Joseph’s House & Shelter, Inc. 2017 Annual Report
In 2017, Joseph’s House served 1,062 homeless or formerly homeless Rensselaer County residents throughout all of its programs. We worked with 623 single adults, and 439 persons in 115 families – including 267 children. Across all programs, 337 people (32% of clients) reported having a disabling condition, and 82 people (8%) were chronically homeless under the new HUD definition in effect as of January 2016.
This report contains information from clients served across each of our programs. Joseph’s House operates emergency shelters for single adults and families with children; the Inn from the Cold and Code Blue seasonal overflow shelters; a rapid re-housing program for homeless families and single adults; the homeless street outreach program; a Housing First scattered-site apartment and case management program for families with children and parents with disabilities; and two Housing First site-based supportive housing programs for chronically homeless single adults.
The Emergency Single Shelters
The Single Shelters for single males and females served 257 unduplicated homeless adults in 2017. The average age among all singles was 42 years, and more than 60% of single guests served were male. Nearly sixty percent of guests identified as Caucasian, just over one third as African American, 1% as Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, 1% as Asian, and 1% American Indian/Alaskan Native. Approximately 3% of clients reported multiple races. Thirteen percent of persons served also identified as Hispanic. Thirteen veterans of the US Armed Forces were served by the single shelters.
At shelter intake, 18% of all single guests had stayed the previous night on the street and another 19% percent came from another emergency shelter, such as Joseph’s House Inn from the Cold or Code Blue programs, or the Albany City Mission. Nearly thirty percent of all guests came to us from a temporary living situation, such as doubling up with family or friends where they could no longer stay. About 14% of single guests had been released from incarceration with no place to go. Another 12% came from an in-patient hospital, psychiatric, or substance abuse treatment facility. Eight percent had nowhere else to turn following eviction from a permanent housing situation, such as a rented apartment - a much lower rate than what we see among families.
More than thirty percent of guests identified having a disabling condition which affects their ability to live independently. Fifty-six percent of single guests reported having a mental health condition; forty-six percent reported having a substance abuse issue; and 51% reported having a chronic health condition, developmental disability, or physical disability. The official HUD definition of chronic homelessness changed effective January 2016 to mean that in addition to having a disabling condition the individual had also been homeless for longer than 12 months continuously, or 12 months or more over 4 times in the last 3 years. Overall, about 8% of persons admitted to our shelters were chronically homeless under the January 2016 definition. However, just over 40% of guests who entered our shelter this year reported that this was their first episode of homelessness in the last three years.
Just over 45% of single guests in the shelter were receiving any kind of cash income when they arrived to the shelter. Among those who did have income, the most common source was SSI/SSDI benefits (two-thirds of those who did receive income). One quarter of those with income received wages from employment – generally from working part-time hours, evidenced by the average employment income of $802/monthly. Overall, the average guest who had income received just $781 monthly, or $9,372 annually.
The average length of each program stay for singles in the emergency shelter was 29 days . Throughout the year, each single shelter guest stayed an average of 32 days . About 37% of guests exited the program to a stable permanent housing situation, including such as a private rental with or without a subsidy (70 persons), a permanent supportive housing program (17 persons), or a transitional or other residential program (3 persons) . Approximately five percent entered a treatment program, hospital, psychiatric center, or other inpatient setting. Twenty percent of guests left the shelter to a temporary situation, such as doubling up with family or friends. Another 20% were referred to our overflow shelter, the Inn from the Cold, or to another shelter in the case that we were not able to meet a person’s needs or the guest was not from Rensselaer County. Three percent of guests left to the streets or some other place not intended for habitation, and twelve percent of guests left with whereabouts unknown. The shelter provided 8,120 bed nights during the year, and operated at an average 93% occupancy rate over the year.
The Inn from the Cold
The Inn from the Cold overflow shelter program runs from mid-November until mid-April each year to provide additional emergency shelter capacity during the coldest winter months. Ten to fifteen cots for single adults are available at one of four participating churches which host the Inn from the Cold on a rotating basis. Opening up the Inn from the Cold program also allows the agency to continue providing services to guests who are in need of a longer-term shelter stay, independent of the usual time constraints of the main emergency shelter.
