Executive Summary and Strategies
Despite a continued decrease in homelessness across the United States, Seminole County continues to experience a year over year increase in homelessness. The Orlando/Orange, Osceola, and Seminole area is recognized as having the largest number of chronically homeless people among smaller city, county, and regional Continuum of Care areas. (Henry, Cortes, & Morris, 2013)
While many Florida counties have experienced decreases in homelessness, Orange and Seminole Counties are at record levels. Seminole County’s annual Point in Time counts revealed a 23% increase in homelessness from 2012. (Council on Homelessness, State of Florida Department of Children and Families, 2013)
In June, 2013, Beth Davalos with Seminole County School’s Families in Transition program reported there were approximately 2,236 homeless students in Seminole County, a year over year 20% increase in homeless students. (Davalos, 2013) Since then, the number of homelessness children in Seminole County has increased another 10%. (Families in Transition, 2013)
The “Community Conversation on Homelessness” (CCoH) began in 2010 as a collaborative effort among homeless stakeholders in Seminole County. (Martin & Saunders, 2010) The “Conversation” has resulted in an ongoing effort to reduce and prevent homelessness. Specifically:
Vision: No person in Seminole County has to be homeless.
Mission: To have a coordinated system of care through community collaboration and evidence-based “best practices” that ensures access to housing and supportive services.
Outcome: Reduce and prevent homelessness through an increase in housing opportunities and supportive services capacity leading to self-sufficiency.
The Community Conversation on Homelessness utilizes a committee based structure to consider and act on learnings and proposals generated from periodic CCoH meetings and the Orlando based “Regional Commission on Homelessness”. Recent CCoH governance and subcommittee recommendations have resulted in four revised solution strategies with subtending activities. Specifically:
A) Strategy: Support regional efforts to develop a coordinated referral, communication and service provision system.
A1 Support regional efforts to create and mature a centralized, common database (Owner: Database Subcommittee)
· Communicate local requirements to connect a community continuum of care.
· Assist in the development of a glossary of common terms
A2 Increase and coordinate Case Management services (Owner: Case Management Subcommittee)
· Create a common definition for case management, including levels of case management.
· Create a common intake process that is comprehensive and leads to better outcomes.
· Identify current case-management services offered in the community; analyze needs and gaps
· Utilize standardized case-management models, common vocabulary and competencies
· Consider clients and peers in developing case management processes.
B) Align services to meet emerging homelessness requirements. (Owner: Services Subcommittee)
· Deliver solutions that address critical services and gaps in transportation, child care, mental health and employment.
· Continue to develop services for children that build upon the successes achieved by Seminole County Service providers.
· Create decision support tools to match needs with availability
· Determine funding, clients and resources.
C) Continue to improve a formal housing plan that attends to regional, state and federal frameworks to close identified housing gaps that hinder continuum of care goals. (Owner: Housing Subcommittee)
· Continue to elaborate on multi-year and tactical plans to secure affordable rental housing for the homeless and precariously housed.
Work with municipalities and the private sector to gain consensus, support and active participation in delivering collaborative housing strategies that integrate well with growth management plans of participating municipalities and Seminole County Government.
· Leverage innovative housing design/construction and land development processes to lower costs and improve performance of transitional, rental and/or purchased housing to reduce homelessness.
· Identify community needs for housing services (needs assessment) and gaps in availability (gaps analyses).
· Define and design the ongoing ability to determine capacity.
D) Develop a governance structure to support systems improvement, monitor their progress, and continually evaluate their effectiveness. (Owner: Governance Committee)
· Expand key stakeholder participation (e.g., businesses, hospitals, educational institutions, the homeless) to represent diverse views and deliver successful solutions.
· Develop evaluation metrics and performance management processes.
· Develop engagement strategies to inform all stakeholders
· Aggregate subgroup funding needs into total financial requirements; build Business Cases for funding
1. Develop a prioritization matrix to help ensure critical issues are addressed in a timely manner.
2. Develop engagement strategies to educate all stakeholders about the plight of the homeless in Seminole County as well as actions and strategies underway to help the homeless attain self-sufficiency.
