Ending Homelessness Today
The official blog of the National Alliance to End Homelessness
Join the Alliance and Great Nonprofits!
November 01, 2010
The deeply discounted Halloween candy sitting on my desk is a sure sign that the holiday season is already upon us.
And to celebrate this season of good will toward men, the National Alliance to End Homelessness has partnered with Great Nonprofits for their 2010 Food and Shelter campaign.
For the month of November, Great Nonprofits will encourage supporters and reviewers to pay special recognition to organizations that work on homelessness and hunger issues. GuideStar, the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, HomeAid, Covenant House, We Are Visible, and GOOD have all joined in to lend their support!
Whether you are a part of a nonprofit organization, a volunteer, a board member, a client served or a donor, we invite you to participate in the 2010 Food and Shelter campaign.
Here’s what you do: Tell us about YOUR experience – about the Alliance or your own local homeless assistance program or nonprofit. How are we having an impact? How are we affecting your local/the national community? How can we do better? Take this opportunity to share your stories about how nonprofits serve our community. Visit the website to get started.
But regardless of whether or not you choose to review us, we do encourage you to see this as an opportunity to share your experiences with nonprofit organizations working to make a difference in your community. Just five minutes – five short minutes! – to give feedback about the work we’re trying to do together.
Got questions? Give us a shout. In the meantime, visit the 2010 Food and Shelter campaign and get started already!... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Housing First stories, elderly homelessness, and our latest Take Five! intervie
Last Chance! Scholarships available for HS students (Deadline Oct 30)!!
October 28, 2010
Today’s post comes to us from John McGah, Executive Director of Give US Your Poor.
This Saturday, October 30, is the deadline for homeless, formerly homeless, and at-risk high school students to apply for a Horatio Alger Association college scholarship.
Nearly 1,000 scholarships are available this year. The Horatio Alger Association helps students who have overcome hardship attend college. This year, through a partnership with Give US Your Poor: The Campaign to End Homelessness (part of UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies), they are targeting students who have experienced homelessness.
The relationship between the Horatio Alger Association and Give US Your Poor began in 2007, at the Give US Your Poor Concert for to benefit people experiencing homelessness in Boston, MA.
During his performance, Greek tenor Mario Frangoulis welcomed 13-year-old Kyla Middleton on stage. Kyla is a top-notch student, articulate public speaker, sings beautifully, and was homeless with her family for a year. Mario and Kyla sang a duet of John Lennon’s, “Imagine,” to the Dorchester audience. Tears, applause, and a standing ovation followed.
Then, to Kyla’s surprise, Mario announced that she was being awarded a $20,000 college scholarship from The Horatio Alger Association.
That was a cool moment. So cool, that it inspired UMass Boston Chancellor, Dr. Keith Motley, to create a 4-year scholarship, given annually, to attend UMass Boston for a Mass. student that has experienced homelessness.
Which leads us to the scholarships offered this year: almost 1,00... Read More »
Take Five with Rosanne Haggerty!
October 27, 2010
Today's guest post comes to us from Rosanne Haggerty,founder of Common Ground New York and the 100,000 Homes Campaign.
What is the newest issue emerging in homelessness policy?
One issue with large potential impact is that more communities are using data to redesign their response to homelessness. Communities with the most information on who is homeless are in the best position to help people out of homelessness. Better data means being able to use mainstream programs more effectively— for instance, if we know who exactly is a veteran, or who qualifies for senior housing, our options for housing those people expand significantly. Along with many partners, we recently launched the 100,000 Homes Campaign to help communities across the country identify, house and support their most vulnerable homeless residents. Participating means having help in gathering person-specific data on who is homeless and in the most fragile health; creating a successful housing placement system; and being part of and learning from a network of others working collectively to house 100,000 vulnerable people by July 2013.
What issue in homelessness policy should everyone be reminded of?