Between November 2016 and April 2017, the Inn from the Cold served 41 homeless adults. There were 35 men and 6 women served, whose average age was 38 years. Just two of these participants were considered chronically homeless according to the January 2016 definition, and 15% had a disabling condition. Just over 70% of the those who stayed in the Inn from the Cold received no income at all, making the task of finding housing especially difficult. Participants stayed an average of 26 nights on cots in the churches in addition to any nights spent in the emergency shelter, and 22% obtained permanent housing directly upon leaving the program. Twenty-seven percent left to double with friends or family, five percent went to institutional destinations, and forty-six percent were referred to another shelter, left to the streets, or otherwise left with whereabouts unknown. The Inn from the Cold program provided a total of 1,083 bed nights of shelter in the 2016-2017 season.
Code Blue Emergency Shelter
During the winter of 2016-2017, Joseph’s House opened its doors to anyone seeking shelter when the daily low temperature was below 32⁰ F. Regardless of bed availability in the main shelter, additional persons were accommodated on cots, couches, and chairs throughout the building to meet the community need to provide safe shelter from the brutal winter conditions. In the winter of 2016-2017 the program operated for 127 nights, including an nearly continuous stretch from 12/2/16 - 4/9/17 with the exception of brief closed periods lasting 2-3 nights.
The Code Blue project operated under a very low-demand model, in which guests were not required to meet with a housing advocate, provide staff with much information, or present at RCDSS for assistance. Last winter, Joseph’s House served 279 persons in the Code Blue program, providing a total of 1,628 nights of shelter to men and women. Thirty-five percent of persons served reporting having one or more disabling conditions. Forty-one percent of persons who accessed shelter through the Code Blue program told us they had stayed out on the street or in another emergency shelter the night prior to coming in, and 13% were discharged directly from an institutional setting such as a hospital, jail, or inpatient treatment center. Forty-two percent had been doubled up with family and friends before coming in to Code Blue, and 4% had been residing in their own housing (such as a private apartment, permanent supportive housing, or transitional housing).
The Emergency Family Shelter
Last year, the Family Shelter at Joseph’s House directly provided emergency shelter to 198 people in 55 families, including 120 children under 18 years old. Forty percent of families were headed by two parents. Family size averages 3-4 persons per household, with each family having one or two parents and 2 children on average. Approximately 45% of the family members identify as African American, and 52% as Caucasian. Three percent of family members identified with more than one race. Nearly 20% also identified as being of Hispanic origin.
The family shelter operates on a referral system from Rensselaer County Department of Social Services. Families staying in the shelter are often referred to Joseph’s House because of their exceptional difficulties in finding housing, and many (80%) had already been staying in motels throughout the Capital District prior to coming to the shelter, receiving emergency shelter vouchers from RCDSS. The remainder had either been doubled up with family or friends (13%) or came to the shelter directly after being evicted from their prior housing situation (7%).
Approximately 15% of persons in families had some kind of disabling condition which affects their ability to live independently, which is a much lower rate than we see among homeless single adults in shelter. Nearly one quarter of all heads of household had a disabling condition. Thirteen percent of family members reported having a mental health problem; two persons reported a substance abuse issue; and 10% identified having a chronic physical, development, or health condition. Two of the families served this year were identified as meeting the HUD criteria for chronic homelessness in effect as of January 2016, meaning that in addition to having at least one family member with a disabling condition, the family had also been homeless for longer than 12 months continuously, or 12 months or more over 4 times in the last 3 years.
Forty-two percent of the 78 adults in the program entered the emergency shelter with zero cash income. Among those who did receive cash income, sources were: cash public assistance benefits (24%), employment (44%), SSI/SSDI benefits (29%), and child support (11%). Among those adults who did receive income, the average amount of cash coming in was about $802 per month, or $9,624 annually to support a family of an average of 3-4 persons.
Families in the program stayed an average of 33 days in the shelter. The family shelter provided a total of 5,484 bed nights of shelter, and the average unit occupancy rate for the year was 85%. Nearly 70% of families were successfully placed in permanent housing destinations, such as a private rental with or without a subsidy (34 households), or reunification with family (4 households). About 15% transferred to another emergency shelter or motel, and 11% left the shelter to double up with family or friends. Two families left with whereabouts unknown.
Solutions to End Homelessness Program (STEHP) Rapid Re-housing / Family Advocacy and Resettlement Program
The STEHP/Family Advocacy program served 312 persons in 103 Rensselaer County-based homeless households placed in emergency shelters and motels throughout the Capital District in 2017. This program works to rapidly re-house currently homeless households (about three-quarters of these are families with children) from shelter or motels into the community by providing advocacy and case management services, and occasionally short-term rental assistance. The project also continues to provide case management support to households for an additional six months following housing attainment in order to ensure the family remains stably housed.
