Everything You Need To Know About Transitional Housing

July 14, 2022

Everything You Need To Know About Transitional Housing

Transitional housing helps to bridge the gap between homelessness and permanent housing for certain segments of the homeless population. These housing programs vary in their specialization but they all help individuals experiencing homelessness find temporary shelter, stability, and a path forward. Some transitional housing programs specialize in providing support to youth and others provide support to individuals experiencing substance abuse issues, domestic violence, and mental health challenges. Our guide will give you a comprehensive understanding of what transitional housing and the benefits these programs provide.

What is Transitional Housing?

Transitional housing is temporary housing for homeless individuals. Transitional Housing programs are an integral part of the Coordinated Entry System (CES), which was created to ensure a consistent approach for access to, and delivery of, services in Los Angeles County.  Therefore, all referrals to Transitional Housing are made by CES according to CES prioritization policies and must work in collaboration with the CES and should fit seamlessly alongside other program components such as: Outreach, Housing Navigation, Crisis Housing, Bridge Housing, Youth Family Reconnection, Rapid Re-Housing, and Permanent Supportive Housing.

Who Uses Transitional Housing?

Transitional housing is designed to equip individuals with the tools and resources needed to attain permanent housing and future success. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) alongside state city and county governments, and non-profit organizations are common operators of transitional housing facilities for eligible adults, youth, and young adults

Who Is Eligible For Transitional Housing?

Youth eligible for Transitional Housing Transition Age Youth (TAY) must be homeless and between the ages of 18 to 24 years old with or without children.  Youth may enter and receive services in the Transitional Housing program without any preconditions or requirements such as treatment or participation in services to receive assistance.

 

Transitional Housing for TAY incorporates participant-choice by helping people find permanent housing based on their unique strengths, needs, preferences, and financial resources while being provided a short-term residence.  In addition, Transitional Housing for TAY services connect people to resources that help them improve their safety and well-being and achieve housing stability goals. Some of these supportive services may include life skills development, as well as connections to employment, education, healthcare and mental health services. They will work in close partnership and collaborate with Transitional Housing Staff to develop their exit plans from Transitional Housing and into permanent housing. The Youth may not stay beyond thirty-six (36) months.  However, if needed the program can request an extension from our funders for the youth. The approval of the extended stays will be determined on a case-to-case basis by the funder.

Transitional Housing Placement Program

Transitional Housing for Transitional Aged Youth (hence TAY) is a Housing First, Low Barrier, Harm Reduction - based, Crisis Response program that provides safe, client - driven supportive services and access to a 24 – hour residence for young people experiencing a housing crisis and choosing to enter a Transitional Housing program.

 

The California Fostering Connections to Success Act, known as AB12, took effect in 2012 and allows eligible youth to remain in foster care beyond age 18 and up to age 21 (extended foster care), now referred to as Transitional Housing Placement Program for Non-Minor Dependents (THPP NMD.) This service provides youth with the time and support needed to gradually become fully independent adults. 

Eligible youth can make decisions regarding their housing, education, employment, and leisure activities, while receiving ongoing support and assistance when they are struggling. 

Foster youth who participate in the program are designated as Non-Minor Dependents (NMDs). 

Youth who are between the ages of 18 to 21 and were in foster care on their 18th birthday, qualify for extended foster care (EFC) services. To maintain eligibility and participate in the program, youth must meet one of five participation criteria:

  • Working toward completion of high school or equivalent program; or
  • Enrollment in higher education or vocational education program; or
  • Employed at least 80 hours per month; or
  • Participating in a program to remove barriers to employment; or (the threshold is low, even applying for work, or meeting monthly with a case worker or probation officer qualify as meeting this criterion)
  • The inability to participate in any of the above programs due to a verified medical condition.

NMDs participate in the program through the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the Department of Probation in Los Angeles County, who refers the NMD to the specific program. Youth meet monthly with their assigned social worker or Probation Officer and may attend hearings (they are not required to be present at these hearings) through the Dependency or Juvenile Justice Court where the case worker is required to report on their progress to the Court. NMDs receive support in meeting their eligibility criteria, life skills classes, assistance receiving public benefits and applying for student financial aid, a monthly financial stipend, and housing assistance during their transition.

 

There are several housing options for NMDs including:

  • Remain in existing home of a relative; licensed foster family home; certified foster family agency home; home of a non-related legal guardian (whose guardianship was established by the juvenile court); or STRTP (youth may remain in a group home after age 19 only if the criteria for a medical condition and/or extended foster care eligibility is met and the placement is a short-term transition to an appropriate system of care); or
  • THPP NMD - this program has three models: 
  1. Host Family where the NMD lives with a caring adult who has been selected and approved by the transitional housing provider;
  2. Single Site where the NMD lives in an apartment, condominium or single-family dwelling rented or leased by the housing provider with an employee(s) living on site; or 
  3. Remote Site where the NMD lives independently in one of the housing types listed above with regular supervision from the provider; or
  • Supervised Independent Living Placement (SILP) - this placement option allows youth to live independently in an apartment, house, condominium, room and board arrangement or college dorm, alone or with a roommate(s), while still receiving the supervision of a social worker/probation officer. The youth may directly receive all or part of the foster care rate pursuant to the mutual agreement.

