The Mission:

To put an end to homelessness in Kern County through collaborative planning and action.

In This Section

For information: Homelessness Resources Administrative Assistant Jessica M. Janssen (661) 834-1580 or Jessica.F@uwkern.org. 

 


HUD Awards $4.79 Million to Kern Homeless Work


Julian Castro, US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
5/5/2016

HUD ANNOUNCES $4.79 MILLION IN LOCAL FUNDING FOR KERN COUNTY HOMELESS AGENCIES

Kern County homelessness programs have been awarded $4.79 million to prevent and end homelessness through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) CoC Program. US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro announced March 8, 2016 a first round, Tier 1 funding of $3,512,736 through eight agencies of the Kern County Homeless Collaborative. Tier 2, announced May 1, 2016, provided an additional funding of $1,083,928 to Kern’s efforts.  In all, the Kern County Homeless Collaborative’s HUD CoC programs will receive $4,790,096. Most of the funding was repeat funding of the previous year's grant but $1,066,826 is new.

The Kern County Homeless Collaborative serves as the Continuum of Care (or CoC) for Bakersfield/Kern County. Functioning as a Housing First community, housing is prioritized for people with the longest histories of homelessness and greatest need. Priority is established by administering the VI-SPDAT, an interview prioritization tool to identify those most vulnerable. Participants are matched to appropriate housing resources through a community wide system, disbursing vouchers as available each week. Services are provided through a Coordinated Entry and Assessment, wrap around system of care.

Statewide, California efforts were awarded $274,934,740 in Tier 1 and an increase of $61,572,366, in Tier 2. Nationally, 6,400 local homeless housing and services programs were allotted $1.6 billion in funding in the Tier 1 process with Tier 2, $355 million provided funding for an additional 1,200 programs.

The local CoC, facilitated locally through the Kern County Homeless Collaborative (KCHC), will receive funding for communitywide efforts through eight of its 28 member agencies to prevent and end homelessness through critically needed housing and support services for individuals and families. (Funded HUD CoC Project list and descriptions attached.)

A full project and agency funding list is available here.   CLICK THE LINK

Carlos Baldovinos, Governing Board Chair of the KCHC and Executive Director of The Mission at Kern County said “Collective efforts are bringing sustainable change, networking is increasing, businesses are investing in community, and we’re seeing unprecidented partnerships among so many organizations.”

Baldovinos, who became the Chair in October 2015 after a reorganization of the leadership structure, announced “With homelessness increasing in so many other areas of the state, we’re literally on the cutting edge of homelessness initiatives and the experts in our community are in the trenches doing what it takes to stay a step ahead”. Recent strategies include a Homeless Youth Working Group to address increased youth homelessness, up 71% since 2015; and an effort to reach out to rural areas as we begin a partnership with the County and added Emergency Shelter Grants, he explained.

A Cost Benefit Analysis, to be conducted this summer, will provide a true cost savings of the Housing First philosophy the Collaborative has endorsed, Baldovinos added.

Secretary Castro shared that the 2015 competition was the most competitive environment HUD has experienced in the CoC grant program. To compete most effectively, communities made very challenging decisions, often shifting funds from existing projects to create new ones that will have a more substantial and lasting impact on homeless populations. “Working together with state and local leaders, CoCs continue to prove that a combination of the right strategies, enough resources, and urgent action can end homelessness in America for everyone,” Castro said.

A Letter of Interest announced the competition to the community, inviting KCHC members to participate in the Consolidated Application process for the HUD funding program. In accordance with the US HEARTH Act and the newly structured KCHC Governance Charter, the Collaborative sought out and recruited a non-conflicting ranking panel to rank the priority of grants submitted. All agencies who presented LOIs for the 2015 NOFA were accepted. Individuals were selected to serve on the panel from throughout Kern, who understood the unique challenges of the homeless population and homelessness efforts, the lack of affordable housing and who had an understanding of community planning.

HUD encouraged local applicants to prioritize their funding request “very carefully” using a mix of performance data and local needs. Projects were prioritized locally based on research-driven approaches and HUD’s goals towards preventing and ending homelessness. Reallocated project funding increased permanent supportive housing for chronic homelessness through a Permanent Supportive Housing Project of the Housing Authority of the County of Kern.

The Homeless Collaborative’s 28 members are all committed to the work and realize the vision that ending homelessness requires community teamwork. The driving strategies to end homelessness include:

  • The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, in the nation’s first-ever comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness, Open Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness”; and

  • The Kern County Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness (currently being re-evaluated to define an Annual Action Plan for the final two years of the Ten Year effort).

The annual Homelessness Census is one way of gauging progress, though not the sole measurement. When 1,067 individuals were determined to be homeless in Kern, the KCHC had over 200 vouchers pending – which means less than 860 people were facing homelessness – a much smaller figure than had been determined in the previous year since vouchers often represent a household of more than one person the estimate could be even lower. Performance measures are monitored for each funded process. Quarterly, a CoC Planning and Performance Committee assess each funded project to provide increased support as needed, for those agencies performing under HUD standards. The process is conducted with a “mentor spirit” and is non-punative.

A recent 2016 report, known as the Housing Inventory Chart, reported that 183 beds have been added in Kern over the past year, due to the Department of Human Services Family Stabilization Program; and HUD’s Rapid Rehousing increase of beds from 46 to 136. 89% of all available beds are utilized with 501 more beds occupied than in 2015.

For more information about the 2016 Kern Homelessness Census please log on to: www.KernHomelessness.org.

Christine Lollar, Director of Homelessness Resources - United Way of Kern County

661 834 2734, Christine.L@UWKern.org

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