March Consolidated Homeless Grant (CHG) Newsletter

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Consolidated Homeless Grant (CHG) Newsletter

March 2016

Please forward to your sub grantees and contact your CHG program manager if you have any questions.

Successful three day training helps over 90 Grantees

March may have rolled in like a lion, but thanks to the Consolidated Homeless Grant managers it will roll out like a lamb. Commerce hosted over 90 Lead Grantees and direct services providers to review grant guidelines over three and a half days earlier this month. This exercise will help ensure that the people experiencing homelessness who received help through these grant funds receive efficient and effective support as they move toward more stable and permanent housing.

New information to review on the website includes

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Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) Update – Amendments!

Consolidated Homeless Grant program managers are working to ensure we help every eligible HEN client in Washington State!

State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2016
Some HEN funds were unspent between July and December 2015 and we are re-obligating to CHG contracts so that we can spend out the entire SFY 2016 funds by June 30.  Ensuring that all unsheltered HEN clients receive housing assistance remains our first priority for funding.  Keeping current eligible HEN clients housed and carefully targeting to people at imminent risk (see additional and new requirements in section 4.1 and 7.5 of the CHG Guidelines) is also important.

SFY 2017
New SFY 2017 HEN awards (and additional CHG awards to communities that didn’t receive a HEN budget line item) will be made through an additional grant amendment in June.

How to sail through your audit on For-Profit Spending Requirement

Commerce is preparing for the audit on the For-Profit spending requirement (section 2.3.2 and Appendix E of the CHG Guidelines.)  Site visits to your agencies are tentatively planned for April and May – we will let you know when we receive the schedule. Let your CHG program manager know if you have questions; we are here to help!

Four unsheltered families housed during the first week of the 100 Day Challenge

Cowlitz, Mason, and Thurston counties were selected to participate in the 100 Day Challenge to End Family Homelessness that kicked off Feb. 25. The kickoff event helped these counties set goals to rapidly reduce family homelessness. Aspire Consulting, led by Kathie Barkow, will lead ongoing technical assistance to those counties until June. A final assessment and report available in July will identify potential best practices for other counties and state agencies.

Washington State Housing Alliance Logo

Washington State Homeless Conference, May 11 – 12

The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance is excited to announce that registration for the annual Conference on Ending Homelessness is now open. The conference will take place May 11 - 12, 2016 at the Spokane Convention Center in Spokane, Wash. As the largest annual convening of homelessness stakeholders in Washington State, it will bring together over 600 people regionally and from neighboring states. This year's program will offer a wide diversity of direct service and advocacy skill building trainings, networking opportunities, and opportunities to discuss on how we can collectively continue to strengthen our state's movement to ensure all people have access to safe, healthy, and affordable homes.

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Pre-Conference Supportive Housing Services Medicaid Training May 10
In addition to the Conference on Ending Homelessness, two additional trainings will take place the day before the conference begins on May 10. We will be offering a Pre-Conference Supportive Housing Services Medicaid benefit training for permanent supportive housing providers and those interested in using this new, targeted Medicaid benefit. We will also be offering an Emerging Advocates Program advocacy training for people with direct experience of housing instability/homelessness.

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Wrapping up the Housing Pathway Pilot

In November 2013, Commerce housing contractors from the Ending Family Homelessness pilot used eJAS website as a referral and case management tool. The pilot is coming to an end March 30.

We learned that the collaborative relationship between housing providers and the local Community Service Office's (CSO) is key to improving access to housing services for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Though we will not roll out the Housing Pathway to other housing providers, participants shared some best practices to increase collaboration and improve client outcomes.

  • Co-location: Clients didn’t have to visit two places when housing providers co-located at their local CSO.
  • Joint case management: When staff from the CSOs and the housing providers sat together to collaborate on case management, better outcomes for clients resulted.
  • Joint learning: Staff from CSOs and housing providers learned more about their similar work to support clients and how to leverage each other’s strengths to support clients.

HMIS Agency Partner Agreements due March 31

Agencies are required to have an updated, signed Agency Partner Agreement and Interagency Data Sharing Agreement on file with Commerce and stored locally in order to “go live” on the new system April 1. To ensure we can continue collecting and recording important data about people experiencing homelessness, please sign these agreements locally and return them to Commerce no later than March 31 in order to have full access to the new HMIS and all your migrated client data on April 1.

If you are not an agency that participates in data sharing with other agencies on HMIS, then simply printing a copy of the Agency Partner Agreement and sending it back to us signed by your executive authority is all you need to do. If you do participate in data sharing locally and want to continue to do so on the new system, please also circulate the Interagency Data Sharing Agreement locally and return it signed to Commerce.

Please email or call Mary Schwartz ( or 360-725-2982) if you have any questions about the agreements you need to sign and/or anything else related to HMIS. New client consent forms, revocation of consent forms, and user ethics forms are still under revision and will be distributed for use locally no later than April 1.

Registration is now open for new HMIS Training

The HMIS Training Catalog is now updated with many training opportunities in March and early April. These trainings are either webinar based or located in Olympia at the Department of Commerce. All HMIS users must take new software training before they can start using the new HMIS software, Clarity, beginning April 1. All new users must take both the “HMIS New User” and “HMIS New Software” trainings offered back-to-back, in-person, or as one complete webinar.

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Annual County / Homeless Housing Inventory Reports due April 4!

Lead Grantees must work with their county and are responsible for ensuring that the Annual County Report/Homeless Housing Inventory (section of the CHG Guidelines) is sent to Commerce by April 4.  The report provides a portfolio of homeless housing resources in your community of housing, programs, capacity and funding that advocates and service providers can use to consider new strategies and goals to reduce homelessness.

FREE Webinar: How can your community benefit from Employment First?

This webinar will review the history of Employment First, its implications for Washington state, and its role in advancing employment for people with mental illness and substance use disorders, featuring David Hoff, Project Manager for the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts.  The webinar is scheduled for March 17, 2016 from 8:30 - 10 a.m. PDT.

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Forecast of Document Recording Fees Dedicated to Homelessness

Commerce presented the following information at the Association of County Human Services meeting on March 16.

In July 2019 the document recording fees dedicated to homelessness will drop 62%, resulting in approximately 22,000 fewer people receiving assistance.  (RCW 36.22.179 and RCW 36.22.1791)

Forecast of Document Recording Fees Dedicated to Homelessness

City Snapshot Data

The Association of Washington Cities has a new interactive tool using U.S. Census data to profile your city’s economic condition, demographic breakdown, housing stock, and more.

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