SOAR eNews - May 2014

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May 2014

Spotlight on Miami-Dade's SOAR Collaboration with the Courts: Diverting Defendants with Mental Illness

Since 1949, Mental Health America has spearheaded May is Mental Health Awareness Month by reaching out to millions of people across the country via the media, local events, and screenings. The theme for 2014 is “Mind Your Health,” and one of the goals is to raise awareness about the importance of mental health as part of overall health and wellness.
In recognition of this theme, we would like to share an inspiring article about SOAR that appeared in Psychiatric News, “Defendants With Mental Illness Diverted to Social Security System.” The article features Miami-Dade’s innovative SOAR collaboration with the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project (CMHP). Please visit:
Since 2000, CMHP has diverted people with serious mental illness from the criminal justice system to community-based treatment, housing, and other services. We have all seen how access to SSI/SSDI benefits, both cash and health insurance, contributes to better overall health outcomes.
The SOAR TA Center often highlights Miami-Dade’s SOAR Program in our national presentations and forums and many of you have personally reached out to Cindy Schwartz, CMHP’s Program Director, to learn how to replicate this best practice within your Court system. “They are a model for all localities,” states Dazara Ware, Senior Project Associate at the SOAR TA Center.
Ms. Schwartz explains, “SOAR is a tool for people to move toward recovery. You can’t move ahead without a roof over your head.” By making the link with housing and healthcare, Miami shows how people with mental illness who are justice involved are successfully reintegrating into their communities. Cindy is so positive and upbeat about SOAR and its real message of recovery, we think you will be interested in learning more about her staffing philosophy.
Find out the many ways your organization can observe Mental Health Awareness Month at May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Sharing Our Successes

SOAR News and Accomplishments
Phoenix, AZ: New SOAR Leader and case manager, Loren Gallegly, with Lodestar Day Resource Center, has a 100% approval rate in an average of 60 days on 3 SOAR applications since late January. Congratulations Loren!
Davenport, IA: Dedicated SOAR caseworker, Tiffany Norwoood, from Humility of Mary Shelter just received notice of her first approval. The approval came in less than 2 months, and the applicant was approved for both SSI and SSDI.  Keep up the great work, Tiffany!
Great news from Nevada: Clark County Social Service will utilize CABHI grant funds to recruit and hire a Statewide SOAR Coordinator. Congratulations!
If you have a SOAR-related success story to share, e-mail
New Issue Brief and Tip Sheet Released
Collaboration with SSA and DDS: Something for Everyone: We all know how important building strong working relationships with our partners at SSA and DDS is to successful SOAR outcomes. In this issue brief, you will learn how SSA and DDS work with SOAR and the benefits of establishing a SOAR process. SSA and DDS personnel share how they approach SOAR collaborations, which can be replicated in your area. To learn more, visit: Collaboration with SSA and DDS: Something for Everyone
SSA and VA Benefits Tip Sheet: This updated version of our SSA and VA Benefit Tip sheet is loaded with new information about SSA’s recent initiatives to expedite SSI/SSDI claims. Also, we explain in greater detail how SSA and VA benefits impact each other. To learn more, visit: SSA and VA Benefits Tip sheet
SOAR Fundamentals Webinars
On April 24, we held the final webinar in our three-part Leadership Academy Webinar Series for Trainers. This webinar series was intended to invest in our existing SOAR trainers and offer you additional educational experiences to enhance your current efforts.
As a reminder, SOAR TA Center resources transitioned this year to the development and ongoing support of SOAR community leaders through training and mentorship at SOAR Leadership Academies. SOAR local leads and trainers conduct one-day SOAR Fundamentals trainings for individuals who have completed the online course (or 2-day training) to include a refresher of the SOAR core elements as well as training on the state/local SOAR process.

