Clearly, there’s a growing recognition that employment is an important part of the solution to homelessness and a hunger for knowledge about what works, what funding is available, and how to deliver effective employment services.
Now is certainly an opportune time to renew the focus on employment: recent federal policy changes such as the passage of HEARTH Act and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) place an added emphasis on helping people experiencing homelessness succeed in the labor market and ensuring that employment services are accessible and effective. Moreover, the growth of the rapid re-housing strategy has brought attention to just how critical effective, specialized employment services are to keeping individuals and families employed and stably housed.
Anyone who has been to a conference knows that they tend to be frenetic: idea sharing, solution swapping and networking. Last month, I went to the 2015 Association of Gospel Rescue Missions’ (AGRM) convention in Seattle and my experience was just that: frenetic, and fruitful.
For those of you not familiar, Gospel Rescue Missions (GRMs) or Missions are faith-based organizations that work primarily with those experiencing homelessness by providing shelters, transitional housing, treatment programs, and outreach services. Missions are often differentiated from non-faith based organizations because of their faith-based approach to these services.
It is with a mixture of excitement and sadness that I write this “goodbye” blog post for the Alliance. After more than five years here, I am ready to take on the challenge of grad school, but I will miss working with passionate and driven people across the country dedicated to such an important topic.
In my time here, I’ve learned a few things – well, I’ve learned a ton of things, but for the sake of this post, I’ll narrow it down to just the big ones.
Here at the Alliance, we believe that homelessness has a solution: housing. This solution sounds simple, right? In many ways, it is.
So if the solution to homelessness is so simple, why haven’t we ended homelessness yet? In large part, the answer lies in a lack of affordable housing. Recent economic and housing trends have resulted in a shortfall of affordable housing, particularly for low-income households. This in turn has left many people homeless and many more people vulnerable to homelessness.
A recent report on housing and rental market trends from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, The State of the Nation’s Housing, shows that rents have been rising across the nation while the supply of affordable housing has been falling. The growing disparity has forced many low-income renters (particularly those in high-cost markets) into precarious positions and placed them at particular risk of homelessness.
As someone well into my second decade of NAEH conferences, I always come to the gathering with the hope and expectation of learning about new solutions to homelessness, engaging with interesting people, and honing my own skills in the field. This year, I was (once again) not disappointed.
The level of knowledge – and sophistication – that our field has achieved is impressive. We can, with increasing confidence, say that we know what it takes to make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring, and how to apply our shared wisdom in urban, suburban and rural settings to minimize, or even prevent, the crisis of homelessness for unaccompanied youth, adults or families.