CITY OF SANTA MONICA, CA
Mayor Robert T. Holbrook

Coordinated Strategy to Prevent Homelessness

Description of Program

The City of Santa Monica demonstrates its commitment to a strong continuum of care for homeless persons by expending $1.7 million of local dollars on twenty-two interconnected homeless service programs. The continuum of care begins with "front-end" programs (street outreach, emergency food and clothing, showers and lockers), continues with a variety of housing programs (emergency and transitional shelters, including special programs for the mentally ill, single women with disabilities, emancipated youth, and families), provides program participants with critical supportive services (case management, health care, mental health support when warranted, detox and sobriety programs, job readiness and placement programs), and finally assists successful participants with aftercare support (job retention programs, support groups, client networking, mentoring and volunteer opportunities, and social events).

When and Why Created

Although grassroots agencies have provided services to homeless people in Santa Monica for over twenty-five years, our current continuum of care was formalized with a HUD Supportive Housing Program grant beginning November 1, 1997, which linked the primary agencies providing services to the homeless through a computerized case management system. Through this system several benefits were identified: (1) services could be easily coordinated without duplication, (2) clients could be tracked as they moved through the continuum of care to help providers better understand their needs, (3) clients were able to have their records electronically transferred to referral programs rather than go through the process of re-registering each time they needed a supportive service, and (4) measurable outcomes were more clearly identifiable, with a snapshot of how many agencies and services were required to attain stabilization. Several of the above issues were raised in response to an initiative by the Santa Monica City Council to provide effective and measurable stabilization services to the homeless without unnecessary duplication.

Measurement of Effectiveness

Since the City. s homeless service providers are networked on a computerized case management system, the City is able to run periodic and annual reports to determine the number of homeless clients served; a demographic profile of the local homeless population seeking services; the level and type of services delivered; the number who have been placed in emergency, transitional and permanent housing; and the number who have obtained job training, temporary or permanent employment.

Financing of Program

The City of Santa Monica provides approximately $1.7 from its General Fund and Prop A funding (a transportation initiative which provides bus tokens and passes) funding. The City also acts as a pass-through for approximately $500,000 per year in HUD Supportive Housing Program funding to provide additional supportive services (case management, job training, etc.) as well as the computerized case management system which tracks clients through the continuum of care.

Linkage to City Government

The City of Santa Monica is not a direct service provider but, rather, a funder to a variety of different private non-profit agencies which service the homeless. These agencies are Chrysalis (job training and placement), CLARE (detox and sobriety programs), Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center (mental health programs), New Directions (detox and job training for veterans), Ocean Park Community Center (outreach, case management, two day centers and two transitional living programs); Salvation Army (emergency and transitional shelters; showers, lockers, washers); St. Joseph Center (outreach, case management, showers, lockers, washers); Step Up on Second (case management, job training, support groups and independent living for the mentally ill); Upward Bound (transitional living for homeless families); Westside Food Bank (provides bulk food for homeless and low-income families); and the YWCA (transitional living for young women graduating from the foster care system).

Major Lessons Learned

A coordinated network of specialized services appears to work more effectively than having one or two agencies which attempt to be everything for everyone. The computerized system has allowed the City to accurately assess the number of unduplicated clients who participate in the continuum of care, as well as identify the vast number of support services required before a homeless person stabilizes. The City would recommend that other cities considering a computerized case management system carefully evaluate the software packages which currently exist and find the one most compatible to their individual needs.

Contact Person: Joel Schwartz, Homeless Services Coordinator City Hall, Human Services Division  1685 Main Street Santa Monica, CA 90401 Telephone: (310) 458-8701 Fax: (310)458-3380 E-Mail: joel-schwartz@ci.santa-monica.ca.us

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