Guidance in Preparing for Potential Changes to GPD

Guidance in Preparing for Potential Changes to GPD
Good afternoon partners in service,
If your organization operates, works with, or is interested in pursuing Grant and Per Diem (GPD) funding, you may have heard of a pending “reboot” to the GPD program. This pending reboot and changes to the GPD program have been discussed in several venues, including at the NCHV Annual Conference and the NCHV Veterans Access to Housing Summit. For longstanding GPD providers, the uncertainty surrounding the reboot may cause worry and anxiety, and we want to help.
We at NCHV want to make sure you are fully informed as this process develops. In this letter, we will share what we know about pending changes to the program and help you prepare for the reboot. If you are prepared, you can make the application or reapplication process more seamless and increase your chances of continuing to provide GPD services.
First, you should know that very little is publicly known about how the program will shift. The following are our best guesses, and none of what follows is official or guaranteed. These are things to think about to prepare for the likely reboot. Like all Federal grant notices, we will not know exactly what changes will be made until the grant notice is published in the Federal Register. What we do know is that a reboot is highly likely to happen, soon, and will likely require existing GPD programs to reapply for funding.
We can assume a few facts about the application process:
  1. Who can apply? The reboot could mean that both Per Diem Only (PDO) and organizations that received Grant funding will need to reapply. This could include Special Needs Grant and TIP grantees as well. New programs – those without GPD currently – may also be eligible to apply. It is likely that existing GPD grantees, especially those with Grant funding, will receive some sort of prioritization or additional points in the scoring process. Existing GPD providers may be able to combine several PDOs or multiple existing awards into one application for your organization or community.
  2. How will the application process happen? VA will publish the funding notice through the Federal Register and NCHV and our partners will make sure this information is quickly shared with you. You will likely have anywhere between 30 and 90 days to submit an application.
  3. How long will the awards be? Awards may range from one-year grants, to one-year grants with optional renewal years based on performance, to multi-year awards. We can expect that the funding notice will outline in more detail the measurement criteria for continued funding.
Looking at recent trends in programs and language, we can make a few assumptions about the content of the application. Possible focus areas could include:
  1. Tracked approach to services: You are likely to see reference to a tiered or tracked approach to GPD services to serve a spectrum of veterans needing GPD services, from those needing a short-term stay to those interested in a longer term, more intensive approach to care. This could include terms like “bridge housing” and “long-term service intensive” to match language used by the Federal benchmarks (learn more about those here).
  2. Documenting process for lowered barriers to entry: A key feature of recent efforts to integrate Housing First principles into the GPD program is lowering barriers to entry. A new application may require that you document how your agency implements Housing First principles, including lowered barriers to entry.
  3. Documenting GPD in your community’s housing continuum: Recent widespread efforts to build integrated local community systems may translate to the GPD application by a requirement or suggestion that your GPD be part of the local community planning effort. This could include your process for documenting current and future need for transitional housing within your community’s spectrum of housing programs available to veterans in need. Where it exists, GPD is a critical component of this housing spectrum for veterans, especially those who do not qualify for or want HUD-VASH or who need immediate support while working with SSVF to obtain permanent housing; you should expect the application to require this bigger picture look at your housing continuum.   
  4. Showcasing connection to the CoC and SSVF: Again, efforts to propel local coordination will likely show up in any new GPD funding application. This could include requiring or suggesting inclusion in a coordinated intake system (if one exists), regular engagement with your local SSVF grantees, and inclusion in or engagement with the CoC. It may also describe the importance of inputting data into HMIS.
  5. Documenting client choice: Recent emphasis on the importance of client choice, specifically during informed conversations about available housing interventions to lead to permanent housing, may filter into the GPD application. The application may require applicants to showcase how they document this informed choice process with veterans referred to or from GPD, and also how the regular case management process facilitates the most successful and rapid movement to permanent housing for each veteran.
  6. A focus on placement outcomes, to include HUD-VASH placement: You can expect a new application to focus on the importance of a move to permanent housing for veterans going through GPD, to include documenting placement in HUD-VASH, general PSH, and independent housing. You know that some veterans will be in GPD for a short period of time, while others may stay in for a longer period based on their own choice; no matter their length of stay, all of these veterans will likely need a plan for sustainable housing placement.
Based on these assumptions, you can start a few processes to prepare for a pending reboot:
  1. Update your Scope of Work to match your services: if your organization already offers tiered or tracked services, or if you already differentiate between short-term and long-term pathways for veterans in GPD, you will want to update your Scope of Work to reflect the services you are already providing. Making these updates now will enable you to document your history of service through GPD in terms quantifiable according to recent trends.
  2. Connect to your CoC and know your community need: If your agency is already engaged closely with your CoC and community planning effort, you are on the right track. Look to the SSVF program for an example of VA grantees formalizing the relationship with their CoC through an MOU. Note that this process can take some time, so you may want to start now. In the next CoC program cycle, some CoCs may have fewer Transitional Housing resources… now is a good time to reach out to see how your GPD can fill transitional housing needs for veterans who may have been served through the CoC in your community.
  3. Know where your program currently stands: Leading into the reboot, your organization should look closely at the restrictions and opportunities in front of you. For example, if your agency decides to move away from transitional housing to instead pursue alternate funding for permanent housing with your current facilities, you will need to know if your GPD received Grant funding (i.e. not a PDO), when you received Grant funding, and how much Grant funding you received to assess how logistically and financially feasible it would be for you to make the switch. Generally, if you are a PDO GPD, your process for discontinuing GPD services is markedly easier than if your organization received a significant Grant within the last few years. You can contact the GPD office to find out more about your options.
  4. Look at your outcomes: This may be a good opportunity to focus in on your high housing placement rates, your relationships with landlords in your community, your placement rates into units within the general rental market, and your ability to help veterans to increase their income to support their own housing stability. Take a look at your outcomes and how results are quantified.
Let us know what you need from the program: The GPD program will shift with the reboot, but we know that the program is limited in how much change can occur due to restrictions in the current law. NCHV is working hard to develop recommendations from the community to best meet local needs. Have ideas? Contact Joshua Stewart at