Programs Targeting Specific Populations

Unique Combinations of Services and Supports to Address Specific Populations

Overview and Description

Specific populations such as those with particular disabilities, veterans, those with mental health challenges, and others may have combinations of housing and other needs that make it difficult for typical programs to serve them. In these cases, it can be effective to create a program that combines multiple, sometimes interdependent, forms of support and services. This often includes the use of more widely available services, but with exceptions to specific requirements for program participants or efforts to remove other barriers to participation.

Program Lead: Developer and supportive service provider

Role for Local Government: Local governments can work with individuals who are part of the specific populations with unmet housing needs (and/or organizations who work closely with them) to understand specific barriers to effectively using existing housing supports and determine what kinds of accommodations or paired service offerings might address the need. Once this is understood a program can be designed and implemented by either the local government or another more appropriate service provider. In this case, the local government may still need to make policy or regulatory changes to allow the programs to reach this population.

Opportunity and Examples from Colorado

Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (VASH): The VASH program is a national initiative sponsored by HUD and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The goal of the VASH program is to end homelessness among military veterans. The VASH program combines HCV rental assistance, intensive case management and clinical services to enable homeless veterans access to permanent housing while leading healthy, productive lives in the community. Local governments can promote the use/allocation of VASH vouchers in local affordable housing developments to ensure homeless veterans can find units suitable to them.

Family Unification Program (FUP): DOLA partners with the Colorado Division of Child Welfare and local service providers to administer this unique housing choice voucher program to assist households involved in child welfare. These vouchers can serve both families and youth headed households. Family vouchers are reserved for families where housing is an obstacle to retaining or regaining custody of their children. Youth vouchers are for homeless youth aging out of the foster care system (ages 18 through 24).

Mental Health and Homeless Solutions Program State Housing Vouchers (MH-SHV & HSP-SHV): The MH-SHV & HSP-SHV program provides rental assistance and access to supportive services for extremely low-Income individuals with a disabling condition, disabilities, or special needs who are frequent or high-cost consumers of public systems, such as mental health institutes, and who are experiencing homelessness or would be upon discharge/release. Referrals are made through regional Coordinated Entry systems, Colorado Department of Human Services’ Division of Child Welfare and Office of Behavioral Health, Colorado Department of Corrections’ Division of Adult Parole, and entities serving persons who need long-term supports and services in order to maintain housing.

Colorado Choice Transition (CCT) Vouchers: The CCT voucher program provides housing vouchers for persons with disabilities who require long-term services and support to transition out of nursing facilities. These vouchers help solve systemic barriers to clients moving into a least-restrictive community living environment, to improve their health outcomes. This program also helps people with disabilities who are at risk of being placed in an institution stay in their communities.

Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA): The HOPWA program is funded by HUD and provides states and localities with resources and incentives to create long-term comprehensive strategies for meeting the housing needs of low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS. These strategies may include Tenant Based Rental Assistance (TBRA), Housing Development activities, Supportive Services, and/or Short-Term Rent, Mortgage, or Utility Assistance (STRMU).

Permanent Supportive Housing

Overview and Description

Permanent Supportive Housing (known as PSH) is an intervention that aims to support the most vulnerable households, including those experiencing chronic homelessness, by combining permanent affordable housing units with access to wrap-around supportive services tailored to meet residents’ needs.

Program Lead: Developer and supportive service provider

Role for Local Government: Local governments can support developers pursuing PSH projects through provision of local resources (land, funding, incentives), as well as leveraging relationships with other funders (federal, state, philanthropy, etc.). They can also streamline local zoning and development regulations for PSH housing to lower costs and prevent NIMBY opposition. Some local governments support PSH with ongoing operating funds or funding for tenant services.

Opportunity and Examples from Colorado

The City and County of Denver created a Supportive Housing Program called Denver Housing to Health. This program connects homeless individuals and families with shelter and services to help create stability and a plan for future action.

Housing Catalyst is an organization developing Permanent Supportive Housing communities in Colorado. Two examples are Mason Place in Fort Collins and Redtail Ponds in Northern Colorado. Both developments offer shelter, kitchens, fitness areas, common areas, and other amenities that provide stability and support to special populations.

Jefferson Center for Mental Health is a service provider that offers Colorado residents assistance to children, family, and youth, older populations, those struggling with substance use, and veterans and military personnel. Jefferson Center for Mental Health is both a service provider and a developer of permanent supportive housing.

Mental Health Center of Denver is a resident treatment center. As a provider that offers dual diagnosis, this residential rehabilitation program is available to individuals struggling with substance use and mental health.

Addressing Homelessness and Housing Navigators

Overview and Description

There are many programs designed to provide pathways to housing and address other needs for people who are homeless. These can include a combination of temporary housing (e.g., shelters), transitional housing intended to foster independent living, permanent supportive housing, and a range of nutritional, employment, health and other supports.

Many homelessness programs also employ housing navigators who act as case managers and work to ensure that individuals’ service needs are being met and supports them as they attain more permanent housing. In some cases, housing navigators provide supportive services themselves, and other cases connect to third party services.

Program Lead: Local government or nonprofit

Role for Local Government: Local government (typically through agencies like Health and Human Services) can provide both services for those who are homeless and funding for other service providers to provide them.

Opportunity and Examples from Colorado

Fort Lyon Supportive Residential Community provides recovery-oriented transitional housing to homeless individuals struggling with a substance use disorder. The program combines housing with peer-led recovery, as well as educational, vocational and employment services for approximately 250 homeless and formerly homeless persons across Colorado, with an emphasis on serving homeless veterans.

Homeless Solutions Program (HSP) supports a continuum of efficient and effective housing solutions that increase access to permanent housing and disrupt the costly cycle of incarceration, emergency hospitalization, and utilization of crisis services that often accompanies homelessness. HSP is intended to serve individuals with a history of homelessness and a disabling condition, disabilities, or special needs who are frequent or high-cost consumers of public systems. Youth and Veterans experiencing homelessness are prioritized sub-populations as well.

Office of Homeless Youth Services (OHYS): Created by the Colorado State Legislature through the Homeless Youth Services Act (C.R.S. 26-5.9), the OHYS is a vehicle through which homeless youth services statewide are improved by coordinating current services and facilitating interagency collaboration. The OHYS identifies gaps, removes barriers, and improves access and information sharing. In order to carry out this legislative intent, the OHYS, in conjunction with the Advisory Committee on Homeless Youth, develops and implements the Colorado Homeless Youth Action Plan annually.

This statewide plan contains many key prevention and intervention strategies designed to collaboratively and comprehensively address the issue of youth homelessness in Colorado. Next Step Program Homeless families with school-aged children receive rental assistance allowing families to secure housing and choice of where to live within their community: close to jobs, family, and schools of choice. Maintaining school attendance in a specific school can improve academic success and reduce long term social costs. Parents receive job counseling and training, and all family members receive supportive services.

The Bridge Shelter: Available in Cortez, Colorado, The Bridge Shelter serves adults and provides nightly shelter. In addition to a bed, The Bridge Shelter offers a meal, hygiene products and services, and job opportunities.

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