I think many of us were inspired after Hurricane Katrina when over 80,000 people took to craigslist to offer housing to those made homeless by the storm. It jolted me into realizing that people naturally take care of each other in moments of crisis. The homeless never forget that homelessness is an urgent problem, but I think the rest of us o... Read More »
Next Generation Housing Policy: Convening on Rental Housing
October 25, 2010
Today's blog post comes from Steve Berg, Vice President for Programs and Policy at the Alliance.
As a member of the Alliance’s policy team, I have the privilege and responsibility of meeting with elected officials, members of President Obama’s administration, national advocacy groups, and other stakeholders in the world of homelessness and housing. We share ideas, challenges, strategies, and innovations to best meet our common goals.
Earlier this month I had the distinct honor of attending a White House-sponsored gathering called Next Generation Housing Policy: Convening on Rental Housing. A policy that could do more to help the lowest-income Americans afford decent housing would provide a powerful wind at the back of everyone who works to end homelessness - so the issue is key to our work.
The event took place in a building that looks like a small warehouse, planted in an internal courtyard of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB), next door to the White House. Inside was a comfortable, well-appointed auditorium. About 200 people were there – federal officials, people from the development and financing industry, researchers who study housing, and advocates for low-income people.
Speakers included members of the Obama Administration: Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Melody Barnes, Director of the Domestic Policy Council; Larry Summers, Director of the National Economic Council. Academics, advocates, and practitioners from the affordable housing world also spoke, offering their ideas for change. Among them was our friend and c... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Youth Aging Out, Elderly Homelessness, and Domestic Violence
October 22, 2010
So, truth - it was a pretty slow news week. It seems like the news media covers homelessness in cycles: it gets really good (covering solutions and strategies and communities) and then it gets really bad (covering pan handling and camp outs).
I think we’re in an in-between phase.
This week, we noticed a very long feature on youth aging out of foster care in the Seattle Post Intelligencer written by reporters at Investigate West. While we at the Alliance wholeheartedly agree that this is an oft-overlooked and very important issue, we took serious issue with the article’s wildly inaccurate depiction of our own organization:
“At the national level, it's barely on the radar of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, a powerful advocacy group that provides information the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.”
In fact, not only is youth homelessness a 2010 Policy Priority for the Alliance, but in the last year alone, we’ve:
published a series profiling the way some communities are using HPRP funds to assist youth,
launched a youth site visit campaign encouraging legislators to examine the issue in their own communities,
hired new staff to work on the issue,
and – just this week – wrote a toolkit encouraging communities to fully incorporate youth in their January 2011 point-in-time counts.
I’m hoping that next time, before writing such inflammatory remarks, it would occur to a journalist to pick up the phone as I’m always happ... Read More »
Major Findings in the 5th Quarterly Pulse Report
October 21, 2010
On Tuesday, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released the Fifth Quarterly Pulse report – a snapshot of homelessness in eight communities across the country. This latest report covers the time between January to March 2010.
The moral of the story, as conveyed by the current report, is that homelessness is mostly down.
There was a one percent decrease in the overall shelter count between the fourth and fifth quarters. (All but NYC reported decreases in their local counts.)
There was a four percent decrease in the number of sheltered persons in families between the fourth and fifth quarters (All but the Richmond, VA community reported decreases in their local family counts.)
There was a three percent increase in sheltered homeless individuals between the fourth and fifth quarters. (Despite notable decreases in some areas – VA, CT, and KY – increases in other communities, including OH and NYC, contributed to a rise in this number.)
We also noted a couple of economic indicators:
When comparing January – March 2009 to January – March 2010, seven of the eight sites showed increased joblessness. (LA showed a 0.1 percent improvement in joblessness.)
Five communities experienced increased joblessness between the fourth and fifth quarters.
Half of the sites had increased rates of foreclosure activity.
Another point of concern (that’s often reported in news outlets) is the number of newly homeless. In this quarter’s Pulse report, we see that:
In the eight communities surveyed, the number of newly homeless serv... Read More »
The 10 Best Things on Our Website
October 20, 2010
So after tipping my hat to the 100,000 Homes Campaign for featuring our interactive tools and maps on their (awesome!) blog, I did a little tooling around to remind myself of other really useful tools on our very own website!
