Ending Homelessness Today — AHAR
Friday News Roundup: AHAR Sheds Light on HPRP and Rural Homelessness
June 17, 2011
This week HUD released their Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, showing that that homelessness went up one percent overall from 2009 to 2010. Our President Nan Roman was on NPR earlier this week and wrote a piece for The Hill today discussing what this means in light of the recession and proposed cuts to assistance programs.
We noticed a lot of discussion, and rightly so, on the AHAR’s report that people using shelters or transitional housing in suburban and rural areas increased 57 percent from 2007 to 2010. It is great to seen rural homelessness getting some press, because homelessness is often seen as mainly an urban problem. (More on in the next couple weeks.)
In the foreword to the AHAR, Secretary Shaun Donovan pointed to the stimulus funded Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program’s (HPRP) impact. In this blog we pointed out that this three-year program ends next year, leaving a big hole in the budgets of many local homeless assistance programs. The Center for American Progress’ Think Progress blog argued this shows greater investment is needed during economic downturns.
As a final note, the Washington Post covered the great job our neighbors in Fairfax County are doing to end homelessness.... Read More »
HUD Releases AHAR – Part 2
June 15, 2011
In case you missed it, HUD released the Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress yesterday, showing that homelessness went up one percent overall from 2009 to 2010. For the major numbers, check out the post from yesterday.
Here at the Alliance, we were surprised that homelessness in the United States did not increase more significantly despite the effects of the recession. We surmise that the flat numbers, in spite of an idling economy, are a testament to improved homeless assistance systems and the adoption of housing-based strategies to end homelessness.
But we’re not out of the woods yet. Like we’ve been saying for months, budget cuts at the federal, state, and local levels could break the dam that’s been keeping increased homelessness at bay for the last couple of years.
And it’s not just budget cuts that we’re concerned about. For the first time, the impact of the federal Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) was included in the AHAR. The $1.5 billion program, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), offered communities significant new resources to curb homelessness resulting from the recession. And communities used that money - in the first year, HPRP funds prevented and ended homelessness for an estimated 690,000 people. Those funds are also credited with decreasing the length of time people stayed homeless in suburban and rural communities, where the average length of stay in an emergency family shelter declined from 62 days to 4... Read More »
HUD Releases AHAR Today - Part 1
June 14, 2011
If you follow our Twitter or Facebook accounts, you know that HUD released the Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR) today. This annual compilation of homelessness data is one of our best barometers of how we're doing: is homelessness going up? Going down? Chronic, individuals, youth, families? How are we doing?
Over here, we're busy reading and digesting and figuring out what all the numbers mean (you can figure it out with us if you want; here's the report.)
We'll have a more comprehensive post later but in the meantime, here are the numbers:
According to the findings, levels of homelessness in the United States have stayed flat from 2009 to 2010. Overall homelessness increased by one percent, rising to 649,917 according to the annual point-in-time counts. The number of homelessness individuals, unsheltered homeless persons, and homeless persons in families all showed marginal increases of 0.75 percent, 2.76 percent, and 1.61 percent, respectively. The number of chronically homeless individuals declined by one percent; the steady and continual decline of chronic homelessness reflects the success of local and federal efforts to implement best practices to serve chronically homeless people.
The report, aside from offering the annual point-in-time counts, also offers findings from HMIS data and - for the first time - offers insight into the impact of the federal Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP).
Visit again tomorrow for more!... Read More »
Learning about family homelessness
June 28, 2010
When I came to the Alliance, I really did not know anything about homelessness, or those who were experiencing it. I think, like many people, my experience with people experiencing homelessness was only of those collecting change on the streets.
However, since coming to the Alliance and being exposed to the community dedicated to ending homelessness, I have come to understand that this is not a comprehensive picture of homelessness. I think I thought that all people who were experiencing homelessness fell into that category of what I now understand to be chronic homelessness. Turns out I was wrong - there are so many different types of homelessness, most of which aren’t chronic. One type of homelessness that I had not considered before was family homelessness.
Family homelessness has been in the news a lot lately, especially because of the Annual Homelessness Assessment Report (AHAR) which found that the number of families seeking shelter has increased in the last year. Also, the new Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness, called Opening Doors, set a specific goal of ending family homelessness in 10 years. These developments have pushed the issue into the spotlight so, in an effort to educate myself more about this group, I asked around the Alliance and did some research to get a clearer picture of family homelessness.