If you missed the Leadership Academy Webinar Series for Trainers, we encourage you to view the recordings and review the materials presented.
SOAR Learning Community Calls
On March 18th, 91 participants joined our first SOAR Learning Community Call. The SOAR TA Center shared information about creating and leading SOAR steering committees, and participants exchanged ideas about how to apply it in their communities. If you missed the call, please access the recording here:
Please join us for the upcoming Learning Community Calls, Funding and Sustainability and Supporting Quality Applications. See details below.

Upcoming Center Events

SOAR Learning Community Calls
Funding and Sustainability, Tuesday, May 20, 3:00-4:30 p.m. (EDT) Register Here
Supporting Quality Applications, Tuesday, July 22, 3:00-4:30 p.m. (EDT) Register Here
Upcoming SOAR Leadership Academies
June 3-5, 2014 in Portland, OR
September 10-12, 2014 in Pittsburgh, PA
Please contact the SOAR TA Center or your State Team Lead if you are interested in attending.

Income Calculator Updated with FY 2014 HOME Program Income Limits

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Developing Viable Communities through Housing, Services, & Economic Opportunities

Income Calculator Updated with FY 2014 HOME Program Income Limits

HUD has updated the Income Eligibility Calculator to incorporate the FY 2014 HUD Program Income Limits. These limits are effective for the HOME Program as of May 1, 2014 and can be viewed on the OneCPD Resource Exchange.

How Does This Affect the Income Calculator?

All calculations that are currently in a user's dashboard in the CPD Income Eligibility Calculator, as well as all calculations completed going forward, will use the FY 2014 income limits for the purposes of determining eligibility. 

Although your data and calculations are accessible within the CPD Income Eligibility Calculator for 13 months, this feature is designed to allow you to more easily update a beneficiary’s income in the future – it is not a repository of income calculations completed in the past.

Only calculations that had been downloaded from the Calculator and saved to a user's hard drive (or printed off) prior to today used the previous year's income limits data for calculating a beneficiary's income eligibility.

Please direct any comments or questions to

Federal Partners Release Final 2014 HMIS Data Standards

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Developing Viable Communities through Housing, Services, & Economic Opportunities

Federal Partners Release Final 2014 HMIS Data Standards

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are pleased to announce the release of the 2014 HMIS Data Dictionary and 2014 HMIS Data Manual. This joint release is a product of collaboration between the three agencies to update the HMIS Data Standards to allow for standardized data collection on homeless individuals and families across systems.

These two documents update the 2004 HMIS Data and Technical Notice and the 2010 HMIS Data Standards. Because this is a collaborative effort between HUD, HHS, and the VA, the standards are no longer presented in a HUD Notice format. Instead the federal partners are releasing two documents; a technical data dictionary and a community data manual. Communities must collect the data included in the standards in order to comply with each federal partner's reporting requirements. The documents are structured so that communities can easily determine which data elements are required for each federal partner's program. The effective date of the 2014 HMIS Data Standards is October 1, 2014. This means that all HMIS solutions must be programmed to collect data based on the 2014 Standards by that date.

The two documents released today are intended for different audiences. The HMIS Data Dictionary is intended for HMIS vendors and system administrators because it provides logic and system-level detail required for programming HMIS systems to collect the data properly. The HMIS Data Manual is intended for use as a reference for community members, HMIS staff, and HMIS users and provides less technical detail on each data element, detail on when to collect the data, which clients it should be collected for, and any special considerations or changes from the previous Data Standards.

In the next few months, HUD and its federal partners will release additional guidance and information related to these revised HMIS Data Standards. These include:
  1. Summary of public comments
  2. HMIS Program Specific Manuals which will provide detailed program specific guidance for each partner program required to use HMIS
  3. HMIS Notices for public comment—on HMIS Governance, HMIS Privacy and Security, and HMIS Software and Data Quality
  4. Training tools for the 2014 HMIS Data Standards
  5. HMIS final rule
HUD and its federal partners are drafting a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that defines the coordination that standardizes guidance on homeless data collection and reporting.

