The Role of Collaborative Applicants in Combating the Homelessness Crisis in California

–Click on the Link Below to See the list of California’s Collaborative Applicants—

–Most are Counties, Some are Non-Profit Coalitions, and a Few are Cities–

During this past decade, counties, cities, and community organizations have been directed to closely align as continuums of care (CoCs) to combat homelessness in California as the result of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing: Continuum of Care Program Interim Rule (Interim Rule), which was first published in the Federal Register on July 31, 2012 and became effective August 30, 2012.

Collaborative Applicants

To help ensure a successful alignment, HUD established the concept of a Collaborative Applicant to be the lead agency of each continuum of care (CoC). As noted in the Interim Rule, the collaborative applicant is

• “the only entity that can apply for a grant from HUD on behalf of the Continuum (CoC) that the collaborative applicant represents;” and
• “the only entity that may apply for and receive Continuum of Care planning funds.”

Who Are the Collaborative Applicants in California?

More than two-thirds (70%) or 30 of the 43 collaborative applicants in California are public entities of which the majority are counties:

• 22 are a county or group of counties;
• 1 is a city that is also a county (San Francisco);
• 3 are joint power agreements between a county and cities;
• 4 are cities, which include Glendale, Long Beach, and Pasadena that serve as collaborative applicants for their own city-wide continuum of care, and the other is Modesto, which serves as the collaborative applicant for Stanislaus County.

Less than one-third (30.2%) or 13 of the 43 collaborative applicants in California are private non-profit entities of which the majority are coalitions that serve counties.

Collaborative Applicant Responsibilities

Annual Continuum of Care Program Grant

Approximately $415 million was awarded to California CoCs through the applications submitted by Collaborative Applicants in 2018, which is an increase of $32 million when compared to the approximately $383 million awarded in 2017. The number of new and renewal projects awarded in 2018 was nearly 800. Both, the awarded amount and the number of awarded projects is the largest in the country.

Planning Grant Responsibilities

The Interim Rule outlines several CoC responsibilities for which planning grant awards may be used to help offset the expenses to carry out such responsibilities, including those related to the annual continuum of care program:

• “Developing a communitywide or regionwide process involving the coordination of nonprofit homeless providers, victim service providers, faith-based organizations, governments, businesses, advocates, public housing agencies, school districts, social service providers, mental health agencies, hospitals, universities, affordable housing developers, law enforcement, organizations that serve veterans, and homeless and formerly homeless individuals;”
• “Developing a Continuum of Care system;”
• “Designing and carrying out a collaborative process for the development of an application to HUD;”
• “Conducting (an annual) sheltered and (at least every two years an) unsheltered point-in-time count and other data collection as required by HUD;”
• “Conducting an annual gaps analysis of the homeless needs and services available within the geographic area;”
• “Evaluating the outcomes of projects for which funds are awarded in the geographic area under the Continuum of Care and the Emergency Solutions Grants programs;”
• “Providing information required to complete the Consolidated Plan(s) within the Continuum’s geographic area;”
• “Consulting with State and local government Emergency Solutions Grants program recipients within the Continuum’s geographic area on the plan for allocating Emergency Solutions Grants program funds and reporting on and evaluating the performance of Emergency Solutions Grants program recipients and subrecipients;” and
• “The costs of monitoring recipients and subrecipients and enforcing compliance with program requirements are eligible.”

Next Steps for California’s Collaborative Applicants

Next steps for California’s collaborative applicants should focus on building upon the existing partnerships between counties, cities, coalitions including non-profit organizations, and continuums of care.

Counties are the lead agency or collaborative applicant for the majority of CoCs. As such, they are charged with coordinating the efforts of a wide-range of other public and private entities to prevent and end homelessness, evaluating the outcome of funded projects, conducting an annual gaps analysis of homeless needs and services, and other responsibilities listed above.

The non-profit coalitions that serve as collaborative applicants are charged with the same responsibilities, which includes working closely with counties and cities.

The unprecedented funding for homelessness and affordable housing from the State of California makes it even more imperative for public and private collaborative applicants to fulfill their responsibilities. An increasing number of California funding sources is requiring joint regional plans to address homelessness with jurisdictions.

A follow-up report will focus on ways for California’s Collaborative Applicants to build further upon existing public and private partnerships to prevent and end homelessness.

Click here to see list of California Collaborative Applicants

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