Top 9 Things You Can Do Right Now from 100K Homes
by Becky Kanis, Erin Healy, Chris Ko & Christine Marge
These steps were identified by teams participating in Housing Placement Boot Camps convened by the 100K Homes Campaign and the United Way of Greater LA in Los Angeles and by the 100K Homes Campaign and Corporation for Supportive Housing in New York City. By implementing some of these steps, teams in Los Angeles have already reduced the length of time it takes to get a Veteran into housing by more than 2 months. Similar efforts are underway in New York City and Las Vegas.
1. Housing Authority and Non-Profits: The Housing Agency can share its Housing Inspection Standards with the non-profit organizations helping Veterans find apartments. The non-profit organization can do informal pre-inspection to help their clients find an apartment that will pass the Housing Quality Inspection the first time.
Days Eliminated: 50
Tell me more: If the housing locator who is helping the Veteran find an apartment has the housing inspection checklist handy, he or she can help the Veteran find an apartment that will sail through the Housing Quality Inspection the first time. Re-inspecting an apartment can add weeks if not months to the process. Having a housing locator hunting for viable apartment units makes it possible for you to do your housing placement process in parallel instead of sequentially. While one team is working with the Veteran to complete his or her housing application, the other team is working with landlords to find apartments that will easily pass inspection and get approved to rent to someone receiving a housing subsidy.
2. Housing Agency: Eliminate any locally imposed minimum income requirements
Days Eliminated: 44
Tell me more: While there is a cap on how much income a Veteran can have, there is no minimum amount of income required under HUD’s regulations and zero income is allowable. In fact, requiring income at all is against HUD regulations. Of course, any good case manager will continue to work with a client to obtain income, but make sure that your housing agency does not require income as a prerequisite for entry into housing.
3. VA: Eliminate any requirements for the Veteran to enter treatment as a condition for receiving a VASH voucher
Days Eliminated: 30 to 180
Who has already done this? VA of Greater Los Angeles
Tell me more: There are no requirements for Veterans to demonstrate they are clean and sober for any length of time or be “ready” for housing for admission to HUD-VASH. The Veteran must agree to participate in case management services tailored to meet the needs of the Veteran. The Veteran will be required to follow the PHA and landlord’s rules, which may have a requirement for no drug or alcohol use, but there is no set period of sobriety to qualify for HUD-VASH. It is not the role of the case manager to “enforce” the PHA/landlord rules, but rather work with the Veteran to understand the consequences of violating tenant rules. VA case managers are not cops!
4. Housing Agency: Allow use of the DD-214 to satisfy the Identification Requirements: don't require birth certificates and social security cards.
Days Eliminated: 30
Tell me more: To verify identity, HUD regulations at 24 CFR 5.216(g) only require that the Veteran submit an original, government-issued document that includes the social security number. The document can be issued by a federal, state, or local government agency, and the VA’s DD-214 form qualifies. The Veteran does not need a birth certificate. The Veteran does not need a social security card. If your housing agency requires this, work with them to modify their policy or, if necessary, their administrative plan.
5. VA: Train all VASH case managers to access HINQ database
Days Eliminated: 5
Who has already done this? VA of Greater Los Angeles is in the process of completing this.
Tell me more: The HINQ database is the best source for determining whether or not a Veteran will be eligible for VASH. Unfortunately, it is a somewhat difficult to navigate database that requires some training. Instead of relying upon a small number of people to access the database, Betty Zamost of VA of Greater LA determined that taking a few minutes to train everyone will ultimately speed up the process.
6. Housing Agency: Negotiate rent-reasonableness with the prospective landlord at the time of the housing inspection
Days Eliminated: 21
Who has already done this? Long Beach Housing Authority
Tell me more: Housing agencies often make sure the apartment is going to pass inspection before negotiating with the landlord. Then a different department within the housing agency will negotiate the rent with the landlord. Long Beach Housing Authority has allowed the rent reasonableness to be negotiated at the same time as the housing inspection.
7. Housing Agency: Issue provisional vouchers to enable the Veteran to begin housing search while the paperwork is being finalized
Days Eliminated: 7
Who has already done this? Long Beach Housing Authority
Tell me more: Housing Agencies must confirm that the Veteran is not on a state lifetime sex offender registry. Upon receiving an application, the administrator immediately cross-references www.nsopw.gov (national sex offender public search). If the Veteran is not on that list, they’ll issue a provisional voucher so the Veteran can begin looking for an apartment. The Veteran signs a waiver stating their understanding that this is a provisional voucher and attesting that they are not a registered lifetime sex offender. They are not allowed to move in until an official voucher is issued after the housing agency receives confirmation from the FBI database, which can take as long as a week.
8. Human Services Agencies and the VA: Co-locate and centralize “one-shot deal” or HPRP paperwork with a Veterans service center
Days Eliminated: 55
Tell me more: Human Resources Administrations can provide funding to help people obtain housing (e.g., security deposit, broker’s fee). NYCHRA and the NY Harbor VA are working together to set up a one-stop system to expedite access to these benefits for Veterans. A delay in benefits can put a selected apartment at risk, since landlords cannot typically wait for 1-2 months for a security deposit or other up-front costs.
HRA’s “one-stop” Veterans Center is a multi-service center for Veterans in Brooklyn, and staff were trained on the new process in October. The ultimate goal is to be able to process all paperwork and approve benefits within 48 hours.
9. Attend the next 100,000 Homes Campaign Housing Placement Boot Camp and discover ways that you can streamline your housing placement process in your community.
To learn more, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Becky Kanis directs the 100,000 Homes Campaign for Community Solutions, Inc.
Erin Healy is the Associate Director- New York, for the Corporation for Supportive Housing in New York City
Chris Ko is the Program Officer for Housing Stability for United Way of Greater LA
Christine Marge is the Director of Housing Stability for United Way of Greater LA