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CHA takes first step to transform service connectors

As an integral part of the relocation process associated with the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) Plan for Transformation, and in response to numerous stakeholder reports and recommendations, CHA and the Chicago Department of Human Services (CDHS) are working together to develop “a new service delivery system designed to meet the unique needs of CHA residents as they move from one residency status to another.”  This new service delivery strategy  was unveiled at the Quarterly CHA Stakeholders Update on the Plan for Transformation , co-sponsored by MPC and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, on April 17, 2003. 

It will replace the Service Connector model created two years ago as a bridge between CHA residents and service providers. The new strategy addresses many of the recommendations made in Temporary Relocation, Permanent Choice: Serving Families With Rent Vouchers During the Chicago Housing Authority Plan for Transformation , commissioned and published by MPC. The reform also responds to recommendations from the CHA Relocation Process’ Independent Monitor Thomas P. Sullivan. 

The first step in the implementation of this new strategy is a Request For Proposals (RFP) for CDHS Support Services for CHA Residents , which was released recently by CDHS in partnership with CHA. The goal of this RFP is to address Points 3 and 4 of the CHA's six-point new strategy. Point 3 aims to replace the Service Connector to non-moving households with a "new and improved system.” Point 4 seeks to provide extra support to households already living in Section 8 housing.

Through the RFP, CDHS is seeking to contract with agencies to provide quality services to three specific groups of CHA residents:

  1.  leaseholders who remain in CHA family developments not scheduled for demolition or rehabilitation until 2005 (approximately 6,250 households at the writing of this article)
  2.  leaseholders opting to take Housing Choice (Section 8) Vouchers (approximately 1,470 households at this moment, plus another prospective 760 in the future), and
  3.  CHA Scattered-Site leaseholders (approximately 2,300 households). 

These households are located throughout Chicago, although some community areas in the South and West sides have significantly higher concentrations of these residents. Agencies can select which group(s), site(s), and/or community area(s) to serve.

The RFP’s scope of services covers a broad range of areas, including both specific Housing Counseling Services dealing with lease compliance, home maintenance, credit history, etc; and general Support Services, such as employment, substance abuse, and mental and physical health related services. Contractors must be prepared to develop outreach and engagement programs, assessment and case planning, case management, and documentation and reporting on their activities. Due to the magnitude and complexity of the outcomes expected from contractors, partnerships and consortia between agencies are strongly encouraged.

Contractors will be required to achieve specific outcomes for CHA families through performance-based contracts. To that end, the RFP includes a detailed list of specific indicators to assess the contractor’s performance in what has been announced as one of the most thorough and demanding RFPs ever issued by the City. The key performance outcomes required for agencies seeking to provide services under this RFP are, in priority order:

  • housing stability and permanence
  • economic self-sufficiency
  • family well-being and household stability
  • community integration
  • preparation for final housing choice and/or to meet Site-Specific Criteria.

In order to avoid the fragmentation and inefficiencies of the former Service Connector, the new system will provide a single point of contact to families in need of services. This contact counselor will be in charge of providing guidance and comprehensive information to families.

In the words of Ngoan Le, chief program officer for CHDS, these Support Services will be a fundamental piece part of the success of the Plan for Transformation. “The future well-being of thousands of families is at stake: failure is not an option,” she said to an audience of more than 30 representatives of social services agencies interested in the RFP that gathered June 9, 2003 at the CHDS Garfield Center.

Agencies interested in this RFP must send their applications to the CDHS no later than Friday, June 27, by 5:00 p.m. Questions on the RFP should be addressed to: Janice Finney, acting director, CHA Service Connector Program Division, at (312) 746-6317 or cdhs_chaservices@cityofchicago.org.

For more info on the Plan for Transformation progress, click here.

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