HMIS Upgrade Updates

Dear HMIS and CoC Partners,

I know so many of you are and have been working diligently over the last several weeks in direct response to urgent and emerging needs in our homeless communities surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic and your local response. Thank you for all you are doing in the field – I pray that you remain healthy and safe while you are actively working to serve our most vulnerable in PA.

I want to provide you with a short update on where DCED and our partners at Eccovia/ClientTrack are in the upgrade and transition to the new HMIS-ClientTrack.19 to meet HUD’s required coordinated entry data standards. As many of you are likely aware, as a result of the current situation, HUD has extended the deadline for the CES transition from April 1, 2020 to October 1, 2020. While this offered a small amount of breathing room in our upgrade, it has not slowed the activity we are undertaking with Eccovia, because we know how critical some of these upgrades will be to your continued success in utilizing the system locally and becoming confident with the new screens and tools available.

At this time, the tentative plan is to upgrade ClientTrack on or about May 1, 2020. We will be working with our team and CES managers to finalize the HMIS Security Protocols, participate in administrator training at the DCED level and begin a “Train the Trainer” series that will end with direct service providers who use ClientTrack to receive training before the launch.

We are coordinating with Eccovia to provide training dates in mid-late April. Please know that we are mindful of the fluid situation that many of our users are experiencing in the field and we will do our best to be sensitive to that during the training period.

During this extended implementation time-period we have also extended the ability of our ESG subgrantees to submit invoices in HMIS. We will provide notification to subgrantees when the processing of ESG invoices in HMIS will need to be suspended as a result of the upgrade.

Our team is reviewing these timetables weekly and will be sure to keep you informed as we move forward.

Thank you again for your amazing support and for all that you are doing in our communities every day.

All my best to you for continued health and safety.

Kathy Possinger

PA Department of Human Services Study Finds Positives Effects for Medicaid Recipients with Housing Support

Harrisburg, PA Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller announced the findings of a study on the effects of permanent supportive housing programs on long-term health and health care spending among Medicaid recipients experiencing homelessness. The study, conducted in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh’s Medicaid Research Center, looked at nearly 5,900 cases from 54 Pennsylvania counties who received permanent supportive housing services from 2011-2016 and found that people who experienced homelessness saw improving health outcomes and decreased Medicaid utilization and spending after receiving permanent supportive housing services.
“We know that a person’s health is more than what happens inside of a doctor’s office,” said Sec. Miller. “These environmental factors, known as social determinants of health, play a key role and can take many forms, including safe and affordable housing. We are always looking for ways to help people experiencing homelessness improve their health and overall quality of life. This report gives us an initial set of data to work with to achieve those goals.”
DHS is committed to supporting vulnerable Pennsylvanians like those who experience homelessness. By identifying positive trends in health outcomes and health care spending among people who received permanent supportive services, DHS can make data-driven, evidence-based decisions to broaden investments in programs and positive interventions that can help people experiencing homelessness long-term.
Low-income individuals with physical and behavioral health conditions have an elevated risk of homelessness. Permanent supportive housing programs provide long-term housing assistance and support services to individuals with disabling physical and mental health conditions experiencing chronic homelessness.
Among the population studied, 90 percent had a minimum of two chronic health conditions, and 43 percent had seven or more. Medicaid spending for this group averaged more than $1,200 per month in the 7-15 months before people began permanent supportive housing services. Significant, chronic behavioral and physical health conditions can contribute to housing insecurity, and unstable housing can make it difficult for these individuals to manage their health care needs.
Following the introduction of permanent supportive housing services, spending stabilized and declined. The study found that by the third year after beginning permanent supportive housing, total Medicaid spending fell by an average of $162 per person, or 13 percent, each month. Changes in spending were primarily reductions in spending on inpatient care for both behavioral health and non-behavioral health conditions and a 22 percent decline in emergency department use. Instead, cases analyzed showed increased case management and pharmaceutical use, showing a shift towards management of chronic conditions as opposed to dealing with these conditions through emergency or inpatient settings.
“This report affirmed our perspective that housing people experiencing homelessness is both the right thing to do for their health and well-being and is a cost-effective approach,” said Sec. Miller. “Sustaining housing for those that have it—and establishing housing for those that don’t—is a centerpiece of our strategy to address the social determinants of health and help people live healthy and fulfilling lives, and we will continue to look for opportunities to meet this need among people who need it.”
Read the report here.

