of stably housing homeless clients. In order to secure units for participants, the Project Hope Case Manager, along with other members of BFHP’s Housing Case Management Team will continuously seek out new landlord partnerships. New rental units are found in a variety of ways including word of mouth, classified ads in newspapers and on line, outreach to realtor associations, and posting flyers aimed at recruiting landlords in places such as churches and community centers. Existing landlords are asked regularly if they have additional units and also asked if the they can refer program staff to any friends or associates who are also landlords.

The Project Hope program will be marketed to property owners by emphasizing:

 Project Hope will attempt to link eligible clients to available move-in assistance and utilities subsidy programs.

 The Case Manager will continue to work closely with participants while in housing to increase income and reduce barriers to housing stability

 The Case Manager can work with both clients and landlords to mediate any disputes, facilitate communication, and ensure that problems are resolved quickly and in a satisfactory manner.

Supports to Maintain Housing

Once clients are housed, the Project Hope Case Manager will provide services to assist clients to retain their housing. Project HOPE will utilize a Transition in Place model of providing intensive housing support and tenancy skills development to housed clients with the goal of having the client transition to need less intensive services and less or no subsidy while remaining housed in the same location. Support may take the form of education, skills development, and home visits. Housing maintenance goals are included in a clients housing case plan and are based on the client’s specific needs. Examples of might include:

 Understanding lease requirements

 Avoiding property damage

 Basic household skills such as cooking and cleaning

 What constitutes good tenant behavior

 Budgeting with a focus on prioritizing rental payment

 Landlord / tenant rights and responsibilities

Home Visits- Regular home visits are an integral part assessing and responding to housing retention barriers. Once clients become housed, The Project Hope Case Manager will make a home visit, twice a week in the first month and once a week in the second month with an ongoing assessment as to what is the necessary frequency to provide initial stabilization. After the first two months, home visits may continue weekly or may go to monthly as determined by case manager. A home visit enables the case manager to identify tenancy issues that become "teachable moments." Home visits provide opportunities for real life teaching of skills that are 5

essential for lease renewals, return of tenants' security deposits, and good landlord references. Home visits are also an opportunity to assess the unit for health and safety issues.

Supports to Maintain Landlords

The Case Manager will follow up with clients and landlords post move in and assist with resolving any conflicts. Their role is also to retain landlords in the program by offering support such as:

 Move in costs and rental subsidies

 Facilitating at least one meeting between the landlord and the client to review the lease

 The landlord is provided with contact information for the Case Manager in the event that any questions or concerns arise

 The Case Manager checks in with the landlord at least monthly and more frequently than once/month while concerns are being addressed

 Mediating disputes in order to resolve landlord/participant concerns

Reporting

BFHP will provide monthly written reports and program statistics to the City of Albany on the 5th of each month for the previous month. Reports will include:

 Numbers of outreach contacts, services contacts, and transportation provided

 An updated narrative of activities, successes, and challenges

HMIS

BFHP is required to participate in the County’s Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). HMIS requires the entry of client-level data into a centralized, web-based system as well as compliance with all applicable confidentiality and data security protocols.

 HMIS Outcomes and Demographic reports for Project Hope will be sent to the City of Albany on the 5th of each month.

 Completion of an HMIS intake will be a requirement for any client who is receiving rental assistance through the City of Albany or any other source

 The Project Hope Case Manager will complete HMIS intakes for all consenting clients who are actively engaged in case management and housing search

 Completing an HMIS intake is not a requirement for receiving outreach, engagement and initial case management services through Project Hope and therefore the Case Manager will not be able to capture less engaged clients within the HMIS system

MEETINGS AND COORDINATION

BFHP will coordinate these services with City staff from the Human Services Division as needed

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Rochelle Nason January 20, 2014 at 11:59 PM
It is very encouraging to see the inclusion of the 'Home Stretch' component to address the issue of identifying the most vulnerable of the campers and getting them into permanent supportive housing at the first opportunity. The rest of the proposal sounds like 'stay the course' - but without the Solano Community Church component that was such a central part of the original contract with BF&HP. It is frustrating that this process is so opaque - there are just SO many questions unanswered here, presumably because of the relationship of this sequence of contracts to the pending litigation over the plan to clear the encampments on the Bulb. It looks like the people of Albany have little choice but to take it on faith that this is a necessary part of the City's strategy to reclaim the Albany Waterfront Park, as well as hopefully helping the un-sheltered homeless both on the Bulb and elsewhere in town.
Caryl O'Keefe January 21, 2014 at 01:21 AM
I believe the Solano Ave Church is still very actively involved with the broader Project Hope, and assistance for all homeless in Albany. The documents quoted here deal with BFHP's work and accomplishments.
Rochelle Nason January 21, 2014 at 11:34 AM
Caryl, you should compare this proposal with the original proposal of the Berkeley Food & Housing Project (BF&HP), which was a partnership with the Solano Community Church (SCC). It is available here: http://albanyca.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=1110 (after you follow the link to the agenda, scroll down to agenda item 8-1B and click that link to see the proposal). The SCC promised to provide $25,000 worth of in-kind services if the City chose BF&HP - that is the component that is missing here. I never seen any report on what services the SCC actually provided to support the project, have you?. That bothers me, and it is also kind of troubling that some of what the SCC committed to do is now apparently being done instead by Francesco's Neighbors Helping Neighbors project. It seems like the people of Albany have been asked to spend an awful lot of money, first through tax dollars and then again through philanthropy, to house a very small number of people.
Rochelle Nason January 21, 2014 at 11:59 AM
And then there is this language in the original BF&HP/SCC proposal: "And equally important to the success of this project is that the SCC ministry staff and volunteers have already done the hardest work of outreach and engagement with residents of Bulb. They have done the initial and hardest work during the past few years and gained the trust of these residents which is the most difficult and essential aspect of a successful outreach and engagement effort. This is combined with BFHP now being able to engage these same individuals with SCC and offer concrete and tangible resources for all, and housing opportunities for those who are ready to seek permanent housing." (see page 4 of the proposal linked in my previous post). Maybe we need some analysis of what went wrong before we spend more money on this, unless it is essential to the City's legal defense. Oh, and speaking of legal defense, if you follow the link back to the original BF&HP proposal, you can also read the competing proposal of the Homeless Action Center, one of the law firms now suing the City and hoping to collect legal fees from it. Ugh.
Brian Parsley January 21, 2014 at 12:26 PM
If only those on City Council, who promised to Save Our Shoreline, actually did we might not have to spend all this money today.
Margaret Tong January 22, 2014 at 04:17 AM
If I didn't already own a home in Albany, I'd have no reason to buy one now. I'd move to the Bulb and be given one and have it furnished with donated items

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