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Learning from Each Other: Effective Use of Partnerships to Improve Lease up and Delivery of Services in Grand Rapids, Mi

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Agency: The Grand Rapids Housing Commission
(Size of WtW Program: 250 vouchers)

Challenge

Housing Authorities and other WtW voucher program staff faced the challenge of leasing up their WtW Housing Vouchers before the June 2001 deadline. Further, in developing their WtW voucher programs, housing authorities are required to work with welfare and workforce development agencies to ensure that the housing assistance is combined with other services families need for a successful transition into the workforce. Effective use of partnerships can both assist PHAs in meeting their lease-up goals and help them to provide much-needed services to families transitioning from welfare to work.

Solution: Effective Use of Partnerships

To help lease-up Section 8 vouchers, the Grand Rapids Housing Commission partnered with Michigan's Family Independence Agency, the local TANF agency, and Area Community Services Employment and Training, the local workforce agency. Staff from these agencies participates with Commission staff and other supportive service agencies on the Commission's FSS Council, an emergency shelter council, and a collaborative board that addresses a continuum of care for homelessness issues. In addition, the Family Independence Agency subsidizes security deposits for Section 8 and WtW voucher participants, an arrangement made possible through the rapport and trust that has developed between the partners.

These collaborative efforts paved the way for the WtW Voucher Program relationships and the informal planning meetings required for the implementation of the WtW Voucher Program. The Family Independence Agency and the Area Community Services Employment and Training staff refer clients to the Housing Commission for housing assistance. The Housing Commission also has plans to coordinate with the Family Independence Agency to allow line staff members to verify eligibility directly. The agencies provide case management and supportive services to any WtW voucher holder who is eligible to receive services (independent of their WtW status).

Implementation

The Grand Rapids Housing Commission received 250 WtW vouchers and currently administers 1,581 Section 8 vouchers. The local rental market consists mostly of single family rental housing. Most voucher recipients lease in place, easing the housing search process.

The Commission selects WtW participants from general applications completed by very low-income families. The Commission certifies WtW eligibility prior to orientation for the voucher program.

Results

As of August 2000, the Grand Rapids Housing Commission has issued all 250 vouchers and leased 233 (93 percent).

Contact: Amy Schatner, Grand Rapids Housing Commission
1420 Fuller, South East Grand Rapids, MI 49507
(616) 452-9746

 
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