INNOVATIVE HOUSING PROGRAM HELPED MORE THAN 700 HOMELESS FAMILIES FIND PERMANENT HOUSING
News Release from Hawaii Community Foundation, September, 2017
HONOLULU, HI – Hawai‘i’s homeless problem reached epidemic proportion in 2015 when federal statistics showed that the state had the highest per capita rate of homelessness in the nation and that one out of every four individuals who were homeless was a child under 18 years old. Understanding the impact that homelessness was having on families and communities across the state, the Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF) brought together 12 funders to create the HousingASAP program to help move more homeless families into stable housing faster and to keep them there.
Studies also showed the negative impacts that homelessness can have on a child. According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, homeless children are twice as likely to repeat a grade, be expelled or suspended, or drop out. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education found that homeless children have three times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems, such as anxiety, depression, sleep problems, withdrawal and aggression, when compared to children with stable housing.
“HCF and our funding partners recognized that homelessness is a complex issue and we felt that we could make the greatest immediate difference by focusing on homeless families,” said Micah Kāne, HCF CEO and president. “We also knew that tackling this issue could not be done alone and would require that we collaborate with nonprofits, state government, and community leaders. We needed to partner with others and become comfortable with taking risks in order to create big change.”
The program focused on creating the HousingASAP network, which consists of eight locally based nonprofit organizations that provide more than 50 percent of all shelter beds available for Hawai‘i’s homeless. The network was tasked to achieve three goals: increase the number of families housed, decrease the days it takes to stably house families, and decrease the number of families who return to homelessness.
By pooling funding from 12 funders, HCF provided $4 million for this program that would provide the network of organizations with coaching and technical assistance, resources, and grant opportunities to:
- Collaborate, coordinate, share information and take action;
- Improve organizational performance, adaptability and leadership;
- Enhance their ability to use data to make decisions and show achievement; and
- Better equip organizations with skills to address policy and funding changes.
The collaboration, work and dedication from all HousingASAP partners realized success of their efforts by placing 714 homeless families into permanent housing (representing more than 2,100 homeless individuals), just two and a half years since the program launched in 2014.
The first year of HousingASAP focused on leadership development, organizational capacity building, data use and evaluative inquiry, and best practices in family homelessness through a collaborative learning community.
“We needed to first build trust between the participating organizations in order for the network to be effective. Prior to becoming part of the HousingASAP network, many of these organizations who worked in the same space of serving the homeless regularly competed for funding and rarely had an opportunity to think about how they might work together to improve the bigger system of care,” said Chris van Bergeijk, vice president of strategies, initiatives, and networks at HCF. “Bringing these organizations together around a common goal allowed them to have discussions that lead to system improvements, policy changes, and advancement of practices. The network was then able to start making impactful and lasting change in how they addressed helping homeless families in Hawai‘i.”
For the first time in the last four years, Hawai‘i’s homeless FAMILY population declined in 2017 and the State of Hawai‘i Homeless Point-in-Time Count from January 2017 found a 17 percent decrease in homeless families compared to 2016. Island specific decreases include:
- Hawai‘i Island: 45% decrease in homeless families compared to last year
- Maui: 13% fewer homeless families compared to last year
- O‘ahu: 11% decrease in homeless families compared to last year
- Kaua‘i: 3% decrease in homeless families compared to last year
The eight community organizations that made up the Housing ASAP were:
- Kahumana Community provides transitional housing for homeless families and programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Wai‘anae;
- Catholic Charities Hawaii has operated the Mā‘ili Land Transitional Housing Program since 1990 and seeks to create more affordable housing opportunities;
- Family Life Center provides food and clothing, outreach services, emergency shelter, housing placement and rental assistance, affordable rentals and other support services on Maui;
- Family Promise of Hawaii operates two shelters in Honolulu and Kailua that provide laundry facilities, mail, showers, telephone, computer and internet access, daily meals, life skills training, employment assistance and weekly case management;
- HOPE Services provides transitional housing and affordable rental housing programs for low income families on Hawai‘i Island;
- Institute for Human Services (IHS) is an emergency shelter that provides meals, healthcare, case management, employment, children enrichment, housing and homeless outreach;
- U.S. VETS has been providing comprehensive services at the Wai‘anae Civic Center’s Paiolu Kaiāulu and Kūlia I Ka Nu‘u programs that provide emergency and transitional housing, as well as transitional and affordable permanent housing opportunities in Wai‘anae; and
- Waikīkī Health Center operates seven service sites, including Next Step Shelter, Youth Outreach, assisting homeless youth, Care-A-Van Drop-in Clinic, providing medical and support services to homeless and housed populations, and Care-A-Van Mobile Medical Clinic.
Success of the Housing ASAP network was also measured by the time it took to place families into permanent housing. The eight partner organizations were able to decrease by 38 percent (or 51 fewer days) the placement time from emergency shelters and 24 percent (or 98 fewer days) from transitional shelters. (See attachment for more results.)
“We know that there’s still a lot of work to be done to end homelessness in Hawai‘i, but HousingASAP was a strong first step and we have made some progress,” said Kāne. “What’s most encouraging is that as we transition to the next phase of this work, the HousingASAP network of organizations will continue and expand to include other service providers across the state. We’re committed to supporting their efforts so that they can reach their ambitious goals of reaching functional zero by the end of 2018.”
The HousingASAP network is continuing its efforts by:
- Working together to implement an invitation-only “Hawai‘i Leadership Academy” conference on November 7 – 9, that will bring together 80 homeless providers from across the state to learn about best practice developed over the past three years;
- Developing and implementing Hawai‘i’s first Coordinated Entry System for families as required by HUD; and
- Working towards achieving a shared goal of functional zero by December 2018, which means that every family in Hawai‘i that becomes homeless can be placed into housing within 30 days. (see attachment)
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PDF: Housing ASAP Functional Zero
With 100 years of community service, the Hawaii Community Foundation (HCF) is the leading philanthropic institution in the state. HCF is a steward of more than 800 funds, created by donors who desire to transform lives and improve communities. In 2016, HCF distributed over $47 million in grants and contracts statewide on behalf of its donors and clients.