Improvements to Quality
AAH looks at each person as a unique individual. Inherent to the culture of our agency is our belief that each person can move beyond their current limitations reaching a level of independence and contentment. Our clients are learning to successfully deal with the frustrations and obstacles created by their disabilities. Since homelessness is no longer part of their daily burden, each person can focus more fully on the dimensions of wellness incorporated into their personal goals. Our staff understands that flexibility is essential to the interactions they have with each individual. Our goal is to provide the most durable support and compassionate guidance we can for every person as they continue on their walk towards wellness.
We meet the need of each person where they are at – mentally, socially and emotionally. Our agency overall encourages sobriety. Those who find themselves having difficulty extricating themselves from street drugs and alcohol will be referred to programs designed to deal with these concerns. Short-termed therapy by an in-house LCSW is available for those who are in crisis and need clinical support. The use of interns has added another level of support and the ability to encourage our clients to attend a variety of social, artistic and intellectual events.
Our Quality Assurance Team meets several times each year to assess our current programs and to review the Agency Questionnaires answered by staff and our clients. These forums are a necessary part of the health of our organization and allow us to maintain a focused and successful program to benefit the men, women and families we serve.
Shelter Plus Care
The Shelter Plus Care program consists of vouchers issued by the Bergen County Housing Authority (who receives funding through HUD) which are used to offset the expenses of renting an apartment for individuals who have a low or very low income, are disabled and are homeless.
Some individuals are required to be Chronically Homeless (meaning they have to have been homeless for a year or more) and others need to be Homeless (meaning less than one year). All must have a serious disability such as a mental illness, TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) or other physical disability.
Shelter Plus Care is a program supported by the Bergen County Housing Authority and administered by AAH of Bergen County, Inc. as well as other Human Service Providers in the community. It is the foundation Bergen County's commitment to end homelessness utilizing a nationally recognized model called, Housing First.
Before AAH began their Shelter Plus Care contract with Bergen County in the Summer of 2013 we decided to take on three clients who were in the Shelter Plus Care voucher program to see what this process entailed and how we could help. After a 9 month pilot program we realized that we wanted to help more people but needed funds to hire the right people to work as Case Managers for AAH. Our initial Shelter Plus Care contract for Case Management Services was for 15 individual clients.
The funding for Case Management services for the initial 15 people came from Bergen County's Community Development Fund. Then in 2013, the program was expanded with funding from the Housing Trust Fund, overseen by the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders. This contract awarded to AAH was for 30 more individuals. Then again, at the end of October 2015, AAH was asked to add another six clients to our caseload, increasing our client totals in the Shelter Plus Care program to fifty-four!
Shelter Plus Care Supportive Service Contract
PURPOSE: The purpose of this contract is to explain the role of your Case Manager as well as the role of Alliance Against Homelessness of Bergen County, Inc. (AAH) as your supportive service provider. This contract also outlines your responsibilities - what is expected of you - to maintain the voucher and keep your housing. AAH staff will do everything we can to assist you in maintaining your housing through the Shelter Plus Care program. We want you to succeed!
AAH'S RESPONSIBILITY: In accordance with the Shelter + Care voucher agreement, AAH will provide:
5 years of case management services during regular business hours including on call response 24 hours per day, 7 days a week - for emergencies only.
Upon renewal of contract options, AAH will adjust the intensity of case management services based on the needs of each client ensuring the permanency of the housing placement.
AAH is required by the Federal Government to record all services and activities provided for/to clients in an online database - Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). Items to be included in the database are confidential client records describing the intake, assessment, and services provided, results or outcome of services, service plans, income, employment information and other items that correspond to each individual's personal growth and independence.
As a Client of AAH, it is your responsibility to provide requested documentation that your case manager needs to verify the value of services you are receiving. This is a Federal Government requirement and requires your Case Manager to verify in writing all services you received, such as proof of:
- Medical doctor's visits
- Psychiatric visits
- Food Pantry items
- Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy
- Mental Health Counseling
- Day Treatment Services
- Hospital Services and all medical treatments
- Care Services such as Access Link
- Another other services or supplies that may apply
One easy way to provide proof of some of these services is through an Explanation of Benefits which can be obtained through your Medical Insurance provider. A dollar value is assigned to each item listed above (and others not listed) and recorded and sent to Bergen County Housing Authority. Each dollar is matched against the value of the voucher that pays for your apartment (when you get one). The value of services you received must be higher than the dollars covered by the voucher for your apartment.
You are required to meet with your Case Manager twice a month and follow the requirements of your housing lease and the voucher agreement. Should your relationship status change during your lease and you are interested in having another party cohabitate with you, it is your responsibility to discuss the situation with your Case Manager, the Housing Authority and your landlord immediately. Failure to do so may result in a violation of your lease and eviction from your apartment and/or discontinuation of your participation in the Shelter + Care program