Ending Homelessness Today — Conferences and Events
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 Bill Elzer lost his job, his family found itself homeless and their children were forced out of their school.
But the Elzers weren’t having it. With the assistance of the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania, the Elzers sued to have their children re-enrolled. The family won their battle and the children were able to return to their school this past spring. Because of this lawsuit and others like it, Pennsylvania now has guidelines to prevent other homeless children from having to experience the same injustices.
As the nation continues to recover from the grinding effects of this lasting recession, we can and must do more to extend even the smallest courtesies to each other – especially when the other is a young child. In a time of economic uncertainty and fear, we must work together in order to overcome our national challenges.
This was the message that the night most obvious on Thursday night, surrounded by people who have long been working to end homelessness in America. If we are to end homelessness in the nation, we must be willing to work together to create the best possible outcomes for the vulnerable people we serve.... 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 »
Tiago Russo Pinto: Run Home
September 29, 2010
Today’s post comes from Tiago Russo Pinto, the winner of the Alliance photo contest. He shares with us the origins of the beautiful photograph and how he came upon the opportunity to take it.
The Run Home photo was part of a 2007 Bay Area Foundation Advisory Group to End Homelessness. It was a group effort to create the right image for the cover of the publication entitled, "Repairing Lives, Preparing Futures: Philanthropy's Role in Supportive Services to End Homelessness."
During the development of the project, the team had a concept in mind for the execution and look of the image; however, we were not sure if it would translate into what we wanted without looking staged. When I met the family featured in the photograph I knew that they would materialize our message – they had just been approved for housing and they were ready to move in a couple of months.
It was a great experience for me as a photographer because I had the chance to capture a scene that had meaning. The family in the photograph was truly feeling what the image portrayed as in real life they had conquered and fulfilled their dream. I was there just to capture their success story.
To see all the great photos submitted to the contest, check out our Flickr page. To keep up with other Alliance activities, events, or just to learn more about homelessness, join us on Facebook or ... 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 »
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 »
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 »
Video: NAEH Photo Contest!
August 11, 2010
Hey guys, today we have Grace here to tell us about the Alliance's Photo Contest!
Aren't you excited?! To learn more, you can go to the official blog post for the contest, or you can visit the website.
To submit directly, just go here. We can't wait to see your pictures! To see what has been submitted, visit our flickr account.... Read More »
Get You Cameras Ready!
August 09, 2010
All right folks, we’ve got something new and exciting for you today. The Alliance is launching our first ever - wait for it - PHOTO CONTEST!!
That’s right, we are giving you a chance to use those picture skills and show the world your stuff!
At this seminal moment in our national effort to end homelessness, we want to know: What does ending homelessness look like to you?
We want to see how you envision ending homelessness. The concept of ending homelessness can be hard to visualize - and we want to see your take. Is it services? Housing? An specific individual or story? We want you to capture it in a picture!
What's a contest without a prize? Yeah, we don't know either. Considering the community we know reads our blog, we think we’ve got a great one. The winner of our photo contest will receive free registration to our next conference. In addition, the winning submission will be the basis for the design of the conference - the website design, the brochure, the program journal - you name it!
The contest will run from Monday, August 9th to Friday, September 17th. We're giving our judges a week to decide and contact the winner - the winner will be announced on Friday, September 24. In order to enter, all you have to do is go here and fill out our simple form to enter! Full text of the c... Read More »
A Capitol Hill Day Experience
July 22, 2010
Today’s blog comes from Alison Eisinger, who participated in Capitol Hill Day, working with her members Congress to help advance the homelessness cause. Read below fro an account of her experience.
Our group was made of roughly 20 people from our state at the conference, and about 8 of us went on hill visits on Wednesday. I was very glad to have had a chance to experience hill visits in April, and knew a little bit what to expect. It did feel as though everyone else on these visits was a seasoned veteran, but at least I had some experience to draw on! We had such excellent packets prepared for us by the NAEH staff -- everything we needed to be able to carry out the visit was in there.
We spoke primarily about fully funding McKinney, about Section 8 vouchers, and about the fact that we see growing demand for services and shrinking resources at the local level.
We had a nice mixture of people, including someone from local government (City Office of Housing), someone who works with a large local funder of services and housing for homeless families, a woman who runs survival services in a rural part of the state, and the ED of a private social service organization and day labor agency (which does not accept public funds but sees the urgent need for federal funding and policies that help end homelessness), as well as someone from the m... Read More »
Capitol Hill Day Success
July 19, 2010
Today’s blog post comes from our Federal Advocacy intern, Sumeet Singh.
