Questions and Answers from the July 27, 2016 Bidders’ Conference and from Written Questions Submitted Following the Bidders’ Conference

Leasing/Rental Assistance

  1. Q: The rents in this project are categorized as leasing instead of rental assistance—what does that mean? A: With leasing assistance, the program sponsor rents units and enters into a sub-lease or occupancy agreement with program participants. The program sponsor, as the leasing entity, pays full monthly rent to the landlord. The program sponsor separately collects any rents from program participants. (With rental assistance, program participants pay their share of rent directly to the landlord, and the program sponsor pays only its portion of the rent to the landlord.) With leasing assistance, the program sponsor pays for a vacant unit according to the terms of its lease; in contrast, with rental assistance, the program sponsor is limited to how long it can pay for a vacant unit by the CoC Interim Rule. Leasing and rental assistance are treated differently with regard to match requirements for the grants. All project sponsors must provide match of 25% of all grant amounts—except leasing. There is no match requirement for Leasing costs.
  1. Q: Can this project be changed from a leasing project to a rental assistance project? A: Probably not. Following implementation of CoC Program regulations under the HEARTH Act, CoC Programs had a one-time opportunity to change projects using Leasing funds to a project using Rental Assistance funds. This project did not change at that time. While a new program sponsor could make a request for the change based on the fact that a new program sponsor will be administering the program, there is no indication as to whether HUD will consider this to be adequate justification for this change.

Budget

  1. Q: The RFP includes a program budget. Can this be changed? A: At this time, when all CoC grants are being submitted to HUD for renewal, budget amounts across categories—Leasing, Rental Assistance, Supportive Services, Operating Costs, and Administration—must be the same as what is on a Grant Inventory Worksheet (GIW) prepared by HUD. The amounts on the GIW are what has been provided in the RFP, and cannot be changed. A successful applicant can allocate money within budget categories to any allowable program costs. During the period between HUD competitions, a program sponsor may request budget changes that result in moving funds from one category to another. A request for this type of change must be approved by HUD.

Contact with Current Program

  1. Q: Can we contact the current operator and/or the landlord currently leasing the units to the program? A: Yes. The current operator is Martin Luther King, Jr. Family Services – contact Exective Director Ronn Johnson, rjohnson@mlkjrfamilyservices.com or Project Director Pamela Jumba, pjumba@mlkjrfamilyservices.org; phone (413) 746-3655. The landlord for the majority of units is Home City Housing, Contact Jodi Smith, jsmith@hmrproperties.com, 413-785-5312, ext. 113.

Furniture

  1. Q: Are the units furnished and will the furniture remain in the units? A: The units are not furnished; participants are responsible for their own furniture.

Utilities

  1. Q: In the existing leasing contracts, are utilities included in the rent? A: Utilities are included in the rent for one unit; utilities are not included for the other seven units.

Transfer of Case Management Notes

  1. Q: Will the agency that takes over this project be provided with access to existing case manager notes (as long as program participants authorize release of the notes)? A: Yes, if releases are signed, case notes that have been entered in ETO (HMIS) will be turned over.

Participant Rents Counted as Match

  1. Q: Can the project sponsor count rents paid by program participants as contributing to the required program match? A: Yes. On April 21, 2006, HUD released guidance (https://www.hudexchange.info/news/new-changes-to-hud-coc-and-esg-program-implementation) which makes clear that program income (including participant rents) can count as match for grants awarded in the FY15 or FY16 competitions.

