The Task Force Times

August 2019 Edition

CEO Corner

I have often described Homelessness as a failure of our many complex systems within our society; social systems, personal support system, financial and public systems, and on. It is not a failure of people. This work can be highly technical, trying to align systems that make up our homeless crisis response system, but we must never forget it is also deeply personal. This work is about people and their needs for housing and connections to all other supports. We paused at our last board meeting to recognize the loss of a Youth Action Board (YAB) member to suicide. This is the reality of our work and although her seat may be empty, I will add her name to the list of people who continue to inspire and guide our best efforts. 

The last 2 months of the summer have been taxing at the RTFH as we negotiated 2 new very large RFP processes with HEAP and YHDP. This new role for our organization has stretched our limits and our team. There were highlights and definitely areas of improvement, but I want to express my appreciation for our team and our partners.  Thank you to our partners for giving us grace in our errors and support in this new role.  Our team here at the RTFH are dedicated, mission driven, and intelligent. I am lucky to have such an amazing team. Ours is the work of coordination and collaboration, of support, training, educating, informing, demonstrating, guiding, listening, learning and then acting together with our partners to move this work forward. We are committed to our CoC becoming more data driven and performance and outcomes focused, as well as providing the very best trainers and mentors in the work for San Diego to strengthen our system with proven best practices and focused support. We are ever evolving here at the RTFH to meet the needs of our community and providers.  

August brought Iain DeJong of OrgCode’s engagement with outreach teams across the San Diego region and continued work on the City of San Diego’s strategic plan, testify with other board members at the Veteran Affairs field Congressional hearing and meeting with and listening to the UN Special Rapporteur Ms. Leilani Farha. We participated on a panel at LeSar Housing Policy Leadership academy, a learning opportunity open to leaders and influencers who want to better understand and advance solutions to address our housing affordability crisis and welcome Simtech’s work with us on better data measurements, in collecting public comment on the unsheltered policy from those with lived experiences, and a nice meeting with the Citizen Taskforce on Homelessness in Le Mesa.

I have full confidence that we are heading in the right direction and will continue to grow and be a leader within addressing and ending homelessness, and we will Always, Always, Always strive to do better.


Tamera Kohler
Chief Executive Officer
The RTFH Board of Directors
The regular August Board meeting was held on August 29th. This was the first Board Meeting with the New Board members that were elected to their seats in the June Board Meeting, as there was no meeting in July. We are excited for you to meet the new members of the Board:

John Brady - Flexible Seat
With lived homeless experience, an MBA in Marketing & Operations, and an entertainment background, John brings a unique set of skills, passion and perspective to the Voices of Our City choir and the community. From the very beginning of the choir, John has been an active advocate for the unsheltered in the San Diego area. In this role, he has become educated in many of the issues that are relevant to our homelessness crisis on a local and national level. His work had led to him becoming a media voice, cited in The San Diego Union Tribune, The Huffington Post, NBC 7, and The Voice of San Diego, among many other media outlets. John is also a regular speaker at conferences, community groups, and governmental bodies. Additionally, he is responsible for production planning, choir communications and event execution. 

Keely Halsey - Funder Representative
Keely Halsey is Chief of Homelessness Strategies & Housing Liaison for the City of San Diego. She is responsible for overseeing and facilitating homelessness-related efforts undertaken by City of San Diego staff. She is the City’s liaison on homelessness, coordinating with the San Diego Housing Commission, the San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless, the County of San Diego, valued service provider partners, and other agencies that participate in activities to address homelessness within the City. Ms. Halsey’s background is in housing policy and law. She has served as a municipal attorney, focusing on land use and environmental law and as a legislative policy analyst, handling development projects and community planning initiatives.
Paul Connelly - Law Enforcement Seat
Assistant Chief of Police Paul Connelly is originally from Pittsburgh, PA where he attended Robert Morris University and earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. He became an officer in the United States Marine Corps where he served four years of active duty. Assistant Chief Connelly is now a 22 year veteran of the San Diego Police Department and is a graduate from the FBI National Academy, Class #275. During his years of service, Assistant Chief Connelly has worked a wide variety of assignments to include patrol where he was proactive in dealing with community concerns and issues such as violent crime, gangs, graffiti and narcotics. He was a member of the Air Support Unit where he piloted the department’s helicopters and airplanes in support of patrol and investigative operations. He was the commanding officer of both Western and Central Policing Divisions. Assistant Chief Connelly currently manages the Neighborhood Policing Division, which handles the majority of the Department’s interactions with those experiencing homelessness through outreach and enforcement. The goal of the Neighborhood Policing Division is to connect those experiencing homelessness with available services so they can be supported and housed.
Sean Elo - Education Seat
Sean Elo sits in the Education seat, and serves on the San Diego Community College Board of Trustees, and is also the Executive Director of Youth Will, where he works with young people to create the future they want and deserve. Sean also serves as a board member for Community Housing Works, a nonprofit organization that develops, rehabilitates, preserves and operates affordable apartment communities in San Diego and throughout California.
The next regular Board meeting is scheduled to be held on Thursday, September 19thPlease see the RTFH Events Calendar to locate updated dates, times, and locations.
RTFH Youth Action Board (YAB) Youth Will Award
On August 15th, the Youth Will award was presented to the RTFH Youth Action Board (YAB) during a fundraiser honoring young leaders, allies, and the organizations empowering young people to create change. The San Diego Youth Will is a collaboration with adults to improve the youth development ecosystem, where youth will demand prioritization from the decision makers in their community. 

