Author Archives: Megan

HUD publishes new HMIS Data Standards Manual and HMIS Data Dictionary

This month, HUD released the new HMIS Data Standards Manual and an accompanying HMIS Data Dictionary.

A brief description of each:

HMIS Data Standards Manual – This Manual is intended to serve as a reference and provide basic guidance on HMIS data elements for CoCs, HMIS Lead Agencies, HMIS System Administrators, and users.

HMIS Data Dictionary – The HMIS Data Dictionary is designed for HMIS vendors, HMIS Lead Agencies, and HMIS system administrators to understand all of the data elements required in an HMIS, data collection and function of each required element and the specific use of each element by the appropriate federal partner. The HMIS Data Dictionary should be the source for HMIS software programming.

HMIS systems must be able to collect all of the data elements defined in the HMIS Data Dictionary, support system logic identified in this document, and ensure that data collection and the visibility of data elements is appropriate to the project type and federal funding source for any given project.

Sounds fun, right? :) So, what does this really mean?

For MAAC, this means working with our developer to ensure the updates are implemented, tested, and pushed out to the software so that MAACLink is HMIS “compliant” with HUD. Hopefully this all happens by October 2014. We will also discuss these changes with the appropriate CoC contacts, and in different ways, share the basic information with users through training and other communication. What’s kind of cool about this, is that it also coincides with some CoC’s evolving data systems processes and can go hand-in-hand with these changes.

For our MAACLink agencies (particularly those that receive HUD funding), this means making sure any new/changing required data elements are updated on intake forms and are being correctly collected for the clients who are being served in these programs. It also means learning about the ways this data reflects how our community is serving the populations that we do… through reports, it tells a story of “who and how” and “how well” we are doing. And affects funding.

The hope is that we can all work together to get a better understanding of this through coming up with data guidelines specific to our CoCs (in addition to HUD’s data requirements, what do we want to see and report on for our communities?), training to this information (through CoC meeting and MAACLink training), and monitoring the data.

Needless to say, it will be a busy time between now and October to implement these changes as well as keep up with “business as usual”. But, we’re confident that this is a step in a good direction.

Critical need for Congress to restore LIHEAP funds

After the 2014 drop in LIHEAP funds, the President’s 2015 request is reduced, yet again… leaving an even greater rate of at-risk households with the possibility of not receiving assistance

The following is a statement dated March 26, 2014 released by The National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition (NEUAC) requesting that Congress restore LIHEAP dollars in 2015.

White House’s Energy Assistance Request “a Lead Balloon”

NEUAC Asks Congress to Restore LIHEAP to at least $4.7 Billion

Washington, D.C. – The National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition’s Board Chairman voiced NEUAC’s adamant opposition to the President’s proposed funding cuts for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  Mr. John Rich made the following statement:

“After the Polar Vortex, recent heat waves, a 15% U.S. poverty rate, and record energy consumption, yet another cut to America’s LIHEAP program is just plain wrong. Frankly, the President’s request is a lead balloon.  It’s a disappointment.  

U.S. LIHEAP funding dropped by a third from $5.1 in 2010 to $3.4 billion in 2014.  The President’s 2015 request is for just $2.8 billion, which is yet another 18% cut.   

Reductions through 2013 prevented 1.3 million households from being helped by LIHEAP.  At the same time, need for assistance has risen and the number of households helped has fallen from 8 million in 2010 to 6.7 million in 2013. More than 35 million households are likely to meet LIHEAP’s federal eligibility criteria in 2015.

This suggests that four out of five eligible households will not be served, largely due to low federal funding. 

As compelling as these statistics are, they don’t fully convey the human cost of cutting LIHEAP.  Congress has instructed LIHEAP administrators to prioritize households with at-risk elderly, handicapped and/or preschool-aged individuals.  These Americans have few, if any, alternatives.  They need LIHEAP to escape life-threatening hot and cold weather.  We have also seen in recent years that 20 percent  of households receiving LIHEAP contain a veteran or an active member of the military.

“Despite the good works of churches, charities, NEUAC, utilities and others, the cumulative loss of federal funds is irreplaceable. It cannot be made up.

NEUAC asks Congress to commit at least $4.7 billion to LIHEAP in 2015.  The numbers of at-risk seniors, preschoolers and disabled veterans are increasing.  They must not be abandoned.” 

Mr. Rich’s statement coincides with NEUAC’s LIHEAP Action Day.  Hundreds of LIHEAP supporters are meeting with Members of Congress today, to urge that Congress again return LIHEAP funding to at least $4.7 billion.

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Please stay tuned for updated related information on how Missouri is handling similar emergency energy assistance funding through Utilitcare.

The current request from energy and utility affordability and assistance advocates in MO is to contact the Appropriations Chairman and other committee members of the need for Utilicare and ask for their support to maintain the $6 million in the budget.

To see more information on the committee members visit http://www.senate.mo.gov/14info/comm/aprp.htm.