Every year, Capitol Hill Day offers a time for advocates of ending homelessness to sit down with their Senators and Representatives and discuss pressing and pertinent issues regarding homelessness. In doing so, it also provides another great opportunity – a chance for these passionate advocates to come together and have their voices heard. This year, those voices were heard as loudly as ever before – advocates from 40 states and Guam held over 215 meetings with Congressional offices, and the results are still pouring in! With every additional meeting, the value and effectiveness of Hill Day 2010 increase that much more. We’ll do a follow-up blog post in a few weeks once we have finalized all of the results. In its decades-long existence, Hill Day’s track record of spreading knowledge, creating awareness, and igniting political movement clearly demonstrates just how powerful a tool it has been.
This year, Hill Day became even stronger.
Take the story of our advocates from Maine as an example. Six years ago, before our current group was involved, the Maine Congressional Delegation was largely unaware and unconcerned with homelessness issues. However, in the years since the Maine advocates have been active in Hill Day events, several Members of Congress from the state, including both Senators, have become champions of the issue. Thanks to our State Captains and Hill Day Participants, stories like this one are becoming more comm... Read More »
Last thoughts on the 2010 National Conference on Ending Homelessness
July 15, 2010
So it’s all over.
The 2010 National Conference on Ending Homelessness is behind us.
And – even from a non-expert standpoint – I have to say that it was a pretty incredible experience. From the industry luminaries that graced the stage at plenary sessions to the incredible workshop speakers to the [really outstanding] hotel staff, I really felt that the last three days were both educational and inspiring.
Alliance staff are all encouraged to attend [and staff] workshops, so I had the opportunity to learn about a lot of things that I don’t encounter in my communication-and-social-media-days in the office. I learned about the role rapid re-housing can play in the life of domestic violence survivors, I learned about the implications of the HEARTH Act in ending family homelessness, I learned how much interest there was in communications and social media, and I learned a lot – a ton! – about the federal plan to end homelessness and HPRP.
I learned a lot about people! Our field is full of such wonderfully different, quirky, and committed practitioners and advocates! Walking around with an Alliance nametag gave me an avenue to introduce myself to folks – and every time I turned around I had the opportunity to meet direct service providers, advocates, government employees, and real, true experts in the field. And every so often (I think I mentioned this before), I got a chance to meet Twitter friends and Facebook buds that I had chatted with ... Read More »
Sec. Eric K. Shinseki of Veterans Affairs at the Alliance Conference
July 15, 2010
Hi all. We'll write a conference wrap-up post later today, but in the interim, we thought we'd share Secretary Eric Shinseki's remarks on Wednesday, July 14 to the conference attendees. His thoughts on ending veterans homelessness - and his apparent commitment and dedication to the goal - were truly inspiring words on which to end our event! The Secretary's remarks are below.
Remarks by Eric K. Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs
National Alliance to End Homelessness
National Conference on Ending Homelessness
Grand Hyatt, Washington, DC
14 July, 2010
Nan, thank you for that kind introduction and for your leadership of the National Alliance. Your work on behalf of the homeless is well-known and much-respected. Our thanks to you and your staff for your diligence in supporting all the rest of us, VA included, in our commitments to end homelessness amongst our populations. Your address at our Summit on Veteran Homelessness, last November, resonated with attendees then, and still does today at VA.
I am honored to be here today. From your modest beginnings in 1983, this alliance has grown into a powerful organization of more than 10,000 public and private sector partners. Along the way, you’ve succeeded in housing hundreds of thousands of Americans, a tremendous record of service and achievement. VA is very proud to be one of your partners.
Sometimes, we say that caring for those who cannot care for themselves is a longstanding tradition in this country, that threads of selflessness a... Read More »
Understanding the Federal Plan: Day 2 of the Conference
July 13, 2010
Hello everyone, I’m so excited to be blogging from my first Alliance conference! Already it has been such a wonderful two days, I have been overwhelmed meeting so many people who are all committed to ending homelessness!
Undoubtedly the highlight of the day was the keynote address by none other than Secretary Shaun Donovan of Department of Housing and Urban Development. Sec. Donovan has been a force in advancing the goal of ending homelessness. In his speech, Sec. Donovan went into greater detail about the new federal plan to end homelessness, Opening Doors, and the ways he envisions turning the goals outlined in the plan into action.
But first, the Secretary generously offered his thanks to the National Alliance to End Homelessness and, specifically, to our president Nan Roman, for her leadership in bringing the movement to end homelessness where it is today. He announced that Nan has worked with five (5!) HUD Secretaries and that he intended on being the very last one that Nan works with to end homelessness – as he intends on finishing the job!
