Ending Homelessness Today
The official blog of the National Alliance to End Homelessness
Friday News Roundup: Community efforts to end homelessness
September 24, 2010
In truth, it’s been a quiet week on the news front. No big surprise. With 38 days until midterm elections, it seems like voracious news cycle has bigger and juicier fish to fry that handle homelessness and housing.
But we know better.
First up, we got the poverty numbers. Last week, we wrote about the numbers coming out of the Census Bureau showing that the number of people living in poverty went up by 4 million people this year. This week, there were some noteworthy pieces floating around about the reaction to those numbers. The good people at NPR wrote about how the numbers are creating some (much needed) stir about aid programs. An editorial in the Detroit Free Press echoed sentiments that growing poverty numbers indicate a need to extend relief efforts to those most vulnerable. Yet the Washington Post observed that – even in the face of such important news – the numbers got a “muted reaction” on the Hill.
There was also some buzz at the local level – both good and bad news.
There’s was a flurry of news coming out of Oregon when the state released a report that homelessness among students was on the rise. Education Weekly also hit upon the affect of schools on homeless youth just yesterday, noting that the school system can offer resources and stability that such students don’t get elsewhere.
There’s some buzz in California about homeless youth too. The State Assembly is considering a piece of legislation, AB 12, that would assist youth aging out of foster care with the transition to adulthood. Also in Sacramento, there’s an effort to shift homeless services from government officials to a nonprofit organization. Without the constraints of state bureaucracy, the argument is, people would be able to access services more quickly and efficiently.
And across the country, as always, communities are acknowledging the importance of ending homelessness and moving forward in their own ways. Baltimore, western Massachusetts, and Pasco County, FL are moving forward with plans and initiatives to reduce and end homelessness in their neighborhoods. And two leaders in the field out in Washington reiterated the message we all know to be true: that a plan – with a dash of hope – is what’s necessary to fight and end homelessness.
Happy Friday, all.... Read More »
LAST CHANCE for TANF ECF
September 22, 2010
Seriously, this is your LAST CHANCE.
We’ve been beating the issue – we know – but TANF Emergency Contingency Fund (TANF ECF) will expire in 8 days. And there’s just no time to dawdle!
Urge Congress to save TANF ECF by calling your senator now.
Call your senators and ask to speak to the person who works on welfare issues. Don’t know the number? Call the congressional switchboard to find out: 202-224-3121.
When the staffer who works on welfare issues picks up, ask him or her to urge their boss (read: the senator) to call Senate leaders and tell them that they support extending TANF ECF.
If you can, report back! We want to hear what happened – what they said, what they promised, if they had any objections. Learning about your efforts can help us make a more concerted try with ours. Call (202-942-2856), email, or drop us a note here or on Facebook.
Remember: The ECF was created as part of the Recovery Act, intended to help states support the increasing number of people receiving TANF due to the recession. Since it passed, the program has:
provided cash assistance to low-income families;
provided short-term rent assistance to families experiencing a housing crisis; and
created 250,000 subsidized employment opportunities nationally, many of which will end on September 30 if Congress does not act to extend the funding.
For more information, check out a great piece from the Center on Budget and Policy ... Read More »
Quarterly HPRP Report: Part 3
September 21, 2010
A while back, the Alliance released the third Quarterly Leadership Council HPRP Report.
This report – like the two before it - illustrates how 13 cities across the nation are implementing the HPRP. Data from the following cities are included in this quarterly report:
Chicago, ILColumbus and Franklin County, OHDenver, COLos Angeles, CAMiami-Dade, FLMinneapolis and Hennepin County, MNNew Orleans, LANew York, NYPhiladelphia, PAPortland, ORSan Francisco, CASeattle and King County, WAWashington, DC.
Overall, the cities have spent $28.4 million (through June 2010) on homelessness prevention for 57,220 people at risk of homelessness and $12.5 million to rapidly re-house 35,135 people experiencing homelessness.
Of the over 92,000 people have been served by rapid re-housing and prevention programs in the Leadership Council cities, 45,205 people have exited to permanent housing. This includes at least 18,033 who have exited from prevention programs and at least 27,172 who exited from rapid re-housing programs.
The report highlights spending by strategy (prevention and rapid re-housing), by categories of those strategies (financial assistance, case management, outreach and engagement, motel vouchers, rental assistance, etc.), and by city. Both Washington, DC and Miami, FL have spent almost 75 percent of their prevention allocations. Minneapolis and Los Angeles are unique among the cities in having served more persons with rapid re-housing resources than with prevention resources.
