HCoC Proposal for Ending Homelessness in Springfield, IL

The following proposal by HCoC was presented to the Springfield City Council during its August 10th Committee of the Whole meeting.

This proposal amends Mayor Langfelder’s original ordinance (2021-306), which was held in committee during the July 27th Committee of the Whole city council meeting

The Springfield City Council will vote on the mayor’s amended ordinance at the Tuesday August 17 meeting. (This 5:30pm meeting will be streamed live via the City’s website on Channel 18.)


Heartland Continuum of Care (HCoC) Emergency Shelter/Overflow Shelter Proposal

The Heartland Continuum of Care has set the goal of ending homelessness in the next five years. Our community can compassionately and strategically leverage one-time funding entering Springfield along with more sustainable funding sources to solve homelessness by expanding supportive housing solutions, investing in the Crisis Response System, and developing a unified approach to addressing this complex social challenge. Homelessness has been a growing challenge for our community over many years and while an overnight fix is not possible, significant and steady progress can be made to help ensure homelessness is rare, brief, and nonrecurring.

For over two decades, communities throughout our country and around the world have had great success utilizing a Housing First approach to support people in permanent and supportive housing that effectively ends their homelessness. Permanent housing with appropriate supports available creates the stability from which people can pursue their goals and improve their quality of life. We have seen incredible success with the implementation of Rapid Rehousing which further demonstrates how effective this approach can be in Springfield with increased buy-in and investment.

A tremendous challenge for those experiencing homelessness in our community and our service providers is that our system to address homelessness is inadequately funded to meet the local need. Our community currently has 129 households that have completed a Coordinated Entry assessment and are waiting for an opportunity for housing through Rapid Rehousing and Permanent Supportive Housing programs that they are a candidate for (77 for RRH, 52 for PSH). Many of those waiting are in Emergency Shelter or Transitional Housing while some are currently unsheltered. These numbers would be significantly higher without the broad array of programs and services already offered by service providers in our community.

The current portfolio of available resources creates a stuck system which strains the capacities of service providers, limits outreach workers, fills emergency shelter beds, and results in encampments and increases in unsheltered homelessness because people are on a waiting list with very little movement to housing. Developing and expanding these supportive housing options and corresponding agency capacity will take time and commitment and will be a driving factor in how quickly we can move toward functionally ending homelessness. While that expansion takes place, we also have to do all we can to ensure our Crisis Response System can address present needs such as Emergency Shelter.

This proposal addresses the present need for an overflow shelter while also providing guidance on how the City of Springfield can partner with the Heartland Continuum of Care to take further initial steps in the direction of functionally ending homelessness in our community.

 

EMERGENCY SHELTER / OVERFLOW SHELTER IMMEDIATE NEEDS

The Heartland Continuum of Care has been advocating for an overflow shelter since before the Winter Emergency Shelter closed in April. In 2019 and 2020, the seasonal emergency shelter developed to accommodate increased need for shelter duplicated services available in other existing shelter services. Each of the past two years involved crises that factored into the need for taking that approach. The need for this year is for an overflow shelter that will work in close collaboration with existing Emergency Shelter providers and meet the need of shelter beds beyond our current community capacity. Projections based on local data demonstrate the need for a capacity of 30 to 40 people during periods of high demand. This projection is based on the project functioning as an overflow shelter and data collected from the previous two years, adjustments to shelter capacity, and qualitative data from community outreach workers.

The process for how the overflow shelter will function and expectations can be found in Appendix A. A budget can be found in Appendix B.

Additionally, The Salvation Army will offer case management services and some Day Services in the afternoons and weekends when other services are not available. COVID quarantine for the broader population experiencing homelessness will not be a function of the overflow shelter.

EMERGENCY SHELTER / OVERFLOW SHELTER SUSTAINABILITY PLANNING

While this need for additional capacity is met on a short term basis, Emergency Shelter as part of our Crisis Response System will be a priority issue area for the ongoing community-wide strategic planning process. Through this process, we will gain greater insight on a model for Emergency Shelter for our community moving forward that would be more sustainable and eliminate the need for a standalone overflow shelter. The initial work to determine a future model will be completed by the end of 2021. This work would not include any decisions on a physical location, we recommend an inclusive and intentional process be undertaken by the community in the event an Emergency Shelter expansion is recommended.

Within the next twelve months, our goal is to have a new model in place that eliminates the year to year uncertainty around overflow shelter.

With all of this in mind, we ask that the previous ordinance be amended to a 12 month period of time and be funded at an amount not to exceed ($403,000) for overflow shelter services, case management, and limited day services.

 

ONGOING EFFORTS TOWARD FUNCTIONALLY ENDING HOMELESSNESS

Through a variety of funding partners and grants, the Heartland Continuum of Care is actively taking steps to expand and enhance our system to end homelessness.

