Those of us who have been engaged in efforts to end family homelessness over the past decade need to acknowledge one of two things: Either the work is extremely complex and difficult, or we’re not very good at our jobs. While both of these statements could be true, given the time, talent, and passion that so many have been focusing on this issue for so long, we conclude (and hope) that the first statement is more accurate.
There are many different crises that can catapult a family into homelessness: Loss of a job, domestic violence, accidents or serious illness, and inter-generational poverty – to name just a few. In addition, despite efforts to coordinate, past experiences in responding to homelessness have shown us that, although admirable, fragmented, non-integrated efforts to solve this problem by organizations and systems working independently and on their own have not stemmed the tide of this crisis.
This brief on the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is one in a series providing community leaders and rapid re-housing providers with information on how they can use different federal programs to fund rapid re-housing. Each brief contains information on the funding source, ways it can be used to support rapid re-housing, and examples of communities that have successfully done so.
In this recording of a webinar that originally streamed April 14, 2015, speakers discuss two communities that are expanding their capacity to rapidly re-house individuals and families. Speakers describe how they built political will to transform their system, reallocated resources, and improved system performance.
Today when a family facing a housing crisis seeks shelter in Los Angeles or Mercer County, NJ, they will encounter a very different homeless service system than they would have just a few short years ago. That’s because both communities have radically transformed their homeless service systems to increase their capacity to help families.
In the past, families in L.A. would call programs all over the county to find a vacancy. Due to the county’s size, they might find a program 25 or even 50 miles from their previous residence. Too often, they would be forced to turn to an adult shelter program or a facility in Skid Row that was poorly equipped to support families with children. Today, the city has Family Solutions Centers strategically located through the county to assesses families’ housing needs and refer them to the most appropriate shelter or housing intervention in their own community.
These are the keynote remarks delivered by the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro on the second day of our 2015 National Conference on Ending Gamily and Youth Homelessness, Feb. 20, 2015. You can also find them on the HUD website.