You can read the entirety of the two-page report online. There, you can also access the first and second quarterly HPRP reports.
The Alliance has done a great deal of work around the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid R... Read More »
Steve Berg: What ending homelessness looks like
September 20, 2010
Thanks to all our wonderful fans and supporters who submitted photos for the Alliance photo contest. Our judges are reviewing all the excellent entries and while we wait for the results, we have a very special guest on the blog. Steve Berg, Vice President of Programs and Policy at the Alliance, speculates on what a country without homelessness could look like .
She’s not going to be homeless, even though her boyfriend beat her and disappeared with her money. Even though her job disappeared next, she and her babies had to move in with her mom, and now her mom’s boyfriend wants them out.
She’s not going to be homeless because the domestic violence counselor sent over a woman who mediated, found some places that were hiring, contacted a new day care center, connected her with a different landlord, and paid the security deposit and her storage bill.
She’s not going to be homeless.
She’s going to unwrap the dishes. On one of the newspapers she’s using there’s a story about The Last Homeless Person in America. She laughs, thinking, “That could have been me.” She’ll have to read it later.
He’s not going to be homeless even though he came back from overseas and couldn’t talk to anybody. Even though his girlfriend, his boss, his friends and parents all made him so furious he couldn’t be around them.
He’s not going to be homeless ... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Poverty, housing, and photos
September 17, 2010
Welcome to the Friday news roundup!
So headlining the news this week (or at least yesterday) are the poverty numbers. No surprises: poverty, uninsured, up in 2009.
The nation's official poverty rate in 2009 was 14.3 percent, up from 13.2 percent in 2008. The number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 46.3 million in 2008 to 50.7 million in 2009, or an increase from 15.4 percent to 16.7 percent of the total population. You can check out the full report on the census website.
What’s that mean? Well, from our perspective, it means that there are more people at risk of experiencing homelessness. If you remember our brief on ”sustainable cost burden”, you know that more than half of poor families spend more than half their monthly income for housing (this is often termed “severe housing cost burden.”) You might also remember that severe housing cost burden is up among individuals and families doubled up.
With need so high, this is exactly the wrong time to be rising the elimination of TANF ECF. This job-creating service to the most vulnerable families is in danger of expiring at the end of the month. We’ve written about it before and there are daily stories cropping up the program’s importance. It seems that the program may be seeing rays of hope - but that doesn’t mean you should rest on your laurels. If you haven’t already (and you better have!) call your senator today.
An interesting report shows that housin... Read More »
Examining The Federal Plan: Objective 2 – Increasing knowledge
September 16, 2010
And it’s back! I’m picking up where Marisa dropped off in learning about the ten objectives of Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.
Today we’re looking at objective two.
Objective 2: Strengthen the capacity of public and private organizations by increasing knowledge about collaboration, homelessness, and successful interventions to prevent and end homelessness.
As the communications arm of the Alliance, this objective is really important to us. One of the goals outlined in the HRI mission is to build and disseminate information about homelessness and engage the public and the media.
And to that end, we’ve tried to adopt the technologies that make the most sense to us. You’ll find us on Facebook, you can follow us on Twitter, you can check out our videos on YouTube and see our pictures (from our photo contest on Flickr. (And of course, there’s this blog). Through these avenues, we aim to engage supporters and disseminate information about homelessness – and solutions to homelessness.
Of course, the primary vehicle to do just that is our website. There, you’ll find factsheets, solutions, strategies, community snapshots, research, and an oft-visited and very helpful section called About Homelessness. The website is regularly updated with new information about the wide range of issues that intersect with homelessness: health care, veterans affairs, welfare, violence, substance abuse, and the like.
Our challenge is always in reaching the people that need us. Our last us... Read More »
News Roundup – Special Tuesday/college student edition
September 14, 2010
It’s a story that’s a little outside our wheelhouse, but has started showing up on our telephone lines.
We’re talking about college students facing cost-prohibitive housing options and turning to fitness center facilities, coach-surfing, and shelters.
We’ve heard whispers of this story before. In July, NPR released a story about the confluence of rising education costs and a poor economy. The result, the story suggests, is financially-strapped college student struggling to meet the most basic needs – including food and housing. In December of last year, the Washington Post ran a column about a couple local students who were struggling to keep their head above water in classes while living in shelters. Change.org also featured a post about the rising number of homeless college students, suggesting that colleges and universities take into consideration the rising cost of living as well as the rising cost of higher education.
