Homeless to Homes Plan

Executive Summary

A comprehensive plan for the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio to ensure single homeless individuals have access to appropriate shelter facilities and comprehensive services which facilitate their movement from homelessness to permanent housing.

Background

The Homeless to Homes Plan represents a significant shift in the way our community responds to homelessness.

In 2008, Cincinnati City Council directed Strategies to End Homelessness to develop a comprehensive plan to ensure that homeless individuals would have access to appropriate shelter facilities and comprehensive services to facilitate their movement to permanent housing. That plan, Homeless to Homes, was adopted by Cincinnati City Council in 2009. It provides a framework for our community to follow in order to do a better job of ensuring that homeless individuals receive the best possible services, services that will help them move out of shelter quicker and into housing.

Highlights

  • Improved quality of services to move individuals out of homelessness quickly. The longer a person remains homeless, the harder it is to stabilize his/her housing.
  • Targeted services specific to the individual’s gender, age, or special needs, with reduced reliance on emergency shelter alone. Services such as case management, mental health assessment and intervention, substance abuse assessment and treatment, combined with shelter to end homelessness.
  • An ambitious increase in transitional and permanent supportive housing, rather than an increase in emergency shelter beds.
  • Recommendations that would make better use of existing funding resources.

Value

For the first time, everyone involved in the effort is “on the same page” regarding how the community should address homelessness. More than 90 individuals, representing the top leadership of City and County government, housing and human service providers, philanthropists and funders, the faith community, and the business community are collaborating to design a system to better serve Cincinnati’s homeless citizens.

The Data

Cincinnati is the only community in the country that has a 100% participation rate by service providers in our Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). As a result, the people developing the plan had at their fingertips real numbers of homeless people, client ages, race and gender, special needs, and other meaningful information. This data was the foundation of their work and continues to inform planning decisions.

The Homeless to Homes Plan Addresses Six Areas of Concern:

  •  Emergency Shelter

The plan does not call for an increase in the number of emergency shelter beds, but does recommend a dramatic reconfiguration of existing shelter capacity, combined with an increase in the targeted services necessary to move people out of homelessness. The plan calls for smaller, more specialized facilities such as a shelter for young adults aged 18-24, and a facility designed to serve single women.

  •  Emergency Shelter Program, Operations and Facility Accreditation Standards

The Emergency Shelter Program, Operations and Facility Standards were drawn and adapted from the Homeless to Homes plan and all emergency shelter facilities receiving public funding are expected to be in alignment with the City approved recommendations.   Strategies to End Homelessness monitors the facilities annually and reports to the City of Cincinnati Department of Community Development.

  • Transitional Housing

The plan calls for an increase in the number of transitional housing units. The creation of more transitional housing (both scattered-site and site-based) allows emergency shelters to serve those who need short-term assistance. Transitional housing provides longer-term support for people who need additional help to make the transition from homelessness to independent living.

  • Permanent Supportive Housing

The plan calls for an additional 1,020 units of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), housing which incorporates supportive services designed to support a homeless person’s ability to live independently.  To achieve the creation of 1,020 units, the plan recommends the development of a minimum of 125 site-based and 79 scattered-site PSH units per year for each of the next five years.

  • Services

The plan acknowledges that supportive services play a critical role in moving homeless individuals into housing, and therefore calls for a higher level of service delivery.  The Central Access Point (CAP), a centralized intake system and referral phone line for homeless families, has expanded to include calls for a homeless prevention program and shelter for single individuals. The plan calls for the expansion of CAP into a system-wide resource for connecting homeless people with the most appropriate services. Other service improvements in the plan are an improve the case manager ratio to 1:10 and for better assessment services for mental health and substance abuse.

  • Funding

Local funders working on the Homeless to Homes Funding Advisory Committee called for a more strategic and collaborative local funding process. Recommendations include alignment of funding by local grant makers for programs within the plan, a coordinated request process, and a uniformed measure of outcomes for all projects.

The funding committee is working with 3CDC to develop a coordinated capital and operating funding request system for the development of the new emergency shelters. Members of the committee include representatives of the United Way, The Haile Foundation, Greater Cincinnati Foundation, the City of Cincinnati, PNC Bank, Interact for Health and Catholic Health Partners.