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Review of the Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness in Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis: Single Homeless Adults

By: Margaret Hastings

This writer is reviewing the information provided in response to a Open Records and Data request for all data from The Heading Home Hennepin (HHH) Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness 2006-2016. The impetus for that request arose out of a simple question: How, after the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars over the course of a decade yield higher numbers of homeless at its terminus than had been homeless at the outset?  Heading Home Hennepin (HHH) advocates acknowledged this failure without taking and semblance of responsibility.  HHH advocates are now calling upon the city and county to open more homeless shelters due to the rise in street homelessness.

The response to the aforementioned Open Records request consisted of a total of twenty-seven documents, only four of this total were reports authored by the full-time staff members working in the City-County Office to End Homelessness (OEH). This sub-set of documents, totaling less than 150 pages in the aggregate, was comprised of rote repetitions of both content and data extracted from a wide range of sources, but virtually nothing that any objective evaluation might deem original. The Open Records request asked for all government data collected over the course of a decade relating to the six goals identified in the 10 Year Plan by the Office to End Homelessness. The response made one thing abundantly clear: They didn’t gather any, they merely repeated the work of other individuals and organizations.

Heading Home Hennepin (HHH): The Annual Reports

Annual reports for each year were not produced by Heading Home Hennepin. Annual reports were produced for 2010, 2011, a 2012 Five Year Report and 2105 report.
The 2015 annual report does not provide specifics, it is more of an overview of programming, and general comments. In short, no real depth. The director notes in the report that 2015 to 2016 is the final year of HHH. There are some numbers thrown out related to single adults housed, (the area I am looking at) it does not address that these numbers fall far, far short of ending homelessness. That, in fact, not even a significant dent has been made in homelessness. The 2015 report throws out numbers that ignore the larger numbers of those who remain homeless. The focus is more about extolling progress than critical analysis of how short of the goal the HHH plan fell.

The 2012 Five Year Report: The title of this report implies that the first five years of the HHH plan will be addressed. Instead, this document is poorly organized, hops from one year to another with no clear analysis of what has been put in place per year, what had worked, what has not. In the introductory Letter from the Director the statement is made that from 2007 to 2011 “350 people living on the street were moved into housing.” There are no supporting documents explaining the sources for these numbers. It does not address the number of single persons still homeless, which remained at a large number. No analysis of the barriers that limit effective service to the majority of single adults who remain homeless.

If 350 was an accurate number of housed, is that number the most that can be served with the available resources? What further resources, staff, approaches were needed to go beyond that number to reach the goal or close to the goal of ending homelessness? From the 2012 report: “Our latest street count revealed a 40 percent reduction in the number of people sleeping outside since 2010.”

Gaps in Presentation, Poor Analyses, Proliferation of Questions

My question: What is the reduction since 2006, the start of the HHH plan? And what does this number actually mean? Since 2006 to 2016 the baseline number of homeless (those in shelters and outside) has persisted between 1,000 and 1250 (with spikes in numbers for two years) based on the HUD Continuum of Care (CoC) counts for the years 2006 to 2016. The HHH ten year plan to end homelessness was dealing with these baseline numbers at its start yet that baseline persisted. WHY? HUGE amounts of money poured into HHH and the numbers they tout represent a small portion of those housed.

From the 2012 report “Homelessness for dozens of chronic livability offenders in downtown Minneapolis was ended and chronic re-offenses were reduced by 78 percent”

My response: I find this very difficult to believe. No supporting documentation was provided to support these claims. And now in 2017, elected officials, police and downtown businesses are voicing concern about livability offenses.

The 2011 report: The 2011 report states numbers: “From October 2007 through July 2010, St. Stephen’s Street Outreach has housed over 200 people directly from the street, mostly without subsidies.” The 2012 report states that from 2007 to 2011, more than 350 people living on the streets were moved to housing, thanks to St. Stephen’s Street Outreach”. What accounted for the decrease by 50 in the year 2010 to 2011? The 2015 report does not mention numbers for the years 2012 or 2013 but states that St. Stephens Street Outreach “…housed 100 people in 2014”  Why were 2012 and 2013 left out?  And despite touting the above numbers, adult street homelessness has increased as of 2017, a fact not refuted by HHH advocates.

