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Roundtable 6 Discussion Summary
Strengthening (Local) Community Partnerships (Non-TANF/DOL)

(Teleconference Roundtable held September 13, 2002)

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 -   Teleconference Participants
 -   Challenges and Tips for Success

Teleconference Participants

  • Boston HA (MA)
  • Albany HA (NY)
  • Parkersburg HA (WV)
  • Virginia Housing and Development Authority (VHDA)
  • Guest speaker: Susan Tilson, Section 8 Team Leader, Colorado Department of Health and Human Services (CDHS)

Challenges and Tips for Successs

Challenge #1: Developing effective and mutually supportive partnerships for a state-wide WtW program.

Tips for Success:

  • Ensure that executive-level PHA staff see the program as a priority for the PHA. Garner support for the program, and plan parallel staff initiatives to secure partnerships among non-profits/other social service agencies with programs vital to ensuring the success of WtW families.

  • Identify local non-profits that work with similar target populations and have resources that specifically address the needs of WtW families. Example: Colorado DHS established a preference specifically for homeless families that had been in transitional housing for two years. To best serve this target population, DHS decided to engage local service providers that could provide specialized case management services to contribute to a unique WtW "continuum of care," with the goal of family self-sufficiency. To assist in compiling a list of local homeless service providers, staff went to the HUD Web site to find contact information for various organizations. In all, seven partnerships were successfully cultivated with organizations that include the state TANF agency and various non-profits. The homeless service providers were particularly enthusiastic about WtW involvement, because it addressed their goal of obtaining long-term housing assistance for families struggling to attain housing stability. In turn, the WtW families are linked to established organizations with case managers and service linkages already in place. It is a win-win situation for both the WtW program and its partners, and all partner services are provided for free.

  • Make a partner "wish list" and assess how the PHA could be of assistance to potential partner agencies to "sell" the value of a partnership. How could the creation of a partnership be mutually beneficial for both parties involved? Presenting the idea of a partnership can be more effective when PHAs demonstrate that they are aware of possible needs of the organizations on their wish list. For example, the Albany Housing Authority agreed to provide help to some of its non-profit partners by providing general support, references, and writing assistance for some of their grant applications.

  • Ensure that communication between the PHA and partners is easy and efficient. This need is even more acute for large or state-wide WtW programs. When possible, utilize electronic media for communication, including email, PHA Web pages, online message boards, and audio and video conferencing. State programs can reduce travel to service providers across large distances by implementing regional meetings. Example: Colorado DHS also has quarterly luncheon meetings with partners that provide an opportunity for all parties to have a say in participant policies and program development. These efforts let partners know that their input is highly valued, and the meetings are always well-attended.

  • Make sure that PHA staff communicates with participants' case managers if difficulties arise in a family's ability to fulfill WtW obligations and program rules. Doing this will permit both the PHA and case managers to fully assess the situation and allow them to work out the best way to proceed, ensuring that the family will receive the highest level of support to rectify the situation.

  • Recognize partners for their contribution to the success of the program. Albany HA organizes a dinner for WtW partners every December.

Challenge #2: Filling out documents (such as the WtW/FSS Addendum) that require information on services provided by partners for a large number of participants.

Tip for Success:

  • Colorado DHS addresses this by having partner case managers fill out various documents, including the WtW addendum, for WtW participants. This arrangement is well-suited, because case managers have frequent contact with participants and are aware of the primary service networks which they have provided for families.

Challenge #3: Increasing knowledge of the WtW program among landlords and tenants.

Tip for Success:

  • The Albany Housing Authority has Saturday morning WtW training sessions that involve both landlords and tenants and contribute to heightened awareness of program rules and expectations.

Note: For more tips on forming successful partnerships, view the Partnership Resources section of this Web site.

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