Saturday, December 17, 2005

Feds Reward Agencies for Dropping People

Things become Clearer if you Know the Details...

So, I always wondered why the shelters just drop contact with people after they leave the facility. I know now that the Federal Government rewards programs that drop people when they get into housing.

It is always good for advocacy organizations to participate in federal funding to see what the shelters and services have to endure. NEOCH has this small grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to assist people with housing and voice mail. We have participated now for a full year now, and there are some bizarre concepts in dealing with the federal government. It is not as bad as the administrative burden of having to deal with the State of Ohio, but still it is an education.

The biggest thing that we learned is that we are only allowed to report clients as successful until we close them from our books. BTG follows the individuals for one year after they are placed into housing. This stops us from being able to list these clients as successful. So in the last year we housed 220 people, with an additional 79 leaving the program for other reasons. So we do not get credit for the 220 only the 79 that left. We track these people for a year so in 2006 we will get more credit, but it does not make sense to drop people when they achieve housing. This policy sets up a system in which the shelters drop people as soon as they reach housing to get the credit from HUD and the local reviewers.

I understand the logic to reduce case loads and not keep people "dependent" on the system for long periods of time. But the reality is that those who are dropped are often lonely, depressed and are more likely to return to the shelters. It is a disservice to assist a person for 3, 6, 9 months or even a year and then just drop them when they reach housing. This only starts the whole cycle all over again. This policy needs to be re-evaluated.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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