Initial and Renewal Contract – Term, Funding, Match

  1. Q: Will the contract term be 9/1/16 – 4/30/17? If so, is the “total available funding” of $137,872 meant to represent only the 8 months of operation from September through the end of April (i.e., the contract awarded the initial provider was actually $206,808)? I believe the $137,872 is meant to representtwelve months of operations because ($924 x 3 units x 12 months) + ($1,154 x 5 units x 12 months) =  $102,504, which is not equal to $102,463, but is closer to that amount than to $68,336, which would be leasing costs for 8 months at those FMRs. A: The “total available funding” of $137,872 is the total annual amount available for the program.  The initial contract period is a partial year period of 8 months. The amount available for the 8-month period is $91,914.
  1. Q: If the term is 9/1/16-4/30/17, is the match requirement 25% of the pro-rated eight-month non-leasing costs, (assuming that the budget embedded in the RFP represents the full twelve month budget) or would the provider be expected to match at $9,992 regardless of the fact that the provider would only be in operation 8 months prior to renewal? In fact, if the match requirement is for 25% of non-leasing costs, $9,992 seems high even for the full twelve-month contract. 25% of the non-leasing costs detailed in the RFP would be $8,852.25. Does the match requirement letter need to reflect $9,992; $8,852.25; or a smaller amount to account for the fact that the provider would only be in operation for 8 months? A: The annual required match amount is $9,992. The amount of match that will e required for the initial 8-month period is $6,661.
  1. Q: If the term is only eight months, would the total funding awarded (and each associated item – rental assistance, supportive services, indirect) be less than $137,872? If so, what would be the exact amount? A: The total 8-month initial term grant amount is $91,914. The amounts for each budget item for the 8-month period are: Leasing $68,308; Case Manager $20,566; Administration $3,040.

Expansion of Program Beyond 8 Units

  1. Q: Would this contract, if renewed, permit the provider to apply “savings” (i.e., difference between FMR and actual rent invoiced to CoC) to additional units so long as the contracted units were performing satisfactorily? A: When a program receives funds for Leasing, the program must serve the number of households committed to in the application. It cannot serve more than this number, unless the Leasing line is converted to Rental Assistance. As stated in the answer to question 2, it is unlikely that HUD will permit a change from Leasing to Rental Assistance.

 

 

Notes from 7/27 bidders’ conference for CoC FY16 RFP

The CoC held a bidders’ conference on July 27 regarding the CoC FY16 RFP. The following notes reflect the questions and answers from the meeting.

Leverage

  1. Q: Is it true that there is not a need to demonstrate and document leverage this year? A: Yes, that is true. Applications do not ask any questions about leverage, and there are no competition points associated with leverage.
  1. Q: Do we expect that this will be true in future years? A: HUD has not provided guidance about leverage in future years. However, the emphasis on leverage has lessened each year over a course of several years, which seems to indicate that HUD is no longer considering this a policy priority.

Match

  1. Q: Please clarify match rules. A: All projects must provide match for 25% of all costs, except for leasing costs.  Match can be cash or in-kind, but can only be counted if it is for program activities that are eligible for funding with CoC Program funds. Letters showing evidence of match must be submitted to the City Office of Housing by the CoC RFP application deadline of August 12, 2016 at 4:00 pm.
  1. Q: Can participant rents be counted toward the match requirement? A: Yes. On April 21, 2006, HUD released guidance which makes clear that program income (including participant rents) can count as match for grants awarded in the FY15 or FY16 competitions. For existing grants awarded in the FY14 competition, participant rents may not count toward the match requirement. There is no guidance as to whether rents will be able to be counted a s match after the FY16 competition.

Expansion of Existing Projects

  1. Q: How can an existing project apply for more funds to serve an expanded number of participants? Is this applied for as an increase in the renewal application, or a new application? A: For an existing project to request new funds to enable the project to serve more people, the project must complete a new application for the new funds, and also submit a renewal application for the existing project.
  1. Q: If a renewal and an expansion grant are both funded, can they be consolidated? A: Yes, multiple grants for the same project can be consolidated at a later time, after initial grants are awarded.
  1. Q: The answer to number 5 seems to be in conflict with the message about expansion that has been provided to grantees about the need to spend out rental assistance funds, and that one way to make sure these funds are fully spent is to expand the number of participants served. A: Existing grantees who have unspent funds may use the unspent funds in an existing grant to serve more people. The difference for these programs is that they have already been awarded the funds. Question 5 concerns programs seeking to increase the amount of funds they receive.

Ranking and Tiering

  1. Q: If a program was placed in Tier 2 for the 2015 Competition, should we expect that it will be placed in Tier 2 in the 2016 Competition? A: No. Tiering is redone each year for the competition, and the Tier a project is placed in is dependent on its competitive score—the higher the score, the higher the rank. Scores are dependent on multiple factors, some of which will not change from year to year (Such as the project type) and some of which are based on performance and do change each year.

