The Worcester County Leased Housing Program serves clients in the Worcester County area who are homeless by HUD definition, and also have a disabling condition, using the Housing-First model. The resources used for this program are distributed by the local continuum of care to several sponsoring agencies throughout the county. CHL is the conduit for these resources and administers the monthly payments to each landlord.
When there is an opening in the housing program, applicants are recruited from the HOAP outreach program as well as collaborative partner agencies, such as Family Health Center, UMass Memorial Health Care, Greater Worcester Housing Connection, the Elliot street outreach team and CMHA. Intakes are conducted by the Assistant Program Coordinator and applicants are screened to ensure eligibility based on documented homelessness and disability. The sponsoring agencies submit the required documents for each potential participant to CHL for review and approval for entrance into the program. Each participant is assigned a housing case manager who conducts the housing search and also organizes programmatic forms, such as an initial assessment, program agreement, releases for medical providers, etc.
All of the program participants must be homeless at the time of program enrollment. This program requires that a majority of the participants meet the chronically homeless eligibility criteria determined by HUD. Other applicants may enter the program if the priority population needs have been met based on current applications. Many of the program participants also struggle with addiction as a co-factor of their homelessness, and so the program provides support and assistance to substance abuse treatment, as well as coordination of primary care services.
Each program participant is required to pay a portion of their household income toward rent based on a HUD calculation at roughly 30% of household income. A rent calculation form from HUD is used to determine the amount of rent each household pays.
All of the housing slots are considered permanent housing with supportive services, and there is no limit on how long a participant can be in the program. Case managers work with each individual to increase their access to mainstream resources and encourage the development of skills to achieve greater self-determination while in the program.