Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The MDHA Flex Fund

State of the Homeless Address 2016
A little more than a month ago, during the State of the Homeless Address 2016, Cindy J. Crain, MDHA President and CEO, emphasized the importance of the MDHA Flex Fund. What is the MDHA Flex Fund?

An effective homeless response system asks, "What solutions best match the needs of this person or household, and will end their homelessness quickly and permanently?" These needs (beyond the basic needs of housing, shelter and supportive services) include, access to critical documents (photo identifications, birth certificates, social security cards, documentation of homelessness), security deposits, transportation (bus passes or car repair), medical and dental costs (glasses, medication, medical equipment, wheelchairs), job placement, job related expenses (tools, uniforms, boots, certification, licensing), mainstream benefits (SNAP, TANF, SSI, SSDI), food assistance, legal services, basic furniture and household items. Most of these minor but impactful expenditures may not be covered through existing federal, state and local grant funds, and therefore cannot be addressed through existing programs.

The MDHA Flex Fund pays for these needs, in a timely and efficient manner. How does the Flex Fund work? The only way a client can access the MDHA Flex Fund is through their case manager. This not only ensures that every client helped is already enrolled in active management, and is being aided by an effective homeless response system in ending his or her homelessness quickly and permanently, but strengthens the case manager-client relationship, which is vital to this overarching client goal.

The client's case manager first ensures that the client is in active case management, has been accurately assessed, has an accurate income assessment and documentation of homelessness. The case manager completes a simple one-page form, attaches all necessary documentation, and submits it to MDHA via email. The form asks for basic client info, the solution needed, including cost and vendor, how this will help the client resolve their homelessness, and an explanation of why other resources cannot provide this solution. MDHA approves and provides payment directly to the vendor.

The MDHA Flex Fund has been up and running since August 2015, and has already been instrumental in helping those experiencing homelessness. Its need has been underscored recently by the realities on the ground in resettling the residents of the Tent City under the I-45 Bridge, which prompted Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings himself to publicly call for contributions to the MDHA Flex Fund. For an example of how the Flex Fund has helped an actual client, read Much More Than a Pair of Boots - Back to Work for Just $69.78. You can also listen to Courtney Collins' interview with Cindy Crain - Losing An Apartment Because You Can't Pay The $45 Application Fee. 

Interested in giving to the MDHA Flex Fund? Contact me, David Gruber, Development and Communications Director at 469-222-0047 or Interested in learning more about the background of and research behind the MDHA Flex Fund, check the MDHA Flex Fund page on our website. 

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