In order to more effectively meet the demand for homeless services, HAP funds are block granted to all 67 Pennsylvania counties. The Department informs counties of their annual HAP block granted allocation and they are responsible for determining how and for which program components the funds will be utilized. HAP funds are block granted to allow counties the flexibility needed to design a comprehensive homeless program that will address the housing issues of clients and assist them in reaching self-sufficiency.
The intent of the HAP is to make available a continuum of services to persons who are at risk of becoming homeless and to those who are homeless and near homeless who can demonstrate that with the prevention and intervention services provided by the HAP they would be able to meet their basic needs in the immediate and near future.
To be eligible for services in any one of the HAP components, clients must be low-income, homeless or near homeless as defined below and meet the eligibility requirements for the specific service component(s) from which they are seeking services. Low income is defined as those who are at or below 200% of the Federal Income Poverty Guidelines. This does not apply to those who need HAP services due to a disaster or domestic violence or persons seeking Emergency Shelter services, in these cases, eligibility is based solely on need. People 17 years of age and younger not living as part of a family unit or not emancipated are not eligible for HAP services. However, a person 17 years of age and younger who is married, separated from a spouse, or has children may be considered an emancipated minor. See service component description for additional client eligibility requirements.
Individuals or families are homeless if they:
- are residing in a group shelter; domestic violence shelter; hotel or motel paid for with public or charitable funds; a mental health, drug, or alcohol facility; jail; or hospital with no place to reside; or living in a home, but due to domestic violence, needs a safe place to reside,
- have received verification that they are facing foster care placement of their children solely because of lack of adequate housing, or need housing to allow reunification with children who are in foster care placement;
- are living in a "doubled-up" arrangement for six months or less on a temporary basis;
- are living in a condemned building;
- are living in housing in which the physical plant presents life and/or health threatening conditions; e.g., having dangerous structural defects or lacking plumbing, heat, or utilities; or
- are living on the streets, in cars, doorways; etc.
- Individuals and families are near homeless if they are facing eviction (having received either written or verbal notification from the landlord that they will lose their housing unless some type of payment is received. Verbal notification must be followed up with written documentation).
HAP Service Component Description
A. CASE MANAGEMENT
This component is used for coordination, with the client, of the helping activities needed by the client from the service provider agency and other resources in the community to achieve the goal of self-sufficient living. Case Management begins with the intake process and should include setting goals in the area of basic life skills, financial management, parenting skills, home maintenance, job preparation skills, and/or employment skills.
A major role of the case manager is to advocate for a homeless or near homeless family in the social service and educational systems and in the search for permanent housing. Special efforts should be targeted at developing linkages on behalf of homeless children. Each school district has a coordinator for homeless children who will assist in making educational arrangements during periods of transition. Linkages should be developed with other agencies such as Head Start, child advocacy programs, therapeutic play programs, and the county children and youth agencies. Linkages should be established with housing authorities and other local housing programs for low-income housing opportunities. The case manager should establish linkages with other agencies known to serve individuals and families and become aware, as confidentiality allows, of the service plans within other agencies so that established goals do not conflict.
Case Management services must be made available to any client receiving services in the HAP. Those clients at risk of becoming homeless in the future are also targeted for Case Management services. The county may set maximum income limits for the at-risk clients served in the component. The county may develop policy regarding the provision of case management services to those clients who are in need. Clients may be required to receive case management in order to receive other HAP services. An example of this would be a client who repeatedly requests services. The county must develop a policy requiring the client’s active participation in case management services in order to receive rental assistance or bridge housing services.
Counties have the option to charge case management functions to other HAP service components but should consider funding all case management functions required in HAP components through the Case Management component.
Case Management service activities include but are not limited to the following:
- Intake and assessments for individuals who are in need of supportive service and who need assistance in accessing the service system;
- Assessing service needs and eligibility and discussion with the client of available and acceptable service options;
- Preparation of a service plan with measurable objectives developed in cooperation with and signed by the client;
- Referring clients to appropriate agencies for needed services;
- Coordinating services of clients who are receiving multiple services;
- Providing direct services such as counseling, where appropriate, budgeting, life skills, job preparation, and home management;
- Providing advocacy, when needed, to ensure the satisfactory delivery of requested services;
- Monitoring the continuity and appropriateness of services;
- Follow-up to evaluate the effectiveness of services and outcomes; and
- Protecting the client's confidentiality.
