Thursday, March 5, 2015

Progress with Homelessness

For John, BLUFPeople are working homelessness.  It is hard.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Yesterday was the Monthly meeting of the Lowell Hunger/Homeless Commission, Mr Brent Rourke, Chairman.  The Guest Presenter was Ms Rose Evans, from the Massachusetts Dep't of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).  They moved from the Department of Transitional Assistance in 2009.

Their goal is to speed up housing of the homeless.  Family housing is with DHCD.

There have been no eligibility changes since 2012.  However there have been rules changes and ER changes.  The goal is Uniform shelter rules.  Both hotels and shelter providers.  The hotels and motels are overflow. This is an area where the Governor wants to take action.

[Here is an article from Tuesday's edition of The Boston Globe on the Governor's initiative.]

At this point the average stay in shelter is 7 months across Commonwealth.  The success rate in terms of families returning to homelessness is about 13% return rate.  There are some families who cycle through.

We now have case management in hotels and motels, 16 hours a day, seven days a week.  The goal is to, amongst other things, interrupt the isolation that leads toward depression.  The focus on those in hotels and motels is on rehousing. One of the problems the office faces is getting jammed up by law suits.

This program is a $42 million line item.  The money is for buying facilities and services.  And healthcare for homeless.  70% of shelter of homeless individuals paid.  Families' expenses paid at 100%.

One of the items of larger concern (at least to me) is that 13% in Shelters identify as Domestic Violence victims.  And there is no real exit strategy.

One of the issues is that large numbers of folks are refusing medical services and falling out.  This is particularly the case with mental health.  And services can be forced without a court order.  One person stated that this is "not a good enough answer".

Rose Evans responded—We are working it.  A major topic of conversation.  Then there is the sex offender population.

Rose Evans noted that Sheriffs and Hspitals discharging right to shelter.  This needs to be addressed before discharge.  A representative from the Department of Correction noted that there is a serious mental health population with DOC.

One individual noted that the Rep Payee program works, including providing socialization.

Regards  —  Cliff

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