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HPRP Strategic Plan FINAL

HPRP Strategic Plan FINAL

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Published by: hprplaw on Nov 17, 2009
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Homeless Persons Representation Project, Inc
.
Strategic Plan2009 - 2014
FINAL AS APPROVED June 8, 2009
 
 
 2
The Context
Current Status of Homelessness in Maryland and in Baltimore CityHomelessness is increasing in Maryland. Although a July 2008 report from the U.S.Department of Housing and Urban Development suggested a nationwide decrease inhomelessness based on calendar year 2007 data, the report documented a 10% increase inhomelessness in Maryland, bringing the total number of homeless people to 9,628. Theeconomic situation in 2008 and 2009 has only exacerbated this trend. Early estimatesfrom Baltimore City’s Homeless Census conducted in January 2009 indicate the City’sfirst significant increase in homelessness of 14 percent since 2005, with 3,419 totalpeople identified as homeless including 319 individuals who slept outside in 16 degreeweather in January. The Homeless Persons Representation Project (HPRP) considersboth the state-wide and City figures to be substantially lower than the actual number of people without homes of their own, as neither figure includes families and individualswho are "doubled" or "tripled" up with friends and family.The state of Maryland consistently ranks close to the bottom in national reports thatassess potential solutions to homelessness. Creation of affordable housing is the majorsolution to homelessness, a position supported unanimously by the providers surveyed,but Maryland ranks 44
th
out of 50 states for housing affordability in the country,according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Access to jobs and publicbenefits are also significant solutions, but many low-income persons are prevented fromaccessing the assistance they need because of automatic disqualification of many job andhousing candidates with even minor criminal histories, and because of government failurein the distribution of public benefits. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recentlyreleased data from fiscal year 2007 showing Maryland ranked 33rd (out of 53 jurisdictions) in excessive administrative delay in processing Food Stampapplications. According to the National Center on Family Homelessness and it’s recentlyreleased study America’s Youngest Outcasts, Maryland ranks 49
th
out of 50 states forhomeless children reporting moderate to severe health conditions which include asthma,dental health and emotional disturbance. Further, Maryland ranked 50
th
out of the 50states for incidents of asthma among homeless children. Finally, Maryland has thehighest number of homeless veterans of any surrounding state, including the District of Columbia. Maryland veterans receive one of the lowest levels of compensation in thecountry, according to Maryland’s Department of Veterans Affairs.In Maryland, Baltimore City ranks first among jurisdictions with respect to the number of homeless persons overall (in 2007, 27.1% of the state’s homeless population lived inBaltimore). The consequences of this level of homelessness are far-reaching. BaltimoreCity Schools report that the number of homeless students has doubled in the 2008-2009school year compared to the previous school year. The link between education andincome is well-established and homeless children experience the most severe barriers to aquality education. According to America’s Youngest Outcasts, less than 25% of homeless children in Maryland graduate from high school.
 
 3The OrganizationHPRP was established in 1987, and separately incorporated as a 501(c)(3) in 1990, toprovide legal services to homeless individuals in Maryland and to address the systemiccauses of homelessness through impact litigation. HPRP staff and volunteers providefree legal services and advocacy
1
in matters that directly eliminate or preventhomelessness, for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Services includeestablishing access to and preservation of housing, access to and preservation of income,and eliminating barriers to housing and employment presented by criminal records.HPRP is guided by a profound understanding of its clients’ barriers to accessingtraditional legal services. HPRP staff and volunteer attorneys honor and accommodatethese roadblocks by directly serving clients where they live, eat and spend time. HPRPstaff and volunteers meet with clients in the community – shelters, public benefits offices,in soup kitchens, on the streets, in community groups – and in the HPRP office. Legalrepresentation has been approached holistically by working to address multiple legalneeds of each client, with the overarching goal of preventing and eliminatinghomelessness.HPRP seeks to increase the impact of its work to respond to the increased number of residents of Maryland who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. More than 95 percentof HPRP’s direct service work is pursued in Baltimore City by a staff of five attorneys(including the Director), a legal assistant, an office administrator, and a staff assistant.HPRP leverages the resources of its small staff by training volunteer attorneys,paralegals, and law students to provide legal representation and assistance to clients theymeet while conducting intake at shelters and soup kitchens. HPRP handlesapproximately 900 legal matters per year with a budget of $612,840 (FY09).The Context for Strategic PlanningIn its nearly 20 years of existence, the organization has experienced seven leadershiptransitions, the most recent one being in December 2007 when the current ExecutiveDirector assumed her position. The new Executive Director’s hiring followed aparticularly difficult period for the organization that required a change in leadership anddirection. In December 2006, HPRP initiated a thorough program evaluation to assess itsstaff leadership, operations, and functions, and to develop a plan for needed staff leadership, board, and program changes. This evaluation resulted in the adoption of aninterim management plan and the hiring of an interim executive director. In May 2007,the board retained an executive search consultant to assist in conducting a national searchfor a new executive director.
1
Throughout this document, the terms “direct legal services and “advocacy” are used. “Direct legalservices” refers to legal representation of an individual client on a particular legal issue that does notnecessarily have a systemic impact. “Advocacy” is defined by HPRP to mean all work aimed ateliminating the systemic causes of homelessness. This definition includes work related to bothadministrative and legislative policy and systemic impact litigation, including class actions and individualcases that promote improvements to and preserve existing public policies.

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