Expenditures - Case Management
It is expected that the majority of this HAP allocation will be spent on personnel expenses (wages, salaries, and benefits) for case managers to provide necessary and appropriate services such as; intake and assessment; preparation of written service plans; arrangement for the provision of needed medical, psychological, psychiatric, social or vocational services; and follow-up as well as client tracking. Expenditures may also include the costs for the provision of direct services as indicated in item six above.
(A) Allowable Expenditures
- Operating: office rent, communications, insurance, legal services, audits, office supplies, staff travel, overhead, and systems consultants and client tracking.
- Fixed Assets: equipment.
- Personnel: wages and salaries, benefits, and training/conferences.
(B) Non-Allowable Expenditures
- Payments made on behalf of clients for shelter or support services other than Case Management.
- Payments for already existing Case Management services.
This component provides payments for rent, mortgage arrearage for home and trailer owners, rental costs for trailers and trailer lots, security deposits, and utilities to prevent and/or end homelessness or near homelessness by maintaining individuals and families in their own residences. Emphasis should be placed on the prevention of homelessness for families with children.
In some cases, rental assistance clients may become scattered-site bridge housing clients. For example, a client requests rental assistance and it is determined that the rental payment to prevent eviction will only prolong the inevitable eviction. More appropriate, the client is in need of a short-term rental subsidy and supportive services to become self-sufficient. The client can be assisted with rental assistance to prevent the immediate threat of homelessness and then become a scattered-site bridge housing client in order to receive the services necessary to assist them in becoming self-sufficient. See Bridge Housing requirements for detail on serving clients under the scatter-site model.
Rental Assistance counties and providers are required to make every effort to ensure that the following procedures are in place:
- permit the client to apply for rental assistance on the same day the applicant visits the office;
- interview the applicant on the same day the applicant applies for rental assistance;
- determine client’s eligibility for assistance at the intake interview;
- provide the client with a written decision approving or denying their request for assistance;
- provide the client with written information on their right to appeal denied or terminated services and the process to do so (refer to page 34 for more details on the appeal process);
- provide the client with written information on their right to appeal denied or terminated services to the county and the Department’s Office of Hearing and Appeals concurrently;
- utilize collateral contacts to verify homelessness, near homeless, the amount needed to resolve the crisis, and the landlord’s agreement to rent to the client in the future or to stop eviction proceedings and follow-up with written documentation.
- Clients are required to be homeless or near homeless and have an agreement with the landlord to rent to them; and
- have sustainable income sufficient to pay rent in the future or have no income but have reasonable expectations for sufficient income in the next 90 days to maintain rental agreements; and
- have an income at or below 200 percent of the poverty level.
Counties and service providers must establish poverty guidelines for purposes of program eligibility. The maximum level for income eligibility must be between 100 percent and 200 percent of poverty. For example, if a county chooses to set the maximum at 100 percent, then they will serve clients who are at or below 100 percent of poverty. If services are provided to clients with no income, the client file must reflect the reason the case manager made the decision to assist the client. The reason for this requirement is to insure that these funds are not available to clients who will not have sufficient income within the 90-day period.
People who need to escape domestic violence do not need to meet the income guidelines. If they have received rental assistance in the past, the maximum amount allowed may be disregarded. However, HAP funding should be the resource of last resort.
If a county wide disaster occurs, person affected should seek assistance from the Red Cross. Any additional assistance needed by the client may be provided by the HAP. HAP funds are not to replace or duplicate services already available but are to be used in addition to other assistance and only when absolutely necessary. In the event of a county wide disaster, the State HAP Program Manager must be contacted prior to disbursing any HAP funds.
Rental Assistance includes assistance to prevent homelessness or near homelessness by intervening in cases where an eviction is imminent. This may include housing payments paid on behalf of the client for rent, utilities and security deposits. The program may also be used to expedite the movement of people out of shelters into existing housing. When determining client eligibility, providers are not required to ascertain whether or not the client has received HAP assistance from another county in the past 24 months. Assistance may be provided in a lump sum or in incremental payments. The program must establish written agreements with clients which describe the clients’ obligation in the service plans and the distribution of the rental assistance payments. Counties may choose to use funds to move clients from one county to another county. If a county chooses to provide funding to move a client to another county, the county may want to contact the HAP in that county to inform them of the services provided and the payment amount in order to avoid duplication of services.