CCoH Strategy Alignment
The proposed CCoH strategies and activities show strong alignment to recommendations from the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Central Florida Commission on Homelessness (CFCH)
CFCH CEO Andrae Bailey’s September 19th presentation to the CCoH revealed significant similarities between the emerging “Impact Homelessness” regional plan and CCoH strategic goals. (Bailey, 2013) Specifically, both organizations support a coordinated, structured and collaborative approach, with active participation from a wide range of stakeholders. Both organizations recognize the need to transition from the intervention from individual organizations to a “Collective Impact” model. (Kania & Kramer, 2011) Further alignment between organizations was underscored during the November 19th CCoH Governance Committee Meeting, when Andrae Bailey commented on three critical components for success, namely, 1) Collaborate or fail, (2) Permanent support of housing and (3) Business community involvement. Still another commonality between CFCH and the CCoH is the decision to leverage existing community solutions that have shown significant successes in reducing homelessness. Both organizations plan on leveraging the learnings from the recent study “Impacting Homelessness: Communities Making a Difference”. (Hood, Seibert, & Lauten, 2013)
U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICoH)
Barbara Poppe, Executive Director-USICoH, reinforced the Council’s five critical areas for reducing homelessness at a November 21st “Community Conversation on the state of homelessness in America” meeting in Orlando. These areas, below, align well with the CCoH’s strategic goals and actions as described above. Specifically, the five critical areas are:
1. Using data that can inform decisions and drive results
2. Fully integrating mainstream services and programs with homeless services
3. Seeking innovative solutions to applying existing resources to achieve better outcomes
4. Ensuring outcome based measures are in place-implementing and funding what works
5. Seeking creative and new investments that are strategically deployed based on community needs
(Hood, Seibert, & Lauten, 2013)
United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Many of the Community Conversation on Homelessness solution strategies, subtending activities and measures were designed to link directly to HUD. Specifically, the CCoH supports strategies recommended through HUD’s “Housing First Initiative”, “Opening Door’s Strategic Plan”, including specific frameworks and processes including “Continuum of Care” organizational framework and the “Homeless Management Information System”.
The Seminole County Homeless Prevention Program (SCHPP) is based on HUD’s Housing First Initiative and has been one of the many successes in the effort to reduce homelessness in Seminole County. As of November 7, 2013, the SCHPP has housed 84 households, with 23 households pending permanent housing.
The Federal “Opening Doors” plan provides strategies and actions in five areas that have shown to reduce homelessness:
1. “Increasing leadership, collaboration, and civic engagement, with a focus on providing and promoting collaborative leadership at all levels of government and across all sectors, and strengthening the capacity of public and private organizations by increasing knowledge about collaboration and successful interventions to prevent and end homelessness.
2. Increasing access to stable and affordable housing, by providing affordable housing and permanent supportive housing.
3. Increasing economic security, by expanding opportunities for meaningful and sustainable employment and improving access to mainstream programs and services to reduce financial vulnerability to homelessness.
4. Improving health and stability, by linking health care with homeless assistance programs and housing, advancing stability for youth aging out of systems such as foster care and juvenile justice, and improving discharge planning for people who have frequent contact with hospitals and criminal justice systems.
5. Retooling the homeless response system, by transforming homeless services to crisis response systems that prevent homelessness and rapidly return people who experience homelessness to stable housing.”
(United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, 2013)
Bailey, A. (2013, September 19). Presentation: Impact Homelessness: An Initiative of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness. Community Conversation on Homelessness Meeting. Sanford, FL.
Council on Homelessness, State of Florida Department of Children and Families. (2013). Council on Homelessness 2013 Report. Tallahassee: State of Florida.
Davalos, B. (2013, June 27). Memo: FIT Newsletter - 2013. Sanford, FL: Seminole County public Schools. Retrieved January 6, 2013, from Families in Transition: http://seminolehomelesskids.org/
Henry, M., Cortes, A., & Morris, S. (2013). The 2013 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress. Washington D.C.: The US Depatment of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Community Planning and Development.
Hood, G., Seibert, S., & Lauten, S. (2013). Impacting Homelessness: Communities Making a Difference. Orlando: triSect.
Martin, P., & Saunders, M. (2010, November 04). Seminole County Community Conversation on Homelessness (invitation). Sanford, FL.
United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. (2013). Opening Doors.
Retrieved December 16, 2013, from United States Interagency Council on Homelessness: http://usich.gov/opening_doors/
“Anyone, by state law, who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence, or whose primary
residence is: Sharing the housing of another person due to loss of housing, economic
hardship, or a similar reason; Living in a motel, hotel, travel trailer park, or campground due to lack of
alternative, adequate accommodations; Living in an emergency or transitional shelter; A primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used for human beings; Living in a car, park, public space, abandoned building, bus or train station, or similar setting; A migratory individual who qualifies as homeless because he or she is living in circumstances described above.” (Department of Children and Families Office on Homelessness, 2010)