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Joseph’s House Statistics

Joseph’s House & Shelter, Inc. 2016 Annual Report

In 2016, Joseph’s House served 970 homeless or formerly homeless Rensselaer County residents throughout all of its programs (this represents a 3.7% increase over the prior year). We worked with 563 unaccompanied single adults, and 407 additional persons in 102 families (246 of whom were children). Across all programs, 307 people (32% of clients) reported having a disabling condition, and 72 people (7%) were chronically homeless - HUD defines this as being homeless for at least 12 months either continuously, or during at least 4 distinct episodes of homelessness in the past 3 years.

This report contains information from clients served across each of our programs. Joseph’s House operates emergency shelters for men, women and 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 site-based Housing First permanent supportive housing programs for chronically homeless single adults.

The Emergency Single Shelters

The Adult Shelters for single males and females served 254 unduplicated homeless adults in 2016. The average age among all singles was 40 years, and more than 60% of single guests served were male. Nearly sixty percent of guests identified as Caucasian, just under one third as African American, three percent as American Indian/Alaskan Native/Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander. Eleven percent of persons served also identified as Hispanic. Eleven veterans of the US Armed Forces were served by the single shelters (4%).

At shelter intake, 20% of all single guests had stayed the previous night on the street. Another 23% percent came from another emergency shelter, such as Joseph’s House Inn from the Cold or Code Blue programs, or the Albany City Christian 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 10% of single guests had been released from incarceration with no place to go. Another 7% came from an in-patient hospital, psychiatric, or substance abuse treatment facility. Nine 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 amongst families.

Approximately thirty percent of guests identified having a disabling condition which affects their ability to live independently. Forty-eight percent of single guests reported having a mental health condition; forty percent reported having a substance abuse issue; and 39% 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. An additional six percent of single guests met the definition of chronically homeless in effect prior to January 2016. However, 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 (60% of those who did receive income). One third of those with income received wages from employment (a 36% increase from the prior year) – generally from working part-time hours, evidenced by the average employment income of $866/monthly. Overall, the average guest who had income received just $829 monthly as well, or $9,948 annually.

Single shelter guests stayed an average of 27 days (a 28% increase over the prior year’s average of 21 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. Another 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 operated at an average 98% occupancy rate over the year.

The Emergency Single Shelters

The Adult Shelters for single males and females served 254 unduplicated homeless adults in 2016. The average age among all singles was 40 years, and more than 60% of single guests served were male. Nearly sixty percent of guests identified as Caucasian, just under one third as African American, three percent as American Indian/Alaskan Native/Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander. Eleven percent of persons served also identified as Hispanic. Eleven veterans of the US Armed Forces were served by the single shelters.

At shelter intake, 20% of all single guests had stayed the previous night on the street and another 23% 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 10% of single guests had been released from incarceration with no place to go. Another 7% came from an in-patient hospital, psychiatric, or substance abuse treatment facility. Nine 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 amongst families.

Approximately thirty percent of guests identified having a disabling condition which affects their ability to live independently. Forty-eight percent of single guests reported having a mental health condition; forty percent reported having a substance abuse issue; and 39% 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. An additional six percent of single guests met the definition of chronically homeless in effect prior to January 2016. However, 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 (60% of those who did receive income). One third of those with income received wages from employment (a 36% increase from the prior year) – generally from working part-time hours, evidenced by the average employment income of $866/monthly. Overall, the average guest who had income received just $829 monthly as well, or $9,948 annually.

Single shelter guests stayed an average of 27 days (a 28% increase over the prior year’s average of 21 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. Another 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 operated at an average 98% 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 males 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 2015 and April 2016, the Inn from the Cold served 43 men whose average age was 38 years. Just one of these men was considered chronically homeless, and 28% had a disabling condition. Nearly two-thirds of the men 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 27 nights on cots in the churches in addition to any nights spent in the emergency shelter, and 33% obtained permanent housing upon leaving the program. Nine percent left to double with friends or family, seven percent went to institutional destinations, and forty-nine percent were referred to another shelter, left to the streets, or otherwise left with whereabouts unknown.

Code Blue Emergency Shelter

During the winter of 2015-2016, 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 2015-2016 the program operated for 88 nights, including a consecutive stretch of 64 nights from 1/4/16 – 3/8/16.

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 169 persons in the Code Blue program, providing a total of 980 nights of shelter to men and women. Forty-three percent of persons served reporting having one or more disabling conditions. More than one quarter of persons who accessed shelter through the Code Blue program told us they had stayed out on the street the night prior to coming in, and just over 20% were discharged directly from an institutional setting such as a hospital, jail, or inpatient treatment center. Forty-three percent had been doubled up with family and friends before coming in to Code Blue, and 8% 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 175 people in 47 families, including 105 children. Just under forty-five 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 55% of the family members identify as African American, and the other 45% as Caucasian. Just over 15% 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 (81%) 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 (11%) 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. Fourteen percent of family members reported having a mental health problem; two persons reported a substance abuse issue; and 9% identified having a chronic physical, development, or health condition. None 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.

Nearly 55% of the 67 adults in the program entered the emergency shelter with zero cash income. Among those who did receive cash income, sources were: public assistance benefits (44%), employment (38%), SSI/SSDI benefits (19%), and child support (19%). Among those adults who did receive income, the average amount of cash coming in was about $617 per month, or $7,404 to support a family of an average of 3-4 persons.

Families in the program stayed an average of 38 days in the shelter (a 23% increase of the prior year’s average of 31 days). The average occupancy rate for the year was 93%. Nearly 55% of families were successfully placed in permanent housing destinations, such as a private rental with or without a subsidy (21 households), a permanent supportive housing program (2 households), or a transitional apartment program (1 household). About 18% transferred to another emergency shelter or motel, and 25% left the shelter to double up with family or friends. One family left with whereabouts unknown.

Solutions to End Homelessness Program (STEHP) Rapid Re-housing / Family Advocacy and Resettlement Program

The STEHP/Family Advocacy program served 296 persons in 95 Rensselaer County-based homeless households placed in emergency shelters and motels throughout the Capital District in 2016. This program works to rapidly re-house currently homeless households (two-thirds 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 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 168 children served by the program in 2016, more than 75% were younger than ten years old and almost 45% percent had not yet reached school age. The average age of adults in the program was about 33 years. Nearly 55% of family members identified as African-American, and about 45% as Caucasian. Just over 15% reported having Hispanic ethnicity. Approximately one third of households served were single individuals, one third were families headed by single mothers and fathers, and the other third by two parents together. Families with children who received assistance though the project were comprised of about 4 persons on average.

Among the 66 households who exited the program during the year, more than three quarters successfully located and maintained safe and affordable permanent housing such as a private rental, a supportive housing apartment, or transitional housing. Fourteen 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 two 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.

Twelve households received rapid re-housing financial assistance through STEHP in 2016. 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 5 households with security deposits, assisted fully or partially with 10 monthly rental payments, and provided a down-payment for utilities for one household.

The Street Outreach Program

The Street Outreach Team served 63 homeless clients in 2016 (this represents a 33% reduction in enrollment compared with the prior year). This program works with chronically 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 50 males and one person who identified as transgendered. Street Outreach clients were about 43 years of age on average – though the eldest client was 68 years and the youngest was 20 years old. Just over three-quarters of participants identified as Caucasian, nearly 20%as African-American, and one client identified as Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. Three clients (5%) reported having served in the US armed forces. Nearly half of females in the program were survivors of domestic violence.

Approximately eighty percent of the clients served by the Street Outreach program been homeless four or more times in the previous three years. Nearly 80% of clients had an active substance abuse issue, and almost 70% had a mental illness – in fact, 57% of all clients were dually diagnosed. Just over one-third of outreach clients were receiving cash income at intake, most frequently SSI/SSDI benefits, at an average rate of $922 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. Fifty-seven percent of clients met the new criteria for chronic homelessness.

Among the 50 clients who exited the program during the year, the outreach team assisted 31 clients with accessing emergency shelter and eventually obtaining stable permanent housing (62%) – including 15 exits to permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless persons. Eight clients went to a temporary housing situation, and four clients were incarcerated. Another seven clients left with whereabouts unknown and/or dropped out of the program voluntarily.

The Lansing Inn & Hill Street Inn Permanent Supported Housing

The Permanent Supportive Housing program for single adults provided safe, affordable, harm-reduction housing to a total of 56 single adults in 2016. Tenants live in apartments at the Lansing Inn, the Hill Street Inn, and one couple lives in a subsidized private apartment 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 50 years, although the youngest tenant was 23 years and the eldest was 65. 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 reported 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 within at least four episodes 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, one-third 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 eight tenants who had not been receiving SSI/SSDI benefits related to their disability at program start are now receiving those benefits. Specifically, five 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 $1,200. Overall, the average tenant had been receiving just $522 in cash income per month when they entered the program – but at most recent update, had increased their monthly income by $162.

A total of six tenants left the program during the year. Two tenants were incarcerated, two went to live with family, one was asked to leave after assaulting another tenant, and another entered long-term inpatient treatment in a mental health facility. Among those who remained in the program, the average tenant had been in the program for four years and ten months. The program achieved an 89% annual housing stability rate.

The Bethune Program

In 2016, the Bethune Program provided permanent supportive housing for 30 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 30 families served in the year were comprised of 51 adults and 70 children. Nearly eighty-five percent of children in families were age 12 and under, and more than a third had not yet reached school age. Sixty-six percent of family members identified as Caucasian, and thirty-three percent as African-American. Five percent of persons in the program also identified as Hispanic. Although the average family size was 4 persons, there were seven families comprised of at least 6 people.

All persons in 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. On average, adults in families who had income received about $530 monthly ($6,360 annually) at program entry. Three were employed; one received unemployment benefits; 12 received SSI/SSDI benefits; 17 received cash public assistance benefits; and two received child support payments. Another sixteen adults received no income. As of the most recent financial eligibility survey, seven of the adults who had no income at entry were receiving income. Four of these were receiving SSI/SSDI, two were employed, and another was receiving general public assistance resulting in an average monthly income increase of $697. Overall, adults in program had increased monthly income by about $105 since entering the Bethune Program.

Each head of household had at least one disabling condition that led to their eligibility for the program. Twelve heads of households had multiple diagnoses. Specifically, 23 family heads were diagnosed with severe mental illness, 8 with substance abuse issues, and 7 with a developmental disability. Three 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.

One family left the program during the year – a two-parent household in which the parents split up and chose not to continue in the program. 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 2.5 years. The program recorded a nearly 97% annual housing stability rate.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 males 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 2015 and April 2016, the Inn from the Cold served 43 men whose average age was 38 years. Just one of these men was considered chronically homeless, and 28% had a disabling condition. Nearly two-thirds of the men 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 27 nights on cots in the churches in addition to any nights spent in the emergency shelter, and 33% obtained permanent housing upon leaving the program. Nine percent left to double with friends or family, seven percent went to institutional destinations, and forty-nine percent were referred to another shelter, left to the streets, or otherwise left with whereabouts unknown.

Code Blue Emergency Shelter

During the winter of 2015-2016, 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 2015-2016 the program operated for 88 nights, including a consecutive stretch of 64 nights from 1/4/16 – 3/8/16.

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 169 persons in the Code Blue program, providing a total of 980 nights of shelter to men and women. Forty-three percent of persons served reporting having one or more disabling conditions. More than one quarter of persons who accessed shelter through the Code Blue program told us they had stayed out on the street the night prior to coming in, and just over 20% were discharged directly from an institutional setting such as a hospital, jail, or inpatient treatment center. Forty-three percent had been doubled up with family and friends before coming in to Code Blue, and 8% 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 175 people in 47 families, including 105 children. Just under forty-five 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 55% of the family members identify as African American, and the other 45% as Caucasian. Just over 15% 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 (81%) 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 (11%) 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. Fourteen percent of family members reported having a mental health problem; two persons reported a substance abuse issue; and 9% identified having a chronic physical, development, or health condition. None 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.

Nearly 55% of the 67 adults in the program entered the emergency shelter with zero cash income. Among those who did receive cash income, sources were: public assistance benefits (44%), employment (38%), SSI/SSDI benefits (19%), and child support (19%). Among those adults who did receive income, the average amount of cash coming in was about $617 per month, or $7,404 to support a family of an average of 3-4 persons.

Families in the program stayed an average of 38 days in the shelter (a 23% increase of the prior year’s average of 31 days). The average occupancy rate for the year was 93%. Nearly 55% of families were successfully placed in permanent housing destinations, such as a private rental with or without a subsidy (21 households), a permanent supportive housing program (2 households), or a transitional apartment program (1 household). About 18% transferred to another emergency shelter or motel, and 25% left the shelter to double up with family or friends. One family left with whereabouts unknown.

Solutions to End Homelessness Program (STEHP) Rapid Re-housing / Family Advocacy and Resettlement Program

The STEHP/Family Advocacy program served 296 persons in 95 Rensselaer County-based homeless households placed in emergency shelters and motels throughout the Capital District in 2016. This program works to rapidly re-house currently homeless households (two-thirds 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 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 168 children served by the program in 2016, more than 75% were younger than ten years old and almost 45% percent had not yet reached school age. The average age of adults in the program was about 33 years. Nearly 55% of family members identified as African-American, and about 45% as Caucasian. Just over 15% reported having Hispanic ethnicity. Approximately one third of households served were single individuals, one third were families headed by single mothers and fathers, and the other third by two parents together. Families with children who received assistance though the project were comprised of about 4 persons on average.