The definition of a household is provided to assist in determining the client’s income and resources. A "household" is defined as one or more persons, related or unrelated, who reside or intends to reside in a common residence. The total income and resources of each adult person (18 years of age or older) must be counted in determining eligibility for services under rental assistance. If a rental assistance payment is issued, the total amount of the payment should be divided as equally as possible among each adult in the household. This will assist in determining eligibility if an adult member of the household returns for services as a member of a new household.
If a household is requesting assistance and an adult member in the household has received a rental assistance payment within the past 24 months as a member of another household, the rental assistance agency may issue a payment to the household. However, the maximum amount available to the household ($1,000 or $1,500 maximum) must be reduced by the amount that was received by the person who in the past 24 months received a rental assistance payment as a member of another household.
Counties may choose to establish lower maximum amounts for clients who return to the program requesting services after receiving their maximum amount during a 24-month period or those who may not have received the maximum amount but the 24-month period has expired. Counties must develop a policy requiring these clients’ active participation in case management services and follow-through with their goal plan in order to receive services.
Service providers, in conjunction with the county, should maintain flexibility when developing criteria for the disbursement of funds for rent, utilities, and security deposits. For example, an agency may choose to provide only rental assistance or establish a maximum amount of funds to be used for utility assistance.
Rental assistance funds may be used for mortgage arrearage, rental costs, or utility assistance to owners of homes or mobile homes. Mortgage arrearage for home and mobile home owners, mobile home rental costs, and mobile home lot rental payments may be paid on behalf of the client if it is payment of last resort and the need is supported by written documentation.
Persons who are living in subsidized housing and Section 8 housing are eligible to request assistance with their security deposit and first month rent. However, for this population, the county may choose to pay for rental arrearages.
It is strongly recommended that only one service provider receive HAP funds for the provision of rental assistance services in each county. In counties where other agencies funded by different funding sources provide services similar to rental assistance services, a clearinghouse function must be performed to eliminate duplication of services and payments to a household.
Applications for assistance must be processed so that the client is served in time to resolve the crisis and prevent the eviction. The service provider must make every effort to interview the applicant on the same day that he or she applies and to determine eligibility at the application interview. Providers in conjunction with the landlord may decide to pay the client’s arrearage in incremental or lump sum payments. In some cases it may be necessary to make incremental payments to insure that the client continues with the recommended support services or counseling sessions.
The service provider, where appropriate, should encourage clients to participate in budgeting and money management training in an effort to prevent future rental crises for the client. Case Management should guide the client to become self-sufficient and should be made available to clients for as long as necessary. Those counties that are not capable of providing case management services should refer clients to existing case management services such as Office of Children, Youth and Families; Mental Health; Mental Retardation; etc. Budgeting and money management can be accessed from other agencies and, if necessary, can be paid for with HAP funds under purchased client services.
Any government assistance (federal, state, or local), including FEMA dollars, provided to clients of which the service provider is aware for rental assistance, mortgage assistance, security deposit, and/or utility assistance during any 24-consecutive month period must be included in the calculation of the maximum amount of $1,000 (adult-only households) or $1,500 (households with children). Assistance received from Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) grants are NOT considered in the calculation of the $1,000 or $1,500 maximum available to the client. Utility payments may be made to clients who are eligible for LIHEAP, if LIHEAP funds are not available.
This component is not intended to be an energy assistance program. Utility assistance is available to the extent that it meets the objective of preventing homelessness for people who are able to afford their housing after assistance is provided.
Hotels, motels, and boarding homes can be considered long-term housing and the county may or may not choose to assist clients with rental assistance payments in these situations. Written documentation of long-term arrangements must be provided and may include a receipt for a security deposit, a signed lease agreement, or other documentation that verifies that this unit will be or has been a long-term living arrangement.
Counties and providers must continue to maintain a relationship with the County Assistance Office to insure that clients with housing emergencies are referred to the appropriate HAP agency.
Returned Security Deposits: When Rental Assistance funds are used for a security deposit for rent or utilities and at a later time the client moves elsewhere, the program may or may not recoup the security deposit. The service provider may allow the client to use the deposit as security for a new apartment. However, if the security deposit is returned to the county or service provider, they can spend the returned security deposit in the year it was returned regardless of what year the deposit was originally paid. The returned deposit must be shown on the Final Expenditure Report as PROGRAM income and can be expended in any one of the HAP service components.
