Ending Homelessness Today
The official blog of the National Alliance to End Homelessness
Interactive Map: The 2013 Veteran Homelessness Numbers
June 18, 2013
In January, many of you participated in Point-in-Time Counts in your communities, identifying sheltered and unsheltered homelessness, family and individual homelessness, and also veterans who were homeless. Since then, some of you have sent the data from your counts to the Alliance’s Homelessness Research Institute. (Thank you!)
Now we have posted that data on an interactive map so that we can monitor the progress made toward ending veteran homelessness in local communities and nationally. As of this posting, 22 out of 36 communities that submitted data have reported a decrease in homelessness among veterans. If this sample were representative of the country as a whole, veteran homelessness would have decreased nationwide by 11 percent between 2012 and 2013. One particularly successful community is Charlotte, North Carolina, which has seen a 68 percent decrease, going from 373 veterans in 2012 to 120 in 2013.
Despite the progress we have made over the last several years, veterans are still overrepresented in the overall homeless population. In 2012, 29 out of every 10,000 veterans were homeless at a point in time. In light of the HUD and VA’s goal of eliminating homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015, much work remains to be done. This calls us on to redouble our efforts to provide vital resources and services to the men and women who have so bravely served our country.
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LGBT Youth Homelessness, A Quick Look
June 17, 2013
Data on youth homelessness is notoriously lacking. However, we estimate that around 550,000 youth under the age of 25 are homeless and on their own at some point each year. Most of these young people will experience brief episodes of homelessness. Others will experience longer episodes of homelessness and require more significant support.
While it’s still unclear whether youth who identify as LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender) experience episodes of homelessness that are substantially different than their heterosexually-identified counterparts, a preponderance of the evidence clearly indicates that LGBT youth are over-represented in the homeless youth population. A small sampling of recent community-wide surveys of homeless youth in Houston, King County, Hollywood, and Minnesota found that LGB youth ranged from 12 percent to 35 percent of the overall homeless youth populations, while and transgender youth ranged from 1 percent to 7 percent of the homeless youth population.
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Send a Letter to Your Member of Congress TODAY!
June 13, 2013
Largely due to sequestration, the overall spending caps for appropriations subcommittees are much lower than they have been in previous years, especially in the House. In other words, there is less money than usual to spread around among different transportation and housing programs, which leaves funding for homeless assistance programs in a precarious place.
Therefore, it is important that advocates make sure that members of Congress, particularly representatives in the House, know about the important work these often overlooked programs do in their districts and why they should prioritize them when making difficult decisions about funding.
So, how can you get involved and help make an impact? In order to take full advantage of the short window of opportunity before the House begins making key decisions regarding funding for HUD programs, the Alliance’s mobilizing team has launched an FY 2014 McKinney Letter-Writing Campaign!
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Field Notes: The Homeless System from Another Perspective
June 12, 2013
One of my first projects at the Alliance was a project in Lincoln, Nebraska. As part of that project, my friend and colleague Iain De Jong and I developed some surveys to enable us to learn more about the experiences of people interacting with the homeless assistance system, as well as how they felt about those experiences. Since then, we have modified the surveys, incorporated them into our Performance Improvement Clinics, and gathered responses from dozens of communities.
The surveys ask a number of questions, ranging from personal questions about current housing and employment status to practical questions about what consumers needed from the system and what they ended up receiving.
For today’s blog post, I decided to take a quick look at the results from 10 of the communities we surveyed and share five questions and the corresponding responses. These survey results come from rural areas, states, large cities, and counties of varying sizes. (I also tried to pick places from each of the major geographic regions in the U.S.) The survey responses below represent insights from a total of 1,452 people that have experienced homelessness. Below the responses from consumers are some questions to consider for providers.
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Are You Ending Chronic Homelessness in Your Community?
June 11, 2013
From 2011 to 2012, chronic homelessness decreased 7 percent. In fact, chronic homelessness has been decreasing for several years. From 2007 to 2012, chronic homelessness in the U.S. has decreased 19 percent from 123,833 people to 99,894 people.
Is your state keeping up with that pace? Some communities are! According to the Alliance's State of Homelessness in America 2013, chronic homelessness decreased in 29 states and the District of Columbia from 2011 to 2012. Many states even saw large double-digit decreases, including Louisiana, Michigan, Arkansas, Missouri, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Maryland.
Unfortunately the news is not all good. While chronic homelessness is going down, the rate of decrease is not fast enough to achieve the U.S. government’s goal of ending chronic homelessness by the end of 2015.
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Substance Abuse, a Factor and a Consequence of Homelessness
June 10, 2013
One in five people who experienced homeless on a given night in 2012 also struggled with chronic substance use problems – 131,000 people altogether.
Clearly, responding to drug and alcohol addiction is an essential part of ending homelessness. One does not need to look far to find connections between behavioral health and risks of homelessness. Substance abuse disorders are commonly found among chronically homeless people and within homeless families. Anyone who has dealt with chemical dependence, or knows someone who has, understands well the connection with homelessness. Job and income loss, family estrangement, issues with landlords, drug-offense convictions – these often go hand in hand with untreated substance use problems – at the cost of housing stability.