Combining existing renewal grants

  1. Q: Please provide information about combining grants under the CoC Program. A: When an agency has more than one grant for the same grant components, it may consolidate those grants, with HUD approval. Grant consolidation cannot take place during the CoC Program competition.  After the competition, agencies should notify the Office of Housing if there are grants they wish to consolidate. The Office of Housing may also initiate consolidation.
  1. Q: Can grants with different program year start and end dates be combined? A: Yes. In this case, the new grant end date becomes the earlier of the combined grant end dates. The full combined renewal grant will be eligible to be renewed as of the date following the new end date.

Scoring Sheet for FY16 Competition

  1. Q: The CoC created a draft scoring sheet for the 2016 Competition, which was made public for comment. Were there changes made based on comments received? A: NJo. The CoC received several comments about the draft scoring sheet, and these were discussed at the CoC Board meeting on July 15, 2016. Following discussion, the Board voted to approve the draft score sheet without changes. The Board minutes will be posted soon at www.springfieldhampdencoc.wordpress.com, and will contain a summary of the discussion regarding proposed changes.
  1. Q: Please provide more information on use of and timing of the renewal program scorecards in the renewal competition. A: The FY16 RFP evaluates renewal projects on a number of factors, including past program performance. The CoC creates the scorecards in order to assist the RFP review committee in having a summary of the information it will use in the scoring process.  The scorecards are created from several data sources—the primary sources are an Annual Performance Report (APR) run over a standard set of dates (July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016), and City of Springfield records regarding billing, drawdown, submission of APRs and monitoring. Draft scorecards were distributed to renewal projects on July 12, 2016. The draft reports are provided in order to let agencies know what data collected in early July revealed about their program. If it appears that data is incorrect, the CoC has provided agencies with additional time to make data corrections so that data will reflect actual performance. New APR reports will be produced after August 5, 2016, and will be relied upon during the scoring. Agencies should plan to have all data complete and correct by August 5, 2016.

Project Budgets

  1. Q: For renewal grants, can programs change budgets in the renewal application? A:For renewal grants, budget amounts across categories—Leasing, Rental Assistance, Supportive Services, Operating Costs, and Administration—must be the same as what is on the Grant Inventory Worksheet. These are the amounts on the spreadsheet handed out as part of the CoC Renewal Project meeting. Within one or more of these categories, budgets may be changed.

Esnaps

  1. Q: What attachments must be uploaded into esnaps for the renewal application? A: The only required attachment is verification of nonprofit status.
  1. Q: In esnaps in previous project renewal applications there has been a check-off for the Mayor—if that is there this time, should agencies check this off before submitting by the August 12 deadline? Or should agencies inform the CoC that the application is ready to submit and have the CoC check that box and submit? A: Screen 7B of the application in esnaps contains required certifications. There is a check-box indicating the Mayor’s certification that the required statements are true. Unless the box is checked, project sponsors will not be able to submit the application in esnaps. Project sponsors should check the box. You will be submitting a draft application to the CoC when you check the box and submit within esnaps. Prior to the final submission to HUD, the City will review and confirm certifications, and will ensure that the box is checked with the Mayor’s authorization.
  1. Q: How does an agency start a new application in esnaps? A: The agency must send an email to Gerry McCafferty with a request for creation of a new project application. The request must include the agency name, the project name, and whether the project is permanent supportive housing or rapid rehousing. The new project will be set up in esnaps, and the agency will receive an email informing it that the project application has been created.

Zero 2016: All Hands on Deck – national phone call this Friday at noon

The national Zero: 2016 team will be hosting an All Hands on Deck call THIS FRIDAY, July 22 at 12pm ET/9am PT. During this call, Z16 will share what’s next for the movement and we’ll hear from Lindsay Knotts, Policy Director at USICH on the recently released federal Benchmark and Criteria for Ending Chronic Homelessness.