Nyla Vivas, Youth Action Board Chair, has the following to say about the experience: 

"When I was told that YAB had won the Youth Will award, it brought tears to my eyes because it has been a journey with the YHDP process and I felt amazing to see that many people see the potential of changing so much in our community. I know YAB gets acknowledged for a lot, but actually receiving an award to show for all of our hard work just tells me that we will end youth homelessness, making youth leaders our future. The Youth Will award that YAB received was on behalf of the youth activism movement that Youth Will is making with all youth programs and projects. We were up against many outstanding programs, and with YAB as a new group of youth in this movement, it was a heartwarming experience to see that we will achieve our goals."
Continuum of Care Notice
RTFH Monthly Membership Meeting
The last RTFH CoC Membership Meeting was in June, and the next meeting is tentatively scheduled for September 26th. Please see the RTFH Events Calendar on our website for the most current meeting dates, times, and locations. If you have any questions about your membership status for voting privileges as a paid member, please send inquiries to
Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) 
The 2019 NOFA review and ranking process has completed. The RTFH would like to extend a generous thanks to all of the participating partners who have gone through this process with us, whether this is their first year or those who work with us year after year to through this large undertaking for our community. This year was no exception, and we are in the final stages to wrap up.

The rankings can be found here:

For more information about the NOFA, including the scoring criteria and benchmarks, point values, strategies and protocols for ranking and reallocation, please visit the website here:
Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP)
The RTFH was awarded $18.8 million for distribution in the San Diego region over the course of two years in HEAP funding, a one-time flexible block grant to provide immediate emergency assistance to people experiencing homelessness or are at imminent risk of homelessness. We received 51 applications from 41 agencies requesting over $63 million dollars in funding assistance. On May 31st, 22 applications were recommended for over $8 million in funding for the first year, and the organizations were notified of those conditional awards. These awards have been finalized, and we are excited to announce the recipients and their projects. Please click here to see the awardees.
Youth Homeless Demonstration Project (YHDP)
The RTFH is pleased to announce the awarded recipients and their programs for the YHDP grant. They will be serving the San Diego homeless youth population to assist with preventing homelessness for those who are at risk, and to assist with housing youth who have already become homeless. We look forward to seeing the results of their efforts!

Outreach Policy
The public comment period has ended for the draft Outreach Policy under development. We would like thank everyone who offered their input on this policy. The policy will be revised based on this collected feedback as well as under the advisement of HUD TA. An implementation plan will also be developed over the next few months, and both the Policy and the accompanying plan will be brought to the RTFH Board for consideration after this process. The next steps for this plan are as follows:
       HUD TA team will revise draft based on input and create new draft.  
       Additional 30 day comment period on newly revised document will tentatively start mid September and end mid October
       • HUD TA will update draft policy with any new input received during 30 day period
       • Creation of implementation plan to accompany policy
       • Finalized policy and implementation plan brought to the RTFH Board for consideration in November

Rapid Re-housing (RRH) Learning Collaborative  
Rapid Rehousing consultant Michelle Valdez returned during the week of August 12. This month’s focus was to begin system mapping during the RRH Learning Collaborative team meetings with our region's Rapid Rehousing providers and stakeholders. The goal for the two day meeting was to spend time working through a clear, system-wide picture to understand what RRH should look like in our region. The visit involved learning about how clients are being served, and find out some key data about each program. They reviewed current policies and practices of RRH core components, program standards, and best practices.
During this meeting, the participants worked in small groups to reflect on the current program staffing, activities, and policies for case management, rental and move-in assistance, and identifying housing. They also spent time identifying where there are specific challenges, what questions or clarifications they have and who can answer those questions to prepare a work plan over the next few months.
HMIS Highlights

Clarity/HMIS New User Training
The RTFH HMIS Team offers Clarity/HMIS New User Training sessions in-person at the RTFH Office in the United Way Building. If your organization has new staff that need to access HMIS to enter client data, this training session is required before they can be granted a Clarity user license. Sessions for the upcoming month are posted on the RTFH Events Calendar; click on an individual session to review technical requirements for training and register online to attend. HMIS Agency Administrators will be contacted following training sessions to confirm the cost of additional user licenses before trainees are provided a license.