Expenditures - Rental Assistance
(A) Allowable Expenses:
- Personnel: wages and salaries, benefits, and training/conferences.
- Operating: office rent, communications, insurance, legal services, audits, office supplies, staff travel, overhead, and systems consultants.
- Fixed Assets: equipment.
- Rental Assistance payments, including rental payments or arrearage, utility payments or arrearage, lot rental payments, mortgage arrearage for home or trailer owners and security deposits for rental units for clients up to a maximum of $1,000 for adult-only families or households or $1,500 for families or households with children within a 24-month period.
- Payments for clients facing eviction are only permitted when the service provider has confirmed that the landlord will drop the eviction and continue to rent to the client if rental assistance payment is granted.
(B) Non-Allowable Expenditures
- Assistance towards the purchase of a home.
- Payments for equipment, such as a furnace, water pump, stove, etc.
- Payments of liens.
This component is defined as refuge and care to persons who are in immediate need and are homeless; i.e., have no permanent legal residence of their own. Services include mass or individual shelter in congregate settings, and individual shelter paid through a voucher system to house clients in hotels or motels up to a maximum of 60 days. County Pre-Expenditure Plans must indicate the maximum number of shelter day stays for any client allowable during the fiscal period.
Shelters that receive HAP funds must meet applicable fire and panic regulations, and local health and safety laws/requirements.
Coordination must exist between the administrators of the HAP’s Emergency Shelter component and the Local Emergency Food and Shelter Assistance Board that administers the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds in those counties where a local board exists.
For client reporting purposes, if funds are spent on emergency shelter supplies only, providers should prorate client numbers based on a percentage of the shelters total funding.
When a client is placed in a hotel or motel, the provider cannot pay for meals separately. Meals are eligible expenditures only if they are included as part of the billing or per diem charged for the overnight stay. Do not list the meals as a separate expense but rather as part of the total overnight bill. When contracting for mass shelter services, per diem rates should be strongly considered because certain items such as food and staff salaries are NOT allowable expenditures unless they are included in the per diem rate.
If the HAP County Contact and the local homeless service planning committee identify an operational or programmatic need to charge clients a fee to access emergency shelter, the HAP County Contact should submit a waiver request to the Office of Social Programs. The request would be to waive the relevant portion of the HAP emergency shelter service requirements and should include justification for the request (identify the need and explain how the fees would be used to resolve the issue). In addition, the request should describe how the waiver will improve administrative efficiency, improve health and safety of clients, and foster client independence.
Waivers will only be granted for fees that are a percentage of income, not a flat fee. There may be no minimum fee and in no case may the percentage be more than 15% of a client’s income. Any fees collected must be put back into the emergency shelter program, to cover program or operational costs. Access to HAP-funded emergency shelter service programs are based solely on need, not on income.
Expenditures - Emergency Shelter
(A) Allowable Expenditures
- Personnel: wages, salaries, and benefits, only if they are part of a mass shelter per diem rate.
- Operating: mass shelter supplies such as cots, blankets, and personal hygiene items.
- Client: mass shelter nights, motel and hotel stays.
- Food and wages, salary and benefit expenses only when they are part of a shelter per diem rate or included as part of the billing for the overnight stay. Mass shelter housing costs such as cots, blankets, and personal hygiene articles. Emergency lodging costs; i.e., hotel, motel, or group living facilities, if incurred by using a voucher system and only when the need arises.
(B) Non-Allowable Expenditures
- Rental payments.
- Mortgage subsidies.
- Utility payments.
- Real property.
- Equipment purchases exceeding $300.
- Food purchases and wages, salaries and benefits that are not included in the shelter per diem rate.
- The purchase or improvement of land, or the purchase or construction or permanent improvement other than minor remodeling of any building or other facility.
- The provision of cash payments for the costs of subsistence or for the provision of room and board except for temporary emergency shelter provided as a protective service.
- The payment of wages for a client as a social service.
- The provision of medical care unless it is an integral but subordinate part of a social service.
- Social services provided in and by employees of any hospital, skilled nursing facility, intermediate care facility, or prison or to any individual living in such institution.
- The provision of any educational service which Pennsylvania generally makes available to its residents without cost and without regard to their income.
- The provision of cash payments as a service.
Shelter Services, Inc.
13 Depot Street
Lewistown, PA 17044
Phone: (717) 248-0102
The Abuse Network
31 South Dorcas Street
Lewistown, PA 17044
Phone: (888) 810-2444