Under the supervision of the Manager of Housing Search Services, the Rapid Response Housing Specialist works as a housing advocate embedded within the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) as part of Boston’s Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative. Working within a trauma-informed and harm-reduction framework, this position will serve People Who Inject Drugs (PWID), who are living with HIV or are at risk of contracting HIV, and who are experiencing homelessness or at imminent risk of homelessness. This position partners with intake staff, medical case managers, medical providers, landlords, housing authorities, and property managers to provide intensive and comprehensive housing search and housing advocacy services.
- Work closely and collaboratively with BHCHP staff including Medical Case Managers, navigators, RNs and outreach teams to identify clients in need of housing search services. Establish and retain a presence within the BHCHP care team.
- Work with BHCHP team in outreach settings including shelters, drop in centers, and other locales where people who inject drugs and experience homelessness spend time.
- Work with a caseload of clients identified in collaboration with BHCHP staff who meet the target population to be served under this position. Work with clients to determine appropriate housing opportunities and create an individualized housing plan that is client centered and focuses on housing opportunities that prioritize people experiencing homelessness, including short and long term goals associated with stable, affordable housing. Work with clients to set priorities and take steps toward reaching these goals.
- Leverage existing relationships with the Boston Continuum of Care (CoC) and other Boston-area CoCs to refer clients for housing opportunities.
- Complete initial assessment of housing search needs, resources, barriers and goals for all new clients. Complete reassessment and revise service plan every six months.
- Coordinate services with Medical Case Managers and other service providers to arrange appointments with clients and to gather documentation necessary to housing search process.
- Attend all housing related appointments with clients, including interviews, appeal hearings, apartment viewings and lease signings.
- Work with clients to identify possible barriers to obtaining housing. Discuss criminal, credit and eviction histories. Request CORI and credit reports with all clients willing to do so. Proactively plan strategies to appeal housing denials and present mitigating factors. Work collaboratively with Fenway’s Legal Department to support clients.
- Serve as a resource on affordable housing for internal and external colleagues. Respond to questions and requests for housing information from Fenway and BHCHP staff. As part of the client’s care team, educate colleagues about the process of navigating the affordable housing system.
- Maintain communications with housing authorities, landlords and private management companies responsible for administering affordable housing options. Contact these providers on a regular basis to remain informed of available housing, open waiting lists, eligibility requirements and application processes.
- Share information on housing opportunities with the rest of the Housing Search team, other AAC staff and clients on a weekly basis by updating existing housing search systems. Enter housing opportunity information into the database, update and create files, and contribute to the creation of a weekly blog post used to disseminate these updates.
- Maintain timely and accurate paper and computer records of all client and property interactions. Enter all client and property interactions into ETO database by monthly deadline.
- Attend weekly team meetings, and come prepared to contribute to the conversation. Attend weekly administrative supervision and monthly clinical supervision meetings. Attend Division and All Staff meeting; attend monthly staff training.
- Meet agency participatory expectations
- Perform related duties and projects as assigned
- Minimum two years of experience in a related field.
- Excellent written and oral communication skills.
- Working knowledge of HIV/AIDS community trends, harm reduction, trauma informed care principles, motivational interviewing and at-risk populations (including people who use and inject drugs, formerly incarcerated people, and people engaged in transactional sex work).
- Strong orientation to Harm Reduction required, experience working within the Harm Reduction framework
- Experience with affordable housing.
- Experience with the provision of HIV services.
- Bilingual in Spanish/English.
- Experience advocating for clients with government assistance agencies, housing authorities, private landlords or realtors.
- Experience working in homeless outreach settings such as shelters, drop-in centers, and street venues.
Ability to meet the following physical requirements with or without reasonable accommodations:
- Sit at a computer station for extended periods of time
- Ability to keyboard for extended periods of time
We offer competitive salaries, and for those who qualify, an excellent benefits package; including comprehensive medical and dental insurance plans, and a retirement plan with employer match. We also provide 12 paid holidays, paid vacation, and more. LGBTQIA+ identified persons, Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC), and individuals from other historically underrepresented communities are strongly encouraged to apply.