As we turn the corner onto the holiday season, a period of time when many folks are surrounded by the comfort of friends and family, it is important to stop and reflect on those who may not have this luxury. November is Runaway & Homeless Youth month, a period of time dedicated to raising awareness and devoting prevention efforts towards the homeless youth crisis in California. Our state is home to the largest population of unaccompanied homeless youth in the nation, with a total of 15,458 youth enumerated in the 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report sent to Congress. With this figure in mind, in 2018 we counted a total of 928 youth in our annual WeAllCount effort. These figures presented are what drive our work, and our ongoing mission to prevent and alleviate homelessness in San Diego. Our team has been working tirelessly to finalize our plan for the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) and are happy to share with the community our efforts.
We have recently submitted the first draft of our Coordinated Community Plan to HUD that outlines our efforts on how we will be using the YHDP funds. This plan highlights the planning and organizing work that has been ongoing in our community. Some of the highlights include the feedback we have received from our Youth Advisory Board, a coalition of current and formerly homeless youth who provide feedback, insight, and guidance on how they believe these funds should be allocated. We also have held multiple opportunities for input from the community, including six special focus groups on homeless youth sub-populations with community agencies that provide services to homeless youth. Additionally, we have held a community forum on ending youth homelessness, providing space for community members to share their ideas. All of these efforts have been done with guidance from HUD's Technical Assistance team that has been assigned to San Diego. Our Coordinated Community Plan is a synthesis of these efforts, and we look forward to receiving feedback from HUD.
A photo from the Runaway & Homeless Youth rally earlier this month
The Regional Task Force on the Homeless will conduct the annual WeAllCount from Friday, January 25th through Sunday, January 27th in 2019. The 2019 WeAllCount will be a survey-based count to identify the number of sheltered and unsheltered individuals across San Diego County.
The Regional Task Force on the Homeless is expanding and strengthening the methodology of the annual WeAllCount to focus on not just counting homeless individuals, but also engaging them to understand their needs and priorities in order to better serve them. This new survey-based count process will include surveying homeless people as they are encountered instead of asking them to come to a specific interview site at a later time and date. Additionally, volunteers will be able to sign up to survey those that are currently staying in shelters including the 3 sprung shelters downtown.
As a part of the new methodology, trained homeless outreach workers will lead teams of volunteers assigned to different census tracts to canvass and interview homeless people. The number of survey questions has been shortened to capture the most pertinent information. The survey will continue to collect demographic information, but also asks questions that inform planning, service delivery, and housing needs. The shortened survey will help the RTFH engage more people to gather a stronger set of data that will give a clearer picture of the state of homelessness in their region. If unsheltered individuals are unable to complete a survey, volunteers will complete a brief observational survey form.
The website for volunteers to sign up: https://rtfh.volunteerhub.com, will open on November 30th, 2018 with training information on how to participate in the engaged count. In the weeks leading up to the count, the RTFH and outreach workers will inform those experiencing homelessness that they may be woken up to conduct the survey. All individuals who participate in the survey will be compensated with a $10 Subway gift card and a pair of socks.
Nationally the WeAllCount is known as the Point-in-Time Count and is required by HUD every other year in order to receive federal funding for regional homeless services. Due to the strong turnout of dedicated volunteers the RTFH is confident that the count will be more accurate and help the community secure additional funds from HUD. The San Diego Region receives approximately twenty million dollars from HUD based on the data collected in the 2018 WeAllCount.
Timeline to Clarity
Our HMIS team has been hard at work finalizing all of our community's projects in our new HMIS system, Clarity. As we move forward with the technical aspects of the migration, we are also beginning to prepare for training the communityon Clarity and the go-live date for when the community will start using Clarity. This date is dependent on when the training, testing, and the final migration of data has been completed.
Below are a number of key dates in the transition timeline that we would like the community to be aware of as we move forward:
November 16th: Deadline to complete ServicePoint training (all ServicePoint trainees not finished with training by 11/16 will need to wait for Clarity training sessions)
November 29th (1:00 - 2:00 pm): Community Meeting on HMIS Transition - see the event page for more details and to RSVP for the meeting.
