Poverty and Homelessness Board is the logical place for Lane County’s Homeless System Transformation to be housed. by Pat Farr

Cooperation between Lane County and its cities will be key to maximizing resources to create shelter and supportive housing

A steering committee worked through the data and recommendations provided by the Housing and Shelter Feasibility Study (“TAC Report”), to provide a road map, or an implementation framework, to guide local jurisdictions in their efforts to build and operate affordable housing and shelter in Lane County.  (See TAC here)

Lane County’s Poverty and Homelessness Board has broad membership that includes a matrix of policy makers, providers and consumers who have been working extensively on issues and conditions surrounding the cause and response to homelessness issues. (See PHB here for links to membership and strategic plan of the PHB).

This Implementation Framework that has been recommended and adopted by Lane County and City of Eugene governments is designed to move forward with the Technical Assistance Collaborative’s (TAC) 10 recommendations delivered to the Lane County Commissioners and Eugene City Councilors in January. TAC recommendations may be broadly organized into three categories:

1) Expanding the edges of the homeless service and supportive housing system by enhancing and more effectively outreaching to people experiencing homelessness and building out the inventory of supportive housing and services;

2) Strengthening the core of Lane County’s coordinated systems approach to homelessness by better coordinating, a strategic and data driven community-wide response, adding to diversion, prevention coordinated entry and navigation services; and

3) Enhancing the rapid response by providing better emergency housing with integrated supportive services and housing navigation; building a new low- barrier 75-bed Shelter/Navigation Center; developing mobiles socio-health care teams to serve people where they are and allocating flexible funds to creatively respond to emerging needs.

3+ year Implementation Framework

The Framework below identifies key milestones for each year of implementation.  The majority of TAC’s recommendations are achievable in 3 years.  However, the complexity inherent in developing Permanent Supportive housing necessitates a 5+ year implementation strategy for this item.

Immediate Difference Makers.

  • Establishment of a navigation center at the Dusk to Dawn site to provide expanded supportive navigation services This is intended as a bridge strategy until a new Emergency Shelter/Navigation Center comes online
  • Design and siting work toward a new 75-bed, Low-Barrier Emergency Shelter/Navigation Center
  • Develop and Implement Mobile teams to deliver services to people where they are.
  • 51 Units of Permanent Supportive Housing beginning construction in Fall of 2019
  • Strengthening system coordination for diversion, coordinated entry, navigation and move on
  • Flexible Funding to respond to people’s immediate needs
  • Collective impact process led by a Strategic Initiatives Manager

Linked to existing efforts

TAC Implementation will complement and link to existing homeless and supportive housing and service programs and initiatives sponsored by the City and County to address homelessness. The following are some examples of existing initiatives that have added capacity in recent years:

Dusk to Dawn:  Established by Lane County and the City of Eugene in December 2015, Dusk to Dawn provides sites for people to sleep overnight. A St. Vincent de Paul site for individuals in northwest Eugene has been expanded over the past three years from 80 beds, to 115 and this year to 215 beds. St. Vincent de Paul also operates a site for families with children in southeast Eugene that has a capacity to serve 20 families.

Car Camping and Safe Parking Programs: Car Camping and Safe Parking programs, run in partnership with St. Vincent de Paul, currently hosts over 90 single spaces and eight family spaces at over 43 addresses, both public and private. The City of Eugene and Lane County sponsor these programs. St. Vincent de Paul administers the program, providing sanitary facilities as well as camper screening and placement.

Rest Stops: Rest stops provide approved sites where people experiencing homelessness can sleep in tents or Conestoga huts, keep their belongings, and receive assistance connecting with social services. Currently, five rest stops managed by local non-profits are in operation, serving up to 92 people at any one time.

Community Outreach and Response Team (CORT): A partnership between the Downtown Police Team and CAHOOTS, this team identifies top users of police resources in the downtown area and spends two days a week working with individuals to help them address underlying needs and barriers. CORT has helped 31% of their clients enter housing.

Frequent User System Engagement (FUSE): Lane County’s FUSE, is a supportive housing program for the top 100 homeless individuals who have been the most “frequent utilizers” of Lane County’s public services including law enforcement, jails, and emergency medical services. A partnership between Lane County, Laurel Hill, ShelterCare, Willamette Family Treatment Senior & Disabled Services, local jails and law enforcement, FUSE engages people with outreach, case management, housing search, housing units and/or rental assistance, care coordination and ongoing support.  In its pilot year, participants experienced an 82% drop in arrests, a 75% drop in citations, a 26% decrease in emergency room visits, a 53% drop in healthcare costs, and a 50% decline in jail intakes.

Veterans Housing Project: An extension of operation 365, the Veterans Housing Project is a collaborative effort between individuals, businesses, governmental agencies, non-profits, service clubs and others to acquire and rehabilitate distressed properties to provide affordable rental housing for veterans and their families.  More than 500 veterans have been housed since program inception in 2014.

Timing:

The County Administrator and Eugene City Manager will bring back to the County Board and the City Council for approval in June their recommendation for financing the first year of the implementation plan. Additional service capacity will be phased in during year one.

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