from Each Other: Partnering with the Local TANF Agency to Extend
Service Delivery in The Dalles, OR
Agency: Mid-Columbia Housing Authority
(Size of WtW Program: 50 vouchers)
Many housing authorities face the challenge of providing case management
to ensure that families are tapped into available job and supportive
services and monitoring a family's success in achieving self-sufficiency
goals. Like many other WtW programs, Mid-Columbia Housing Authority
(HA), which operates in a rural community covering five counties
and two states, faces the additional burden of implementing a WtW
Voucher program without being able to hire additional staff.
Solution: Partnering with the Local TANF Agency to Leverage Resources and Extend Service Delivery
Mid-Columbia HA and other WtW programs are maximizing their resources
by forming partnerships with local TANF agencies and other service
providers. By pooling their skills, expertise, and networking outlets,
they are expanding educational and economic opportunities for WtW
Since the Mid-Columbia HA jurisdiction covers five counties and
two states, the HA has partnered with all the TANF agencies in this
large area to enhance their service offerings. The Mid-Columbia
HA provides housing assistance to TANF recipients while the TANF
agencies provide case management, counseling, and support to voucher
holders developing individual employment plans. The Mid-Columbia
HA and TANF Offices also tailor their forms and documents to meet
the requirements of both agencies. Shared forms include individual
employment plans and selection criteria documents. This coordination
helps provide a seamless tracking and delivery of services to voucher
recipients. In addition, the TANF agencies and Mid-Columbia HA work
closely with one-stop centers to expand employment offerings and
educational courses. With these partnerships, the Mid-Columbia HA
is careful not to duplicate supportive services already available
in the community - instead the HA provides referrals to service
providers when possible. This model ensures that all WtW voucher
recipients have access to key job and supportive services from the
TANF agency and other local service providers, while making effective
use of limited resources.
Two factors make the TANF office and Mid-Columbia HA relationship
strong: 1) both agencies have similar goals and 2) each is motivated
to help participants gain and retain employment. This relationship
benefits the two organizations, as well as the WtW voucher recipient.
The Mid-Columbia HA and TANF agencies coordinate to implement the
WtW program using the following model:
- Completing the Interest Questionnaire. Upon receiving
WtW voucher funding from HUD, Mid-Columbia and TANF staff circulated
Voucher Notice and Interest Questionnaire to clients receiving
assistance. Mid-Columbia requires that all voucher applicants
fill out the Interest Questionnaire before considering them for
a WtW voucher.
- Getting WtW clients involved. Once a family completes
an Interest Questionnaire for the WtW program (see above), Mid-Columbia
HA sends the family's information to one of the local TANF agencies.
The TANF office then assesses
the family's application based on their readiness to rent and
- Developing individual employment plans. Mid-Columbia
HA and TANF staff worked together to develop requirements for
the plan. Recognizing the larger, mutual goals of getting participants
into jobs, the TANF office outlines these program requirements
to voucher recipients and works with recipients to develop individualized
plans. The plan then becomes a part of the Contract of Participation.
The contract states the responsibilities of the participating
family, the PHA, and the TANF agency and is signed by all parties.
- Conducting regular meetings. Every quarter the Mid-Columbia
HA FSS case manager attends a meeting with the TANF case manager
and the family, where they jointly review the individual employment
plan. The PHA and TANF agency use a monitoring
tool to assess the participant's employment plan and determine
whether the family is meeting WtW employment objectives. If the
family is not, then the TANF case manager and the FSS case manager
identify which measures are necessary to help recipients meet
their employment goals.
- Providing additional supportive services. The Mid-Columbia
HA and TANF agencies work with other social service agencies that
provide community services, such as childcare, transportation,
and education. The TANF agencies and Mid-Columbia HA use these
partnerships to connect program participants to needed services,
rather than using limited resources to duplicate existing programs.
For instance, a Community Action Agency Program provides a six-week
Education course that delves into the following topics: budgeting,
communicating with landlords, how to be a good tenant, tenants
rights under a lease, and job search skills.
Since the TANF and WtW Offices have leveraged their resources,
the FSS program has successfully helped recipients move from welfare
to self-sufficiency. One participant graduated with $7,000 in escrow
that was then used as a down payment on a house (see "Program
Success Story" text box). In addition, five WtW Voucher recipients
are currently enrolled in the FSS program, and eight more are in
the process of enrolling.
Ruby Mason, Executive Director at (541) 296-5462 or RLMDALLES@netcnct.net
Tamara Wherer, WtW/FSS Coordinator at (541) 296-5462 or Mcha2@netcnct.net