Eliminating homelessness, one shared home at a time.
Start a HOC in your County!
Do you live in another County (not Kitsap County) that does not have a home share program?
Do you want some tips on starting a “Homes of Compassion” in your County and end chronic homelessness where you live?
Let us know: Please contact us by filling out the contact form to let us know of your plans. If you are in Washington State, we might be able to let you opearate under our unbrealla organization, if that would be helpful to you.
Get educated: Read up on evidence-based solutions to homelessness. You don’t need to “reinvent the wheel” – many have gone before you and we can learn from their success and failures. You might want to read some articles from the website Center for Evidence-based Solutions to Homelessness. I highly recommend a new book published in 2020, “In the Midst of Plenty: Homelessness and What to Do About It,” which explains how to end the U.S. homelessness crisis by bringing together the best scholarship on the subject. Read our Research Page showing how the Homes of Compassion model was formed. But don’t feel like you need to become a liscenced clinical social worker before you start your first house – it is not rocket science. If you have compassion and some organizational skills, you can do it.
Find others in your county that would be willing to join with you. It takes a team of volunteers to create shared homes and provide housing support once they are housed. There are several key roles: (a) You will want to recruit someone to be the “house manager” for your first house. This person will be doing some of the skills of a social worker, helping with conflict resolution and team dynamics. (b) Next you will want to recruit a team to help with home maintenance and minor repairs. (c) Next, it helps having someone to assist with I.T. for working with setting up the WiFi and helping residents to set up their streaming TV. (d) The bookkeeping function can be performed from the HOC headquarters with separate accounts set up for each county or region. We can help you with some of the legal documents and issues.
Counting the cost: You should make a budget and calculate how much start-up funds you will need to start your first home. You will have to pay the first month rent, a security deposit, and application fees. There will be some holding costs while you fill the first house and rent out the rooms. Insurance cost about $50/mo per house. There will be costs in starting a 501c3 non-profit, if you need to create your own. We can help you with your budget as you consider your plan. We have found that it cost about $10,000 to start the first house, and about $5,000 to start each additional house.
Regulatory check: Every state and county has different regulations about shared housing. Go to your city or county planning dept or zoning dept, or code enforcement office and check that they allow subletting rooms for leased houses (houses that are non-owner occupied). Make sure it is allowed to rent out a house by the room.
Call you mayor or County Commissioner: Talk with your mayor or County officials about your desire to end homelessness in your County. They will probably be glad you want to help in a practical way. They might give you support when you talk with the regulatory departments.
Networking: Meet with housing service providers or agencies in your county that are currently responsible for homeless shelters and housing. Find out what agency is responsible for Coordinated entry and assessment in your county. Tell them of your plan of creating affordable housing by the room. See if they will do the initial intake screening for you. You might need to sign a service partnership agreement with them. It is a team effort, and they will be the ones providing you the contacts of people who are homeless. Prepare for them a prescreening questionnaire and application which they can give perspective people. Networking is key because these individuals often need wraparound services after being housed, and it is other service providers that can help you connect the residents with services.
Leasing property: Once you have a small team of volunteers, an organization (or connected with a non-profit) and you have some seed funds, you may be ready to lease a house or apartment. Look at Zillow and “Facebook Marketplace Rentals.” Make sure the property is close (within half a mile) to public transportation because we found that 75% of chronic homeless do not have cars.
Kickoff: Once you lease the property, and the homeowner agrees to let you sublet the property by the room, you’re ready to go! Let the housing agency know that you have rooms available. You might decide to wait before providing furniture until after you see if the new residents have furniture in storage that they might want to use. You might find non-profit used furniture stores that may donate beds and furniture to your program. Decide what type of home it will be – “sober home” or “low barrier” home (i.e. will alcohol be allowed or not).
Funding of Participants: Most homeless do not have money to pay their security deposit and first month rent, but the housing agencies often have grants to help them with this. Have things setup in advance to be able and process residents applications and help them get this grant will be very helpful.
Screening: When you start getting applications, you will need to call them and meet with them to verify the information. You will need to do a criminal check- you might decide to use SentryLink or other company on the internet to do this.
Move-in: As you accept applications and they get their funding approved, then you will check them into their rooms by reading the program agreement out load to them and have them sign two copies, one for them and one for your records. The house manager might want to be there to greet them and give them an oriantation to the home, give them their cell phone number in case of emergency, and tell them when the weekly house meetings will be. We have detailed written procedures for many of these steps that we can provide you.
Counselors/Case Management: You might want to partner with a counceling company (Behavioral health companies) that provide services to the residents and may meet with them at the home or at thier office one-on-one. There are funding souces to help pay for these behavioral health case management services, such as Foundational Community Supports (FCS). FCS is a program offering benefits for supportive housing and supported employment for Medicaid-eligible beneficiaries with complex needs. Many of homeless you will be housing will have “complex needs” – that is often why they were homeless. Many will already be connected with doctors, clinics, and service providers – and many will just need encourgement to keep their appointments.
Organization: Managing such an organization can quickly become very complicated because there are many “moving parts.” That is why using appropiate software solutions will make managing a large and complex organization easy. For managing the finances, having a financial software program is essential. We use QuickBooks (Non-Profit edition), with it setup in the format as a property management company. Second, for organizing all the volunteers and houses, using an on-line project management software will be very helpful. We use Basecamp.com for this purpose. Basecamp is a online solution for a group of people to be able to work together remotely, without an office, creating a way to be organized and make sure things don’t fall through the cracks and “balls don’t get dropped.”
You can help change lives forever by creating affordable housing through a supportive shared homes program where you live!