  • Long Term Community Wide Strategic Plan to Address Homelessness: Our community has not endeavored to effectively collaborate on strategy to address homelessness in any formal way since 2004 when Mayor Davlin’s administration developed a 10-Year Strategic Plan to End Chronic Homelessness. This long overdue process is underway and will deliver a draft of this community wide plan this winter.
  • Housing for Health Initiative: A “Housing for Health” team is being developed and is funded to foster collaboration between health care, social service, community health, and housing providers to build integrated, innovative team responses that eliminate homelessness and promote community and individual health. Part of this effort will include a Director of Recruitment, Retention, Development, and Direction who will build and grow a team of people to work in the field of community health and housing. This effort will also include a plan for expanding Permanent Supportive Housing.
  • Move-On Program: Through the Emergency Housing Voucher program, we are partnering with the Springfield Housing Authority to utilize 35 vouchers to provide housing resources for individuals waiting for housing on our Coordinated Entry list. The first wave of these vouchers will enable people who have successfully been assisted through Permanent Supportive Housing or who are in Rapid Rehousing but could benefit from a longer term rental subsidy to move from intensive CoC programs to mainstream services. This will create new availability for people on our Coordinated Entry list waiting on Permanent Supportive Housing.
  • Housing Navigator Position: This new position for the Heartland Continuum of Care and our community in partnership with Helping Hands provides energy for system-level initiatives to increase access to units for clients who are enrolled in Coordinated Entry and eligible for Emergency Housing Vouchers. This support will expedite housing placements and address common barriers that can block access to permanent housing placements. One of the important outcomes of this position will be increased connection and relationships with new landlords who will be vital partners in our community reaching our goal of ending homelessness in five years. The role has been filled and work will begin at the end of August.
  • Housing Outreach Team and Show the Way App: Our Housing Outreach team has been working to develop a by-name list of individuals who are unsheltered and increase access to Coordinated Entry and other services. At this time, over forty individuals are being worked with on an ongoing basis. The Show the Way app is currently in development and will be used by the Housing Outreach Team to increase collaboration to meet service needs of individuals that team members are working with. The data gathered from the app is compatible with our Homeless Management Information System.
  • Homelessness Prevention and Diversion Efforts: Through Emergency Solutions Grant-CV, Sangamon County Community Resources’ Utility Disconnect Assistance Program, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Rent and/or Mortgage Assistance, Community Development Block Grant-CV, Emergency Solutions Grant, and IDHS’ Emergency Rental Assistance Program, over $6 million have been invested in helping people address housing instability and prevent homelessness since the start of the pandemic.
  • Permanent Supportive Housing and Rapid Rehousing Expansion: Helping Hands has set the goal of serving 90 households through Rapid Rehousing and expanding Permanent Supportive Housing units by 24 over the next five years. MERCY Communities is in the process of creating a Rapid Rehousing program and several other agency partners are actively working to explore how their organizations can expand to meet community needs in this way as well. These programs combine rental assistance with case management that is essential to long term stability and success in preventing future homelessness.

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT NEEDED TOWARD FUNCTIONALLY ENDING HOMELESSNESS

As we work together to end homelessness, we ask that the City of Springfield work with the Heartland Continuum of Care around the following recommendations to develop future ordinances and support that can be acted upon.

    • HOME-ARP funds: $2,380,397: These funds are intended to assist individuals or households who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, and other vulnerable populations, by providing housing, rental assistance, supportive services, and non-congregate shelter, to reduce homelessness and increase housing stability across the country. HOME-ARP funds can be used for four eligible activities: Production or Preservation of Affordable Housing, Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA), Supportive Services, Homeless Prevention Services, and Housing Counseling, and Purchase and Development of Non-Congregate Shelter.
      While guidance for the expenditure of these funds has not been released by HUD yet, the Heartland Continuum of Care asks that these funds be invested in accordance with the community wide strategic plan and with the guidance of the Continuum of Care.
    • CDBG/HOME Renovation/construction/acquisition funds for expanding number of physical units available specifically for the purpose of Permanent Supportive Housing and Rapid Rehousing: $1,000,000: Partnerships with great landlords in our community have been essential to the initial growth in supportive housing. An investment in ensuring more units are available as programs grow will be a crucial component in providing the number of housing units
      necessary to move our community approach from a shelter based system of care to a housing focused system of care.
    • Landlord Risk Mitigation Fund: $50,000: Many communities have had success in developing stronger partnerships with landlords to help end homelessness through the creation of risk mitigation funds. These funds help create a buffer for landlords who want to help but are concerned about the perceived risks to property by making funds available to assist in repairs in the event of damages. There are many models developed by other communities that can be adapted to meet our local needs (USICH Community Profiles contains some examples).
    • Supportive Housing Capacity Building for the next two years: $500,000: As agencies seek opportunities to grow in effort to meet local needs, capacity to hire additional case managers and other essential employees is often a limiting factor. A commitment to helping agencies expand specifically for the purpose of offering Rapid Rehousing or Permanent Supportive Housing to people on the Coordinated Entry list can help accelerate necessary growth.