Bureaucracy

Bureaucracy

Why? What was missed? Over 3 years the claim is 200 people were housed; that is 66 people per year. How many street outreach workers were there? How many people total did they work with? Was there a need for more street outreach workers? What was recognized as barriers to providing further services to larger numbers?
From the 2011 report RE: The Currie Avenue Housing Partnership: (CAP) has ten Housing Case Managers to connect people with disabilities Staying at Currie Avenue shelters with housing and supports. The program officially began in May 2010 and has successfully housed 150 people.

Individuals have obtained permanent housing or are in the final stages of obtaining
Housing. ****OF NOTE IS THAT THE 2012 FIVE YEAR REPORT QUOTES THE SAME NUMBER FROM A PROGRAM THAT BEGAN IN 2010:  From the 2012 report “More than 150 people with disabilities who slept in overcrowded, downtown shelters now having housing, thanks to a partnership created between the Downtown Business Council and the Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness. Eighty-seven percent of these individuals have stayed in their housing for at least one year.

What Happened? The Cosmetics of Copying and Pasting

WHAT HAPPENED FROM 2011 TO 2012? THE 2012 REPORT SIMPLY COPIED AND PASTED IN NUMBERS FOR 2010, NO UPDATE FOR 2011 FOR THE CURRIE AVENUEPARTNERSHIP.

THE 2015 REPORT WHICH IS A VERY SHORT GENERAL OVERVIEW DOES NOT EVEN MENTION THE CURRIE AVENUE HOUSING PARTNERSHIP’S WORK AND GIVES NO DATA FOR 2011 THROUGH 2016 ON THAT PROGRAM HAS DONE.

From the 2010 Annual Report: See my comments below this taken from the report:

“Single Adult Shelter Network:  The Shelter   Efficiency group identified a need to coordinate services among shelters for shelter guests who use multiple shelter sites.  The team developed a shared release form that shelter guests can sign in order to have their case coordinated among all the shelters serving single adults.  This collaborative is titled the Single Adult Shelter Network (SASN).  The group meets bi-weekly and discusses approximately 15-20 cases each meeting.  The group develops a shared plan to help a shelter guest move into appropriate housing or work on eliminating a barrier to housing such as a criminal charge or record, insufficient income, or lack of money to pay a damage deposit.  During its first year, the number of SASN clients housed was 12, while there are 7 with housing pending, 14 percent still homeless, and 9 percent with client status unknown.  SASN has increased efficiency and reduced redundancy of efforts amongst shelter providers.  Youth agencies created their own network, Young Adult Shelter Network (YASN), to accomplish similar coordinated case management.

Flaws in Presentation, Cosmetology and Casuistry Aside

My comment below:

Regarding the bold type…12 housed out of, how many total? 14 per cent still homeless OUT OF HOW MANY TOTAL? I mean really? 14 per cent of what?” And if they only housed 12, with only 14 per cent still homeless that means if you do the math, they housed 86 per cent of whom? The limited caseloads they managed? If they housed 12 and 7 pending that is 19 people. So, if 19 is 86 per cent of most people served. I one year they only worked with about 22 people total. Even more embarrassing-or they should be embarrassed-is that out of the hundreds of people in their shelters, they were only able to house 12?

How many and what percentage of the homeless persons declined to sign the release form? How often did staff not offer the release form? What were the causes for those who declined the form, for declining to sign it?”

Homeless Sleeping on the Street

Some Profit, Others Not So Much

Some Final Thoughts

Final thoughts: The Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness did not have a plan. In reading the annual reports, that is strikingly clear. There is no evidence of a plan that established goals, put in place a system to assess, analyze and critique progress made and alter what was not working.

Despite the glowing snippets of how many were housed and programs in place, the fact remains that not only did homelessness stay the same, it increased over the ten years. Given the millions of dollars spent on this failure, the tax payers and homeless persons deserve an accounting as to why it failed and consider removing those responsible for this failure.