Description & History of HCCSC

Find out more about how and why HCCSC was formed

Foreword

The Homeless Continuum of Care of Stark County (HCCSC) is a broad-based open membership representative of all agencies, organizations, businesses, entities and individuals interested in ending homelessness in Stark County.

No one should experience homelessness. No one should be without a safe, stable place to call home.

HCCSC Mission Statement

The purposes of the HCCSC are to:

  1. Promote community-wide commitment to employ best practices to end homelessness in Stark County, Ohio;
  2. Secure funding for efforts by providers and government entities to prevent homelessness and quickly re-house homeless individuals (including unaccompanied youth) and families in Stark County, while minimizing the trauma and dislocation that homelessness causes to individuals, families, and communities;
  3. Promote access to and effective utilization of mainstream programs by homeless individuals and families; and
  4. Optimize self-sufficiency among individuals and families that experience homelessness.

 

About Us

HCCSC is a coalition of various health and human service nonprofit organizations, government entities, and community leaders committed to addressing homelessness in Stark County, Ohio. All partner agencies share a vested interest in preventing and ending homelessness given its prevalence among and impact on their respective client populations.

HCCSC represents our community’s belief that services to those who are experiencing homelessness or other housing crisis requires collaboration and shared responsibility. HCCSC’s function as a neutral and inclusive convener to address homelessness is critical and more important than ever as the national movement to end homelessness calls for even greater collaboration among various systems of care.

History

HCCSC was formerly known as the Stark County Interagency Council on Homelessness (SCICH) and Stark County Homeless Council (SCHC).

Stark County Interagency Council on Homelessness (SCICH)

SCICH began in 2004 when federal funding sources – namely the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD – required that an independent body review the local Continuum of Care application. The Continuum of Care is a community’s plan to provide housing services to individuals and families along a range of housing needs.

With leadership from the Stark County Regional Planning Commission, SCICH was assembled. Membership included the United Way of Greater Stark County; the cities of Canton, Massillon and Alliance; Stark County Regional Planning; Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority; the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board; local hospitals, including Alliance Community Hospital, Aultman Hospital and Mercy Medical Center; local foundations, including the Stark Community Foundation and the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton; the Stark County Department of Job and Family Services; Canton City Schools; and others. Homeless service providers were collectively represented on the SCICH via the president of the Homeless Services Collaborative, which is an affiliation of homeless service providers in Stark County. Vicki Conley, Vice President Community Outreach Ministries of the Sisters of Charity Health System and Stan Jonas, Chief Executive Officer of Alliance Community Hospital, assumed positions as co-chairs of SCICH and led a process to develop a 2005-2009 strategic plan to more effectively mobilize and coordinate community resources to address homelessness.

Stark County Homeless Council

In 2009, the “Stark County Ten-Year Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness” was adopted to build upon the successes of the earlier plan, to mobilize our community’s resources for systems change in homeless services, and to promote a more collaborative effort to address homelessness. In addition, the Ten-Year Plan renamed the group as the Stark County Homeless Council, which was chaired by Beth Pearson, Chief of Community Development at Stark County Regional Planning Commission, to implement its objectives. With the renaming also came some modifications to the Board composition and election processes.

However, changes at the federal level required shifts in focus at the local level. In 2009, the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act Interim Rule was released, followed by Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness in 2010. The national dialogue moved from one of “managing” homelessness to truly ending it, especially with a system-wide approach and mentality. This rendered the Ten-Year Plan was almost immediately outdated, and work began locally to adjust programs.

Homeless Continuum of Care of Stark County (HCCSC)

When the HEARTH Act CoC Program Interim Final Rule was signed in July 2012, significant work began in Stark County to gain a better understanding of what HEARTH required of Continuums of Care (CoCs) and local providers facilitating the newly consolidated grant programs. Natalie McCleskey was hired as the first CoC Planner in September 2012, and her efforts focused on the 2012 application for HUD’s CoC funding.

HCCSC was created in July 2013 to comply with the federal requirements outlined in the HEARTH Act. At its first meeting that same month, the newly formed Board adopted its governance charter and Jean Van Ness, Senior Program Officer at the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton, was named Chair. With a CoC in place, Stark County could compete for funding needed to address homelessness and fulfill the mandates identified in the Opening Doors federal strategy for ending homelessness nation-wide.

HCCSC immediately prioritized gaining and maintaining compliance with CoC and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program funding requirements. Below are some of the highlights of HCCSC’s work over the last few years.

In 2014, the Ohio office of Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) performed a gaps analysis for HCCSC and made recommendations for the development of additional permanent supportive housing for Stark County’s homeless persons with disabilities. Also that year, HCCSC’s Central Intake and Assessment system was implemented, and the Board voted to utilize the Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (SPDAT) as the system’s assessment tool. The shelters were the first to utilize the system in September, followed by the other housing programs for the homeless in January 2015.

In 2015, conversations began among the HCCSC Board regarding how its work would be managed in the future. The Continuum held its first Summit on Homelessness, hosted by the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton at Kent State University – Stark, in order to convey to community leaders the importance of the work to prevent and end homelessness, as well as the necessity of local buy-in if the work is to continue. Currently, HCCSC leaders are pursuing options for establishing a sustainable structure that would manage the work through the coming years.

HCCSC’s continues to work toward preventing and ending homelessness in Stark County, including meeting the federal goals established in Opening Doors to end chronic homelessness by 2017 and family and youth homelessness by 2020. HCCSC strives to maintain compliance with CoC and ESG regulations by collaborating with other funders and systems of care, as well as evaluating projects’ outcomes and making data-driven decisions. Specifically, the group is working to assess the number of new permanent supportive housing units needed in the county, document chronic homelessness, assist in discharge planning from institutions, and increase access to mainstream resources and income for the homeless.

General contact information

HCCSC Board Co-Chairs, 2016

Jean Van Ness, Senior Program Officer/Special Projects, Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton

John Aller, Executive Director, Stark County Mental Health and Addiction Recovery