Tri-County Planning Committee: Purpose, Scope, Membership, Priorities

Tri-County Planning Committee: Purpose, Scope, Membership, Priorities

 On Wednesday April 21, the HereTogether Strategic Planning Committee hosted a presentation by Metro staff, and breakout sessions, to discuss the Tri-County Planning Committee (TCPC). The purpose of this memo is to provide recommendations on next steps for the TCPC, based on our discussion in the breakout sessions. 

Background: The Tri-County Planning Committee was first envisioned by the HereTogether coalition in the Governance Framework, which served as the basis for the ballot measure language. In that document, the following language was used to describe the “Tri-County Planning Initiative”: 

This body is responsible for the development and implementation of a tri-county initiative that will be responsible for identifying regional goals, strategies, and outcome metrics related to addressing homelessness in the region.

Within one year of the adoption of the tri-county initiative plan, and as needed thereafter, each county shall bring forward amendments to its Local Implementation Plan that incorporate relevant regional goals, strategies, and outcomes measures.

The formation of the Tri-County Planning Committee is statutorily mandated by the ballot measure (Section 23) and the counties are obligated to annually contribute no less than 5 percent of their total allocation to this regional strategy implementation fund. Moreover, according to the ballot measure, within one year of this committee convening, the counties are required to bring forward amendments to their local implementation plans that incorporate relevant regional goals, strategies and outcomes measures.

Finally, in Metro’s SHS work plan, Metro Council has also approved a vision for the Tri-County Planning Committee with the recommendation it focus on three key areas: 

  • Regional capacity

  • Systems alignment and integration

  • Standards and metrics. 

With this intention, history and framework in mind, the HereTogether coalition recommends the counties and Metro format the Tri-County Planning Committee under the following criteria: 

Tri-County Planning Committee Purpose and Goals: We have a once in a generation opportunity to address homelessness at a scale that matches the scope of the crisis and for the first time addresses homelessness as the regional issue it is. The public is watching, the voters are expecting real results and we owe our neighbors on the streets nothing less than a robust, regional response that prioritizes the systems change necessary to end our region’s chronic homeless crisis.

Thus, the TCPC should take on the urgent task and heavy lift of devising tri-county solutions that succeed in ending our region’s chronic homeless crisis. We believe the TCPC will do that best if it primarily focuses on bringing our region’s experts together to develop system-level implementation directives, research, regional planning support and coordination between the counties in the following areas: 

  • Data and systems alignment and integration

  • Metrics and outcomes for success

  • Public communication

  • Workforce development (Regional capacity) 

Tri-County Planning Committee Scope of work: The scope of the TCPC is to research and make recommendations for the counties to implement on Data and Systems Alignment and integration, Metrics and outcomes for success and Public Communications. 

The TCPC is a unique and separate body from the Regional Oversight Committee in several key ways:

  • Membership: Unlike the regional oversight committee, homeless service providers (as experts in homeless services delivery) should be able to participate on the TCPC without a potential or perceived conflict of interest.

  • Scope: The Regional Oversight Committee has a very specific scope of work: reviewing and approving Local Implementation Plans and ensuring the counties are meeting the goals outlined therein. The Tri-County Planning Committee is poised to take that work a step further and ensure the plans are responding to a regional framework and tri-county responses that drive solutions to our homeless crisis. 

We believe the following core areas should be centered in developing the committee’s charter:

  • Data and systems alignment and integration

    • In order to ensure we are fully leveraging the opportunity to respond to this regional crisis, we believe the TCPC should work to identify the infrastructure needs for the measure. The committee should be grounded in the fact that Built For Zero is being used by all three counties and provides a strong, data-driven framework to help identify systemic drivers of homelessness. This may include: 

      • Developing recommendations to regionalize data systems; 

      • Identifying potential systems integrations to better understand the drivers and inflows of homelessness, including healthcare, behaviour health, youth and youth in, or formerly in, foster care, criminal justice, etc.

      • Aligning contracting forms and processes

      • Commissioning research and recommending national and global best practices

  • Metrics and Outcomes for Success

    • Identify standards and metrics by which population-level decreases in homelessness can be measured.

    • Analyze trends to understand barriers to achieving stated goals.

    • Establish metrics that measure progress toward a racially equitable homeless response system. 

  • Public communication

    • Develop a public facing dashboard to share real-time data marking progress toward the goal of ending chronic homelessness and reducing disparities experienced by communities of color. 

Tri-County Planning Committee Membership Recommendation:  The TCPC should be a balanced and diverse committee in the range of 12-15 core committee members plus subcommittees created by the TCPC. 

  • Committee Membership Recommendation:

    • Metro representative (Elected) 

    • Three County representatives (Electeds)

    • Issue experts in the TCPC focus areas of data systems, systems alignment, and communications. Skills: Subject matter experts (e.g. HMIS/data collection and analysis, foster care, criminal justice, behaviour and physical health experts, people with lived experience of homelessness who recognize barriers in existing systems), systems experts (Built For Zero operating system, ServicePoint HMIS), communications, zoning experts, experience launching, managing and integrating early state organizations and systems. Diverse experts with different skills and strengths. Representation: Diversity among members should mirror the requirements set out for the regional oversight committee (i.e. robust BIPOC representation), encompass geographic representation, and include culturally specific providers.