HMIS Focused Trainings
The HMIS team has been working on developing focused training sessions in addition to the regularly offered New User Training sessions that cover specific topics and workflows. 

8/22/2019 Webinar – HMIS Privacy and Security Essentials

Thanks for those who joined us for the last webinar that was held on HMIS Privacy and Security Essentials. This session offered a refresher on essential concepts when working with client data in HMIS as well as updates on new procedures for restricting access to records in Clarity when clients decline to share their data. HMIS Users who were not able to attend live can view the recording here. All Clarity users will also be receiving an email with a request that they complete an online quiz related to the webinar content. 

The HMIS team looks forward to offering additional focused sessions in the coming months. Please email us at with any feedback on topics you would like to see covered.

Clarity User License Pricing Updates
When the 2020 billing cycle begins on January 1, 2020, all Clarity user licenses will be invoiced at the full BitFocus rate of $25/month for Enterprise user licenses, and $55/month for Manager licenses. The number of Manager licenses that RTFH initially purchased from BitFocus have all been assigned out to individuals at participating agencies, so please note that the purchase of any new Manager licenses will incur an initial setup fee of $250/Manager license. New Manager licenses purchased in the next several months will still be invoiced at the discounted monthly rate of $29.17 until January 1st, 2020, at which point all Manager licenses will be invoiced at the full BitFocus rate of $55/month. The number of Enterprise licenses that RTFH initially purchased from BitFocus have not yet all been assigned to individuals at participating agencies, so until that occurs, new Enterprise licenses will not incur an initial setup fee and will be invoiced at the reduced monthly rate of $16.67 (until January 1st, 2020, at which point all licenses will be invoiced at the full BitFocus monthly rate). Please direct any questions about this to
September is National Recovery Month
Every September, SAMHSA sponsors Recovery Month to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover. Now in its 30th year, the 2019 theme is Join the Voices for Recovery: Together We Are Stronger. This observance celebrates the millions of Americans who are in recovery from mental and substance use disorders, reminding us that treatment is effective and that people can and do recover. It also serves to help reduce the stigma and misconceptions that cloud public understanding of mental and substance use disorders, potentially discouraging others from seeking help.

Recovery Month works to promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the emergence of a strong and proud recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and community members across the nation who make recovery in all its forms possible. You can find out how to be involved by clicking here for a toolkit.

WeAllCount: Annual Homelessness
Point in Time Census 2020

The RTFH is in the preparation stages for the 2020 Point in Time count, the annual census that is driven annually by our community of volunteers to participate in engaging our homeless population. This is a federally mandated undertaking around the country every two years, but San Diego conducts our census every January in order to give our homeless neighbors a voice so we are better able to understand the scope of their needs to address their homelessness.
The RTFH will build upon the methodology that was followed last year based on HUD’s guidance, surveying more people who are experiencing homelessness where we meet them through an engaged approach. This year, we will be using a mobile app that is now being piloted in the county in order for trained Outreach staff to help streamline some of this work.
We would not be able to conduct such an undertaking without the support of the community of volunteers who make this possible. We would also not be able to do this without the RTFH staff who organize and improve these efforts. This year, we are excited to announce that our Point in Time count, known as WeAllCount, will be led by JennaMarie Glenna, our Community Outreach Coordinator, and Abrea Ponce, our Project Coordinator. They have begun reaching out to the Site Coordinators who were instrumental for the 2019 count, and if you would like to know more about how become a Site Coordinator and what is involved, please contact either one of them for more details. They are also reaching out for requests for donations, such as socks and gift cards that will be distributed, please feel free to direct them, along with any questions, to or
Community Spotlight
The Voices of Our City Choir, a local choir comprised of adults who are experiencing homelessness, recently joined up to sing with the Chamber Choir's debut concert of the San Diego Children’s Choir earlier this year. Aaron, a ninth grade Premier & Chamber chorister, was asked to reflect on how this collaboration shaped his view on homelessness. Aaron found that his experience served as a realization that people experiencing homelessness are human beings before they are the things that many of us associate them with: uneducated, unmotivated, rude, dirty.
Instead, after spending some time with them, he discovered just how underprivileged they were, lacking everyday things that he himself had taken for granted. Aaron witnessed the joy and liveliness of the adult choir when they sang together, and he said, “After this experience, I would now describe homeless people this way: misunderstood.”
You can read the Voices of Our City Choir full Summer e-newsletter by clicking on the link here.
You can learn more about the Voices of Our City Choir here:

And you can also view a documentary about them, called The Homeless Chorus Speaks, here:
Copyright © 2017 The Regional Task Force on the Homeless, All rights reserved.

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4699 Murphy Canyon Road
San DiegoCA 92123

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