On any given day, hundreds of thousands of Americans experience homelessness and interact with the homeless assistance system. Fortunately, many of them will become housed. Though the end point—housing—is the most important part, the process of accessing housing can vary greatly from person to person.
The homeless assistance system offers a variety of interventions: emergency shelter, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, and rapid re-housing. While some of these interventions (emergency shelter and transitional housing) are designed to be temporary, others (permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing) are long-term solutions to homelessness.
Why do people become homeless? This is a complicated question with numerous, complex answers. For some people, it may be because they lost a job or had an unforeseen medical crisis. For others, it may be because the cost of rent rose and they were unable to afford the payments.
Every person who experiences homelessness has a unique situation. However, research shows that homelessness often is a result of two factors: economic problems and/or housing problems. Economic problems include poverty and unemployment. In other words, if you don’t have the money to pay for housing, you’re vulnerable to homelessness. Housing problems include severe housing cost burden—in which a poor household pays over half of their income in rent—and living doubled up—in which people live with family or friends. Housing problems generally stem from a lack of affordable housing.
The FY 2015 CoC Program Registration opened Tuesday, April 28, and will close on Monday, May 18. The Registration Notice from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) contains crucial information to help communities prepare for this year’s competition, including requirements of the registration process for Collaborative Applicants, HUD’s policy priorities, and directions to all project applicants to continue implementing effective interventions that reduce homelessness.
How many homeless children are in there in America? This may seem like a simple question to answer. I bet some of you are thinking, “Just look at point-in-time count data,” while others are musing, “That can be answered from annual shelter counts.” Others, still, may be thinking, “The number can be found in a report from the Department of Education.” With so many data sources to choose from, this question isn’t as straightforward as you might assume.
Every time we at the Alliance rely on data, we have to decide which data source will give us the best approximation of the figure we seek. This involves a high level of knowledge and understanding about how each of these data sources collects and compiles numbers. For example, we used five different data sources in our most recent report, The State of Homelessness in America 2015, because no single source captured all the information we needed.
Over the past year, I have spent a lot of time conducting Rapid Re-Housing Clinics for communities across the county. Rapid re-housing is an intervention that provides temporary financial assistance and services to homeless people to return them to permanent housing quickly. Many communities around the country are already using it to house people. But it’s a relatively new idea.
At the clinics I conduct, which are designed to help communities implement their own effective rapid re-housing programs, it’s not uncommon for people who are new to the idea of rapid re-housing to view it with some skepticism. It makes sense. They have been doing things one way for years, and now they’re being asked to change. Who wouldn’t question the wisdom of that?