If you have questions about the 2014 HMIS Data Standards, please submit them through OneCPD Ask a Question. On Step 2, select HMIS from the "My question is related to" drop down.

Council Focuses on Support for Local Communities

United States Interagency Council on Homelessness - No on should experience homelessness. No one should be without a safe, stable place to call home.

Council Focuses on Support for Local Communities
May 2, 2014

Houston, Phoenix, and Growing List of other Communities are Proving that Ending Homelessness is Possible and Within Reach

Last week, members of the Cabinet and leaders from 19 Federal agencies, who together make up the Interagency Council on Homelessness, met to take action on Federal efforts to support and advance progress on ending homelessness in local communities.

From left: Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, and USICH Executive Director Laura Zeilinger
"One of the areas where I really want to make sure we're stepping up is to deepen our partnership with mayors around the country," said HUD Secretary and USICH Council Chair Shaun Donovan. "We have seen that where mayors and local government are engaged we're making remarkable progress."

Community leaders from Houston and Phoenix were invited to discuss the impacts that Federal partnerships have had on local efforts to end homelessness. Houston and Phoenix represent two of the growing number of communities around the country that are making significant progress toward reaching the goals of
Opening Doors. These communities are demonstrating that--by engaging in strong local and Federal partnerships and taking strategic actions to maximize Federal, State, and local resources, increase evidence-based housing and services models like permanent supportive housing, and focus on outcomes--solving homelessness is possible and within reach.

"We are really showing, through the course of our work, that homelessness is not an intractable problem," said USICH Executive Director Laura Zeilinger. "It's actually a problem we're solving."
Mandy Chapman Semple, Special Assistant for Homeless Initiatives to Mayor Annise Parker of Houston, told the Council that Houston is expecting to end homelessness among Veterans in 2014, one year ahead of the national goal. "We believe by the end of 2014, Houston will have achieved a steady state system, meaning that no Veteran has to be homeless," said Chapman Semple. "We have built a system that can house those individuals within a 30-day period with a strong retention in their permanent housing."

Amy Schwabenlender, Vice President of Community Impact at Valley of the Sun United Way in Phoenix/Maricopa County, Arizona shared similarly impressive results with the Council. Phoenix, where Mayor Greg Stanton recently announced an end to chronic homelessness among Veterans, is on track to end homelessness among all Veterans in 2015. 
"In Phoenix and Maricopa County, we are very excited by our progress," said Schwabenlender. "We want to help achieve the goals of the Federal plan,
Opening Doors."

USICH Releases 2013 Annual Update to Congress

A Message from Laura Green Zeilinger, 
USICH Executive Director 

The Obama Administration, in partnership with communities across the country, is changing the trajectory of homelessness through the implementation of Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. USICH is proud to release our Annual Update to Congress on the progress of Opening Doors.


Since the launch of Opening Doors in 2010, we've reduced homelessness by more than six percent, overall. We've reduced homelessness among families by eight percent, chronic homelessness by 16 percent, and we've reduced homelessness among Veterans by an incredible 24 percent.

Our progress reflects the efforts of thousands of dedicated partners, across all levels of government and the private and not-for-profit sectors, working together to end homelessness. Most importantly, our progress tells the story of the tens of thousands of people--individuals, Veterans, youth, and families--who, because of Opening Doors, have a safe and stable place to call home.

Our progress is real, and so is the opportunity we have now to build on our momentum and persist steadfast toward our goals until we have achieved an end to homelessness. We know that ending homelessness requires both new resources and strategic local policy changes. We are more successful at securing needed resources when communities demonstrate that reaching our goals are possible through strategic action: maximizing Federal, State, and local resources, leveraging commitments from public housing agencies to increase permanent supportive housing, and focusing on outcomes. 

