DHS Homeless Service Provider Technical Assistance
Since 1990, IACAA has delivered technical assistance to providers of homeless services, and to homeless families and individuals in partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services, Bureau of Basic Support (the Bureau) under the Emergency and Transitional Housing Program.
Since the beginning of 2012, work with the Bureau has focused on the Keystone Project. Keystone directly targets families and individuals who are currently experiencing homelessness, are at immediate risk, or are re-establishing stability and rebuilding their lives in the wake of that trauma.
Currently, the main element in the Keystone Project is Keystone Magazine. The Magazine is a monthly publication that delivers practical information that families and individuals can use in their plans for the future. The Magazine is intended to supplement efforts readers make on their own, and in conjunction with professional case workers in social service agencies. Circulation is approximately 650.
Examples of topics and issues addressed:
As a conduit to make the connection to that population, IACAA’s approach makes use of networks of homeless service providers that IACAA has developed over its 40 plus years of service to the statewide Community Action Network, and the communities, families, and individuals it serves. IACAA program staff also have substantial experience in direct services to persons who are homeless.
IACAA also takes advantage of the technological change, including internet resources to reach the targeted population, using email, a web site (https://sites.google.com/site/kswebhome/), and other web tools. In these days, even persons who are or have been homeless have at least some internet access either directly for those who are now housed, or indirectly are through friends, shelters, social service organizations, or public libraries.
Through 2011, a primary IACAA activity for the Bureau was the publication of the monthly newsletter Homeless Headlines and the Homeless Hotline bulletin. These publications brought peer service models, timely news, expert information, and funding information to homeless service providers and affordable housing developers throughout Illinois. The circulation was approximately 1,100.
IACAA works with the Bureau in its capacity as administrator for the State Set-aside component of the National Emergency Food and Shelter Program. The Set-aside provides resources to Illinois counties that do not get their own direct allocation under the program. IACAA assists the Bureau with assembling and presenting statistical information used by a Set-aside committee in selecting and utilizing a need-based formula to allocate the annual funding to eligible counties, and documenting the process to federal funders.
A combination of low wages and limited availability of affordable rental housing units requires many families and households throughout the State of Illinois to pay a disproportionate share of their income for basic housing. There are also households in the state that face additional difficulty in finding affordable housing due to disabilities or special needs of family members.
In order to address this pressing need, the Rental Housing Support Program (RHSP) was enacted in 2005. The Rental Housing Support Program promotes permanent housing through the funding of rent subsidies for these 'rent burdened' extremely and severely low-income households. Fewer than half the states in the nation have a rental assistance program and only two other states, Massachusetts and Connecticut, provide long-term rental support.
IACAA signed a three (3) year contract with the Illinois Housing Development Authority in 2008 to administer this program within 16 rural counties of Illinois in Round I of the RHSP. Participating agencies are Project Now in Rock Island, Rockford Human Services, Two Rivers Regional Council of Public Officials in Quincy, and Wabash Area Development, Inc. (WADI), in Enfield. Currently 57 families are being assisted through Round I. In many cases, these IACAA member agencies are also providing services other than housing to the tenant families.
IACAA has also been awarded in Round II (2009) of the RHSP. This partnership will include Rockford Human Services, Shawnee Development Council in Karnak, and Tri-County Opportunities Council in Rock Falls. This award will increase the coverage by 16 counties, for a total of 32 counties in all. Units are not yet rented.
IACAA is applying for Round III funding in the fall of 2009 for an award to be made in the spring of 2010. This is likely to substantially increase the number of counties and families served.
Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) is a program that helps eligible people find a permanent home and also get local mental health services but only if and when they need that help. PSH wants to boost people's power to choose their own living arrangements and get services that are flexible based upon the support they need at any given time.
The Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health is committed to, as a priority toward systems rebalancing, the development and expansion of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) for individuals who meet defined criteria of eligibility and who are diagnosed with a serious mental illness. The goal of this initiative is to promote and stabilize consumer Recovery with elective support services in one's leased or owned home that (1) provides safety, (2) ensures comfort and decency and (3) is financially manageable within the resources that the consumer has available. You can view the full DMH Housing Policy in the list of documents below.