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The Future of the Homeless Planning Council

The lack of affordable housing has become one of Delaware’s most pressing housing issues.  Thirty percent of homeowners and 47% of renters are considered cost-burdened (a total of 113,411 households).  These include households and individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, households and individuals with disabilities, elderly households on fixed incomes, and the working poor. It also is a population that suffers regardless of tenure, with renters and homeowners almost equally represented.
 
Existing federal programs provide housing assistance to portions of the cost-burdened population.  However, most of these resources have not been expanded in many years even as needs have grown exponentially.  The high cost of reaching these households and lack of major funding sources targeted to these needs also unfortunately make these some of the most challenging needs to plan for and address.

Over the course of the next few years, the Homeless Planning Council will be embarking on three major projects to work towards alleviating the housing burden that so many Delawareans face.

 

Comprehensive Housing Plan for the State of Delaware

In collaboration with the Delaware Housing Coalition, the Homeless Planning Council will be facilitating a planning process to create a comprehensive, integrated, statewide community planning effort that is community-based with input and participation from advocates, households and individuals with extremely low incomes, service providers, elected officials, government entities and other stakeholders.  This planning effort will address the need for affordable housing for all households including specifically those who are cost-burdened and those who need affordable, accessible and integrated housing because of a disability.

 

Centralized Intake System for Homeless Prevention and Homeless Housing Services

The Homeless Planning Council of Delaware has begun to utilize a structured process for centralized assessment and intake for the State of Delaware.  The goal of the program is to create a coordinated seamless system of care for persons who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. 

Below are the needs that will be met by this system: 

  • Streamline the entire process of people accessing services
  • Determine the services that will resolve a person’s homeless situation
  • Help homeless persons identify programs that they are eligible for faster and more efficiently
  • Help providers identify ways to make their work more efficient and effective
  • Identify unmet needs of homeless persons and persons who are at-risk of homelessness

 

Homeless System Transformation

Across the country, many communities have begun a transformation of their homeless assistance systems.  Homeless assistance systems have in the past focused on providing shelter in order to move homeless persons off of the street.  However, these practices have not had as much success as expected because the number of persons using shelter has continued to increase, services have been inconsistent from one shelter to the next in the same community, and there is no clear path to stable housing in most instances.

Based on research and successful community demonstrations, homeless assistance systems have begun to transform their systems to focus on housing stability instead of providing shelter.  Focusing on housing stability allows communities to focus resources and address a person’s long-term service needs – bridging the divide between the homeless assistance system and mainstream systems.  Mainstream systems (such as benefits, cash assistance, supportive services, housing assistance, health care, job training, corrections, etc.) have an opportunity in this model to help provide services to the homeless population; spreading the responsibility of preventing and ending homelessness across the entire community.