Georgia convening addresses best practices for leveraging Emergency Housing Vouchers
The urgent need to address homelessness during the pandemic could not have been more evident as Region IV Deputy Regional Administrator Michael L. Browder opened the HUD Atlanta Regional Office's Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV) convening last week with over 50 partners from across the state of Georgia coming together to learn more about the ongoing efforts to address homelessness through HUD's Emergency Housing Voucher program (EHV) as Georgia Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) recently received over 1,300 housing choice vouchers to assist in the effort.
"With COVID-19 still a threat and with the sweltering summer months upon us, these emergency housing vouchers come at a critical time in our efforts to get people experiencing homelessness off the streets and into safe, stable homes." said Browder.
Shea Johnson, HUD Director of Georgia Operations shared an overview of the program and HUD Headquarter staff (Caroline Crouse, April Mitchell, Kathy Yang, and Jerrianne Anthony) provided an in-depth overview of the program and ways it can assist targeted homeless communities. Regional Director of Public Housing Tosha LeSure provided opening remarks on the important of EHVs for the State of GA. Additionally, HUD’s Georgia Offices of Field Policy and Management, Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) and Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) highlighted ongoing efforts to address homelessness through the Emergency Housing Voucher program.
Attendees were provided with updated information regarding policies and processes around assessing households from eligible and prioritized populations and making direct and timely referrals to public housing authorities in coordination with local Continuum of Care (CoC) partners. An explanation of the waiver process also addressed expedited lease ups, serving people that they may not have been able to connect with PHA resources before, and ensuring that EHVs are successful in serving the priority populations identified by the community.
The Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) offered guidance on how they determined the best use of the vouchers which encompassed identifying concerns such as the lack of available homes and decreasing Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) staff to administer the program and the resulting increase in the waiting lists. Some remedies that were shared top address these challenges included targeting Rapid Re-Housing clients/owners, leveraging a $3,500 incentive service fee per voucher, and developing a training system to assist with coordinating efforts at entry sites.
Melvia Richards, Manager of Housing Programs with DeKalb County also discussed the successful partnership with their local CoC, and the Housing Authority of DeKalb County provided these EHVs to their most vulnerable residents. Their collaborative efforts included formalizing a preliminary client intake process and drafting Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs).