New rental assistance and homeless system performance measures
Passed by the Washington State Legislature in April 2021, the new rental assistance and homeless system performance measures in Chapter 214, Laws of 2021 (ESHB 1277) provide an additional revenue source for eviction prevention and housing stability services. Additionally, this act requires the Washington State Department of Commerce to award project-based vouchers to eligible grantees in a manner that distributes 15% of the funding as a performance-based allocation following the department’s performance metrics.
Commerce is working to fulfill the requirements by consulting with stakeholders to create performance metrics and determine eligibility requirements for grantees and households receiving this funding assistance. Commerce will also consult with stakeholders to inform the design of measures and benchmarks to promote equitable program access and outcomes.
In 2022, the Department of Commerce will continue working with BDS Planning & Urban Design to provide facilitation and engagement services for its effort to implement the new rental assistance and new homeless system performance measures.
Commerce will be working on a comprehensive program design with the steering committee that includes eviction prevention rental assistance and project-based vouchers.
Eviction prevention rental assistance
Commerce aims to make the new state eviction rental assistance funds available to counties in July 2022. This timing seeks to ensure no gaps in rental assistance funding as counties spend down funds made available in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. Therefore, robust stakeholder engagement to support Commerce with program design will need to be completed by April 30, 2022.
Per the statutory requirement, the Department of Commerce must develop performance measures and benchmarks for the Eviction Prevention Rental Assistance Program that promote equitable program access and outcomes for specific communities of color. Commerce will develop these measures and benchmarks in consultation with stakeholder groups and may choose to apply these performance measures to a broader set of programs beyond the statutory requirement.
Engagement summary report
County lead grantees and subgrantees
Counties and other organizations currently contracting with the Department of Commerce under the Consolidated Homeless Grant (CHG) and Systems Demonstration Grant (SDG) programs and their subcontractors are invited to participate in workshops during January to make recommendations to the Steering Committee on a set of performance metrics for each county receiving new funding from the Home Security Fund (60% of the new revenue) for the eviction prevention rental assistance.
Workshop meeting schedule:
Participants will meet during the following times in January 2022.
Those interested in participating should use the registration links above. All meetings will be held on Zoom.
By/for organizations only
By/For organizations* are invited to participate in a February workshop to make recommendations to the Steering Committee on the set-aside and requirements to By/For organizations with these funds.
By/for workshop meeting schedule:
Participants will meet during the following time in February 2022.
Those interested in participating should use the registration links above. The meeting will be held on Zoom.
* By/For organizations are operated by and for the community they serve. Their primary mission is serving a specific community, and they are culturally based, directed, and substantially controlled by individuals from the population they serve. At the core of their programs, the organizations embody the community’s central cultural values. These communities may include ethnic and racial minorities; immigrants and refugees; individuals who identify as LGBTQ+, individuals with disabilities or who are deaf; and Native Americans.
Commerce aims to distribute project-based vouchers and related services funding through a structured, intentional program that produces substantiative results to prevent and reduce homelessness. As such, robust stakeholder engagement will also be needed to design the project-based vouchers and related services program. Stakeholder work to support Commerce with program design aims to be completed by Aug. 31, 2022. However, counties with projects depending on this revenue stream (i.e., project-based vouchers) before program design is completed and funds widely available may qualify for distribution of funds earlier. The Department of Commerce will consider such requests from counties on a case-by-case basis.
The Project-Based Voucher Workshop participants will meet during the following times in May-August, 2022.
In 2022, the Steering Committee will continue to provide consultation to the department on developing equity benchmarks and measures and other elements of the project-based voucher program.
The Steering Committee will meet during the following times in May-August 2022. The goal of the 2022 meetings is to provide recommendations to the Department of Commerce on program design that produces substantiative results toward preventing and reducing homelessness completed by August 31, 2022.
All meetings will be convened on Zoom.
Counties and other organizations currently contracting with the Department of Commerce under the Consolidated Homeless Grant (CHG) and Systems Demonstration Grant (SDG) programs are invited to participate in three workshops during October to make recommendations to the Steering Committee on a set of performance metrics for each county receiving new funding from the Home Security Fund (60% of the new revenue), including the new project-based voucher program.
The metrics must target actions within a county’s control that will prevent and reduce homelessness, such as increasing the number of permanent supportive housing units and increasing or maintaining an adequate number of noncongregate shelter beds. The Department of Commerce must create these metrics by Dec. 15, 2021, in consultation with key stakeholder groups.
The Department of Commerce was required to consult with the following stakeholder groups to create the performance metrics described above, equity benchmarks and measures and other elements of the new rental assistance and homeless system performance measures and the project-based voucher program:
- Persons at risk of homelessness due to unpaid rent
- Representative of a community(s) of color
- Homeless service provider
- Landlord representative
- A representative of a local government that administers homelessness assistance
- A statewide association representing a city
- A statewide association representing a county
- A representative of homeless youth and young adults
- Affordable housing advocates
To satisfy this requirement and create a cross-sectional group of stakeholders to advise the Department of Commerce, a Steering Committee was formed to provide recommendations on all the elements named above.
Applications to the Steering Committee were due Oct. 11, 2021.
- Hamdi Abdulle – African Community Housing and Development
- Marc Dones* – King County Regional Homelessness Authority
- Bunni Garcia-Owens* – Mockingbird Society
- Vanessa Gaston – Clark County
- Jim Henderson – Rental Housing Association of Washington
- Kirsten Jewell – Kitsap County
- Sarah Kendall* – WA State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- Ginger Kwan – Open Doors for Multicultural Families
- Linda Lauch – American Indian Community Center
- Kelsey Martin – City of Spokane
- Jessica Mendez – Yakima County Volunteer Attorney Services
- Faaluaina Sausau Pritchard – Asia Pacific Cultural Center
- Kelly Rider – King County
- Natalie Skovran – Family Support Center of South Sound
- Indi Slama* – Unity Care NW
- Cruze Thompson – Rural Resources Community Action
- Tram Tran-Larson – Housing Justice Project – King County Bar Association
- Samantha Troxler* – Olympic Community Action Agency
- Mindy Woods* – Resident Action Project, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance
- Duaa-Rahemaah Williams* – Washington Low Income Housing Alliance
*Lived experience with homelessness
The Steering Committee will meet monthly in 2022, starting in February. The goal of the 2022 meetings is to provide recommendations to the Department of Commerce on program design, including goals & priorities, for the Eviction Prevention Rental Assistance Program and project-based voucher and related services programs, measures for equitable access to and outcomes from the rent assistance program, as well as developing recommendations on subcontracting requirements for By/For organizations. All meetings will be convened on Zoom.
The Steering Committee met during the following times in 2021. The goal of the meetings was to provide recommendations to Commerce on the design of the performance metrics, which were created before Dec. 15, 2021.
- Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, 12:30 pm – 3:30 pm
- Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, 11:30 am – 2:30 pm
- Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2021, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
- Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
All meetings were convened on Zoom.
Recommendations developed by the Steering Committee through the meetings in 2021 were presented to the Washington State Department of Commerce to implement E2SHB 1277.
Key recommendations from the Steering Committee:
- Actions taken by a county should address three major strategies to prevent and reduce homelessness:
- Increasing housing capacity/inventory
- Improving financial and supportive services
- Addressing racial disparities
- Performance measures should be based on a “menu of actions” that provides flexibility for counties that considers different county “typology.”
- Actions a county ultimately chooses from this “menu” should align with the county’s 5-year plan.
- Addressing racial disparities should be embedded throughout the performance metrics.
- A good approach to embedding addressing racial disparities in the initial performance metrics would be to design a community-centered decision-making framework that counties must use.
- Commerce should provide technical assistance/coaching on process requirements.
- Commerce should provide technical assistance/coaching on data literacy.
- There should be more frequent and accurate reporting of the homeless count.
What follows next is how these recommendations were generally translated to a recommended framework for the performance measure.
Performance measure framework
These are initial performance measures. Counties will not do anything with these measures until they are included in contracts that start on July 1, 2023; thereby, the initial measures submitted for the Dec. 15, 2021 statutory deadline can still change as we move forward with the process (particularly program design).
During the process, the following three major concepts have been identified to reduce and prevent homelessness:
- Increasing housing capacity
- Improving financial and supportive services
- Addressing racial disparities
County typology filter
“Typology” is a classification based on general characteristics. The first is to define the ‘types’ based on the research area regarding homelessness. For example, someone might “type” out communities and several different things – which we do already for several other policy areas – but we don’t do that for homelessness. Typing out communities in relation to their situations would be beneficial. What does that kind of typology look like in the homelessness space? What is “success” differs from place to place; therefore, the strategies employed are also very different.
Embedding racial equity in planning and decision-making
Communities need to have the voice and process to allow them to lead and guide the issue of ending homelessness. It is essential to give communities the power to make their own decisions by embedding a racial equity lens. It is necessary to see whether the current measurements measure the right things and achieve the right outcomes. For example, it is necessary to measure the quality of the service that people of color receive. If people whose lives are impacted have the power to make decisions and to design the program, better outcomes will result. It is necessary to re-examine and re-evaluate whether we are measuring the right outcome, and we need to understand what that would look like.
Menu of actions
Proposed action menu:
- List of actions within a county’s control organized under the three major strategies (increasing housing capacity, improving financial and supportive services, addressing racial disparities) to reduce and prevent homelessness.
- Counties would select two actions per strategy at contract negotiation for a total of six actions.
- Commerce would evaluate if selected actions were achieved at mid-contract and near contract end. The county would retain the 15% performance-based allocation if most actions were achieved.
Details to be finalized in 2022:
- How to embed racial equity in performance measures and decision-making.
- Development of typology and what actions will be available to types of Counties.
- Commerce to revisit the county 5-Year plan guidelines and align the performance metrics with them.
Commerce incorporated this framework in the County Action Menu to fulfill statutory requirements for developing performance measures by Dec. 15, 2021. Please review the “Initial Performance Metrics for Project-Based Vouchers & Related Services” section below to view those performance measures.
The steering committee will work directly with Commerce to revisit the initial performance metrics created on Dec. 15, 2021, after the program design for project-based vouchers and related services is complete. A major goal of the program design and related updates to the metrics will be to more deeply embed the work of addressing racial disparities.
Initial performance metrics for project-based vouchers and related services
The County Action Menu is a set of performance metrics that was created and refined with county governments and stakeholder groups specified in section 2(2)(c) of Chapter 214, Laws of 2021 (ESHB 1277).
The County Action Menu requires county governments to take actions to prevent and reduce homelessness. Beginning July 1, 2023, this requirement will apply to the funds described in section 1(1)(c) Chapter 214, Laws of 2021 (ESHB 1277).
The strategies identified to prevent and reduce homelessness are:
Increase housing capacity/inventory
Improve financial and supportive services/increase housing placements
Address racial disparities
Counties will select two action items per strategy at contract negotiation for a total of six actions. At mid-contract and near contract end Commerce will evaluate if the selected actions were achieved. If most actions were achieved, the county would retain the performance-based allocation.
This County Action Menu was developed specifically to acknowledge and address the wide variety of actions needed to make gains in each strategy. There must be available actions appropriate to both frontier communities and large urban centers. To achieve this responsiveness, Commerce will develop a typology of a county’s experience of homelessness. Counties will be categorized in types, and county type will filter the available actions for each strategy.
Dec. 15, 2021:
- Initial County Action Menu
January 2022–January 2023:
- Program design and guideline development
- Refinement of County Action Menu (develop county typology and actions)
January 2023–June 2023
- Counties select six actions from Final County Action Menu to achieve over two year contract period (July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2025)
- Counties are awarded allocations. Fifteen percent of the funding must be used for activities that can be discontinued, such as Rapid Re-Housing, or acquisition
- Completed County Action Menu is incorporated into contract Statement of Work
- Commerce monitors county progress
- Counties that have demonstrated that the majority of selected actions have been achieved will continue to receive the fifteen percent performance-based allocation
- Commerce monitors county progress
- Additional counties that have demonstrated that most selected actions have been achieved will continue to receive the fifteen percent performance-based allocation.
- Counties that have failed to demonstrate that the majority of selected actions have been achieved will enter into a corrective action plan with Commerce and must agree to undertake the actions outlined in the corrective action plan
- If, within the two years following the corrective action plan, the county demonstrates that most selected actions have not been achieved, Commerce will reclaim the fifteen percent performance-based allocation using the amendment process.
- Performance-based allocations unspent due to lack of compliance with a corrective action plan will be distributed to other counties that have met their target actions.
Nationally and in Washington, people of color and other historically marginalized communities are dramatically over-represented in homeless and unstably housed populations. This disproportionality is due to structural oppression. The decision-making processes of homeless service systems must work to stop perpetuating disparities, inequity and oppression.
The county must use an equity-based decision-making framework when selecting actions to achieve each strategy. In addition, the county must include historically marginalized communities in decision-making relating to this performance requirement.
“Communities that should be considered to be historically marginalized and disproportionately impacted by homelessness in the United States include: Black and African Americans; people who identify as Latinx, Native, or Pacific Islander; individuals with disabilities; people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ); incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals; and undocumented individuals and mixed-immigration-status families and communities.”
Counties should examine local data to understand their community demographics and the disparities in their homeless and unstably housed population. Information about the homeless and unstably housed population in each county can be found here: Snapshot of Homelessness in Washington.