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NCHV Conference: Facing a Steep Climb
June 06, 2013
Things are constantly changing in the fight against veteran homelessness. While we are making steady progress, we continue to encounter new obstacles like outdated programs, and mainstream integration that require new solutions and new ways of thinking about the problem.
Last month, I was fortunate enough to attend the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans annual conference in Washington DC, where all the important players were in attendance to discuss our progress on a national level and shed some light on the challenges that service providers face on the front lines of the war against veteran homelessness.
“The climb will get steeper the closer we get to the summit,” Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Shinseki told us during the opening plenary.
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Field Notes: How to Plan a Learning Collaborative – Step Three
June 05, 2013
Change is hard, so when we make changes we want to make sure they represent an improvement. The goal of Learning Collaboratives is to improve how organizations provide homelessness assistance, resulting in fewer people experiencing homelessness in your community. Key, therefore, to conducting a Learning Collaborative is regularly measuring our progress towards this goal.
For our Learning Collaborative we are requiring each organization to document and report monthly to the other members of their Learning Collaborative seven metrics. In addition, each team met to discuss two additional metrics that they would like to track. For the duration of the Learning Collaborative, we will review these metrics every month and discuss each organization’s progress.
When thinking about what metrics you would like to measure in your Learning Collaborative, keep the following in mind.
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Communities Reduce Veteran Homelessness by a Third
June 03, 2013
It is common knowledge in the homeless assistance field that veterans are overrepresented in the overall homeless population. And while the reasons for this, which have to do both with their military service and with who serves in the military, remain a subject of open debate, perhaps the most perplexing question is how we as a country have tolerated veteran homelessness for so long.
That is changing. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki are pursuing a specific plan to end veteran homelessness, and congress has come up with the resources to fund it. Now HUD-VASH, SSVF, and other programs are providing permanent supportive housing, rapid re-housing, and other interventions to fight the problem of homelessness among veterans and their families.And for the past few years, the overall number of homeless veterans has declined, even as service members return from wars in the Middle East to an economy without enough jobs.
And we at the Alliance have been tracking that progress. We’ve found that a number of communities have made significant progress. We’re immensely grateful to the following communities that have achieved reductions in veteran homelessness of at least one-third since 2011.
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Meet the Interns - Summer 2013 Edition
May 31, 2013
With today's guest blog post, we'd like to take a moment to introduce you to the great interns who are working in our DC office this summer. If you're going to the 2013 National Conference on Ending Family Homelessness this July, you'll probably get a chance to meet them in person. For now, though, here they are in blog form (and in their own words.)
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Why States Are Using Welfare to Pay for Housing
May 30, 2013
For the past three years, states used one-time stimulus funds to supercharge a promising anti-homelessness initiative. Now that the money is gone, at least nine states are leveraging welfare cash assistance to keep the program alive, and the federal government hopes more states will follow.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, also known as the economic stimulus, set aside $1.5 billion for the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program (HPRP) over three years. But in 2013, states are faced with a question of how to cover the loss of that one-time investment. “We’re all having an ARRA hangover,” said Karla Aguirre, director of workforce development at Utah’s Department of Workforce Services.
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Disabled “Priced Out” of Basic Housing
May 29, 2013
“Can you live on disability benefits? Not if you want to live in basic housing.” We tweeted this message recently after reading “Priced Out in 2012: The Housing Crisis for People with Disabilities,” a report that warns that the widening gap between disability benefits and housing costs are putting low-income people with disabilities at-risk of becoming homeless or institutionalized.
Let’s take a look at some of the facts presented in the report.
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Give Homeless People a Voice on Capitol Hill
May 23, 2013
It’s that time of the year again! And no, we’re not just talking about Memorial Day parades, barbeques, and beach trips. The Alliance’s National Conference on Ending Homelessness, which is held in Washington, DC every July, is quickly approaching! Each year in conjunction with the conference, the Alliance hosts Capitol Hill Day, which provides a unique opportunity for conference participants to meet with members of Congress and their staff while in our nation’s capital. This year, Capitol Hill Day will take place on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 24.
Capitol Hill Day allows conference participants to impact federal policy by sharing their on-the-ground experiences working to end homelessness, as well as best practices they have learned about at the conference, with their congressional offices. Policymakers have many issues vying for their attention. So, the goals of Capitol Hill Day are to convince them to make ending homelessness a federal priority, educate them about smart policy solutions, and encourage them to take specific next steps to support these solutions. These face-to-face meetings are highly effective advocacy forums, as they help members of Congress feel more connected to the issue of homelessness in their districts.
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Field Notes: The Rapid Re-Housing Role-Playing Game
May 22, 2013
The Center for Capacity Building does quite a bit of training, and we have learned that you can stand in front of people and talk for only so long. Activities and exercises that give people a chance to experiment with new concepts can lead to paradigm shifts and can be more fun then watching us talk. Today we are sharing a rapid re-housing role playing game that we use during our trainings.
We use this game as part of our trainings on rapid re-housing after we have introduced participants to the basics of the rapid re-housing model. The game illustrates how rapid re-housing works and explores the different roles involved: homeless families, housing locators, and landlords, among others. The full game takes about an hour and a half to play and requires eight players.
