Ending Homelessness Today
The official blog of the National Alliance to End Homelessness
Guest Blog: Poverty in Chicago
August 11, 2009
Afternoon, everyone! Apologies for the break in info - had some family in town and they required by strict attention (and tourist-guiding techniques).
No worries, though, we're back on the horse now!
A few pieces of business to wrap up:
Pictures from the Conference (172 of them!) are up on our Flickr account. Check it out and see if we snapped you up!
We didn't have a Friday news roundup, but I did notice this morning that there are a LOT of stories about the recession, a decline in services just as there's increased demand, and - as always - trickling stories about HPRP funds. Keep an eye on those daily clips to stay on top of the news.
We'd love to hear from you! Tell us what you want more information about - shoot us a comment, follow us on Twitter (@naehomelessness) or shoot me an email with an idea, request, whatever. This is all about you - really! (For me, it's just an exercise in writing concisely.)
Last week, I got an email from a woman at The Documentary Channel. They've created a piece on homelessness in Chicago, specifically looking at the role of addiction in homelessness. A spokesperson wrote to us, "Chicago filmmaker Brian Schodorf takes a raw and real look at the men behind the statistics with poignant testimonies from the streets and expert interviews inside elite university offices."
It's a long one - trust me, you'll have to put aside a solid chunk of time. But it's a poignant and interesting look into homelessness in one of the country's biggest cities. Check out Poverty In Chicago and let me know what you think!... Read More »
Grant Opportunities from our Development Team
August 05, 2009
It's pretty crazy. Just now, I'm typing up some of the usability results from the Alliance's Annual Conference on Ending Homelessness, and I'm remembering that a handful of users suggested that we share fundraising ideas on our website.
And then, I get this email from our Development Director, Beth Roche: Here are some new grant opportunities that do not seem to be a good fit for the Alliance, but that I thought some folks might be interested in knowing more about to pass along to other nonprofits and colleagues.
Well, Beth! I'm sure there are some people who might be interested! Here you go, folks:
The 14th Annual MetLife Awards for Excellence in Affordable Housing is open for entries. Enterprise Community Partners and the MetLife Foundation have focused this year's competition on best practices in the area of affordable independent senior living and environmentally responsive housing.
A program of Civic Ventures, the Purpose Prize annually provides five awards of $100,000 each to people over 60 who are working to address society's biggest challenges.
The SEVEN (Social Equity Venture) Fund, a nonprofit organization that works to promote enterprise-based solutions to poverty, has published its second annual open Enterprise-based Solutions to Poverty Request for Proposals. The fund's Request for Proposals is limited to research in economics, government policy, and business strategy, insofar as the research bears directly on questions in enterprise-based solutions to poverty.
Best of luck if you choose to pursue these funding... Read More »
Five Things I Learned at the Annual Conference
August 03, 2009
It's August 3, 2009 - the Monday after the National Conference on Ending Homelessness in Washington, D.C. The staff is back, almost recharged (Mondays are hard), and going over the last few days.
Here's how it broke down:
1200+ participants from across the country;
Almost 250 speakers sharing about housing strategies, best practices, and the newest data;
62 workshops about matters ranging from housing, federal policy, best practices, and communications;
Six remarkable keynote speakers, including HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, White House Director of Urban Affairs Policy Adolfo Carrion, Jr., Senator Jack Reed, and a very boisterous account from Congressman Al Green.
This was my first conference - and I was overwhelmed with the response of the attendees. I learned a lot, but highlights included:
1. There are a LOT of us!
The fervor and passion and drive of service providers, policymakers, and advocates from far and wide was a moving testament to the goodwill that still exists in all of us - even in these trying economic times. More than once I heard of organizations "breaking the bank" so that their partners could benefit from our conference. We're very touched - and much obliged.
2. We're making some noise.
This was my first opportunity to see the new HUD Secretary live and in-person, and his carefully thought-out address may not have alleviated all my worries - but it did let me know that the federal government hasn't turned a deaf ear to those most in need.... Read More »
Annual Conference - Sen. Jack Reed!
July 31, 2009
I'm sitting here, listening to what is NO DOUBT a standing ovation given to Sen. Jack Reed who just gave an address to at the final plenary session at the Conference.
