SSVF Program Update Friday March 13, 2020
From: Supportive Services for Veteran Families
Date: March 13, 2020 at 1:24:20 PM EDT
Subject: Corrected: SSVF Program Update Friday March 13, 2020
1. NEW: Guidance to Protect Veterans at High-Risk from COVID
2. NEW: VA Integration in Coordinated Entry Policy Guidance
3. NEW: GPD Case Management Program and SSVF Referral Packet
4. REMINDER: Mandatory Return of Funds for 2nd Quarter FY2020
Guidance to Protect Veterans at High-Risk from COVID19
VA is exploring modifying guidance it provides to SSVF grantees around emergency housing placements. Typically, such placements can only occur when no other appropriate HCHV residential, GPD, or community shelter bed is available. In response to the COVID19 outbreak, VA is exploring allowing emergency housing placements even if other temporary housing options are available if those options would place high-risk Veterans into congregate living environments. High-risk veterans would include those Veterans over the age of 60 and/or Veterans with significant underlying health problems, particularly those with a weakened immune system or health problems that impact lung function. More information about this change is guidance will be disseminated in the coming days.
VA Integration in Coordinated Entry Policy Guidance
In consultation with HUD, the SSVF Program Office has released new policy guidance on VA's requirement that all VA funded programs must participate in Coordinated Entry (CE) planning and implementation supported by local, HUD defined Continuums of Care (CoCs). VA's expectation is that homeless Veterans eligible for VA services are connected to care as quickly as possible and rapidly assigned to an intervention that will assist them in resolving their homelessness. While VA funded programs are allowed to conduct assessments and make direct placements into homeless assistance programs, this must be done in collaboration with the CoC. SSVF providers are encouraged to work closely with CoCs and the CE process to establish screening practices that facilitate rapid referrals when Veteran households present for services. Active collaboration and troubleshooting will produce improvements that have a positive impact not only for Veteran households but for all households that flow through CE. SSVF providers can review the entire document describing the new policy guidance on the SSVF website here:
GPD Case Management Program and SSVF Referral Packet
The Grant and Per Diem Grant (GPD) Case Management program is a new grant being offered by GPD as authorized under Public Law 114-315. The goal of the grant is to improve the retention of housing for Veterans who were previously homeless/and at risk for homelessness. The GPD and SSVF Program Offices have developed a SSVF and GPD referral packet to provide one-time assistance for Temporary Financial Assistance (TFA), typically security deposit, to Veterans participating in the GPD Case Management program. The packet, while similar to the HUD-VASH packet, must only be used for Veterans who will be participating in GPD Case Management program and cannot be used to make referrals on behalf of Veterans who are enrolled in HUD-VASH or traditional GPD transitional housing programs. SSVF providers can reach out to their Regional Coordinators if they have questions about the packet. The SSVF and GPD Case Management Grant Referral Packet and FAQ document is available on the GPD and SSVF websites and can be found here:
Reminder: Mandatory Return of Funds for 2nd Quarter FY 2020
At the end of each quarter, a grantee's total payment requests for SSVF funds (also known as drawdowns) must meet the minimum quarterly spending percentage rate outlined in the SSVF grant agreement. Please note that grantees do not submit physical invoices to the SSVF Program Office; therefore, expenditure rates are assessed using the drawdown information in the HHS Payment Management System.
For the second quarter ending on March 31 at 5 pm EDT, the minimum spending rate of the overall grant award is 40%. To clarify, a grant is "40% spent" when 40% or more of the SSVF grant funds have been drawn down from the HHS Payment Management System. A favorable lag of 10% (or 5.2 weeks of expenses) has been incorporated into the quarterly minimums. This allows for a grantee to meet the minimum rate while still reconciling the previous month's SSVF expenses. For this reason, it is critical for grantees to review their spending information frequently; there is no exception to the 40% requirement for grantees that had been on extension during the first quarter of FY20.
The process for identifying grantees that will be required to return funds and for identifying the amount of funds to be swept is as follows: At the start of the quarter (8 am EDT on the second business day of the new quarter, which is April 2), the HHS Payment Management System drawdown report will be used to calculate grantee expenditure rates. Those grantees that are below 40% spent will be subject to mandatory funding sweeps. Note, the expenditure rate calculation will be rounded to a whole number (i.e. 39.4% will be rounded down to 39% and 39.6% will be rounded up to 40%). For any grantee below 40%, the difference between 40% and that grantee's current drawn down rate will be the amount swept from the OVERALL grant total. For example, if a grantee is 35% drawn down, the difference is 5%; as such, there will be a 5% reduction of the authorized award amount. The result will move a grantee closer to the quarterly minimum rate of 40%. The intent of the funding sweep is to: 1) reallocate funds from geographic areas where the need is not currently being recognized to areas of higher need where funding is lacking and 2) to assist grantees in moving towards compliance with grant requirements and eliminating the need for an extension. The funds will be swept on that second business day of the new quarter, and a grantee will be notified by the SSVF Program Office of the amount of funds that were swept from the grant.
How do the minimum quarterly spending rates impact the fiscal staff of SSVF grantees?
The last business day of the quarter is March 31. Payment requests (drawdowns) that are made after 5 pm EDT on this day will NOT be included in the HHS drawdown report used to calculate grantee expenditure rates. As a reminder, the grantees identified as spending less than 40% of the total grant will have funds swept on the second business day of the new quarter, April 2. These values will stand; there will be no exceptions. Since there will be no exceptions, it is recommended that grantee fiscal staff responsible for completing drawdowns not wait until March 31 to complete payment requests, as these requests generally require a full business day to process. If a grantee finds it is necessary to wait until March 31, it would be important to enter the request early in the day. (Note that any grantees outside of EDT, including but not limited to the West Coast, Hawaii, and Guam, are still held to the 5 pm EDT deadline, so plan accordingly).
If you have any questions, please contact your SSVF Regional Coordinator. Please include your grant number and "2nd Quarter Mandatory Return of Funds" in the subject of the email.
SSVF Program Office