Report: Office of Homeless Services has Opportunity to Improve Services, Audit Finds

Crest of the City of Baltimore

Bill Henry
Comptroller,
Baltimore City
204 City Hall - Baltimore Maryland 21202
(410) 396-5410

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT
Geoff Shannon, Public Relations Officer
(410) 387-5704

geoff.shannon@baltimorecity.gov

 

Baltimore, MD - The Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services (MOHS) has an opportunity to enhance its permanent housing program[i] to ensure the City’s homeless population is housed in a faster, more efficient matter, a Biennial Performance Audit Report has found.

Department of Audits (DoA) evaluated whether MOHS is effectively delivering on its permanent housing program to reduce homelessness. The audit covers fiscal years 2019 and 2020.

During fiscal year 2019, the City’s Continuum of Care (CoC)[ii]served 11,798 clients or 39 percent of Baltimore’s total homeless population, more than any other jurisdiction in the state. In juxtaposition, the entirety of Montgomery County served approximately 2,488 individual clients.

MD Continuum of Care

Population by COC

(FY 2018)

Homeless Clients Served (FY 2019)

FY 2019 Point In-Time Count Numbers

Anne Arundel County

576,031

1,281

302

Baltimore City

602,495

11,798

2,294

Baltimore County

828,431

4,174

735

Montgomery County

1,052,567

2,488

647

Prince George’s County

909,308

1,858

447

The audit determined that it currently takes 248 days on average to move a homeless client into permanent housing. The goal, established by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, is 30 days. The absence of adequate and available housing inventory, extended time to acquire necessary personal documentation, clients declining housing, and lack of monitoring of key activities, controls, and milestones contribute to the delays.

Additionally, there is no process to validate submitted information (e.g. date of birth, income, and social security number) for permanent housing service clients. As a result, there is an increased risk of services being provided to ineligible individuals.

MOHS has agreed with DoA’s findings. In response, MOHS will:

  • Collaborate with the (CoC), Department of Housing and Community Development and the private housing sector to recruit landlords to increase access to affordable housing.
  • Meet with homelessness advocate organizations to discuss opportunities to reduce the time it takes to obtain client documentation.
  • Work with community stakeholders to support ongoing monitoring of system performance.

“Our government is doing tremendous work supporting individuals experiencing homelessness, but there's still room for improvement,” Comptroller Bill Henry said. "MOHS must improve their policies to be compliant with reporting standards."

Additionally, auditors also followed up on findings from its previous Biennial Audit Report. Three of the five recommendations are now overseen by Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Success and the others have not yet been implemented.

The audit report was noted by the Board of Estimates at its May 18th meeting.


[i] Permanent Supportive Housing – permanent housing with indefinite leasing or rental assistance paired with supportive services to assist homeless persons with disability or families with an adult or child member with a disability achieve housing stability (Biennial Performance Audit Report on Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services, page 1).

[ii] CoC is a local planning body that coordinates housing and services funding for homeless families and individuals. The City’s CoC is referred to as the Journey Home. CoC, MOHS and the service providers work together to provide the homeless response.

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