But only lately has the problem shown up – live and on the phone – in our own offices. We’ve had students call and want to know how to navigate financial aid bureaucracy in order to qualify for more housing aid. We’ve had students call simply to see if we can help them find housing or housing assistance. It came to such a point that our administrative staff asked, in staff meeting, for resources that we can share with these young people who turn to us for support – usually as a last resort as... Read More »
Last chance to submit photos!
September 13, 2010
This is the last week to submit your entries to the Alliance photo contest!
In case you haven’t heard – and if you’re reading this blog, chances are slim that you haven’t heard – the Alliance is running a photo contest! We want to know what ending homelessness looks like to you – in a picture!
We’ve already received many great submissions from you guys and we’re really looking to receive some more! For more information about the details of the contest, the contest rules, the judges, and a link to the submission form, keep your eyes on the blog and the website. And to browse through the entries we’ve already received, check out our Flickr album.
Don’t forget! We stop taking submissions at midnight on Friday, September 17. Between now and then, keep those picture coming!
Can’t wait!... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: the TANF month
September 10, 2010
If April is the cruelest month, then September - it seems - is the TANF month
(Okay, bad joke.)
Nonetheless, it's been all TANF, all the time.
So here's the story: TANF is a program that helps low-income families. It provides block grants to states and the funds are used to curb child child expenses and promote work preparation and opportunities. In the face of the recession, more and more families were in need of such assistance and the federal government created the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund - an extra pot of money that could help states with up to 80 percent of increased TANF assistance requests. States and think tanks alike have reported that the emergency fund has been a lifeline for both states and the families in those states requiring aid.
But here's where the bad news comes in. The emergency fund is set to expire on September30 of this year if it isn't renewed by the Senate (the House has already voted for an extension).
This seemingly innocuous little welfare program has gotten a decent amount of ink in the last few weeks. It hasn't been the firestorm set off by Quran-burning or midterm elections, but in national and local news sources alike, stories popped up like plastic whac-a-moles.
In Connecticut, the New Haven Register ran a story about the federal program's implications in the state. The article cited an excellent report by the Center for Budget and... Read More »
More dispatches from Nebraska
September 09, 2010
You may remember that Kim Walker of the Alliance’s Center for Capacity Building is launching a new tool to end homelessness in Nebraska. Today – while she and our colleague Sam are en route to the Lincoln, she shares thoughts for their next trip!
It’s back to Lincoln tomorrow – and this time, my fellow Capacity Building Associate, Samantha Batko, will be joining me! Our mission for the visit is to finalize the plan that Lincoln started the first time around. This will entail doing some refining of the Lincoln Homeless Coalition members’ initial ideas, particularly the five goals they chose as the most important in helping them shift their system in the direction of ending family homelessness. Last time around, there were a lot of different strategies and resources suggested to help Lincoln accomplish their goals, but now it’s time to decide which strategies and resources are the best and most promising ones. Completing a workable timeline is also of the utmost importance with this visit.
Beyond just finishing up the plan – which is no small feat – we also hope to get the group jump-started with implementation. We are hoping to get the ball rolling so by our next visit, Lincoln will be able to report some progress on each of the five goals they’ve selected. While we at the Alliance our big plans of comprehensive and thoughtful planning, what we are really after is successful implementation that gets positiv... Read More »
Call your senator - save TANF ECF!
September 08, 2010
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: we can – and must - save the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF).
And we’re not the only ones that think so. In the last few days, you may have noticed that the innocuous welfare program has received an unusual amount of ink. Stories praising the job-creating program have run in the Chicago Tribune and Huffington Post - among countless other publications.
We hate to say we told you so but we did call it. This stimulus program is making a difference where it’s needed most: offering cash assistance to low-income families, providing housing aid, and subsidizing jobs. In fact, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that the program has created 250,000 subsidized jobs for low-income parents and youth across the country.
But the program is about to come to a grinding halt. TANF ECF will expire on September 30 if Congress doesn’t act now.
We need you to tell them how.
Senator John Kerry (D-MA) is circulating a sign-on letter for his colleagues in the Senate to join. He wants them to sign the letter to urge Senate leaders to extend the ECF right away and provide a one-year, $2.5 billion extension of ECF to allow states to access additional funds and continue subsidizing jobs for low-income families and youth.
Want to know what you can do?