The senator - a longtime homeless advocate and champion of highly successful legislation to prevent and end homelessness - touched upon a number of different topics, including the ramifications of the HEARTH Act and the inexcusable tragedy of veteran homelessness.
"We have a lot of work to do," said the senator.
He's already started, it seems. Yesterday, the senator announced, he introduced the Zero Tolerance for Homeless Veterans - in an effort to do just that: end veteran homelessness.
Whew! Guess you never know what'll happen!... Read More »
Annual Conference - Day Three
July 31, 2009
I CANNOT believe that it's already almost over! It's been a crazy roller coast of a conference (and my first one, no less!) and I've met so many incredible partners, learned so much about housing and homelessness, and had the privilege to hear acclaimed politicians, scholars, and innovators in the field.Which doesn't mean that next on the agenda isn't a nice, long NAP.During my time here, I FINALLY got to meet Kai Stansberrg at Path Partners in Los Angeles and listened to Danna Fischer of the National Low Income Housing Coalition speak about housing policy implementation. I had a great chat with Greg Walz-Chojnaki of the Supportive Housing Network of New York about communications strategy and met another New Yorker - Deb DeSantis, President of the Corporation for Supportive Housing in the hotel elevator!I can't believe that in just a few hours, all 1200+ participants, speakers, and staff will exit the Renaissance Hotel (and leave behind QUITE a mess for the hotel staff) and go back to their respective states.Hopefully - we at the Alliance ALL hope - that they'll leave with some new ideas, better information, and good strategies to help push our mutual goals forward.We'll see what happens. In the meantime - LUNCH.More later!... Read More »
Annual Conferece - End of Day 2
July 30, 2009
Whew! It's been a LOOOONG day!
Adolfo Carrion, the new Director of the White House Office on Urban Affairs Policy gave the lunchtime keynote, followed by acclaimed scholar Dennis Culhane - whose work informs so many of the most effective and promising strategies in ending homelessness. Adolfo, a self-described "urbanist," reiterated the notes that Secretary Donovan had left us with: together, as a community, we can approach homelessness is a collective, effective, and successful way.
Then, the time came: the communications & advocacy workshop! My big workshop!
I know I'm biased, but I tend to think that communications and advocacy not only go hand-in-hand, but are critical components to our mutual mission to address, prevent, and end homelessness. Our issue is such a delicate, complicated, and expansive one - and effectively relaying those nuances in an intelligent and digestible way requires careful thought and skill. And - as Leslie Kerns of M+R Strategic Services and Ehren Reed of Innovation Networks taught us this afternoon - a strategic campaign to get that message across to those who can sympathize, affect, and make a different.
The two taught us that a great advocacy and communications strategy requires a careful examination of goals, the audience, the message, and a launch - and that examining these factos and making sure that all of them line up are instrumental for a successful campaign. I'll post the materials and ideas generated from the workshop in... Read More »
Annual Conference - Secretary Donovan's remarks
July 30, 2009
Prepared Remarks for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan at the National Alliance to End Homelessness, Annual Conference
Thursday, July 30th, 2009
Thank you, Nan - for that introduction, for your remarkable leadership with the Alliance, and, above all, for the bedrock commitment to end homelessness you have impressed upon five different HUD Secretaries. I look forward to continuing our work together.
I want to also thank your board, particularly Co-Chairs Susan Baker and Mike Lowry. And I want to note the HUD team here helping us address homelessness - Mark Johnston, our Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs, and Ann Oliva, who heads up our Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs.
And of course, many of you know Fred Karnas - Fred is a senior adviser and has been critical in our Recovery Act efforts, including working with Mark and Ann quickly distributing the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing funds that so many of you made possible.
Will all of you stand up?
I want to also acknowledge the work of the Pete Dougherty, the interim executive director of the Interagency Council on Homelessness, and the USICH staff, many of whom are here today.
But most of all, I want to thank everyone in this room who labor day in and day out to help the millions of men, women, and children in our nation who experience homelessness.
In the best of times,... Read More »
Annual Conference - Day Two
July 30, 2009
The Secretary's entourage and his security detail came by at 7 a.m. today. Herds of the 1200+ attendees of the conference mingled around the doors of the ballroom for a half hour to get a peek of the Secretary. The day began in a VERY exciting way!
