Highlights from the NOFA: Opportunities to Expand Housing Supports and Improve System Performance
As your communities prepare applications for HUD’s FY 2017 Continuum of Care Program Competition Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA), I wanted to build on my first blog and last week’s webinar to do a deeper dive on important opportunities that can be leveraged to expand the array of housing supports available in your community and to improve your homelessness service system’s performance.
This year’s NOFA includes two new opportunities that are in large part designed to improve flow through your system and to help shorten the length of time it takes to connect individuals and families experiencing homelessness to permanent housing: the new Joint Transitional Housing and Rapid Re-Housing Component Project and DedicatedPLUS. Both project types can be applied for through reallocation or through the permanent housing bonus.
The Joint Transitional Housing and Rapid Re-Housing Component Project
As HUD’s In Focus message and NAEH’s recent blog note, joint transitional housing and rapid re-housing component projects can be used to help communities—particularly those where there are large numbers of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness or living in encampments—provide temporary, low-barrier housing while focusing on swiftly connecting those families and individuals to permanent housing and continued services as soon as they choose it.
The joint component model will be most effective when the project’s budget is allocated so that there is more funding for the rapid re-housing component than for the transitional housing component of the project. If implemented with a greater focus of resources on transitional housing than rapid re-housing, there will not be a steady flow through the system.
In communities with low vacancy rates and/or high-cost rental markets, joint component projects should also invest ample funding in resources for housing locators or other housing search activities to ensure that quick connections to rapid re-housing supports are made.
Before choosing to seek funding for joint component projects, communities that are experiencing longer stays in emergency shelter should focus on:
increasing exits to permanent housing through rapid re-housing and other permanent housing, and
determining if such increased flow through emergency shelter would create adequate shelter capacity.
During our webinar on strategies for success last week, we also heard lots of questions about the new DedicatedPLUS designation for permanent supportive housing projects. In addition to opportunities to create new permanent supportive housing projects that are 100% dedicated to serving individuals and families experiencing chronic homelessness, HUD has carved out this new permanent supportive housing designation, DedicatedPLUS, to serve other vulnerable individuals and families. I thought it’d be helpful to sketch out our ideas of how and where DedicatedPLUS will be most useful.
While you continue to focus on connecting all individuals and families experiencing chronic homelessness with the highest needs to permanent supportive housing, there are opportunities to use DedicatedPLUS to serve other people who are vulnerable or may have experienced chronic homelessness in the past but no longer meet the definition, which will improve flow and permanent housing connections in your community.
To highlight a few examples of how you can use DedicatedPLUS:
100% of these beds must be dedicated to households in which one adult or child has a disability who at intake were:
residing in transitional housing that will be eliminated and who met the definition of chronically homeless when they entered that transitional housing project;
had previously experienced chronic homelessness and were residing in permanent supportive housing within the last year, but are now experiencing unsheltered homelessness because they exited the permanent supportive housing program; or
are receiving assistance through a VA-funded homelessness assistance program and met one of the other criteria at intake for that program.
There are other important eligibility criteria and opportunities in the NOFA that you should pay close attention to as well.
Communities should look carefully at their data to understand if DedicatedPLUS beds are needed and would help to increase access to permanent supportive housing for people who need it.
For communities interested in expanding housing options to include DedicatedPLUS beds, it’s important to note that all permanent supportive housing, both new and renewal projects, can choose the DedicatedPLUS option through their project application process without reallocating.