Among the 66 households who exited the program during the year, more than three quarters successfully located and maintained safe and affordable permanent housing such as a private rental, a supportive housing apartment, or transitional housing. Fourteen 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 two 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.

Twelve households received rapid re-housing financial assistance through STEHP in 2016. 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 5 households with security deposits, assisted fully or partially with 10 monthly rental payments, and provided a down-payment for utilities for one household.

The Street Outreach Program

The Street Outreach Team served 63 homeless clients in 2016 (this represents a 33% reduction in enrollment compared with the prior year). This program works with chronically 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 50 males and one person who identified as transgendered. Street Outreach clients were about 43 years of age on average – though the eldest client was 68 years and the youngest was 20 years old. Just over three-quarters of participants identified as Caucasian, nearly 20%as African-American, and one client identified as Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. Three clients (5%) reported having served in the US armed forces. Nearly half of females in the program were survivors of domestic violence.

Approximately eighty percent of the clients served by the Street Outreach program been homeless four or more times in the previous three years. Nearly 80% of clients had an active substance abuse issue, and almost 70% had a mental illness – in fact, 57% of all clients were dually diagnosed. Just over one-third of outreach clients were receiving cash income at intake, most frequently SSI/SSDI benefits, at an average rate of $922 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. Fifty-seven percent of clients met the new criteria for chronic homelessness.

Among the 50 clients who exited the program during the year, the outreach team assisted 31 clients with accessing emergency shelter and eventually obtaining stable permanent housing (62%) – including 15 exits to permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless persons. Eight clients went to a temporary housing situation, and four clients were incarcerated. Another seven clients left with whereabouts unknown and/or dropped out of the program voluntarily.

The Lansing Inn & Hill Street Inn Permanent Supported Housing

The Permanent Supportive Housing program for single adults provided safe, affordable, harm-reduction housing to a total of 56 single adults in 2016. Tenants live in apartments at the Lansing Inn, the Hill Street Inn, and one couple lives in a subsidized private apartment 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 50 years, although the youngest tenant was 23 years and the eldest was 65. 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 reported 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 within at least four episodes 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, one-third 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 eight tenants who had not been receiving SSI/SSDI benefits related to their disability at program start are now receiving those benefits. Specifically, five 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 $1,200. Overall, the average tenant had been receiving just $522 in cash income per month when they entered the program – but at most recent update, had increased their monthly income by $162.

A total of six tenants left the program during the year. Two tenants were incarcerated, two went to live with family, one was asked to leave after assaulting another tenant, and another entered long-term inpatient treatment in a mental health facility. Among those who remained in the program, the average tenant had been in the program for four years and ten months. The program achieved an 89% annual housing stability rate.

The Bethune Program

In 2016, the Bethune Program provided permanent supportive housing for 30 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 30 families served in the year were comprised of 51 adults and 70 children. Nearly eighty-five percent of children in families were age 12 and under, and more than a third had not yet reached school age. Sixty-six percent of family members identified as Caucasian, and thirty-three percent as African-American. Five percent of persons in the program also identified as Hispanic. Although the average family size was 4 persons, there were seven families comprised of at least 6 people.

All persons in 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. On average, adults in families who had income received about $530 monthly ($6,360 annually) at program entry. Three were employed; one received unemployment benefits; 12 received SSI/SSDI benefits; 17 received cash public assistance benefits; and two received child support payments. Another sixteen adults received no income. As of the most recent financial eligibility survey, seven of the adults who had no income at entry were receiving income. Four of these were receiving SSI/SSDI, two were employed, and another was receiving general public assistance resulting in an average monthly income increase of $697. Overall, adults in program had increased monthly income by about $105 since entering the Bethune Program.

Each head of household had at least one disabling condition that led to their eligibility for the program. Twelve heads of households had multiple diagnoses. Specifically, 23 family heads were diagnosed with severe mental illness, 8 with substance abuse issues, and 7 with a developmental disability. Three 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.

One family left the program during the year – a two-parent household in which the parents split up and chose not to continue in the program. 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 2.5 years. The program recorded a nearly 97% annual housing stability rate.