So what is family homelessness? It’s exactly what one would think: families who are not able to afford housing, and... Read More »
Thoughts on the 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report
June 16, 2010
Big, big news. (It’s been a big news week).Aside from the now-announced but still-anticipated release of the federal strategic plan to end homelessness – called Opening Doors - there’s even more news to digest!Today, the Department of Housing and Urban Development released the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR).And it’s pretty wild.Headlining the report is the fact that homelessness is marginally down. Despite the worst recession this country has seen since the Depression, we’ve managed to avoid an increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness. That may seem like a little thing, but persistent unemployment rate and the erosion of housing affordability we talked about on Monday, it’s a pretty great thing.Among the highlight is a ten percent reduction in chronic homelessness(!!). There’s little doubt that the hard work of communities to implement housing-based strategies and prevention practices was key in that that reduction. For decades, the Alliance has lead the way analyzing research and best practices around chronic homelessness – and we’re so excited to see the results!Such speculation is only further validated by the dramatic shift in the inventory of shelters beds in the United States. For years, emergency shelter and transitional housing beds dominated the supply. This is the first year that permanent supportive housing beds have topped the charts – and we hardly think it’s a coincidence.But the news isn’t all good. As was noted this morning ... Read More »
Data + Research: Video Fact Sheet
October 06, 2009
Apologies for the hiatus over the last week.
But today, we make it up to you by launching our very first video fact sheet.
A lot of times, we get asked this question: How many homeless people are there?
And while that may seem like a simple question to answer, it’s actually more complicated than it seems. It’s not easy to count homeless people, so there are a lot of estimates. It depends on how you define “homelessness”. It depends on the groups you’re interested in – most people think of single adult men when they picture homelessness, but there are also families and children and veterans.
There’s also different methodology – the Department of Housing and Urban Development requires that all communities count homeless persons in their area every other year, but people count in different ways, so the number should account for that.
And we get variations of the question, too. How many people are homeless in a specific community? How many people who are homeless have a serious disorder? How many people are disabled? How many are youth? How many qualify for federal assistance – and of those, who’s accessing federal assistance?
So it’s actually a pretty complicated answer – and sometimes it can be hard to understand.
But luckily for you, the director of the Homelessness Research Institute – M William Sermons – put together this great video fact sheet explaining the numbers in an easy, understandable way... Read More »
HMIS Data in Minnesota
September 28, 2009
Today, we have a great guest post from our friends in Minnesota. It discusses data, and the importance of that data in approaching homelessness effectively and responsibly. As a member of our own Homelessness Research Institute at the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the importance of good, solid data is something I’ve learned very, very well. Hope you get the message too.
Between October 1, 2007 and September 30, 2008, nearly 13,000 people stayed in the emergency shelter and transitional housing programs that participate in Minnesota’s Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), according to a recent report from Wilder Research. HMIS participating organizations have about 3,400 beds per night designated for people experiencing homelessness, about 57 percent of the state’s total capacity.
The report, Homeless Service Use in Minnesota: Emergency shelter and transitional housing, federal fiscal year 2008 provides numbers and characteristics of people who reside in HMIS-participating emergency and transition housing. It uses aggregated data submitted annually to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for its Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress.
A companion report presents detailed tables for each of Minnesota’s 13 HUD-related ‘Continuum of Care’(CoC) regions. (As we’ve discussed on this blog before, a CoC is the administrative unit in charge homeless programs.)
Minnesota has among the highest AHAR participation rates in the county. In addition to strengthening HUD’s report and providing useful information at the local level, high AHAR participation helps secure funding for homeless programs throug... 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 »
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 »
the view from: Hayword City, Sawyer County, Wisconsin, USA
July 08, 2009
I noticed an article in the news today from Sawyer County, Wisconsin. Admittedly, I noticed it because they use a statistic from our research (“744,313 people experienced homelessness in one night in January 2005”), but the article was an intimate look into homelessness in a quiet, suburban, all-American town: Hayward, Wisconsin.Hayward, WI is a city in Sawyer County, Wisconsin. The population of Hayward city as of the 2000 census was 2129 people, including 960 households and 529 families. Hayward is a popular vacation and fishing population due to the many lakes in the area.But in last week's Sawyer County Record, the local newspaper, reporter Kathy Hanson examines homelessness in the picturesque city, noting that there is more than meets the eye. Hanson’s article about Hayward touches on several themes that are being felt around the country: an increased request for social services and housing assistance (including Section 8 housing vouchers, shelter beds, and financial support), an increase in homeless families and the number of homeless students, and more and more people relying on family and friends to get by. Hanson also talks with the growing number of direct service providers and local programs who are overwhelmed by the rise in need. While the city of Hayward is a unique and notably small example (there are more homeless people in the state of Wisconsin – 5658 as of January 2007 – than there are residents of Hayward), the homelessness challenges that it faces are consistent with those being felt in big ci... Read More »