The Alliance has, for almost 30 years, lead the campaign to end homelessness in the United States. And over the decades, we’ve accumulated the data, best practices, and effective strategies necessary to end homelessness.
And we’re hoping to share them with you!
After checking out our most visited pages and most popular tools, we’ve compiled a list of ten things - links, pages, reports – you need in order to end homelessness in your community (read: really great tools and info). And, just for good measure, I've tossed in a couple not-so-popular but ever-so-useful links as well.
The About Homelessness section.
This section gives you a broad snapshot of homelessness at the national level and includes sections and information on different demographics, the cost of homelessness, and maps produced by the Homelessness Research Institute(HRI).
The Interactive Tools and Solutions section.
HRI produces a number of charts, tools, and maps to help you better understand homelessness. Some of the more recent tools illustrate the number of doubled-up households in the United States, HPRP spending per household in the cities we’re tracking, and reductions in point-in-time counts necessary to meet the goals outlined in the federal strategic plan to end homel... Read More »
The McKinney-Vento Awards hosted by the Law Center
October 18, 2010
Imagine you’re a 7 year old and your family becomes homeless. Every night, you fall asleep in a shelter, in a car, on the street. Imagine moving in and out of the assistance system, shuffled back and forth from shelters to programs to relatives. Suddenly, school, teachers, classmates, and even homework become the constants in your life - anchors of normalcy when everything else seems to be falling apart.
Last Thursday, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty hosted the annual McKinney-Vento Awards, the organization’s yearly tribute to leaders in the field. This year’s awardees included best-selling author Barbara Ehrenreich, the law firm Dechert LLP, and the Elzer family of Pittsburgh, PA.
As a novice to the organization and the issue, I felt lucky to tag along and learn. Even on a national level the homeless assistance community is a small one. That is why these events like this one are great opportunities to meet other people in the field, recognize the innovators, and connect with like-minded people and organizations.
As I sat taking in the night, one issue resonated with me most: the plight of homeless children.
The McKinney-Vento Act allows children in homeless families to stay in their original public school regardless of where their family is temporarily staying. Still, as I learned Thursday evening, there are homeless children who face discrimination when trying to exercise that right.
The Elzer family faced just this situation. When ... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Making Progress
October 15, 2010
This week we have heard some powerful arguments for Housing First and supportive housing.
Our good friends Rosanne Haggerty of Common Ground in New York and Martha Kegel of UNITY in New Orleans authored a fantastic piece in defense of supportive housing. A proposed project in New Orleans – a city still suffering the effects of a hurricane five years past - would redevelop an abandoned nursing home into supportive housing for people with disabilities and low-income working people is facing opposition from the local community. Rosanne and Martha do such a great job articulating the argument, I’ll let them speak for themselves:
“Homelessness is a humanitarian crisis, but it is bad for a community in many other ways as well. By converting abandoned buildings into beautifully renovated apartments, supportive housing offers an opportunity to help solve several of New Orleans' pressing problems at once. Housing the homeless is good for everyone.”
In other news: Massachusetts is kicking butt in implementing and executing their plan to end homelessness; the state has helped place 376 people in housing and has helped prevent almost 11,000 families from becoming homeless through a Housing First model. Even as the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance reports the numbers of new families and individuals seeking help continues to grow in the area, Boston's Pine St. Inn claims to have eliminated 10 percent of their shelter beds due to successful housing placements – at an estimated savings of $9,000 per person. Way to go, MA!
A new... Read More »
Support the Alliance - Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), #10022
October 14, 2010
Today’s blogpost comes from Elizabeth Doherty, development coordinator at the Alliance.
I am happy to announce that the National Alliance to End Homelessness is participating in this year’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). The Alliance is part of the Human Care Charities Federation and our pledge number is 10022.