And just after 8 a.m. - Secretary Shaun Donovan himself.
His remarks were inspiring and thoughtful: an emphasis on creating more affordable housing, the relationship between health care reform and the homeless, a persistent theme of the moral responsibility of our country to care for the least among us. The necessity of cooperation between the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's Department of Health and Human Services in providing services + housing for the homeless. It was everything that the audience needed to hear: a federal promise to keep investing in preventing and ending homelessness.
It's no wonder he got a standing ovation.
We'll be posting the Secretary's remarks shortly, keep an eye out on our blog and website. But for the time being, a few pics.
Next up - in under an hour! - new White House Director of Urban Affairs Policy: Adolfo Carrion.
... Read More »
Annual Conference - End of Day One
July 29, 2009
That was an incredible day - opening session with Nan Roman, followed by roughly 25 different workshops until about 5 p.m. We're just about to start the fun part - reception! - after a very productive day of presentations, panels, and exchanging ideas. I personally attended a workshop about data (with Dennis Culhane!) and one about prevention techniques (with VERY engaging speakers Matt White of Ohio and Mellisa Mowery of New York). HPRP must've been the word of the day, cuz that second workshop had about 150 people in with seats filled and people standing around the edges!
Tomorrow features Secretary Donovan, new White House Director on Urban Affairs Policy Adolfo Carrion, 75 more workshops, and a ton of other information.
I'll post reception pictures later! Until then, some workshop pics.
... Read More »
Annual Conference: Pictures from Day 1
July 29, 2009
Pre-conference workshops are over, registration is still going strong, and lots and lots of mingling. Check out the initial pics!... Read More »
Annual Conference - Day One
July 29, 2009
It's a rushed, wonderful blur! Usability testing was a pretty good success - almost met our goal of 12 tests. Gave away starbucks and free t-shirts - gotta keep people motivated!
Met Ms. Florida - rachael todd - at the conference! She wants to be the public face of ending homelessness. Was TOTALLY sweet and very very beautiful.
Just got off the phone with c-span, who might come to carry Secretary Donovan's remarks and also remarks by Adolfo Carrion. Cross your fingers - that would be awesome!
Took a few initial pics - will share shortly!... Read More »
One more day…until the Annual Conference!
July 27, 2009
The annual National Conference on Ending Homelessness officially starts on Wednesday, July 29 at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C.
The annual events hosts luminaries from the homeless advocacy fields, and presents workshops, plenary sessions, and keynotes speakers sharing a wide variety of perspectives, best practices, and new ideas.
This year, the Alliance is expecting 1200 participants, 250 speakers, presenting 76 workshops, six pre-conference meetings, four keynote speakers, as well as a couple focus groups, expert roundtables, and terrific networking opportunities. Keynote speakers include Sen. Jack Reed (D – RI), Director of White House Office of Urban Affairs Adolfo Carrion Jr., homelessness scholar Dennis Culhane, and Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs Shaun Donovan.
As usual, the gathering will be a rare opportunity for policymakers to mingle with direct service providers to mingle with elected officials to mingle with members of the general public and press. Each of these stakeholder groups will be able to offer their perspectives and concerns while attending workshops about the stimulus funds, housing strategies, chronic homelessness assessment, youth homelessness, and a breadth of other homelessness issues.
For three days, these 1200 people will trade their personal experiences and expertise on ending homelessness in the United States and hopefully – with luck and determination – everyone will leave the annual conference better equipped to address homelessness in their geographic, political, policy areas.
And behind this wonder of a conference is a small staff of very dedicated individuals (if we do... Read More »
Why Housing First?
July 23, 2009
Early last week, the staff at the Alliance had a messaging meeting where a staff member shared with us the frustrations of people he’s been meeting on the field. With the recession in high gear and people in dire need of help, why – advocates and providers asked – why were we not endorsing the rapid construction of temporary shelters?
And then I saw this article on my good friend Shannon’s change.org blog.
So I thought the timing was right to ask: Why Housing First?
But first: What is Housing First?
Housing First is a concept that was pioneered by Dr. Sam Tsemberis of the NYU School of Medicine and an organization in New York called Pathways to Housing.
