Local commission looks to expand services to homeless, others in need

Plumas County Community Development Commission (CDC) now has the go-ahead to purchase two licenses through the Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS) Licenses and Funding. The CDC  intends to administer those licenses to assist people in need and track them.

Acting as the Plumas County Community Development Commission Board of Commissioners, county supervisors approved the resolution as a late addition to the Feb. 19 CDC agenda.

HMIS is part of a seven-county continuum of care of which Plumas County is a member, explained CDC Executive Director Roger Diefendorf. Shasta County is the lead agency, he noted.

In the resolution, the board approved Diefendorf as the designee, the official local representative of the CDC.

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In the past, CDC hasn’t had the funding to purchase licenses to join the HMIS continuum of care system, Diefendorf explained. The licenses cost $400 each.

In Plumas County, Behavioral Health is the main agency that works with individuals who might be eligible for HMIS, Diefendorf told supervisors.

Those eligible include those in need of housing or adequate housing, assistance with utilities, food or other related services. Diefendorf explained that in Plumas County, a person might go to Behavioral Health for services and indicate a need for any of the HMIS-related services. Someone on the Behavioral Health staff then attempts to connect the individual with the required services.

What a license does is allow one CDC employee to link up with the HMIS computer system per license, make entries into the system concerning participants and track individuals.

This is particularly important to determine what services individuals might have received in other county Continuum Of Care programs.

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Supervisor Lori Simpson asked Diefendorf if CDC works with Plumas County Intervention and Resource Center (PCIRC). This program also provides services to homeless and others in need of some of the same services.

Diefendorf said that PCIRC currently has three HMIS licenses “and they receive a lot of money.”

But there are millions of dollars out there, Diefendorf said about grant possibilities to provide assistance to HMIS participants. Currently $100,000 is available for those in Plumas and Sierra counties, he explained.

Diefendorf said his program missed the first round of grant funding opportunities, but a second round of grant opportunities is coming up. CDC plans to apply for more funding, he said.

HMIS is in its infancy, Diefendorf explained to supervisors. “Real funding just started in 2018.”

Supervisors asked why Behavioral Health and not Social Services was the lead agency in Plumas County for HMIS referrals.

Simpson said that she thought Behavioral Health has shown a more aggressive approach to homelessness than Social Services has. In a previous meeting, she said that Behavioral Health sent a representative and Social Services did not.

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HMIS is a program under the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. It allows local collection of data about what services participants are receiving. According to HUD guidelines, those eligible for services include homeless individuals and families, and persons at risk of becoming homeless.

Each continuum of care program is responsible for selecting an HMIS software solution that complies with HUD’s preferred data collection, management and reporting standards.

Continuum of care programs are designed to promote community wide or countywide services to help end homelessness, according to HUD. Funding by nonprofit providers is anticipated to assist individuals who qualify.