The CFC, a workplace giving program for federal employees, is one the largest and most successful campaigns of its kind. The mission of the CFC is “to promote and support philanthropy through a program that is employee focused, cost-efficient, and effective in providing all federal employees the opportunity to improve the quality of life for all.”
If you are a federal employee, you can contribute to the Alliance through this worthwhile program. Look for our listing under, "Homelessness, National Alliance to End," #10022 in your CFC pledge book and on your local campaign website. Pledges can be made now through December 15, 2010. If you work in Washington, DC you can give online through the National Capital Area's Campaign.
As a supporter, you can be assured that your contribution goes directly to support our programs: preventing and ending homelessness in this country. In 2009, 93.5 percent of funds raised went to research, education and capacity building programs while only 6.5 percent went to administration and fundraising.
If you're not a government employee but are feeling charitable as the holiday season approaches, please visit the Alliance website to donate online.
Thanks so much for your support!... Read More »
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty to host McKinney-Vento Awards
October 13, 2010
Today’s guest post comes from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. Our good friends at NLCHP are hosting their annual McKinney-Vento Awards tomorrow - Thursday, October 14 - at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel.
Each year, at our annual McKinney-Vento Awards, NLCHP pays tribute to the voices of homeless persons and those fighting to make them heard. This year, on Thursday, October 14, at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, D.C., NLCHP is proud to welcome U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan as keynote speaker at an evening honoring individuals and organizations who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the fight to end homelessness in America.
The NLCHP is pleased honor New York Times best-selling author Barbara Ehrenreich, whose work has demonstrated a deep commitment to raising awareness of and promoting understanding about poverty and homelessness in the U.S. We are also excited to honor Dechert LLP, a firm with an exemplary record of pro bono legal work. Lastly, we will honor the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania, which will receive the Bruce F. Vento Award.
We are also honored to recognize the Elzer family with the Personal Achievement Award.
Last spring, in the span of a month, the Elzers lost everything. The father, William, lost his job, the family's vehicle was repossessed, and they were forced out of their house and into shelter. But as the children began to adjust to their... Read More »
Youth Site Visit Campaign: Educating our leaders about youth homelessness (over turkey)
October 12, 2010
Today's guest post comes from Jeremy Nichols - advocacy intern at the Alliance.
If you stop by the Alliance and pop your head in to see what the Advocacy staff is working on, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll hear rumblings about our Youth Site Visit Campaign.
What’s the Youth Site Visit Campaign, you ask? Good question! We’re asking homeless assistance providers around the country to invite their Member(s) of Congress to visit their programs over the Thanksgiving recess. (site visit, get it?)
With the Youth Site Visit Campaign, we hope to:
Raise awareness among Members of Congress about the issue of youth homelessness
Strengthen local relationships with Members of Congress from across the country
Encourage Congress to increase funding for Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs.
Youth homelessness is an issue that’s always bubbled just beneath the surface of headline news. Just today, there were two articles – one from Tampa, FL and the other from Pittsburgh, PA - about the troublesome incidence of youth homelessness.
It’s a serious if underreported problem: homeless youth are at higher risk than their adult counterparts of abuse, exploitation, violence, and crime. And if that weren’t enough, we’re really bad at finding them, counting them, and helping them out. Youth tend to fly under the radar of local and federal assistance programs, evade outreach efforts, and slip through the cracks of the system. Even when young people... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: The good, the bad, the soccer
October 08, 2010
Let’s start with some good news.
A great little article from up in Oneida, NY notes the importance of the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program. In Madison County, the Community Action Partnership (CAP) took their HPRP stimulus money and used it to extend short-term, temporary housing assistance for nearly a hundred families in the community.
According to the executive director of CAP, this temporary assistance can be a “soft gap” for people waiting to qualify for Section 8 housing vouchers or for those who need a little extra time before achieving self-sufficiency. The program has been “phenomenal,” not only aiding vulnerable families and providing budgeting counseling but also preventing hundreds of instances of homelessness in the neighborhood.