Request for Proposals: Eastern Pennsylvania Continuum of Care Connect to Home Coordinated Entry System Pocono Regional Manager

The Eastern Pennsylvania Continuum of Care’s Coordinated Entry Committee is requesting proposals from public, nonprofit and private sector organizations to employ, supervise and manage a 1.0 FTE Connect to Home CES Pocono Regional Manager for its housing crisis response system.

Download the RFPSubmissions due Friday, July 19, 2019 at 5:00pm

About Connect To Home
Connect To Home: Coordinated Entry System of Eastern PA (CES) coordinates and manages access, assessment, prioritization and referral to housing and services for any person(s) experiencing or at imminent risk of homelessness in the following counties: Adams, Bedford, Blair, Bradford, Cambria, Carbon, Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lebanon, Lehigh, Lycoming, Mifflin, Monroe, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Perry, Pike, Schuylkill, Somerset, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wayne and Wyoming.

Participation in CES is required for all projects funded by HUD Continuum of Care or Emergency Solutions Grants (including those administered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania) and strongly encouraged for all other housing and service providers in order to ensure equitable and coordinated access for all.

PHFA Announces New Housing Policy Fellowship

HARRISBURG – With the goal of funding critical research and promoting leadership development, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency today announced the creation of a new Housing Policy Fellowship.

The fellowship will fund a maximum of 12 months of research and study on a pressing housing or community development topic. With a monthly stipend of $1,000, the maximum funding available will be $12,000. The financial support can be for a variety of activities supporting the approved research, including interviews with experts, securing resources and study materials, travel for attending relevant conferences and more.

This fellowship is intended to benefit the housing field by underwriting research on subjects that currently present housing or community development challenges. A secondary benefit of the fellowship will be its investment in an individual to promote their growth as a housing leader. The fellowship will produce documented findings that will be publicly available for everyone’s benefit.

“If we are satisfied with the results from this fellowship, we envision this becoming an annual occurrence that can help the housing field in a number of ways,” said PHFA Executive Director and CEO Brian A. Hudson. “Of course, the research findings will be of most interest initially. But we think the financial support for budding leaders in the housing field will provide long-term benefits, as well.”

The fellowship application is available on the agency’s website at www.PHFA.org; look under the “News” tab in the upper-left corner of the homepage, and then scroll down to “Housing Policy News.” All legal residents of the state over the age of 18 are eligible to apply, excluding PHFA staff and board members. All applications will be reviewed by PHFA staff according to the fellowship criteria, which are outlined in the application.
The fellowship application deadline is 3 p.m. on Sept. 6.

Questions about the fellowship may be directed to Bryce Maretzki at PHFA at 717.780.1867 or bmaretzki@phfa.org.

2019 Emergency Solutions Grant Request for Proposal Released

The 2019 Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Request for Proposal (RFP) has been released as of April 1, 2019. You can find the guidelines for the applications on DCED’s website here. DCED anticipates an award total of $5.5 million to award potential applicants.

Some important dates to consider for interested applicants:

2019 ESG Invoicing Webinar: April 9, 2019 from 1:30-2:30pm
Intent to Apply Deadline: April 15, 2019
Application opens for submission on May 31, 2019 and closes on June 14, 2019

If you have any questions regarding the 2019 ESG application, please contact Stacy Hawthorne at shawthorne@pa.gov.

Wolf Administration Awards $15 Million in Housing Grants to Help Individuals Battling Opioid Use Disorder

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf announced today that the departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) and Human Services (DHS) have awarded $15 million in federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grants for a new program to provide case management and housing support services for Pennsylvanians with an opioid use disorder (OUD). The pilot programs will support innovative practices that increase access to support services for individuals with OUD, keep people engaged in treatment and recovery, and help prevent overdose-related deaths.