December 4-5th: Clarity Manager Training I (for HMIS Agency Administrators) - All Agency Administrators are required to take this training to be given equivalent privileges in the new HMIS - Clarity Systems.
December 10-12th: Clarity User Training (for all users and agency administrators) - All users are required to take this training to have access to the new HMIS - Clarity Systems.
December 22nd, 11:59 pm: Drop date for entering data into ServicePoint. Any data entered after this time will not be migrated into the new HMIS - Clarity Systems.
January 4th, 2019:GO-LIVE DATE. San Diego community starts entering HMIS data into the new HMIS - Clarity Systems.
January 7-10th: Clarity Manager Training II (follow-up session for HMIS Agency Administrators on reports and user data quality). Specific date/time TBD.
January 4th - 11th: Answers to frequently asked questions and any issues through online FAQ and/or webinar.
We will follow up with invitations (including specific times and locations) for each of the meetings listed above as soon as possible.
In the meantime, we have two requests to make of providers:
Note that all current ServicePoint trainees need to complete training by November 16th. Anyone who does not complete training by then will not be able to gain HMIS access until Clarity goes live on January 4th, 2019
Please update your HMIS agency key contacts as soon as possible (but no later than November 16th) by filling outthis online form. It is important that we have the most up-to-date contacts identified for all roles in advance of the final stages of HMIS transition so that all important communications go to the correct person. If you cannot submit the form for any reason, please email email@example.com with an updated list of contacts.
Continuum of Care Notice
Listening and Learning Tours Wrapping Up
The CoC Listening and Learning tours will be completing by the end of the year with CoC funded agencies and RTFH members. If you have not met with our CoC team you will be hearing from them to schedule a tour by the end of the year so that they can begin the program monitoring for 2019. The RTFH hopes that the monitoring oversight will be a productive community force to facilitate communication, collaboration, and improvement throughout the continuum.
Coordinated Entry System Catch Up
In our ongoing efforts to strengthen our Coordinated Entry System, we have began seeking input from individuals who are engaging within the system. Our CES team is is in the process of reaching out to clients who are currently or formerly homeless in order to better understand from their perspective and first-hand experience how we can take steps to improve our processes in order to better meet their needs. We are consulting with HUD's Technical Assistance team to better define the process for what constitutes an "Access Point" for homeless individuals who are seeking services. It is our goal to have our new CES process in place by the New Year.
We are still in the process of working with San Diego County homeless youth service providers and the Youth Advisory Board to develop an informed Youth Coordinated Entry process that can specifically provide targeted services for the unique needs of homeless youth in our region.
Client Success Story
Giving Back to our Veterans
The Morrow family, this month’s success story, is comprised of two veteran siblings and their parents. Both the son and daughter chose to serve in the Marine Corps and were honorably discharged at the end of their terms of enlistment. Unfortunately, the siblings found themselves woefully unprepared to deal with what they would encounter upon exiting their service. Between the two of them, they struggled with PTSD, anxiety, depression, and physical challenges that they are working to overcome.
Being a tight-knit family, their household quickly expanded to includes their parents. Before long, their parents fell prey to their own health concerns that rendered them unable to contribute financially to the household. This led to the family’s inability to maintain the payments on the increasing rent for their one-bedroom apartment. The Morrow’s knew they wouldn’t be able to stay in their unit when their lease came up for renewal. They had to vacate the unit and before they knew it, they were all living in their daughter’s car with two dogs and a cat. The family found themselves surviving on the son and daughter’s GI Bill disbursements and EBT/SNAP payments.
The family found their way to Veterans Village of San Diego’s (VVSD) Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program via a referral from a local safe parking program through the San Diego Coordinated Entry System. With the help of their Housing Specialist, Gay Twyman, and the VVSD case manager, Samantha Jenkins, they quickly found a two-bedroom cottage with a yard that would suit their needs and accommodate their pets/service animals. With the compassionate and effective help and support from the family’s SSVF team, Gay and Samantha, the family received assistance with car repairs for the family’s only form of transportation, and was provided with furnishings by generous program donors.
Both of the veterans from the Morrow family are now free to pursue employment without the burden of worrying where everyone will be sleeping each night. They are attending job fairs and sporting a donated wardrobe, which allows them to present their best selves to prospective employers.