February Consolidated Homeless Grant Newsletter

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Consolidated Homeless Grant (CHG) Newsletter

Feb. 15, 2017

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

Commerce Housing Assistance Unit Releases Strategic Plans, County Report Cards and Papers

Wow, have we been busy! If you haven’t been to our website lately, now is the time. You will find links to the State Homeless Housing Strategic Plan and the Office of Homeless Youth Plan. The winter County Report Cards and Year to Year Comparisons are hot off the press. In addition, you will find three useful papers that will help you understand and talk about the homeless situation in our state: Why is Homelessness Increasing?, Counts of Homelessness: Different Counts and What they Mean, and Overview of the Homeless Housing System and Funding.

Annual Count of Homeless Students Continues to Climb


The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction reported that 39,671 Washington students were without a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence at some point during the 2015-2016 school year. The most common situation for homeless students is doubled up (staying temporarily in someone else’s home), but the count also includes a significant number of students in hotels or motels, in shelters, or unsheltered. 

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Spotlight: “The HEN program saved my life! I was able to recover my mental health and rebuild my life.”


Thurston County Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) participants share their success.

A 58-year-old female with severe depression and debilitating anxiety was enrolled in the homeless prevention HEN program in June 2015. During the 18 months that she was in the program, she accessed mental health counseling and found a successful regiment of anti-depressants and anxiety medication. She completed her college degree in September 2016. She then became a certified phlebotomist in November 2016, and is now able to support herself working as an on-call phlebotomist. When she last spoke with HEN case manager Valerie Ballew at the Community Action Council of Lewis, Mason, and Thurston, she said, “The HEN program saved my life! I was able to recover my mental health and rebuild my life.”

In March 2016 a 61-year-old man with early onset dementia was enrolled in the HEN program. He was homeless at the time. With a collaborative effort between his HEN case manager, Valerie, and a long- time friend, they were able to get him housed and engaged with case management services at Behavioral Health Resources. They were also able to track down his household goods at a storage facility and have them delivered to his new apartment. He is now under the care of a neurologist. He is able to support himself with Social Security and a pension. Whenever Valerie speaks with him, he expresses his gratitude for the HEN program.

Myths and Facts

Myths and Facts

Myth: It’s OK for my HUD-funded program to only serve women and children.

Fact: If your program receives HUD funding to serve households with children, you must serve all types of households with children.

Myth: If a person is seeking shelter in a single-sex adult shelter, they must prove (such as with the sex listed on their driver’s license) that their sex matches the shelter population.

Fact: You must respect the gender identity of the client and serve them accordingly. You may not require proof or create additional barriers to service based on their gender or gender expression.

For more information and resources related to HUD’s Equal Access and Gender Identity Rules, effective Oct. 21, 2016, see the links below:

LGBT Homelessness Page

Guide for Shelters and Projects

Assessment for Shelters and Projects

Training Scenarios

Equal Access Decision Tree

Notice of Rights to Post Publicly

List of Statewide LGBTQ Advocacy Organizations

Are you focusing on permanent housing exits?

Operating a homeless housing program is complex. Meeting the needs of your clients and the demands of your funders can leave you feeling pulled in different directions, and it’s easy to lose track of our real purpose. The good news is that service providers, clients and funders agree on the big goal: permanent housing. This goal should shape everything you do – developing a housing stability plan and communicating with landlords, determining the amount of rent assistance and collecting accurate data. Do you know how effective your programs are at moving people into permanent housing quickly?

Determining HEN Rent Subsidy

Ever wonder what to do if your Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) client has another person in their household? The income for all adult household members seeking services together must be considered for stability planning and determining rent subsidy.

A household is one or more individuals seeking to obtain or maintain housing together. The entire household is considered for eligibility determination and services. A household does not include friends or family that are providing temporary housing. – Section 4, CHG Guidelines

If a HEN client is renting a room in a shared house, the income of the other residents need not be considered, so long as the HEN rent subsidy is only for the portion of rent and utilities that the HEN client is directly responsible for.

To Prioritize or Not to Prioritize?

Prioritizing access to housing and services is required when there are not enough resources to meet the demand. If there are enough resources to serve all of the unsheltered people in your community (in other words, your community is at functional zero*), there is no need to use a vulnerability assessment or other needs-based assessment to decide which unsheltered households to help – you can help them all!

*Functional zero unsheltered is defined as the number of unsheltered homeless households moving into temporary or permanent housing being equal to or greater than the number of current and newly identified unsheltered homeless households. – CHG Guidelines, Appendix D

National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) and OrgCode Host Workshop on How to Be an Awesome Shelter


For too long, many shelters have exercised therapeutic incarceration – adding more and more programs within them that do not have a direct bearing on long-term housing success and which can actually incentivize homelessness. On the other hand, some shelters are so sparse in service delivery that it is no wonder there is no connection to permanent solutions.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness is partnering with OrgCode to offer How to Be an Awesome Shelter – a learning clinic that will provide a day and a half of intensive instruction and interaction. Shelters oriented toward housing are a critical part of ending homelessness. From intake procedures to staff engagement strategies, shelter rules to housing engagement, this learning clinic is rich in provocative content and practical solutions to improve positive destinations out of shelter. This clinic features specialized streams for families, youth and single adults.