The premise of the Housing First campaign is the housing is a basic human right and should not be denied to anyone, regardless of their habits or circumstances. Housing First prescribes providing the homeless permanent supportive housing – which includes supportive services coupled with permanent housing (not shelter). The supportive services address addiction, mental health, case management and the like, and provides stability for homeless individuals. These services increase the ability of homeless individuals to maintain permanent housing and achieve self-sufficiency.
It’s important to note that this approach is a significant departure from the traditional way the country approached homelessness before. In the old system, homelessness management was emphasized through shelter, mental health services, medical services, and the like before permanent h... Read More »
Data + Research: Foreclosure to Homelessness
July 21, 2009
Today, the Director of the Homelessness Research Institute - M William Sermons – attended the National Governor’s Association’s Center for Best Practices’ “Expert’s Roundtable: Helping Families Recover from Foreclosure through Economic Opportunities and Family Supports.”
He was invited to present findings from a report he co-authored earlier this year about the relationship between foreclosure and homelessness. The report - Foreclosure to Homelessness: The Forgotten Victims of the Subprime Crisis - examines how much foreclosure has contributed to rising homelessness rates, and specifically, the rise in numbers of homeless families.
The study went like this: surveys were distributed to direct service providers. These included emergency shelter providers, transitional shelter providers, food assistance programs, and the like. These surveys asked providers to determine how many people they were experiencing homelessness as a result of foreclosure. (A copy of the survey administered is available in the appendix of the full report.)
The results were mixed.
Certainly, a majority of people said that at least some of their clients were homeless as a result of foreclosure – about 80 percent.
But the median percentage of clients that were affected was far smaller. Housing providers (including emergency, transitional, and permanent housing providers) estimated that five percent of their clients experience homelessness due to foreclosure; all respondents (including those who don’t provide housing assistance) estimated that ten percent of their clients experienced homelessness as a result of foreclosure.
But perhaps the most telling finding in the report is tha... Read More »
Ten Things you should know…to be homeless?
July 20, 2009
I know news roundup is on Fridays, but I couldn’t let this one pass.
It's a great game of chance, skimming the morning's news for coverage on homelessness.
It ranges all over the place: features on cities dealing with housing challenges,(often in our own DC), comprehensive, well-crafted analyses about public housing policy , news from other countries starting ten year plans, and features about activists raising awareness on the issue.
Some of it is great, some if it is not so great, it really depends on the day.
But sometimes – just sometimes – it's just out of left-field.
Last week, the Nation published a story called, Ten Things You need to Know to Live on the Streets.
Evidently, the article is the brainchild of Nation editorial board member Walter Moseley and a grassroots, social justice organization founded and led by homeless people called Picture the Homeless.
In truth, my initial reaction was confusion – followed by more confusion, distaste, and more confusion. To be counseling people on how best to live on the streets, it seemed to me, was to be missing the point entirely .
And then there are some points that come off just patently patronizing:
Be prepared to be blamed for your circumstances, no matter how much they may be beyond your control. Think of ways to disabuse the public of common misconceptions. Don't internalize cruelty or condescension. Let go of your pride--but hold on to your dignity.
The First A... Read More »
Data + Research: Geography of Homelessness
July 16, 2009
There's been a lot - a pretty hefty amount - of data collected about the size of the homeless population. I mean, we really have to had it to HUD; there's been a concerted effort to make sure we have as much information as possible about this social problem.
Less is known, however, about where that population is. Where are they? Where do they sleep? Are they able to access services? Do we really have an accurate count?
So here, at the Alliance, we've been taking a good, hard look at geography.
Geography is important. Just ask people about redlining and redistricting and public school systems. It’s why people look for apartments and houses in particular neighborhoods. It’s one reason there are so many people in NYC and SF and LA.
And it’s no less important to the homeless.
Homelessness is often painted as an urban phenomenon, but we know there are homeless people in suburban and rural areas – and we’re fairly sure that they’re experience is different than that of their big city counterparts because of their geography.
But just to be super-sure, we’ve launched: the Geography of Homelessness!
In this monthly series, we’re answering the following questions (not necessarily in this order):
Do rural areas have different rates of homelessness than other areas?
How do aspects of homeless systems assistance (e.g. funding, beds) vary by geography?
Have certain geographic types (e.g. rural, sub... Read More »
Understanding the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Programs
July 15, 2009
So last week I did something new – the release of the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), so I thought this week I’d do something old: the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistant Act.
