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Housing Search Assistance - Welfare to Work Vouchers

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 -   Determining the Type and Level of Counseling and Search Assistance Needed
 -   Determining the Type of Assistance
 -   Determining the Level of Assistance

Determining the Type and Level of Counseling and Search Assistance Needed

Developing a good strategy for providing housing search assistance begins with determining the staff and funds available for the task. When developing a strategy, PHAs should carefully consider the cost of the search assistance technique, family needs, and staff resources. PHAs should develop a strategy that responds to local needs and takes advantage of community resources. Remember, what works well in one community may not be the best approach in another community.

Determining the Type of Assistance

Housing counseling support can be provided in individual or group settings. While individual counseling is typically more effective, the required costs and staff time may make it prohibitive for WtW housing voucher programs. Therefore, a combination of group and individual counseling may provide the best solution. Counseling support usually includes four types of assistance:

  • Motivational Support to maintain the family's commitment to moving and achieving program goals;

  • Skill-Building to educate the family in areas such as budgeting, housing search, HQS inspections, and negotiating with landlords.

  • Information on available units, neighborhoods close to education and employment opportunities, neighborhood amenities, transportation routes, child care services, and community services.

  • Direct Assistance or Intervention, including accompanied visits to units, neighborhood tours, family advocacy, anti-discrimination services, and lease negotiations.

Determining the Level of Assistance

When developing a strategy, PHAs and partners must determine and regularly re-assess the following:

  • The range of services to be provided. Services related to housing and neighborhood choice should receive highest priority.

  • Intensity of services. Determine the amount of staff time and resources that are available for housing counseling and search assistance.

  • Degree of advocacy. Determine the extent to which staff will intervene on behalf of the family in order to achieve a successful lease-up.

The appropriate range and intensity of services for individual families are likely to be determined by family needs. Not all families will require extensive assistance. Families who have already secured employment and childcare and are free from credit or housekeeping problems may be ready to take advantage of the WtW voucher with little support from the PHA or its partners. Meanwhile, others may not be ready to look for housing because they require motivational support or direct assistance in solving credit or other family problems. Any assistance should focus on building the capacity of the family to become self-sufficient.

Budget, time, and staffing constraints will also factor into the nature and intensity of services provided. PHAs should monitor and balance service intensity and the number of families receiving housing search assistance and counseling so that leasing targets are met within the time and budget constraints of the program. This oversight will help staff balance their time between the few families who require intensive support and those who need less.

Content current as of 4 October 2001   Follow this link to go  Back to top   
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