“With these grant announcements we are taking an important step in removing a barrier to recovery and independence for those suffering from opioid use disorder,” Gov. Wolf said. “As we continue to battle this health crisis, being able to address housing as a means to get people into treatment and on the road to recovery is a key component.”

First announced in October, the program will direct the $15 million through 16 grant agreements that will assist urban and rural counties throughout the commonwealth. The pilot programs will assist individuals as they become and remain engaged in evidence-based treatment programs and will provide individuals with support services such as pre-tenancy and tenancy education services to maintain stable housing.

The counties selected for pilot programs under the request for applications were identified via a formula that equally considered the rate of individuals diagnosed with a substance use disorder (SUD) and rate of overdose-related deaths in a county. The selected grant recipient are:

Awardee Counties Served
Allegheny Department of Human Services Allegheny
Armstrong County Community Action Agency Armstrong
Blair County Community Action Program Blair
Center for Community Resources Butler
Commission on Economic Opportunity Luzerne
Community Counseling Center for Mercer County Mercer
Connect, Inc. Greene, Washington
Delaware County Office of Behavioral Health Delaware
Family Health Council of Central PA Dauphin
Fayette County Community Action Agency Fayette
Juniata Valley Tri-County Drug & Alcohol Abuse Commission Mifflin
Lawrence County Drug & Alcohol Commission Lawrence
Lehigh Conference on Churches Lehigh
Northern Tier Community Action Corporation Cameron
Philadelphia Single County Authority Philadelphia
The Wright Center for Community Health Lackawanna, Luzerne

“We know that each individual seeking treatment is just that – an individual,” said DDAP Secretary Jennifer Smith. “They each have different situations and circumstances hindering their recovery. In order to truly combat this crisis, we must build capacity to support individuals by providing necessary, supportive wrap around services like stable housing and case management.”

“The conditions in which a person lives play a substantial role in a person’s health. When a person experiences homelessness in addition to a substance use disorder, the lack of a secure home is often a barrier to staying engaged with treatment and recovery, if they are able to access treatment at all,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “These programs will soon assist people with housing access and stability and will help more people stay engaged in treatment and reach recovery.”

SAMHSA has distinguished four major dimensions that support a life in recovery: Health, Home, Purpose, and Community. This project aims to support two components of the dimensions – Home and Purpose. By giving an individual a stable, safe place to focus on their recovery, paired with the independence and self-worth that housing provides, an individual’s overall health and wellbeing is greatly improved.

Housing instability, combined with unmet basic needs, makes the road to recovery and independence extremely challenging. According to national data, about one in five people experiencing homelessness has a chronic substance use disorder. This aligns with information gathered from Pennsylvania’s 45 state-sponsored OUD Centers of Excellence, a majority of which identify housing as a major barrier for their clients.

The grants are made possible by the $55.9 million SAMHSA grant secured to bolster the state’s response to the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic. Additional initiatives included in the grant are focused on expanding services to pregnant women and veterans affected by OUD, developing the treatment and recovery workforce, and strengthening criminal justice and law enforcement initiatives with a focus on reentrant supports.

Find more information on the state’s efforts to battle the opioid crisis here.

MEDIA CONTACT:    J.J. Abbott, 717-783-1116

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2019 PA Community Alliance Summit

The Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council invites you to a day of networking, discovering alliances and collaboration building among diverse organizations throughout Pennsylvania led by and/or supporting underserved/unserved populations who experience marginalization and oppression.

Oppression affects many of us, for different socially constructed reasons: racism, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual identity and orientation, disability, economics, rural/urban location, religion, and so much more. Although our discrimination experiences may be different, we can be a valuable support and resource to each other in our struggles for equality, inclusion and social justice.

Event Details

When: Tuesday, May 21, 2019 to Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Where: Harrisburg Hilton – One N. 2nd Street Harrisburg, PA
Registration for this event is FREE on a first come first serve basis (up to 3 individuals per agency)

To learn more information and to register for this event, please click here.

General questions about the event can be directed to Dana Thompson – danathomps@pa.gov or call (717) 214-8103