The McKinney-Vento Act was authored by Stewart Brett McKinney – a Republican Congressman from Connecticut – and Bruce Frank Vento – a Democratic-Farm-Labor Congressman from Minnesota, both of whom were known to their peers as advocates of those less fortunate, and dedicated to finding supportive programs and solutions to homelessness. The bill was signed by President Ronald Reagan, who – ironically - is often accused of contributing to modern-day homelessness by deinstitutionalizing mental health facilities in the 1980s.
The McKinney-Vento Act was a comprehensive, multi-faceted bill that:
Established the Interagency Council on Homelessness, a group of representatives from 15 federal agencies charged to design a comprehensive approach to reduce, prevent, and end homelessness in the country, and
Created 20 assistance programs administered by nine federal agencies providing a spectrum of services to homeless people, including supportive housing, emergency shelter, emergency food and shelter grants, rental assistance, job training and education, etc.
The original text of the bill firmly establishes that homelessness is a growing social problem that can be addressed by the federal assistance. I found it particularly interesting that they wrote, “the problem of homelessness has become more severe and, in the absence of more effective efforts, is expected to become dramatically worse, endangering the lives and safety of the homeless; the... Read More »
the view from: Los Angeles, California
July 14, 2009
The Alliance is probably best known as a federal policy shop, but that’s not all we do here. Nope – we’re a multi-talented organization!
While I may be partial to my native Homelessness Research Institute, we also have a department called the Center for Capacity Building. That’s our field team – the great folks who go out into the field and work directly with communities and local officials to help turn great policy into effective programs and best practices.
Just last week, the Director of the Center for Capacity Building – our own Damien Heath – flew to sunny L.A. to provide technical support to some service providers in southern California. Hosted by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Damien gave a couple workshops on rapid re-housing.
The idea behind rapid re-housing is fairly simple, and it’s borne out of the Housing First model. Basically, we recommend that people experiencing homelessness be housed as quickly as possible – the principle being that providing housing first (get it? Housing First?), and then providing other services as needed, is the best way to reduce and end homelessness in the long run. (For a more comprehensive analysis on Housing First and rapid re-housing, you can always visit our website.
FYI: That’s not how we approach homelessness in America today. Our homeless systems today are focused on managing homelessness through shelters and soup kitchens – not ending homelessness through strategic, systematic means like permanent housing and... Read More »
Celebrating Zach Bonner: the Little Red Wagon boy
July 09, 2009
At some point, I'll write an appropriately comprehensive post about youth homelessness, but for right now - this will have to do.
Today, Zach Bonner arrived in Washington, D.C. and completed his 1225 mile journey for youth homelessness. This young man has received TONS of media attention as he trekked across the country to raise awareness about homelessness among young people.
Our own youth homelessness team was out today to support Zach Bonner - and they seemed to have a mighty fine time doing it. Check out our pictures!
If you want to learn about and support Zach, check out the Little Red Wagon Foundation.
You can also read the Alliance's press release on Zach's walk on our website.... Read More »
Data + Research: the Annual Homeless Assessment Report
July 09, 2009
Today, we’ve got some big news. It’s really big. It’s huge. It is [cue music] - the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)!!
...It’s really much more exciting than it sounds.
Basically, the AHAR is a comprehensive review of homelessness counts and trends in 2008. But before we delve into the magical world of data and statistics, there’s something you should know about this year’s report [cue suspense music]:
This year, there were TWO kinds of data collected: point-in-time counts and year-long data. Point-in-time counts are pretty much raw numbers. They tell us how many homeless people and what kind. Year-long data give us a little more detail about the demographics of these counts. Year-long data is also a bit newer than the point-in-time counts. This is the second year in a row that HUD collected year-long data, and we’re really pretty excited about the increase in data availability and analysis. (Yes, because we’re nerds.)
So without further ado…
This year’s AHAR shows that, overall, homelessness is flat compared to last year. Numbers vary slightly between the point-in-time count and the year-long data, but the Alliance concludes that the changes, if any, are marginal.
What’s much more interesting than the total number of homeless people is the information about specific types of homelessness – most significantly, chronic homelessness and family homelessness.
AHAR shows that chronic homelessness is... Read More »