APPENDIX A

Overflow Shelter Process and Details

GOALS:

  • To provide emergency overnight shelter to men and women
  • To ensure all clients using emergency shelter are referred to Coordinated Entry and support services (such as intensive case management), and given the opportunity to enter housing they are eligible for

GUIDING PRINCIPLES:

  • Focus on resolving immediate housing crisis for people with low-barrier practices. We want to make emergency shelter entry as easy as possible for people who are experiencing literal homelessness and have no other options for shelter.
  • Be a consistent, efficient referral source for housing and support services. Overflow shelter is intended to address the immediate need for emergency housing. Through partnerships with agencies that do CE and intensive case management, we will make referrals to housing/support resources for people experiencing homelessness.
  • Encourage appropriate use of shelter. We will set compassionate, fair boundaries to ensure that people who are misusing emergency shelter are given other options for their needs.

INTAKE STRUCTURE:
Helping Hands shelter intake at 5 p.m. Helping Hands will do this process as they always have, with a notable exception that they no longer breathalyze upon entry to shelter.

Contact Ministries shelter intake at 5 p.m. Contact Ministries will screen individuals seeking shelter to determine if they qualify for their program. If not, they will be referred to the Overflow Shelter.

Youth Service Bureau and Sojourn Shelter have 24/7 intake processes.

Overflow shelter intake at 7 p.m. Helping Hands (217-522-0048), Contact Ministries (217-753-3939), and Youth Service Bureau (217-529-8300) will receive call from Overflow asking about capacity. Individuals fleeing domestic violence can be referred to Sojourn Shelter (217-726-5100). Unless a client is on the “no-services list,” or for another valid reason cannot access services, the shelter must accept him/her for entry.

Helping Hands’ 2nd intake at 8:00 p.m. Clients who arrive at second intake will have snacks, but a full meal is not guaranteed.

OVERFLOW SHELTER CONDITIONS:

  • The overflow shelter will be staffed from 6:30 PM to 7:30 AM with 1 supervisor and 2 shelter staff. Additional support will be provided by the new outreach position created through Memorial Behavioral Health.
  • The location will be the City of Springfield’s building at 221 N. 11th St. Rather than the entire building being used, shelter services will be offered in one of the large open spaces in the building.
  • Daily contact will occur between shelters to facilitate helping people access shelter beds and services. A standing weekly call will take place with providers and partners to foster collaboration and address needs that arise.
  • In coordination with other partners’ services, day service hours will be made available to address gaps. Washington Street Mission will be open Monday through Friday from 8 to 10:30 AM with appointments available after 10:30 for showers, laundry, and other assistance. St. John’s Breadline will be offering meals seven days a week from 10:00 AM to 1:30 PM. Salvation Army day service offering times will change seasonally and will be evaluated depending on demand for services for scheduling changes. Appointments will also be available for case management. The budget contains staffing for an average of 6 hours a day understanding more hours will be needed on weekends and in times of inclement weather.
  • Clients who had a bed the night before will be prioritized to have a bed tonight. • Entry/exits will be limited to encourage continuity of care for clients. • Clients who present to overflow shelter who are eligible for other shelters in Springfield must go there in order to access shelter if a bed is available for them.
  • The Overflow Shelter will operate with the same low-barriers, polices, “no-services list,” and COVID protocols as Helping Hands unless agreed upon circumstances require deviation. Trauma-informed care, de-escalation
  • Salvation Army will work to provide consistent training for staff on trauma informed care, de-escalating situations, harm reduction, and addressing substance use.
  • De-escalation and harm reduction techniques will be utilized throughout shelter operations. While the goal will be to prevent a person from being added to the “no services list,” if a person is still presenting an unsafe environment to themselves or others following de-escalation attempts, an employee will assist individuals in going to the police station for further help or contact Springfield Police Department for help addressing the public safety need. For willing clients who present to the police station, the SPD’s Safe Passage Program will provide connection with rehabilitation services.
  • COVID quarantine for broader population experiencing homelessness will not be a function of the overflow shelter. Through partnerships including IPHA, SIU, SCDPH, and Pandemic Health Navigators a process using the RESOLVE team protocol will address COVID quarantine needs for people who don’t have access to a safe place for quarantine.

APPENDIX B: Salvation Army Overflow Shelter Budget Draft Salvation Army Budget Narrative

APPENDIX C: Local Data