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Santa Monica Expands Homeless Tracking Service

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

October 28, 2015 -- Continuing to grapple with the problems of homelessness, Santa Monica will boost the “homeless management information system” it uses to help local agencies keep track of those on the streets and determine the services they need.

The City Council on Tuesday voted to extend software hosting and data licensing for the system by approving a five-year contract not to exceed $400,000 with Louisiana-based Bowman Systems, LLC.

The council also approved a $25,000 agreement with Bowman to continue providing services and complete upgrades through the end of the year, when the current contract expires.

Bowman has provided software, hosting, licensing, custom programming and training for the City’s Homeless Management Information System since 2008, City staff said in a report to the Council.

During that time, the total number of Bowman’s “ServicePoint” users has grown to nearly 250 – up from 155 users when the service began, according to the report.

The data collected is used to establish a “demographic, social, financial, behavioral, health and housing history (for) each individual and household served by participating social service programs,” according to the report by Karen Ginsberg, director of community and cultural services.

ServicePoint also stores information on specific services provided, case notes and outcomes, Ginsberg said. The centralized data is shared with participating agencies, providing users a “holistic” view of the history, needs, accomplishments and troubles of homeless individuals.

“ServicePoint offers a ‘map’ of a participant’s service history, and can be aggregated to identify emerging needs, gaps in services and effective programs,” the report said.

Last January, during its most recent homeless count, Santa Monica documented 738 homeless people, a 0.5 percent decline from the previous year. Of those, 402 individuals were living on the streets and 336 in shelters. (“Santa Monica Homeless Count Shows Modest Decline,” February 25, 2015.

The census, conducted during one night every January, has shown a steady decrease in the number of homeless living in Santa Monica, a city known two decades ago as “the home of the homeless”.

This year marks a decade since the City shifted the focus of its homeless policies from helping those on the streets to housing the chronically homeless. (“Council Considers New Homeless Strategies,” December 6, 2005)

In addition to earmarking most of a $900,000 federal grant to find supportive housing, the strategy has included providing bus tickets to reunite individuals with family members that agree to house them and offering chronic alcoholic and drug abusers recovery even in jail.

Bowman’s new contract includes upgrading ServicePoint for “data integration, custom programming, inclusion of additional programs, maintenance, and licensing.”  The contract runs from January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2018, with two one-year options to renew.

The total amount Santa Monica has paid to Bowman for services so far is $457,258, the report said.

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