Then the Secretary expressed how excited he was about the new federal plan. He offered a feeling of optimism and achievement, comparing the fight to end homelessness to America’s landing of a man on the moon. Like the moon landing, many people see the goal of ending homelessness as impossible or unrealistic, but also like landing on the moon, we enter this ... Read More »
Dispatches from the National Conference on Ending Homelessness - Day 1
July 12, 2010
So it's important to note: I’m not an expert.
I tinker on the Alliance social networks, blog, and website – and I’ve learned a ton during my year here – but when it comes to homelessness, housing, policy, and practice – I’m the greenest girl you’ll meet at the Alliance.
Which is why coming to the National Conference on Ending Homelessness – this is my second! – is such a moving experience. For three days out of the year, I’m surrounded by nearly 1300 people from across the country who devote their time, energy, and passion to ending homelessness in the United States.
From the perspective of an outsider, it seems outlandish. It seems impractical and impossible. My own skeptical eyebrows shoot up to my hairline.
But, as I’ve learned – day by day at the Alliance – ending homelessness is no dream.
This year, the Alliance is hosting almost 80 workshops and three plenary sessions over the course of three days featuring experts and practitioners who have learned what ending homelessness looks like. Direct service providers, researchers, elected officials, and community activists from across the country are here in D.C. to tell us exactly how to do it.
Needless to say, it’s been a whirlwind of a first day.
After a morning of usability testing (our own small contribution to the movement!), Alliance president Nan Roman kicked off the opening plenary. She went over the state of the national movement to end homelessness. She co... Read More »
Ten Things to Look Forward to at the Alliance Annual Conference!
July 06, 2010
Everyone here at the Alliance is so excited for our conference next week!
So in an effort to get everybody else pepped-up, we thought we’d share ten great things (among hundreds!) that you should look forward to at this year’s conference:
1. The anniversary of the Ten Year Plan
This conference marks the ten-year anniversary of the Alliance’s Ten Year Plan to end homelessness. Our president Nan Roman will discuss what we’ve done so far - and what next steps lie ahead.
2. Secretary Donovan’s keynote
There’s no doubt about it: HUD Sec. Shaun Donovan will discuss the new federal plan to end homelessness and how it can potentially change the whole field of ending homelessness.
3. Capitol Hill Day
Representatives from at least 44 states will be visiting their representatives in Congress to discuss the importance of a federal commitment to end homelessness. Learn more about it here.
4. Secretary Shinseki’s keynote
The VA has committed to ending veteran homelessness in five years and we hope Sec. Shinseki will share their bold new plans with us!
5. Launch of the 100,000 Homes Campaign
Common Ground of New York is committing to housing the hundred thousand most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness. You can find out more here.
This year’s conference offers several tracks – giving you an opportunity to focus on a specific subject or area. Tracks themes include: domestic violence, HPRP, and HEARTH.
7. Expert Roundtables
Wednesday morning, the conference will o... Read More »
Lessons from the NTEN conference
April 12, 2010
The 2010 NTEN Conference is officially done and over - we all said our goodbyes to lovely, friendly Atlanta, the gorgeous Omni Hotel, and all our new friends and colleagues. And after six sessions, two keynotes, three receptions, and endless networking - followed by a plane ride and a night to sleep on it - I've finally come up with some official lessons from the NTEN conference.We are not alone!Nearly 1500 people descended on Atlanta, GA to take part in the conference - communications officers and IT professionals and fundraisers and executives and a host of other non-profit stakeholders. It was incredible to see the role that technology played in the professional lives of such a diversity of people and positions.Technology = tools.A lot of times, I think we get deluded and think that these new gadgets and gizmos are the answers to our problems. What resonated loudly to me, at least, are that all these innovations in technology are tools - they're instruments presenting new ways an strategies to make us more effective at what we're ultimately trying to do - and not the answer in and of themselves.Technology can be small and intimate...Andrew Sullivan's take on the intimacy of blogging and the social media platform was a new idea for me. Of course I was familiar with the idea that social media is all about relationships, but the idea that blogging, in particular, is... Read More »
Nan! at the National Housing Conference Budget Forum
March 16, 2010
