As many readers of this blog are no doubt already know, last week the Department of Housing and Urban Development Continuum finally released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Continuum of Care (CoC) Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA). If you’re applying for funds through the NOFA, you should pay close attention not just to the big picture, but to all the details. That’s why over the next few weeks, we will be releasing more detailed information on the NOFA.
For now, though, here is a quick look at the NOFA’s three big-picture trends just to get you started.
Across the country, school is back in session. Though every new school year brings unique challenges for students, few are as difficult to overcome as those facing homeless students.
Each year, school personnel work to identify every homeless student in their districts while school is in session. This includes students who are living in shelters, motels or hotels, doubled up with family or friends, or on the street. (This measure is different than the one that the Department of Housing and Urban Development uses.)
September is back-to-school month, so it’s a perfect time to talk about the difficulties facing one group of people who we might not always think about as experiencing homelessness: college students.
Everyone knows how important getting some kind of post-secondary education can be to lifting people out of poverty, but people with low-incomes, including homeless youth, face particular barriers to completing college. And failing to complete college can burden low-income students further by increasing their debt without increasing their income.
Ever since the days of the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP), communities have been using rapid re-housing to making great strides toward ending homelessness.
And while we know that rapid re-housing, which provides short-term subsidies to get homeless people into housing and back on their feet, is much more cost-effective than traditional homelessness interventions, some people still assume the model won’t work for homeless youth. But youth providers around the country are already proving that assumption wrong.
I am so happy to welcome you to our national conference on ending homelessness. The board and staff of the Alliance are deeply gratified that you have joined us here. And we thank all of you, also, for what you do to end homelessness across the nation.
This has been a year with many challenges. The gap between those who have and those who do not is growing; and many who are poor feel that their opportunities to escape poverty are shrinking. There are tremendous and persistent racial disparities. The cost of housing is increasing, but incomes are not keeping pace.
These are the big picture problems, and we have our challenges on the homelessness side of things, as well. At the national level, funding is getting harder to come by. The work that you are doing – coordinated assessment and entry, rapid re-housing, permanent supportive housing, critical time intervention, housing first, trauma informed care – are more sophisticated and effective. But they are also harder, requiring different skill sets, different administrative infrastructures, and different types of accountability.