Mayor Paul Schell

Coordinated Strategy to Prevent Homelessness

Description of Program

The Salvation Army Homeless Family Assistance (HFA) Program intervenes in the cycle of homelessness by helping families secure and maintain permanent housing. Homeless families are referred to the program by local area shelters and other homeless assistance projects. Eligible families are assisted with move-in costs to secure permanent housing, a monthly rental subsidy to help them maintain that housing, and case management support, focused on the particular issues that caused the family to become homeless. Priority is given to families that are homeless due to domestic violence or medical crisis. Families must have an established source of income, or be eligible to apply for public entitlements. Rental subsidies and case management are provided for an average of nine months, however, may be provided up to 24 months in order to stabilize the family in permanent housing. The project is considered successful when families are able to maintain permanent housing for at least six months and do not become homeless again. In 1998, the Salvation Army Homeless Families Assistance Program plans to assist a minimum of 72 families secure and maintain permanent housing, and approximately 63 households (or 88%) will maintain their new housing for at least six months.

When and Why Created

The Homeless Family Assistance Program was created as a demonstration project in 1989. The project was funded by the City of Seattle and operated through a subcontract with the Salvation Army of Seattle/King County. The program was created in response to the City. s concern about homeless families and the difficulties they face in securing affordable housing and in maintaining it for the long term.

Measurements of Effectiveness

The effectiveness of the Salvation Army Homeless Family Assistance Program is measured by the number of homeless families who are able to secure permanent housing, the number of families who are able to maintain that housing for six months, and by the quality of case management and support services the families receive to address their individual causes of homelessness. Reports are submitted on a monthly basis to the City of Seattle by Salvation Army regarding the number of families who have secured permanent housing and the number of families who have maintained permanent housing for six months, among other data. Individual family case files are also reviewed during agency site visits to assess the quality of the case management and support services provided by the Salvation Army and its effectiveness for families.

Financing of Program

In 1998, the program is financed through a combination of City of Seattle Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Human Services Program (HSP) funds, federal HOME funds (for move-in costs and rental subsidies), United Way, private foundations, individual contributions, and other miscellaneous support. The total project budget in 1998 is $510,664.

Linkage to City Government

The Homeless Family Assistance Program is operated by the Salvation Army of Seattle/King County. Through a contract with the City of Seattle Department of Housing and Human Services, the project receives Community Development Block Grant and HOME funds, which constitute the majority of the program. s operating revenue.

Major Lessons

Factors that support the success of this project include:

  • the program has the financial resources to be able to support homeless families in permanent housing beyond the initial move-in costs, through rental subsidies of up to 24 months (the average length of assistance is nine months)
  • the length of assistance (up to 24 months) allows the program to help clients bridge the gap between emergency shelter and the availability of public housing, affordable private market housing, or the completion of employment training programs, schooling, etc.
  • the program is able to establish good working relationships with landlords to rent units to families served by the project, and has the administrative capability to issue checks immediately to be able to secure permanent housing units when they are available
  • the program. s case managers are able to establish a good working rapport with clients so they are seen as working together for the families. benefit, are available as a resource for the family regarding other community services, and make the family want to stay in contact with the project.

Contact Person: Sandra Smith, Program Coordinator Salvation  Army - Homeless Family Assistance  P.O. Box 20128 Seattle, WA 98122  Telephone: (206) 442-8399  Fax: (206) 442-8370

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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