Give this game a try to break up your next board or staff meeting and then let us how it goes!
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Data Points: Rapid Re-Housing Works
May 21, 2013
Some of the major research questions circulating now are: Does rapid re-housing really work? Do people who are rapidly re-housed remain housed? A recent report by Jason Rodriguez for the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Homelessness Recurrence in Georgia sheds some light on these questions. Rodriguez used HMIS data to examine risk factors for returns to homelessness in the state of Georgia.
Overall, Rodriguez found that the most significant predictor of a person returning to homelessness in Georgia was that the person exited a program type that was NOT rapid re-housing. Those who exited an emergency shelter were 4.7 times more likely to become homeless again than those who exited a rapid re-housing program. Similarly, those who exited a transitional housing program were four times more likely to become homeless than those exiting a rapid re-housing program.
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Early Registration Closing Soon!
May 20, 2013
If you have been following previous conference blogs, the Alliance newsletter, and other Alliance social media, you know that the 2013 National Conference on Ending Homelessness will be here before we know it!
As the conference is quickly approaching, the early registration deadline is as well. If you have not yet registered, you can save significantly by taking advantage of the early registration option. The deadline for early online registration is 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday, May 22. If you are registering by mail, your form must be postmarked on or before Wednesday, May 22. To register early, and for more information on deadlines and registration rates, visit the conference registration page.
There is much in store for this year’s conference, which will be held at the Renaissance Washington DC Hotel July 22 to 24 in Washington, DC. You can learn all about what’s happening at the conference by visiting the conference website where you will find conference session descriptions, the various workshops tracks offered, and other various exciting events we have in store for attendees.
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The First ever Funders Institute: Harnessing Potential, Powering Change
May 16, 2013
Last year I was with a group of funders from all across the U.S. doing a ‘tour’ of Skid Row in Los Angeles. The group was being led by two residents, Jim and Ed – men who were formerly homeless but were now living in permanent supportive housing in the area. They spoke of their journeys, from life on the mean streets to lives of safety, dignity and permanence in their own homes.
As we walked down the street, lined with people asleep on the sidewalk, pushing shopping carts or sitting on curbs, one of the members of our troop asked our escorts about food. “Do people living on the streets get enough to eat?” she wanted to know. “What’s being done about feeding people?”
There was laughter from both men and they stopped and turned to us. “Enough to eat?” asked Jim. “We get so much food we don’t know what to do with it. Every community group, ladies group and faith group brings food to Skid Row. We don’t need more food – what people need here are homes.”
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Field Notes: Performance Improvement Clinic Delivers More than Numbers
May 15, 2013
I entered the Pine Camp Arts and Community Center in the north side of Richmond eager to discuss the Richmond metro area’s homeless response system’s performance data. I was expecting a presentation filled with charts and graphs showing exits to permanent housing, costs per exits, returns to homelessness, lengths of homelessness, and other data to demonstrate the region’s performance towards reducing homelessness.
These expectations were met – but the most important thing I learned from the “Performance Improvement Clinic,” conducted by the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) and sponsored by Homeward and the City of Richmond, doesn’t fit into a bar graph . I learned that, if we are to end homelessness, we need a collective, honest, and courageous community response.
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Send us your data! (Please)
May 14, 2013
Two weeks ago, every continuum of care was required to submit their point in time count to HUD, but they aren’t the only people who want it. The Homelessness Research Institute wants your data too. We use data from the point in time counts to evaluate what is happening in communities across the country.
When there are reductions, we look for what a community may be doing differently that has impacted their success in ending homelessness. Once we dive in deeper, we may use an exemplar program or community at our conferences and on our website, like we did with Fairfax County, VA. This could be you!
Even if your community hasn’t decreased homelessness, we still track all reported increases and decreases on an interactive map on our website. As of the posting of this blog, 17 out of 30 communities have reported a decrease in homelessness. If you click on a particular location, you can find the original source of the data.
If you’d like to have your community featured on our map, email a link to your count or a media clip that discusses your count to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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2013 National Conference Update: Workshop Tracks
May 13, 2013
We have a little more than two months to go before our next National Conference here in DC. Two months seems a long time at this point, but putting these conferences together is a huge undertaking and we’re all very aware at how quickly the conference can sneak up on us. So we’re already busy preparing the 80 workshops for the two-day event. (I’m currently in the middle of lining up speakers for my two communications workshops, which I’m very excited about.)
While the workshops themselves are still far from finished, we have nailed down their titles, which you can find on the Alliance website, and we’ve managed to put together all but one of the conference tracks. Workshop tracks are designed to guide participants who are interested in a given topic through a progressive set of workshops. Each workshop in a track will build on the previous one, resulting, we hope, in a complete as possible picture of that issue.
Here’s a quick look at the tracks we have planned. Please bear in mind that these are very brief descriptions. With 80 workshops, it would be crazy to try to cover everything in a single blog post. You can find a full list of the comprehensive descriptions and their corresponding workshops on the Alliance website. For now, this should give you a taste of what you can expect to see in July.
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