This morning MH was living outside, having been homeless on and off for 9 years. At 10 a.m. he had his first meeting with MHA staff to determine his eligibility for Permanent Supportive Housing program known as Shelter Plus Care. By 3 p.m. not only was he approved, the unit located and inspected, he had leased and began moving in! “This has got to be a record,” said Jim McGrath, Director of HUD Programs. “It was definitely an all-out effort by MHA staff.” The normal admissions process can take several weeks. An applicant is scheduled for an initial meeting. Then all of their relevant information must be verified. Upon approval, they are invited to a meeting to receive their voucher. They then have 60 days to find the unit they like and have the landlord agree to rent to them. Even the physical inspection needed can take 48 hours to schedule. “That timeline is pretty quick for most public housing agencies, and it serves most clients well,” said McGrath. “But it’s January, and he was homeless. So we did what we could to speed it up.” A lot things fell into place. He was referred by the Missoula Coordinated Entry system, who assessed his needs. He was assigned a “Navigator” who helped him get together documentation he would need. He took the initiative to look for a vacant unit and found one at Wildflower Apartments—which happens to be a MHA property. Because he was prepared when he came to his initial screening at 10 a.m., MHA was ready to approve him and issue him a voucher that afternoon. With voucher in hand, and unit identified, MHA was able to get it inspected and he was ready to lease up.
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