Okay, so this is a little late in coming - the NHC Budget Conference was on Friday, March 12 - but I'm hoping you'll find this informative nonetheless. The NHC Budget Forum was, per usual, an extraordinarily well-run event. This year, NHC hosted Raphael Bostic of the Department of Housing and Urban Development as the keynote speaker. Panelists, covering the different parts of the HUD budget, included Jonathan Horowitz of HUD, Sheila Crowley of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Sarah Wartell of the Center for American Progress, and our own Nan Roman. Her testimony (about 10 minutes) on the proposed McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance programs and other federal homelessness investments right here. Opening and closing remarks were offered by the new incoming executive director of the NHC, Maureen Friar. Outgoing executive director and innovative leader in the housing and homelessness fields Conrad Egan was recognized by all the panelists, speakers and several invitees at the forum. Check out the great blogpost (with pictures and video!) about the forum on the NHC Conference blog, Open House. You can also see great pictures on their Flickr account. If you're feeling REALLY die-hard, you can check out the Raphael Bostic's entire PowerPoint presentation on President Obama's proposed FY2011 HUD budget here (courtesy of NHC. Raphael Bostic: Overview of HUD FY 2011 Budget ProposalView more presentations from National Housing Conference & the Center for Housing Policy.... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Conference, research, recovery
February 12, 2010
"Never has there been a more salient time to discuss the pressing issue of family homelessness," said Nan Roman. "We're faced with economic instability, rising unemployment, and an anticipated rise in homelessness. At the same time, we see increased attention to the crisis, both from the mainstream media and from the federal government. Now is the time for a serious conversation about systematic change; now is the time to face our challenges head-on."There's a tidbit from the Alliance's National Conference on Ending Family Homelessness, going on now in LA. PATH Partners' Joel John Roberts reports on the event here.As we gathered in LA, some leaders in the field of permanent supportive housing got some much-deserved press this week. Jennifer Ho, who recently joined the federal Interagency Council on Homelessness, discussed the transformation of services in Minnesota. In an interview with Good Magazine, Roseanne Haggerty says: "Communities willing to work on getting people housed instead of letting the homeless drift between shelters, hospitals and jails can solve homelessness." Couldn't have said it better ourselves.And while we've been focusing on the federal this week, folks at the local level have been making some major progress: with youth in Worcester, for veterans in Utah, for chronically homeless people in Alaska (great analysis in this piece), with housing in South Dakota.There's also been some significant research findings out this week. One finds that despite an increase in public aid programs... Read More »
Ending Family Homelessness Conference: What are you looking forward to?
February 03, 2010
As the Alliance's Annual Conference on Ending Family Homelessness approaches, the office is abuzz with travel plans and last-minute arrangements. We've got a full slate of workshops, two awesome keynote speakers, and an ambitious, but reachable goal: ensuring every family in the U.S. has a home.Here's what Alliance staff members are looking forward to:LaKesha Pope, Youth Program and Policy Analyst:"I'm excited about my workshops: the Cultural Competency workshop, the Outcomes workshop, and the Young Moms workshop. I think some practical tools will be delivered that people can bring back to their communities."Amanda Krusemark, Program and Policy Associate: "I'm excited to hear from Barb Poppe, the new Director of the Interagency Council on Homelessness. I want to know what she has to say." Capacity Building Associate Aisha Williams agrees: "I'm looking forward to hearing from the new ICH leadership. I'm interested in hearing what their plans are." Bill Sermons, Director of the Homelessness Research Institute: I'm probably most excited about our Data and Performance Simplified workshop. We're looking at a pretty huge turnout, so it's a great opportunity to make materials about performance accessible to a wider range of people..Meghan Henry, Research Associate: "I'm most excited about the Affordable Housing Development workshop by NeighborWorks. It's just so useful. I'm also excited about hearing from people across the country about their experiences this year."... Read More »
Weigh in on the Federal Plan to End Homelessness at our Annual Conference
January 28, 2010
The federal government has never before had a plan to end homelessness but for the first time, one is in the works. What's more, attendees at the Alliance 2010 Conference on Ending Family Homelessness will be able to give input on the plan. The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness will host a forum for audience members to offer comments and suggestions about what should be included in the Federal plan on Friday, February 12 from 7:30am-8:45am."It's a great chance for people to stand up and say something," says Norm Suchar, Alliance Senior Policy Analyst.The HEARTH Act, passed in May of 2009, requires that the Interagency Council develop a plan to end homelessness, which is scheduled to be submitted to Congress in May of this year. The conference forum is one of many listening sessions that the Council is conducting with service providers and advocates. The plan will be comprehensive, covering all federal agencies, particularly HUD, and the Departments of Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, Labor, and Education. It will pay particular attention to solving homelessness among four populations: the chronically homeless, veterans, families and youth.According to Suchar, in order to be successful, the federal plan must include measurable outcomes and goals, as well as accountability, so that people and departments know whether they are meeting those goals. What would you like to see in the federal plan to end homelessness?... Read More »