Things are less phenomenal in Las Vegas, NV where public schools are witnessing an influx of homeless students – an increase of 15 percent according to this morning’s article on the issue. Officials in Nevada note the affect – particularly hard in that state – of three year’s of recession the state resulting in persistent unemployment and, sometimes, job loss (a lagging indicator, as we’ve noted.) The story notes a specific increase in the number of “couch surfers” and doubled up families. Homeless youth are even more vulnerable than their adult counterparts, at higher risk to violence, abuse, and crime.
New York caused a bit of a buzz earlier this week when it announced the city’s Department of Homeless Services decided to run a study to determine if... Read More »
Encouraging community investment in Lincoln NE
October 07, 2010
Today's guest post is the next - and last! - installment of our Nebraska series from Kim Walker of our Center for Capacity Building. For more about the Center for Capacity Building and the services they offer, check on the Training section of our website.
Believe it or not, our time in Lincoln is at an end!
This last visited was from September 29 – October 1. The bulk of this last visit was a presentation to the larger Lincoln community, particularly targeting those whose work touches homeless individuals and have not been present for our meetings thus far. It’s about rallying community support and understanding that in order to make big change, we have to all be willing to invest in that change.
For our piece, we’ll review the process we’ve gone through with the Lincoln Homeless Coalition, including the data we collected through our survey and data analysis. Then we’ll turn things over to the Coalition members, who will talk in-depth about each of the goals they have for Lincoln’s system and invite the audience to become involved. This is where, if all goes well, we’ll see our hard work turn to into collective action as the larger community takes ownership of the work ahead.
In addition to presenting, we’ll be visiting the Coalition’s Project Homeless Connect event. Like other communities across the country, Lincoln puts on this one-day event that brings together different service... Read More »
Ending Veterans Homelessness: A recap of our congressional briefings
October 06, 2010
Today's guest post comes from our new Advocacy intern, Jeremy Nichols. Yesterday, Jeremy attended the Alliance-sponsored congressional briefings on ending veterans homelessness - this is his report.
Did you know that though veterans make up only 11 percent of the civilian population they account for roughly 20 percent of homeless people in the nation?
With that alarming statistic in the back of our minds, my colleagues and I headed to Capitol Hill for two briefings on Tuesday about ending veterans homelessness.
As far as Capitol Hill briefings go, these received great attendance from Hill staffers and members of the homelessness provider community. The morning briefing was hosted by Congressional Caucus on Homelessness with a strong presence from the Alliance and the Corporation for Supportive Housing and the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. The Honorable Congresswoman Judy Biggert (who also happens to be a co-chair of the Caucus) gave the opening remarks and once again showed her support for the cause. Brava Congresswoman Biggert!
Our second briefing was for the Senate and quite a few staffers turned out to hear the message.
Tori Lyon, the Executive Director for the Jericho Project in New York City was the first speaker. She discussed how her program is using the HUD-VASH program to make supportive housing a cost-effective solution to veterans homelessness. It costs $12,000 for the Jericho Project to house someone for a year compared to $20,000 for a shelter cot and $67,000 for a jail cell. Ms.... Read More »
Educating homeless children - Nathan Hand, School on Wheels
October 05, 2010
Our guest post today comes from Nathan Hand of School on Wheels in Indianapolis, IN.
The anatomy of a movement
Seventeen years ago, Agnes Stevens saw something severely wrong with the world. Millions of children were homeless and not able to focus on their education among the distractions and hardships that come with their situation. She started School on Wheels Inc. – a volunteer-based tutoring effort to support these vulnerable children. She rallied volunteer support and started gathering supplies.
It literally all began by handing out backpacks, pencils, crayons and glue sticks to kids on the street. Today, there are nearly 1,500 tutors spread across Southern California helping homeless youth focus on their education and get the one-on-one help they often need.
