Earlier this year, New Orleans, which once had one of the highest per-capita rates of veteran homelessness in the nation, created serious buzz by becoming the first major city to effectively end veteran homelessness. With Houston following suit earlier this month, and more cities poised to make similar announcements, it is worth taking a look at New Orleans “six months on” to get a sense of what happens after the press conferences and a visit from the First Lady. In other words: what happens after you reach zero?
It is no secret that even after announcing an end to veteran homelessness, the work around re-housing homeless veterans and keeping veterans in housing never really ends. New Orleans is currently working very hard to sustain the progress that was made. The city, in partnership with UNITY, the lead agency for the homeless Continuum of Care, has set up a rapid response system to quickly locate and house homeless veterans, with the goal of housing them within 30 days. The rapid response system has been the cornerstone of maintaining a “functional zero.”
One of the most heart-breaking experiences I had as a case manager was with a lesbian client who was invited, with her biological children, to stay at the family shelter where I worked. But because the faith-based shelter’s rules excluded same-sex couples, her female partner was not allowed to join them, even though they were, undeniably, a family unit. That family, understandably, elected to continue living in their car rather than being broken up.
June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride month, and we at the Alliance (and I personally, as a proud L) want to use our blog this month to highlight issues around LGBT housing and homelessness. A good place to start is the basics of the fight for fair housing: ensuring that everyone has equal access to housing opportunities, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Once again, NOFA season is just around the corner!
One of the more anxiety-producing aspects of recent NOFAs is the requirement that CoCs rank projects in the CoC Priority Listing section of the application. As a refresher, in recent years, CoCs have had to prioritize new and renewal projects by dividing them into two tiers, which may jeopardize funding for lower-ranked projects. Though we don’t yet know exactly what Tier 1 and 2 will look like until this year’s NOFA comes out, we know that this “CoC Priority Listing” will be a requirement of the 2015 application and that reallocation is available.
Picture this: Jane Doe is a single adult working a full-time (40 hours per week) minimum wage job. Jane wants to rent a modest one-bedroom apartment. No matter where Jane lives in America, and regardless of whether Jane lives in a state with a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage, Jane will be unable to do so.
Why? Because there’s no state in America in which a person working full-time earning minimum wage can afford to rent a one-bedroom apartment.
Recently, the National Coalition for Homelessness held its annual conference here in Washington, DC.
Homeless assistance practitioners, policymakers, and advocates from around the country gathered to learn about what’s working to end veteran homelessness. The contributions of numerous officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) were also featured, including a keynote from Secretary McDonald (or Bob, as he urged the audience to call him). In his remarks he touted the efforts of successful communities from New Orleans to Houston and beyond and spoke of VA’s efforts to cut through bureaucracy to get the job done.
Beyond VA’s presence, there were some major takeaways from the conference that are definitely worth sharing: