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May 07, 2021 | May 10, 2021 | 30,315 total views

May 7, 2021

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New Universal Housing Application Provides Faster Access to Permanent Housing

LOS ANGELES — Today, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), Los Angeles County Development Authority (LACDA), and the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) announced the launch of a new Universal Housing Application (UHA) that will modernize the housing application process for people experiencing homelessness, removing barriers from the path towards permanent housing.

The UHA consolidates 15 different paper housing applications into one digital application. By using it, LAHSA, HACLA, and LACDA – through LAHSA’s Housing Central Command (HCC) – can shave up to 30 days off the application process that matches people experiencing homelessness with suitable permanent housing across Los Angeles County.

“Despite housing 65,000 people over the last three years, we aren’t resting on our laurels when it comes to supporting those we serve to get into housing. Right now, it takes too long for people to move from street to home and we must act with urgency to cut red tape and bust systemic barriers,” said Heidi Marston, Executive Director of LAHSA. “The UHA is a groundbreaking step forward. Through innovation, technology, and partnership, it speeds up the housing application process and eliminates redundancies, making it easier for our unhoused neighbors to find a place to call home.”

Before the UHA, it would take an average of 150 days for a person experiencing homelessness to apply for and move into permanent housing. Case managers spent up to an hour on each application filling them out by hand, and 60% of these applications were sent back for corrections in a back-and-forth that could take over a month.

“This streamlined application process removes many barriers for our clients, saves precious time, and builds trust in the system that is there to support them. Ultimately, the most important benefit is that it helps get people housed sooner.”

The UHA is integrated with database systems such as the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) and Resource Management System (RMS) to autofill up to 60% of the application with information already in these systems and uploading any necessary documentation from these systems.

“HACLA is excited to join with LAHSA, LACDA, the permanent supportive housing developer community, and other partners in the launch of the Universal Housing Application (UHA),” said Carlos VanNatter, HACLA Section 8 Director. “The ultimate goal of the UHA is to shorten the time it takes to house our homeless neighbors through a single, streamlined, automated process. The data integration of this application with various systems is helping us reach that goal much faster.”

In addition, instant quality assurance checks ensure mistakes and inconsistencies are addressed immediately, avoiding rejected applications that would reset the entire application process.

The time-saving and oversight benefits of the UHA are made possible because several rehousing system partners, including LAHSA, LACDA, HACLA, the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Health Services, People Assisting The Homeless, and other services providers throughout the system work together through Housing Central Command.

In late 2019, LAHSA created Housing Central Command to increase coordination across all stakeholders in the homeless rehousing system to improve how existing resources are used to rehouse people faster and more efficiently than ever before. The UHA is a shining example of how regional coordination can improve the rehousing system and help bring people home faster.

“The development of the Universal Housing Application is the result of a collaborative effort between local government and community partners, in an effort to create a more efficient delivery system. It will make a rehousing system that has made striking improvements over the past three years better,” said Emilio Salas, Executive Director of LACDA. “The LACDA was at the forefront of this effort and has worked closely with both HACLA and LAHSA, which we believe will significantly improve the time it takes a homeless individual to go from the streets or shelters and into housing.”

A soft rollout of the UHA began on April 15. All service provider case managers can access and submit applications to housing resource providers using the UHA. Housing resource providers are also able to approve applications for their units. Public Housing Authorities will be able to view and approve the final applications in the Fall.