Call your senators TODAY (If you don’t k... Read More »
Book Proceeds for Homelessness
September 08, 2010
Today we would like to introduce you to John and Rose Bottensek who have committed themselves to the effort to end homelessness by donating a dollar to the Alliance for every copy of their new book that they sell. John is the author of of the new novel; Rose, his wife, is the editor. Read below to hear from the authors how this great movement has inspired them.
As the ongoing economic crisis continues to affect so many Americans, one of the most pressing issues that takes center stage in our minds is the plague of homelessness – an issue that has long been ignored by our American community. In fact, as I write this, I notice my spell check doesn’t even recognize it as a word. That alone speaks volumes as to the lack of recognition this issue receives.
The number of homeless where I live-- Madison, Wisconsin – has actually decreased by forty percent in the past five years. I cannot offer an opinion as to why because, like most people, I haven’t paid much attention to the problem until recently.
That is not to say we don’t notice the lines outside the shelters in the evenings, some reaching around the block at times. We live in one of the most beautiful, most prosperous cities in the country. If the problem of homelessness is identifiable here, it is shameful to imagine what it must look like at on a natio... Read More »
Sharing moments and ending homelessness
September 07, 2010
This morning, I was listening to an NPR podcast about our reliance on our digital devices. It’s the same song that’s become quite popular in the last few years – about our growing addiction to gadgets, our constant attachment to a never-ending stream of information and social networks, our world’s increasing speed and transience.
In a world of such haste, it takes discipline to slow down and take note of moments.
But this is exactly what we – with your help – are trying to accomplish with our photo contest.
I spent part of my Labor Day holiday checking out the photos people have submitted for the Alliance contest thus far. There are pictures of children, of faces, of buildings, and keys. There are pictures of families and houses and landscapes.
And in between the separate elements of the pictures – the people, the backdrop, the light – there is the moment. Somewhere in the picture a person who was once experiencing homelessness found housing. Somewhere in the picture a family resumed their lives in a stable, permanent home. Somewhere in the picture, homelessness was ended.
And while moments in this digital age zip by with hardly a status update, these are the moments that linger and define us. These are the moments that when, added up, push us towards a better reality, a richer community, a time when all people will have a safe and permanent place to call home.
For our ... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Refugees, hate crimes, and HPRP
September 03, 2010
News on homelessness this week was a mixed bag.
Our friend Lornet Turnbull wrote a touching story about refugees facing homelessness in the United States. The piece highlighted the struggles of refugee families fleeing conflict areas across the world only to experience homelessness in the United States. Not only do they face the often-complicated homeless support system, they face language and cultural obstacles as well.
Merrill Balassone of McClatchy Newspapers reported more sobering news – that people experiencing homelessness and increasingly targets of crime. According to the story, “new data show homeless people nationwide were singled out in more than 1,000 attacked over the last 11 years by perpetrators motivated by anti-homeless hostility”. There is some movement (as reported in the New York Times last year and seen on change.org now) to categorize violence against people experiencing homelessness as a hate crime.
And we can’t forget about HPRP, especially not with Congress about to come back into session. The federal prevention and rapid re-housing program is still being implemented in communities across the country. And while there are reports of challenges in performance and outreach (like in Texas), there are more and more success stories everyday.
In fact, the Journal Sentinel shared a story just last week about a Harvard study that examined the effect stimulus dollars were having on evictions in Milwaukee County. The study concluded that homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing stimulus dollars had contributed to a 15 percent decrease in evic... Read More »
Meet Norm Suchar!
September 02, 2010
Today, we continue the meet-the-staff series with Norm Suchar, the new director of the Alliance’s Center for Capacity Building. We’ve written about the Center for the blog before - now take some time to learn about the new director!
For more information about the Center for Capacity Building – including the new Performance Improvement Clinic (formerly called the HEARTH Academy) – check out the Alliance website!
... Read More »
Webinar Launch of Youth Campaign
September 01, 2010
Calling all youth advocates! We need your help! On September 15, the Alliance will be launching a year-long youth advocacy campaign aimed to educate and raise awareness about youth homelessness. The campaign will include a major push this fall for congressional members to visit local runaway and homeless youth programs across the country, in addition a big focus next spring on urging Congress to increase funding for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act.
The site visit campaign will be launched on September 15 at 2 p.m. ET with a webinar on how to hold an effective site visit. The webinar will be a training tool for both new and old advocates, including tips for how to get congressional members to accept site visit invitations and how to use site visits to initiate lasting relationships with congressional members. Site visits are useful for both Members of Congress and local providers. They allow local advocates an opportunity to begin a long-term relationship with their congressional offices, in addition to helping Members to see first-hand how their actions in Washington impact local programs in their districts. Click here to register for the webinar.