Nine years ago, Sally Bindley from Indianapolis, Indiana saw a similar problem. She learned of Agnes’ efforts, flew to L.A. and shadowed her. For two weeks she talked to kids, parents, tutors, staff, shelters and anyone involved in the effort. Taking copious notes she brought back the pieces of the program that she thought would best suit the issue in Indianapolis and got to work. She gathered a couple friends, started collecting supplies, engaged tutors, and built funding relationships. And sure enough, School on Wheels Corp. was born. Today there are over 500 volunteer tutors serving every child in a family homeless shelter in Indianapolis. In addition, all students receive a new backpack packed full of school supplies, a new boo... Read More »
Meet Jeremy Nichols, our new Advocacy intern!
October 04, 2010
My name is Jeremy Nichols and I am the Alliance’s new Advocacy intern. In one short month, my time with the Alliance has already been filled with emailing member’s offices, conducting webinars, and getting used to the nonprofit world’s love of abbreviations (TANF ECF, HEARTH, HPRP, the list goes on).
I’ve been drawn to the issue of homelessness since high school. I grew in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and during my first week of high school, life ground to a halt when Hurricane Katrina hit. As people began to pick up the pieces in the weeks following the hurricane, it became clear to me that those families and individuals teetering on the brink of financial stability were about to be pushed off the edge.
Like so many, I tried to do my part. I volunteered through my church and worked with at-risk individuals living in the FEMA trailer parks. As the trailer parks began to be phased out, those left stranded were often mentally and physically incapable of holding jobs, paying rent, and fending for themselves. We worked to help such people: we secured benefits, dealt with landlords, and found stable living environments.
The entire experience opened my eyes to the stark scarcity of resources available for people experiencing homeless. Moreover, it became clear that the few resources that do exist are mired in miles of red tape that can seem impossible to navigate.
I’m also a ... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Check the Facts
October 01, 2010
I am going to start off with the good news first because I know the East coast has had a rough week! We at the Alliance got a little recognition today for our work helping the The Lincoln Homeless Coalition revamp the way they serve homeless families. Which, faithful reader, you already know all about from this blog. So kudos to our CAP team! (Want the CAP team in your community? Check out the website.)
Working at the Alliance may make me biased but I was convinced even more this week about the importance of homelessness research. In order to effectively solve a problem, we must first fully understand it. And the research can be hard to swallow - like this report from Toronto - which indicates that homeless youth, particularly lesbian and bisexual women and young people of color, are overwhelmingly victims of crime. Why on earth would anyone victimize a homeless kid?
But with every cloud comes a silver lining. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) has urged members of the Senate to designate these kind of violent attacks against people experiencing homelessness as hate crimes. This act, the "Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act," would lead to stiffer penalties for perpetrators and mandate the collection of data on this problem - which hopefully will lead to better solutions. All this because of reports that violent attacks of this nature have been on the rise here in the United Stat... Read More »
TANF ECF expires today
September 30, 2010
So, here’s the update.
Today, the Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF) expires.
You’re read all about it on our blog. You know what the program does. You know that it’s an effective, affordable initiative that not only gets results but helps thousands of vulnerable Americans by providing financial assistance and creating jobs (and if you don’t, check out this post).
So it’s a low down dirty shame that the U.S. Senate has decided to let this program fold. Worse still that as a result of the expiration, 240,000 people could lose their jobs tomorrow, even today. Articles in both Mother Jones and Campus Progress explain the consequences of the end of this program, including the effect it’ll have on people in poverty, vulnerable families, and 99ers.
It’s worth noting here that there are some senators who stepped up to the plate. Senator John Kerry (D- MA) tried to circulate a sign-on letter urging his colleagues to support an extension of the program. Senator Dick Durbin (D – IL) also noted that the program had been critical in his state of Illinois.
And we can’t underestimate the gratitude that we owe you – for calling on your senators to ask them to support this important program.
But you win some, you lose some. And at the end of the day, this social safety net program will expire leaving thousands of Americans with even... Read More »