Families increase financial stability and move to self-sufficiency (not needing/using income supports)
Moving from poverty to middle income and self sufficiency is the dream for virtually all low income households. Maintaining a stable home environment where children can flourish, successfully complete high school and attain post-secondary education and training that sustains stable employment is part of the American dream. With 30% of our households not earning an income sufficient to make ends meet, that dream may not be realized for many. The difference between families at poverty who are stable and those at risk of homelessness may often be the availability of mainstream resources such as CalFresh (food stamps), CalWorks child care supports, health insurance, or short-term rental assistance such as the Homeless Prevention & Rapid Rehousing Program of 2009-2012. Yet many low-income families do not qualify for or cannot access mainstream resources.
Boosting our county’s CalFresh enrollment is a goal of the County of San Diego Housing & Human Services Agency. Through coordination of resources and agencies, more targeted at-risk families can avail themselves of resources utilized by other low-income families. Strategies can be engaged regionally to smooth structural barriers to access, increase program capacity, and address eligibility barriers. Further, with the lack of sufficient Section 8 housing vouchers to meet demand, it is imperative that the San Diego region develop local programs to provide time limited rental assistance for the most vulnerable families.
The tools identified for this outcome will increase participation in mainstream resources, produce rental assistance for those not likely to qualify or receive federal housing subsidies, and reduce the length of stay in nonpermanent housing. These tools seek to increase the stability for at-risk families so that they are better able and equipped Increased Stability to seek training, employment and self-sufficiency wages, and gain the self-sufficiency that will improve their quality of life. Two populations have been identified for targeted response: transition-age youth (18 – 24) including those exiting the foster care or juvenile justice system, parenting, or unaccompanied youth; and military and veteran families who are serving or have served our country yet experience poverty, and have low education levels and little training for civilian jobs. Transitional housing programs throughout the country have been instrumental for moving families from homelessness to hope. While the HEARTH ACT of 2009 amends the Continuum of Care policy to strengthen prevention and rapid rehousing opportunities, it is believed an array of housing including emergency, transitional, or interim housing will continue to play a significant role in stabilizing at-risk and homeless families.
Lack of affordable child care and public transportation are significant barriers to employment. Counseling and behavioral health services for victims of domestic violence and those with depression or other behavioral health issues are critical components for success. These and other barriers to employment must be addressed to meet the needs of workers.
Keys to Housing recommends a targeted approach to families already receiving housing and employment assistance determined ready to move forward, families in shelter and transitional housing, and transition-age youth and military/ veteran families. Advocacy to amend policies at the federal and state level will be needed for long-term systemic change.
What we will measure to track our progress over time:
- Participation in homeless services, as measured by RTFH
- Improvement of targeted families in housing status, education, employment and wages, as measured by RTFH database
- Length of stay in shelter, transitional and other non-permanent housing, as measured by RTFH and Regional Continuum
of Care Council reports