HOW TO JOINRegister to attend here – You will then be emailed a link to access the webinar – Use the call-in number & meeting room code below to access audio during the webinar Audio conference line: (800) 832-0736 Conference room number: *1413051#

Northeast States Convening on Chronic Homelessness, Opioid Abuse, and Supportive Housing

The Corporation for Supportive Housing and The Boston Foundation hosted a convening of stakeholders from northeast states on July 19 in a presentation which made clear the links between chronic homelessness and opioid abuse, as well as promoting a key response/intervention: permanent supportive housing.

Presenters shared this startling statistic:

Homeless adults between the ages of 25 and 44 in New England are nine times more likely to die from an overdose than those with stable housing.

Take-aways from the convening included:

  • To make headway on responding to substance abuse, we must treat it as a medical issue, not a moral failing, and our responses must be data-driven and evidence-based.
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an evidence-based modality for opiate addiction, and must be one of the tools we use for successful treatment.
  • Peers/sober coaches are valuable to promote and support recovery.
  • Permanent, safe, and affordable housing is a part of treatment.
  • There is no magic to residential treatment in itself, so it is important to consider the need for affordable and safe housing plus effective treatment (including intensive outpatient programs) as one way to expand availability of treatment.

For more information, see the Boston Globe’s coverage of the convening: Housing is seen as the missing link in the opioid crisis.

FY17 EOHHS funding: good news!

The CoC learned today that, for FY17, the state has $2 million to fund homeless youth programs originally funded in FY16, and the Governor will be filing a supplemental budget seeking $1 million for the consortiuum/crisis services originally funded in FY16. This is good news for our CoC, which received both these types of funding in FY16.

The FY 17 funds will go to Gandara for homeless youth services, and to Catholic Charities and HAP Housing for crisis services: prevention/rapid rehousing for individuals and families.

Request for Proposals for New Project Sponsor for CoC Project

The Springfield-Hampden Continuum of Care has issued an RFP for New Project Sponsor for Permanent Supportive Housing for Chronically Homeless Families. The RFP seeks a new operator for an existing project that provides permanent supportive housing to eight families who have been chronically homeless.

There will be a bidders conference on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 at 11 am. Applications are due August 5, 2016, at 4 pm, at the Springfield Office of Housing, 1600 E. Columbus Ave., Springfield. Please see the RFP for additional information about this funding opportunity.

Request for Proposals for FY16 CoC Competition: Seeking New and Renewal Projects

The Springfield-Hampden Continuum of Care has released the FY16 Request for Proposals for New and Renewal CoC Projects.

The CoC will hold a bidders conference on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 at 10 am at the City of Springfield Office of Housing, 1600 E. Columbus Ave., Springfield. Completed applications are due by August 12, 2016 at 4:00 p.m. Please see the RFP for complete instructions.

CoC FY16 Competition Process

On Friday, July 15, 2016, the Springfield-Hampden County Board of Directors met and approved the CoC Application Selection and Ranking Process 2016. This document provides guidance, timeframe, and scoring rubric for the CoC FY16 funding competition.

The CoC will release the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the competition on July 18, and the deadline for new and renewal applications is August 12, 2016.

Welcome to the new site!

Hello Springfield-Hampden County CoC members!

In an effort to improve our local communication network, we have started a new website/blog. There are a few reasons for this, including the fact that we have not been very good at maintaining the additions and subtractions of an email distribution list for our CoC news. We often use the blog of the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness, but sometimes that tool broadcasts our local news far more widely that makes sense or is necessary.

This site will allow us to have a more local focus, and will also serve as a single place to post news, documents, and data related to Zero 2016, coordinated entry, the annual planning process, the CoC competition, ESG announcements, the Point-in-Time count, and HMIS news and information.

The best part about this site is that you decide whether or not you want to receive our news. Everyone can opt in or out as they wish. This keeps our distribution list current, without relying on me to remember who is in or out. To get an email every time there’s news, click on the Follow this Blog site in the column on the right, and provide your email address.  Presto–you are subscribed!

For now, the site is very basic, but we will be adding content over the next weeks. As the site become more fully developed, we can work together to think about how we can maximize our internal and external communication using this as our base.

Thanks for following along.