On average, about 32 households were served by the program on any given day last year. Among 173 children served by the program in 2017, about two-thirds were younger than ten years old and about 43% percent had not yet reached school age. The average age of adults in the program was about 34 years. Approximately 47% of family members identified as African-American, about 49% as Caucasian, and 3% identified with more than one race. Just over 25% reported having Hispanic ethnicity. About one quarter of households served were single individuals, one third were families headed by two parents together, and 45% were single parent-families. Families with children who received assistance though the project were comprised of about 3 or 4 persons on average.
Among the 63 households who exited the program during the year, just over 70% successfully located and maintained safe and affordable permanent housing such as a private rental or a supportive housing apartment. Sixteen percent were doubling up or in another temporary situation at program exit, ten percent went to another shelter not serviced by Joseph’s House, and three percent left the program with whereabouts unknown.
Joseph’s House receives a small rental assistance grant from the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to supplement our efforts to rapidly transition single adults and families from homelessness into housing. This allows us to assist households who have sustainable income, but due to circumstance, would benefit from short-term financial assistance such as a grant for security deposit or first month’s rent.
Twenty-one households received rapid re-housing financial assistance through STEHP in 2017. These households were literally homeless, staying in our emergency shelter or on the street, and with financial assistance were able to obtain private rental apartments in the community. Over the year, the program provided 20 households with security deposits, assisted fully or partially with 7 monthly rental payments, and provided a down-payment for utilities for two households.
The Street Outreach Program
The Street Outreach Team served 89 homeless clients in 2017. This program works with homeless men and women who are sleeping out in the streets, in abandoned buildings, parks and ravines, and other places where they may be unsafe or exposed to dangerous conditions. The Street Outreach Team provides low-demand housing-first services to people with a variety of mental health or substance abuse issues who may not always be able to access the emergency shelter.
The Street Outreach program served 12 females and 77 males. Street Outreach clients were about 43 years of age on average – though the eldest client was 69 years and the youngest was 18 years old. Seventy percent of participants identified as Caucasian, 22% as African-American, and 3% client identified as Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and 1% as American Indian or Alaskan Native. Three percent of clients identified as being of multiple races. Eleven percent identified as Hispanic or Latino ethnicity. Three clients (3%) reported having served in the US armed forces.
Nearly sixty percent of the clients served by the Street Outreach program been homeless four or more times in the previous three years, and 42% were homeless for 12 months of longer. Seventy-three percent of clients had an active substance abuse issue, and 70% had a mental illness – in fact, 54% of all clients had dual diagnoses. Forty percent of outreach clients were receiving cash income at intake, most frequently SSI/SSDI benefits, at an average rate of $643 monthly. The official HUD definition of chronic homelessness changed effective January 2016 to mean that in addition to having a disabling condition the individual had also been homeless for longer than 12 months continuously, or 12 months or more over 4 times in the last 3 years. Thirty-seven percent of clients met the new criteria for chronic homelessness.
Sixty percent of outreach clients were engaged in pursuing a housing plan at some point during the year. Among the 55 clients who exited the program during the year, the outreach team assisted 30 clients with obtaining stable permanent housing (55%) - including 13 exits to permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless persons. Seven clients went to a temporary housing situation, and four clients were incarcerated. Another fourteen clients left with whereabouts unknown and/or dropped out of the program voluntarily.
The Lansing Inn & Hill Street Inn
The Permanent Supportive Housing program for single adults provided safe, affordable, harm-reduction housing to a total of 57 single adults in 2017. Most tenants live in apartments at the Lansing Inn and the Hill Street Inn, while one couple and one single adult live in subsidized private apartments in the community. Each tenant was provided with both housing subsidy and on-site case management. The program currently targets potential tenants who are chronically homeless adults with severe and persistent mental illness who lack other housing resources in the county.
Program participants were over 70% male, but there were also 16 females in the program. The average age of tenants across all programs was approximately 51 years, although the youngest tenant was 21 years and the eldest was 69. All participants had a serious and persistent mental illness, and over two-thirds of tenants also had co-occurring substance abuse issues. Nearly 40% of tenants reporting having some kind of chronic physical or other health condition. The official HUD definition of chronic homelessness changed effective January 2016 to mean that in addition to having a disabling condition the individual had also been homeless for longer than 12 months continuously, or 12 months or more over 4 times in the last 3 years. Although each tenant met the criteria for chronic homelessness in effect at the time of their entry into the project, approximately half of tenants meet the current, more restrictive definition.