Updates from Our Partners

Federal Partners Release 
Final 2014 HMIS Data Standards
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released the 2014 HMIS Data Dictionary and HMIS Data Manual, with an effective date of October 1, 2014. This joint release demonstrates significant collaboration between the three agencies to support data collection on homelessness across their programs and systems. 


These data standards mark a significant step toward alignment of data on homelessness across Federal programs. HUD and its Federal partners are also drafting a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that defines how the agencies will coordinate on homeless data collection and reporting into the future.

The new standards will allow a broader range of Federal programs to have commensurate data on homelessness. Over the long term, for service providers funded by multiple Federal programs, the new data standards can simplify how providers satisfy reporting requirements, as well as help to organize and compile data to support community-level planning. 

HUD Awards $29 Million To 26 
Local HIV-AIDS Housing Programs 
On April 24, 2014, HUD announced $29 million in grants to assist more than 1,200 extremely low-income persons and families living with HIV/AIDS. This funding will provide these households with a stable living environment, which is essential to accessing healthcare and HIV related services. In addition to housing assistance, these local programs will provide access to the needed supportive services such as life skills, job readiness services, and employment training.

The funding is offered through HUD's Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Program (HOPWA) and will renew HUD's support of 26 local programs in 18 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands 

"These grants will give our local partners a vital resource to keep low-income individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS healthy," said Secretary Shaun Donovan. 

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The True Cost of Doing Nothing

By Richard Cho, USICH Policy Director
Ending chronic homelessness not only pays for itself, it actually results in net public savings. The true cost of not ending chronic homelessness goes beyond government spending. The true cost of chronic homelessness encompasses human lives, and it comes down to our very identity as a nation and society. 

Can we as a nation, faced with overwhelming evidence, afford the shame of doing nothing? Can we live with the knowledge that we could have solved a national tragedy and saved more than a 100,000 lives, but simply chose not to? Taken together, the costs of doing nothing are simply too high.

Promising Starts: School-Based Homelessness Prevention Services

By Sparky Harlan, CEO of Bill Wilson Center

Sometimes there is a simple concept to tackling a difficult problem. 

Over the years, more and more of our homeless teens staying at our short-term residential program were coming from homeless families. It was difficult to reunite homeless teens with their families if the families were homeless. What could we do? Luckily a timely presentation on an Ohio school-based case management program for homeless families provided the spark for a new, promising program that we started last year.

Program Assistant

USICH is currently recruiting a Program Assistant to serve as the administrative and confidential assistant to the Executive Director, and who is responsible for performing a wide variety of duties that require close association with and full knowledge of the Executive Director and other team members' duties, activities, and interests. 

Communications & External Affairs Intern

The Communications and External Affairs team is seeking an undergraduate or graduate student to support its work on behalf of the nation's homeless population. The incumbent will 
experience a full spectrum of work to support the Agency's communications plan, strategies and initiatives, both internally and at the Council level. 

National Initiatives Intern

USICH is seeking a part-time intern to support a range of USICH work with a focus on the state and community-level activities. The incumbent will perform a variety of duties to support the National Initiatives team, which may include, research support, drafting correspondence, and maintaining current information on state and community issues related to homelessness. 

In Case You Missed It

President Obama Proposes Historic New Investments to End Homelessness 

The President's Budget includes more than $5.69 billion for targeted homeless assistance funding, a 12 percent increase over Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations.


Ending Youth Homelessness: Preliminary Intervention Model Webinar

Watch USICH, HHS, HUD, DOL, and ED discuss the partnerships and coordinated efforts needed in communities and at every level of government to end homelessness among youth.

PYIM Webinar
PYIM Webinar

3 Reasons to Address Homelessness as a Human Rights Issue

Liz Osborn answers the question: What benefits and challenges do organizations face when addressing the issue of homelessness from a human rights perspective?


Criminalization is Not a Solution to Homelessness

USICH is dedicated to supporting states and communities to implement a Human Rights approach to ending homelessness that connects people to stable housing and eliminates the criminalization of homelessness.


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