Long Beach received $30.15 million in funding for its homeless services in Fiscal Year 2019, which runs from October 1, 2018, to September 30, 2019. Kelly Colopy, the city’s director of health and human services, told the Business Journal that her department’s spectrum of services are designed to help individuals and families at risk for chronic homelessness. “Our work is really, how do we prevent homelessness,” she said. “And then if someone falls into homelessness we get them back into housing as quickly as possible.”
Oversight for the Long Beach Homeless Services Division is carried out by the Health and Human Services Department, with HUD providing separate evaluations for HUD-related programs. State and county programs provide oversight on their respective programs as well, Long Beach Homeless Services Officer Shannon Parker explained.
City Auditor Laura Doud told the Business Journal that her office is working on a plan to gauge the effectiveness of the city’s various homeless services. “We are developing an audit scope and plan which we anticipate starting this year,” she wrote in an e-mail.
Housing Authority Vouchers – The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides $10.02 million in funding for housing vouchers to the city’s housing authority, comprising the largest share of total funds for homeless-related services. The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program offers rental subsidies to qualifying Long Beach households.
Human Services Bureau Manager Teresa Chandler said that the city sets aside 100 vouchers for individuals and families who come through the Long Beach Multi-Service Center (MSC), which provides outreach, case management and other social services to people experiencing homelessness. Another 702 vouchers are designated for homeless veterans. The $10.02 million in funding is solely dedicated to vouchers, with no associated administrative costs to the city, according to Chandler.
City Funding – General operations, administration and support for the health department’s MSC are covered by an annual distribution of $1.21 million from the city’s General Fund. A small portion of this is used for other services, Chandler said, such as street outreach, motel vouchers and cleaning up homeless encampments.
HUD Continuum Of Care – HUD annually provides funding to the city through its Continuum of Care (CoC) Program, this year granting $8.18 million. CoC funds cover permanent supportive housing and transitional housing, Chandler explained, and are divided among various projects.
Projects not directly managed by health and human services are administered by nonprofit partner agencies, including Harbor Interfaith, the United States Veterans Initiative, Catholic Charities, Mental Health America and others. The City of Long Beach must apply for this funding each year through a grant application, with HUD evaluating the effectiveness of each proposed project. Administrative costs for CoC projects are shared with subcontracted partners, Chandler said. Limits on these costs range between 5% to 15%, though they average about 7%, she said.
The city’s homeless services division also evaluates each agency’s project performance throughout the year. This data is entered into the division’s homeless management information system (HMIS). “Each Continuum of Care [program] across the country is responsible for selecting an HMIS software that complies with HUD’s data collection, management and reporting standards,” Chandler explained. This system allows city staff to keep track of housing availability for homeless clients as well as to prioritize housing by greatest need.
HUD grants Long Beach another $760,000 in non-CoC funds, Chandler said. Currently, this money goes toward enhancing veteran care housing as its top priority.
Emergency Solutions And Housing Program – The state grants Long Beach $1.58 million for homeless services through the California Emergency Solutions and Housing (CESH) program. Chandler said that the CESH funding is used to enhance its HMIS and coordinated entry system. The coordinated entry system is how the multi-service center manages intakes and assessments for its clients. The center averages about 13,000 client visits annually, according to a 2018 city press release. Like HEAP, CESH limits administrative costs to 5%.
Measure H Funding – Long Beach has received $5.61 million from Los Angeles County Measure H, revenue generated from a quarter-cent sales tax that funds homeless services. About $3.4 million is allocated to renovate a planned 125-bed shelter in North Long Beach. The rest is for preventive and supportive outreach.
“Measure H is great because it picks up in areas that HUD doesn’t fund,” Chandler said. Whereas HUD funds programs that bring the homeless into housing, Measure H funds services that support homeless through the housing process to keep them from becoming homeless again.
According to Parker, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) manages the distribution of Measure H funds. The total administrative allowance for these funds is 20%, with 4% allocated for LAHSA and 16% for the homeless services division of Long Beach’s health department. If the division uses a subcontractor to implement its Measure H funds, the administrative costs are split between them.
County Funding – Long Beach receives another $450,000 from Los Angeles County for its Homeless Veterans Initiative, which offers housing services and employment for veterans. Administrative costs for this initiative are capped at 10%.
HEAP Funding – The state’s Homeless Emergency Assistance Program (HEAP) is a one-time block grant created by the California Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council. Long Beach has been allocated $9.92 million in total funds from HEAP, most of which is being used to purchase the property that will become the North Long Beach shelter and is not counted towards the $30.15 million in homeless services funding. The remaining $2.34 million is being used to expand Continuum of Care programs, Chandler said. HEAP guidelines stipulate that its administrative costs cannot exceed 5% of program funds.