A notable success of the program has been assisting tenants with accessing mainstream benefits and other resources. A total of ten tenants who had not been receiving SSI/SSDI benefits related to their disability at program start are now receiving those benefits. Specifically, seven tenants who entered the program with zero cash income were receiving SSI/SSDI benefits as of their most recent income recertification, increasing their average monthly income by more than $1,150. Overall, the average tenant had been receiving just $516 in cash income per month when they entered the program – but at most recent update, had increased their monthly income by $191.
A total of seven tenants left the program during the year. One tenant moved into senior housing, and one moved in with friends. One tenant was incarcerated, and four were asked to leave and referred to emergency shelter after assaulting another tenant or staff. Among those who remained in the program, the average tenant had been in the program for four years and eleven months.
The Bethune Program
In 2017, the Bethune Program provided permanent supportive housing for 34 formerly homeless Rensselaer County families. The Bethune Program serves families with children in which at least one parent has a disabling condition that impacts their ability to obtain and/or maintain housing independently and there is a history of numerous or long episodes of homelessness and housing instability. The program provides supportive case management with a housing first, harm-reduction philosophy while adding in financial supports for the family in the form of a rental subsidy. Program capacity more than doubled in 2012, when it was granted additional funding from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The 34 families served in the year were comprised of 55 adults and 76 children. Over 80% percent of children in families were age 12 and under, and nearly a third had not yet reached school age. Sixty-nine percent of family members identified as Caucasian, and thirty-one percent as African-American. Eight percent of persons in the program also identified as Hispanic. Although the average family size was 4 persons, there were six families comprised of at least 6 people.
All families were considered literally homeless at program admission, staying either in an emergency shelter/DSS motel, or exiting a transitional housing program and having had been homeless prior. One third of all adults in the program had no income at program entry. On average, adults in families who had income received about $567 monthly ($6,804 annually) at program entry. Five were employed; one received unemployment benefits; 12 received SSI/SSDI benefits; 19 received cash public assistance benefits; and three received child support payments. As of the most recent financial eligibility survey, ten of the adults who had no income at entry were receiving income. Six of these were receiving SSI/SSDI, two were employed, one was receiving unemployment income and another was receiving general public assistance resulting in an average monthly income increase of $733. Overall, adults in program had increased monthly income by about $316 since entering the Bethune Program.
Each head of household had at least one disabling condition that led to their eligibility for the program. Thirteen heads of households had multiple diagnoses. Specifically, 27 family heads were diagnosed with severe mental illness, 10 with substance abuse issues, and 7 with a developmental disability. Four families met the HUD criteria for chronic homelessness in effect as of January 2016, meaning that in addition to having a disabling condition the family had also been homeless for longer than 12 months continuously, or for at least twelve months over 4 episodes in the last 3 years.
Seven families left the program during the year. Four households left to move in with relatives or friends. Two left to a private rental, and one went to emergency shelter. Among families who remained in the program at the end of the year, participants served under the initial funding allocation had been in the program an average of 5 years. Families served under the second funding round, which began in November 2012, had been in the program for an average of 3 years.
Total Bed Nights- 16,315
Other Organizations and Websites
Visit this page for a selection of organizations with helpful and informative websites. Many of these provide vital information, both regional and national, for anyone seeking more information about the situation of the homeless.
Who is homeless?
According to the Stewart B. McKinney Act, 42 U.S.C. § 11301, et seq. (1994), a person is considered homeless who
“lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence; and… has a primary night time residency that is: (A) a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations… (B) an institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized, or (C) a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.” The term “homeless individual” does not include any individual imprisoned or otherwise detained pursuant to an Act of Congress or a state law.” 42 U.S.C. § 11302(c)
How many people experience homelessness?
Many people call or write the National Coalition for the Homeless to ask about the number of homeless people in the United States. There is no easy answer to this question and, in fact, the question itself is misleading.
Why are people homeless?
Two trends are largely responsible for the rise in homelessness over the past 20-25 years: a growing shortage of affordable rental housing and a simultaneous increase in poverty.