Sunday, December 20, 2020

Tracking Success - HEAP and HHAP over the past three years


Several of us datawonks have begun a serious dive into the available reports provided by the 70 providers of housing and housing-ready and supportive services funded by local, state, HUD-Housing, and HUD-Cares sources over the past three years.

Our goal is to figure out what is happening as a result of all the expenditures and efforts using client outcomes.  What have been the housing outcomes for participants, and how much has the money and work undertaken improved their ability to achieve stable, unsubsidized housing?  More importantly for local government, and the newly-constituted Sonoma County Continuum of Care Governing Board, what has worked and what hasn't?

This comes at a time when the California Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council (HCFC) is asking the same questions.  At their Dec 18th virtual meeting, Governor Newsom described the progress of his Roomkey and Homekey Programs, which have pumped $1 billion into local hands in record time.  

With Public Record Act requests being submitted to acquire the past year's agency reports, including de-identified client reports from the local Homeless Management Information System (the same data that the the HCFC will be aggregating into their own database this spring), we should be able to answer these important questions for decision-makers and the public to review.

For each of the programs and expenditures, what do we know about our client housing histories before they enrolled in our program?  Given that we assess them at the beginning for their health and housing vulnerability in order to provide priority services to the most in need, who were our clients served?  Do they reflect the overall homeless community?  Are they the most needy?  What did they ask of us?  What did we provide to them?  How long did we do so?  What were the outcomes achieved?  What was not achieved?  Why?  Did it impact the level of our ongoing work needed?  When they left our program, did they enroll in another program?  What type of housing was it?  What services were provided?  Did the subsequent provider learn anything from the previous provider and records?  What was the client's experience there?  Did it result in their being more or less capable of improving their housing security and capabilities?

Many homeless advocates are unconvinced that the CoC understands the outcomes it has achieved, and are asking the Governing Board to direct staff to provide more information on program performance.  This blog will contain what the requested reports and records reveal.  What is likely to be the result is that far more questions and tracking systems need to be formulated to improve our chances of addressing the issue of homelessness.   With an estimated $100 million having been spent locally over this period on law enforcement, emergency room utilization, facility development, and services provisions, we owe it to both clients and ourselves to do a better job.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

April 7th Meeting of the Board of Supervisors


The April 7th Meeting of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors contains important information on the efforts of the County to house unsheltered to protect them from the COVID-19 Virus.  (Click Here)

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

HMIS Usage and Value in Sonoma County


I want to use this post to collect the information that Sonoma County reports to HUD.

This information below (and commentary from me) provides insight into how many beds we have in various categories, and what percentage in each category are participating in our HMIS system. It is helpful to me to be able to better understand our capacity for serving homeless, and how accurately we can measure outcomes.


The summary is:

699 shelter beds, 28 dedicated to domestic violence, 93.44% participating in HMIS.  100 beds not in HMIS.  Which agencies are these beds in?
275 transitional housing beds, 182 in HMIS, 193 not in HMIS. Which agencies are these beds in?
495 rapid re-housing beds, all in HMIS.
764 permanent supportive housing beds, 305 in HMIS, 459 not in HMIS. Which agencies are these beds in? 
318 other permanent housing beds, 169 in HMIS, 149 not in HMIS.  Which agencies are these beds in?

Excluding rapid re-housing, 1255 beds in HMIS, 901 not in HMIS (72%).

If outcome measures beyond the shelter are the key to the performance of our system, how do you accomplish that if a majority of those beds are not being included?  Of the 1357 beds in non-shelter, non-rapid re-housing in Sonoma County (which HMIS was designed for), 801 beds are not being entered into HMIS (59%).

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Homebase Reports


An extremely valuable source of support for local government and community agencies, Homebase provides useful advice and services for homeless housing.

Homebase Tools and Policy Briefs

Peer Learning Communities

Beyond Homelessness - Homebase Newsletters

Using Data to Inform Action

Connecting Housing with Healthcare, Income, and Services

Homeless Housing from Southern California Continuums of Care Alliance


Joe Colletto, of Urban Initiatives in Pasadena, is doing an excellent job of reporting and coordinating the work of CoCs in Southern California.  Here is some of his reports.

Latest Policy Information

Latest Announcements

What's happening in SF, LA, SJ, and SD?

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Housing First, HEAP, and HHAP - What has been accomplished?


In July of 2018, California adopted the policy of "Housing First" to provide homes for the most vulnerable residents of our streets.  Five months later, it distributed $500 million to California's local governments, and is now in the process of providing $650 million more to build the infrastructure and services to achieve that goal.

What is the progress, and what impact on the problem of homelessness has it had?