Innovative Housing for Chronically Homeless

Look what they’re up to in Austin, TX… a very cool housing opportunity for the Chronically Homeless

austinhousing

http://www.buzzfeed.com/summeranne/an-inspired-community-village-for-the-chronically-homeless

http://kut.org/post/heres-what-austins-newest-housing-chronically-homeless-looks#.UoV0_QCT3Ul.facebook

Some highlights behind the idea — Community support appears to be a huge factor for this project. Residents have buy-in and are contributing to their neighborhood. Opposition and the NIMBY attitude are always a factor, but seem to be less present here. The idea is innovative and even exciting (there’s an outdoor movie theater!) to neighbors and others in the surrounding area. There are some prominent community members who are involved as well (someone get the number for the Alamo Drafthouse guy… he has a theater here in KC!). This has been almost a decade in the making and it will be very interesting to see how it progresses.

Food for thought — Plenty of people are interested in doing things that will help others and their community. There are actually business owners who are willing to be a part of bettering the place around them (gasp!). So, how can communities do a more efficient job of connecting people that want to help with these issues with local agencies who know where their talents can be most used? And how do communities engage those who could help, but don’t even know how much their resources might assist those in need (more easily than they might imagine)? How can our community utilize these practices to the fullest potential? After all, we’re all in this together.

Letters of Support for MO Utilicare

Join MAAC in sending a letter of support for MO Utilicare to Gov. Nixon

MO Utilicare is similar to federal LIHEAP funding, but originates at the state level.  MO discontinued Utilicare several years ago due to budget problems, but may now be willing to consider it again.  You can read more about Utilicare on the LIHEAP website here:

http://liheap.ncat.org/legislation/mofa.htm

The Committee to Keep Missourians Warm (CKMW) is driving a letter campaign to Gov. Nixon to get his support.  Below is the letter produced by the committee and attached is the letter sent on behalf of MAAC.  MAAC would like to encourage other individuals and agencies to write letters of support to Gov. Nixon as soon as possible. You can send your letters to:

Office of Governor Jay Nixon, Att:  John Watson, Chief of Staff, P.O. Box 720, Jefferson City, MO 65102

To:

Address, City, State  Zip

RE:  Utilicare Funding

To Whom It Man Concern:

Again this year there is a shortfall in LIHEAP funding.   LIHEAP stands for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, funded by the federal government.

The need is far greater than ever before.  Individuals that have never sought help are now in the trenches just trying to provide for their families and to survive.  The largest growing sector requesting assistance—-our State’s Veterans

Thousands of Missourians are struggling to pay their utility bills.   Need in Missouri has continued to grow while funding has diminished dramatically.

  • Over the past seven years, LIHEAP funding for Missouri has been reduced from $107 million in 2007 to a projected $64 million in fiscal 2014.
  • In 2007, 124,000 households received assistance and approximately 145,000 in 2013.

We are serving more needy families with less while the need per home is increasing.   A troubling trend for the growing number of those in need.

We are asking Governor Nixon and the Legislature of Missouri to appropriate $10 million for Utilicare to assist those facing hardship.  Missouri’s Utilicare is a stop-gap for the elderly, disabled and income qualified Missourians to assist them with their winter utility bills.

We’d appreciate your support to fund the Utilicare program thru a supplemental appropriation.

All Missourians deserve the right to be warm in the winter.

We hope you will consider our plea.

Thank you,

Your name & Agency

 

MAAC’s letter of support for Utilicare:

Utilicare 1-3-2014 MAAC Ltrhd

Grateful for Thanks

Thanks for your feedback!

MAAC just wrapped up our first (in recent years) semiannual customer service survey week. Thank you to our agencies and community partners for all your valuable input and for taking the time to let us know how we’re doing. We welcome the constructive thoughts and are grateful for the overwhelming thanks we received.

MAAC is thankful for you and your agency and all the hard work you do for our community. We are happy to call you friends and partners.

Because it’s Thanksgiving week…

Keeping in the theme of the season, the MAAC staff would like to share some of the things we are thankful for:

Natasha is thankful for the generosity of friends and family helping her paint and move into her new home!

Howie is thankful for reStart’s boldness in renovating not just their emergency shelter facility, but their whole programming model.  He thinks the changes are not only great for their clients and for reStart, but for the whole community.

Linda is thankful for laughter, memories and chocolate pecan pie – lots of pie.

Stephanie is thankful for everything in her life that she’s fortunate to have… Family, her amazing friends, and opportunities she’s been able to take advantage of.

Glory is thankful there are after-school programs available where our kids can learn, have fun, and stay safe!

Shelly is thankful for mornings when her kids wake up happy and they can find everyone’s shoes and there is a cup of coffee for the road.

I’m (Megan) thankful for patience, compassion, and my friends who are really more like a family. And mashed potatoes with lots of butter.

Our fearless leader, John, is thankful for the fact that he loves his job, that what we do helps the community, and that he works with great people. And for covered parking.

Jill has created one of her infamous drawings to express her thoughts on being thankful for technology:

jillthankful_01

There are so many ways to be thankful and things to be thankful for…

As we embark on this holiday season, let the intention be to remember this for ourselves and others as we continue to help in whatever ways we do… however that looks to you.

Happy Turkey Day and Holidays ahead!