  • Committee Selection Recommendation:

    • The four elected representatives (Metro plus the three counties) jointly select the remaining members from a pool of applicants. The application process is coordinated by Metro. 

    • Committee Chair: Selected by the full committee. This position shall not be filled by an elected representative. 

    • Subcommittee members selected by the committee.

    • Initial term is 2 years. 

  • Compensation:

    • Non-elected committee members should be compensated for their time and participation. 

  • Subcommittees:

    • TCPC subcommittees may be created by majority vote of the TCPC committee and will be supported by Metro staff.

  • TCPC Year One Priorities: TCPC year one priorities are outlined in Appendix One, in four key priority areas:  1) Data Systems, 2) Systems Alignment, 3) Communications, 4) Workforce Development. 

Appendix One: Recommendations for TCPC Year One Priorities

Details below on year one TCPC priorities: 1) Data Systems, 2) Systems Alignment, 3) Communications, 4) Workforce Development

1. Data Systems: Work to align regionwide data systems that provide actionable understanding of homelessness in real time. 

  • We believe the following are required to set the measure up for success: 

    • A region wide baseline assessment of homelessness. 

    • A quality, by-name database that allows service providers to follow an individual’s journey from homelessness to healthy and housed. 

    • Metrics to measure success.

    • A coordinated, region wide dashboard with quality data that allows for a real-time assessment of population-level metrics (number of people experiencing homelessness, number of people in short-term shelter/housing, number of SHS placements, relapse, recidivism)

  • We believe we can get there by:

    • Successfully implementing and integrating Built For Zero across all three counties; This could also be an opportunity to think big picture and allow providers to weigh in on gaps that even the Built For Zero system has not yet identified. 

    • Using the data to assess the barriers to achieving functional zero for chronic homelessness and championing the changes necessary to remove those barriers. 

    • Sharing monthly updates of outcomes-focused metrics 

      • Metrics should be outcomes-focused (i.e. population level changes), not activity or output focused (i.e. number of services provided). 

      • It’s imperative we are measuring progress based on client feedback: are they better-off based on how well their self-identified needs have been met for their overall housing security, personal health, and treatment for disorders? 

      • Define regional shared language: align the region on language for key topics like placement, stability, recidivism, and others. 

2. Systems Alignment and integration: Ensure tri-county systems change and alignment, while encouraging collaboration

  • Better aligning and integrating our systems across the region will help us: 

    • Increase efficiency, saving money and time across the region. 

    • Focus on long-term impact: bold system-changing ideas to end homelessness.

    • Reduce the inflows from the main drivers of homelessness including foster care, criminal justice, behaviour health, etc.

  • Recommendations for Tri-County Planning Committee 

  • Identify and engage the multiple cross-county key drivers to understand inflow

    • This includes: Domestic Violence, Mental Health, Addiction, Healthcare, Unemployment, Justice System, Foster Care, Education System, with equity to avoid Bias/Discrimination/Racism.

    • Track direct and indirect exits to homelessness from incarceration, hospitals, state hospital, foster care, evictions, unemployment and cross over with OHP/Medicare.

    • Focus on transformational system-change ideas, taking into consideration how all the existing systems interact or fail to interact. 

    • Recognize and collaborate on other systems change work happening in the state (e.g. Measure 110 implementation)

  • Identify opportunities for better service access in all three counties so that, among other things, services are not siloed within and between counties. May include:

    • A common intake form and release of information for all counties.

    • Implementing a no wrong door approach: ensure tri-county services are streamlined in a care delivery network that includes homeless services, housing, healthcare, behavioral health, and workforce. 

    • Ensuring counties work closely together, and service providers have a better understanding of shared networks (e.g. senior housing providers with direct referrals to senior job training programs and vice versa).

    • Encouraging seamless rollout of regional rent assistance programs and integration of rent assistance with units developed through affordable housing bonds.

3. Communications: Transparently communicate success, failures and lessons learned to all stakeholders, including CBOs, counties and voters.

  • Communicating transparently will be important to: 

    • Inform voters: communicate progress or lack thereof in clear terms. Build momentum for renewal of this measure.

    • Share the big picture: explain how the SHS measure, Metro Affordable Housing Bond, City of Portland Housing Bond, Drug Decriminalization (Measure 110) must all work together if we are to end chronic homelessness. 

    • Establish that coordination is necessary to end homelessness and publicize and demonstrate how that necessary coordination is working or not working. 

  • Some ways we could ensure transparency:

    • Provide easy access to documents and dashboards, updated monthly making it easy for voters and stakeholders to see all dashboards, counts, and outcomes-oriented progress reports to end homelessness. 

    • Produce public-facing white papers to drive successful outcomes

      • Produce public-facing information (e.g. whitepapers) about systems review, adjustments, and changes/improvements. 

    • Get early regional wins

      • Hit the ground running. Identify the “low hanging fruit” for early successes on tri-county systems improvements, then build on the momentum.


4. Workforce Development: Assess workforce needs, current capacity, skills gaps and staff retention strategies. 

  • Use the assessment to: 

    • Identify sectors where workforce increases will be needed, including health, diversion and reentry, employment and benefits attainment, case management, placement/ retention, and many other services.

    • Develop projections about current and future service delivery workforce needs. 

    • Identify skills shortage and training needs.

    • Identify barriers and best practices on workforce development, health and equity 

    • Explore ways to partner or support universities, colleges and institutions that are educating and training today and tomorrow’s service delivery workforce