The Alliance will work with interested advocates across the country to choose congressional targets and invite them to visit local programs. The Alliance will also help communities to plan an agenda for their site visits and otherwise make the most out of the visits to strengthen their relationships with their Members of ... Read More »
Goodbye from Marisa
August 31, 2010
Hello everyone! I can’t believe my internship at the Alliance is over, but I can definitely say I am so glad I came here! When I interviewed for this job, I just wanted to work for a good cause and I didn’t know anything about homelessness. That certainly isn’t the case now!
I have learned so much about homelessness since I came to the Alliance, my perceptions have been completely changed. I have learned about the struggles the people endure and the causes that force people into homelessness. I have learned that the stereotype I had before I came here was just not in line with reality. The biggest misconception I had? That the people I see on the streets are the majority of the homeless population. Chronic homelessness only makes up 20 percent though! After working here, I will definitely do my best to help change people’s perceptions, because I can see that this is the most important step in affecting change.
It has also been great blogging with you! I had never worked on a professional blog or ran social media for an organization before, but the experience has shown me how such tools can really be great ways to get information out to people. Running social media like Facebook and Twitter has also shown me how we can develop communities of people who really care, to help spread information and start to affect real change.... Read More »
Extra: Five Years Later
August 30, 2010
Today’s guest blog comes from Martha Kegel of UNITY.
The Blessings of Katrina
The mood this weekend across New Orleans was somber. Rain poured and dark threatening clouds filled the sky, and I couldn’t seem to shake the gloom. The rebroadcasts of people stranded on their rooftops five years ago only served to remind me of all those who did not survive. All weekend I could feel a pain in my chest at the sight of all those empty houses everywhere I go, the thought of all those New Orleanians still displaced, homeowners still struggling to make their houses habitable, disabled people squatting in abandoned buildings because of drastically inflated rents. This was supposed to be over with by now.
But it’s not.
Yesterday, the fifth anniversary of Katrina, I awoke early in the darkness. By eight o’clock, I was on my way to the Lower Ninth Ward, the scene of the worst devastation in New Orleans, where a poorly designed levee broke with such force that a wall of water swept a neighborhood away, leaving not much but a huge barge behind. Much of the devastation remains. Spending the morning in the Lower Nine was a bad idea, I thought to myself all the way there.
But it wasn’t.
As soon as I fell in line with a crowd of neighborhood people behind a high school brass band sending forth those joyful and unmistakably New Orleans soun... Read More »
Friday News Round Up: Looking Back
August 27, 2010
As the anniversary of hurricane Katrina is upon us, we hear about the state of homelessness in the affected areas. From Newsweek, we read about how after five years, the situation is still dire with some statistics saying that the problem of homelessness has doubled.
In other news, the Daily Record tells us how Medicaid expansion will help those experiencing homelessness, and the Berkley Daily Planet informs us on the Western Regional Advocacy Project’s update of their report on homelessness.
The Sacramento Press also brought us some good news, writing on how HPRP funds were used in this past year to house 1,168 families.... Read More »
Meet the Judges of Our Photo Contest
August 26, 2010
With the photo contest now in full swing, we thought it’d be a good time to detail for you what the contest judges are seeking. There are seven judges, five from the Alliance and 2 of our colleagues from the homelessness field.
The full panel of on-staff judges includes: Steve Berg, Vice President of Programs and Policy at the Alliance; Norm Suchar, Director of Capacity Building; Bill Sermons, Director of the Homeless Research Institute; Kimberly Walker, Capacity Building Associate; and D’Arcy Klingle, Meetings and Events Coordinator.
Most of the judges have said they are looking for a winning submission that is not only visually appealing but also tells a story. D’Arcy Klingle, one of the Alliance staff judges, says “To me, a photo should convey a message or a story without using any words, giving the viewer an emotional connection or understanding of the message behind the photo by just looking at it.” She is specifically looking for a photo that would make a great basis for a conference theme.
Some judges have said they like photos with contrast and images that evoke emotion. Bill Sermons, another Alliance staff judge, thinks participants have a challenge in submitting photos that are not only visually appealing but also depict how homelessness is being ended in local communities across the country -- but he’s already impressed with some of the submissions received!
If you haven’t been able to check out our flick... Read More »