All housing models for the NMD must meet the provisions of the Health and Safety Codes of California and its rules and regulations and be approved and licensed through the California Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing Division (CCL).

NMDs can reside in-county, out-of-county and/or out-of-state and continue to receive supportive services and monthly-mandated face-to-face contact with their Probation Officer.  

Penny Lane Centers provides remote sites for the NMD.  The program requires that we provide to the NMDs a fully furnished apartment, inclusive of bedding, kitchen ware, cleaning products, TVs, and internet.  The NMD are also provided allowances and encouraged to maintain a savings account.

 

The program also provides intensive case management to the youth. Case managers are required to have at minimum a bachelor’s degree in psychology, social work, or subject area that is functionally equivalent; or a bachelor’s degree and 2 years’ experience in a public or private child welfare social service setting or specific experience working with transition age youth who are 16 to 24 years of age, inclusive.

 

Intensive Case Management services provided by staff through engagement with NMD to involve them in services starting from the Individual Assessment Needs meeting and will facilitate the NMD’s participation in their program by: referring the youth to collaborating agencies for physical, mental and substance use disorder (SUD) programs and accompanying them to the various appointments, if necessary; assisting the NMD with the daily upkeep of their apartment, i.e. inspections of any maintenance issues, cleanliness, and any other issues pertaining to their apartment; working with each NMD in the different life skills workshops, inclusive of financial responsibility training.  Furthermore, the Case Manager will have ongoing meetings to track and document the progress of the NMD’s personal goals through participation in supportive services.  The Case Manager maintains progress notes, which will be reviewed during weekly meetings with key staff members and maintained in the NMD’s file. Due to the intensity required of case management, the ratio is 12 youth to 1 case manager.  

 

NMD are provided by TAP cards which allows them to ride seamlessly across Los Angeles County via the Transit Authority by DCFS.  Additionally the NMD can receive clothing funds.  However, the contract for this program provides a “fee for service rate” meaning we receive a set amount of funding for each NMD we house prorated for the number of days in that month they are with us..  The bed rate must cover the unit rental, allowances, furniture, fixtures, internet costs, utilities, maintenance of the unit, building and landscape, staffing of the program, as well as any other incidentals.  While case managers work diligently with the NMD on fiscal responsibility, we cannot guarantee that the NMD will be able to budget their funding appropriately.  If a NMD has overspent and is unable to purchase food, or any other incidentals the NMD needs, the program will provide them with food and other necessities.

 

Penny Lane’s Transitional Housing Programs provide fully furnished housing. The program also provides 24-hour housing focused case management to assist them in moving forward, by assisting them with self-sufficiency and reduction of barriers to housing by providing life skills training, employment and educational assistance, crisis intervention and conflict resolution, and referrals to other agencies for physical, mental and substance abuse disorders assistance. Case Managers are also responsible for ongoing assessments on each of the youth, for problem solving to determine if it is possible for them to access other housing options and remain housed or continue to need the Transitional Housing Services. These assessments and case notes are maintained in the youth’s specific file.  The goal of our program is that the Youth exit the program into safe, stable permanent housing as quickly as possible, but not to exceed 36 months.  

 

Unexpectedly, especially with the steep rise in the cost of living, Penny Lane Centers has found that the funding we receive for this program no longer covers the costs to run the program effectively ensuring that the Youth are able to depend on Penny Lane for the basics as well as unforeseen situations.  Additionally, a few years ago funding was restructured thereby lowering annual income to support the program. The funding that we do receive must be line itemed and only spent on pre-approved expenditures.  While food costs are approved, it has not considered the soaring cost of food.  As many of our Youth have food insecurities, we want to ensure they feel safe and secure by having daily meals and snacks provided to them.  We cannot restrict or reduce the food offered to our youth, but the rising cost of food is making it more challenging and forcing us to reach out to others for help.

 

Another approved cost, that has been affected by the cost-of-living rise, are linens and furniture.  With every new Youth that enters our program, we provide them with a new mattress (which they can take with them when they exit) along with the pillows, blankets and 2 sets of sheets and towels.  If any of these items and any of the living quarters furniture needs to be replaced that is something we must spend money on. Other approved costs are building maintenance, gas and electricity which in the past years has continually gotten more expensive. Transportation is another approved expense, however the cost of gasoline has also doubled in the past year. None of these costs are expected to go down.

 

We have had to find at least a change of clothes so that the items they are wearing can be laundered and so they have other clothing options. Part of the program goals is to assist them in gaining employment, however many of these Youth do not have interview clothing or even clothing appropriate to work in.  When they find employment they may need specific clothing, i.e. steel toe boots which we provide initially.  None of these items are inexpensive yet are essential to a quality of life and independence for these young people.

 

The homeless crisis continue to be a challenge and with inflation causing basic expenditures to rise combined with stagnant levels of funding from our government sources we continue to look for donations to help us support these young people and empower them to live better and productive lives.  

 

Donations that would augment the THPP-NMD program would be:

Gift Cards – Grocery Stores; Target, Ross, Walmart – purchase of various items

Cash – ability to meet the rising costs of maintenance, utilities and staffing.