Glendale homeless service officials bracing for change

Officials with homeless services in Glendale are preparing for a shakeup as they plan to switch their focus from supportive services and transitional programs to permanent housing.

The move comes as the city’s Continuum of Care, a coalition of the city and homeless services organizations such as Ascencia, prepare to apply next month for grant funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, which has placed a new priority on permanent housing.

The more permanent housing that applicants have, the more money they’ll likely receive. And as funding for the federal agency continually shrinks due to Congressional budget tightening, Glendale’s Continuum of Care wants to position itself to get as much money as possible despite the smaller pie.

“This is a really strategic proposal,” said Natalie Profant-Komuro, executive director of Ascencia, at a Homeless Coalition meeting this month.

The proposed changes would convert two programs that have traditionally limited housing for the homeless from several months to two years — the Nancy Painter House for homeless women and children run by the Salvation Army and a scattered-site housing program for families administered by Ascencia — to permanent housing.

The change means people who stay at those facilities will not have a deadline to move out.

So, there may be fewer people who can get housed in an already limited affordable-housing market in Glendale.

On the flipside, however, giving people more time in these programs could keep them from returning to the streets at a later time, said Ophelia Basgal, HUD’s regional administrator for region 9, which covers California and several other states, during an interview Friday.

She added that permanent housing has proven to have a greater impact on homelessness.

“If they don’t move into permanent housing after they’ve moved through transitional housing, then they cycle back through,” she said.

By prioritizing funding for permanent housing, the federal agency is able to encourage local programs to change their housing models, Basgal said.

“People respond to what the grants are,” she said, adding that it’s been about a five-year “journey” for HUD as it’s developed this permanent-housing strategy.

Glendale’s Continuum of Care plans to ask on its project renewal application for nearly $2.5 million, but expects it may lose out on 5% of that amount because of mandatory federal budget cutting last year known as sequestration.

About $245,000 used in the past by the Salvation Army and Ascencia for transitional housing has been proposed for permanent programs to not lose out on any more money beyond the 5%.

HUD has money to renew some previous programs, but it does not have funding for new programs.

Joshua Sneed, co-captain of the Salvation Army in Glendale, said while the adjustment to permanent housing will require administrative changes, getting funding is better than not getting it for a program that changes lives, such as the Nancy Painter House.

“We’re still serving the same population and we’re still meeting the same goal,” he said, adding that many of the women and children in that program tend to be ready to move on before the two-year deadline.

The real issue will be paying for the supportive services that HUD is shifting away from, nonprofit leaders said during interviews.

The roughly $123,000 the Salvation Army and Ascencia had received in the past for supportive services, such as homeless childcare and case management, may be lost or reallocated to rapid rehousing programs due to the 5% cut.

“There’s not a good understanding of where the money will come from for supportive services when HUD won’t pay for it,” Profant-Komuro said, adding that Ascencia and other homeless services are eyeing private foundations to fill the gap.

Sneed said the Salvation Army plans to do more development work, either by increasing the number of fundraisers or by upping their fundraising goals.

“An organization like ours, we got to roll with what’s out there,” he said.

The City Council is set to review the grant application on Tuesday before it is sent to HUD the first week of February. It could be months before the nonprofit organizations find out how much money they will receive.


Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.


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