Focusing on Public Housing Authorities Role in Ending Homelessness

Over the last two years, CSH has significantly increased its focus and engagement with Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) across the country.  Our efforts include a multi-pronged approach to: reform and improve federal policy, convene PHAs across the country to share knowledge and best practices, develop a PHA toolkit for supportive housing and provide TA to PHAs; and strengthen partnerships with key trade associations and their members.

PHA’s administer a powerful resource for creating supportive housing for homeless and extremely vulnerable populations –through Section 8 vouchers and their public housing stock. Particularly in today’s difficult funding environment, public housing authorities’ resources, capacity, and experience serving extremely low-income individuals and families, make them critical partners in our efforts to create supportive housing and end homelessness.

  • Toolkit:  CSH, with assistance from the J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation, is developing a new resource for Public Housing Authorities and their partners to improve housing opportunities for homeless households. The CSH PHA Toolkit will give local PHAs and their partners concrete examples and tools for beginning or expanding upon their work in supportive housing. The toolkit will include information about why PHAs and supportive housing are important to each other and background on supportive housing.  We expect the Toolkit to launch in July. See a preview here.
  • Proposal to Sponsor-base Section 8 vouchers: The President’s FY13 HUD budget request included a proposal to allow PHAs to “sponsor-base” Section 8 vouchers for the purpose of combining housing and supportive services for homeless families. CSH has played a central role in working with the Administration to refine this excellent proposal and advance it with partners and Congress.  Currently Section 8 rental assistance is tied either to the tenant (tenant-based) or to a specific housing unit or building (project-based). In a sponsor-based program, a non-profit organization that works with homeless people in the community and helps them access crucial supportive services holds the voucher and is able to either lease a unit on behalf of the tenant or work directly with them and the landlord to help facilitate lease-up. As the proposal is improved and advances with Congress CSH will post updates on our blog The Pipeline.  
  • Advocating for PHAs: While CSH has always advocated for the resources that PHAs use to house low-income families, such as Section 8 and CDBG, for the first time in 2012 we are also calling on Congress to provide PHAs with sufficient Administrative funding so they can commit staff resources to address the special needs of homeless persons. Despite the very difficult budget environment, signs are positive as both the President and the Senate T-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee have proposed increased Admin funding. 
  • Knowledge exchange at PHA Convenings: CSH has been thrilled to work with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness to help plan convenings for PHAs and their community partners to report on best practices, discuss barriers to success and exchange knowledge and tips on how PHAs can expand their work and partnership to end homelessness.  Many PHAs have reported that their biggest barrier to better serving the homeless was simply a matter of capacity and knowing how to better serve this population. These events are energizing and educating PHAs and their partners about the important role they can play. 

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