Ending Homelessness Today — Families
Alliance President Keynote Remarks, 2013 National Family and Youth Conference
May 10, 2013
Back in February, about 900 advocates, practitioners, and officials convened in Seattle for two days of sharing innovative practices and new research on family and youth homelessness at the Alliance’s 2013 National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness. These are the keynote remarks delivered by the Alliance's President and CEO Nan Roman at that conference.
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The State of Homelessness in America 2013: Chapter 3
April 23, 2013
All this month, we’ve been doing weekly posts about our recently released report The State of Homelessness in America 2013. This week we’ll be taking a look at Chapter 3 of the report. Chapter 3 includes an examination of demographic and household factors among groups that are particularly at risk of homelessness: poor households living doubled up, poor single individuals, poor families headed by a single adult, and poor adults accessing safety net benefits.
“Doubling-up” refers to when a family or individual is living in another family member or friend’s house for economic reasons. It is the most often cited previous living situation for individuals and families entering the homelessness system. Nationally, the number of doubled up poor households increased by almost 10 percent. This increase is part of a trend over the last several years, increasing from 4.6 million in 2007 to 7.4 million in 2011.
Additionally, the majority of the homeless population is made up of single unaccompanied adults, and the majority of homeless families are headed by a single adult—usually female. The populations of poor individuals and poor families headed by a single person both increased and, like “doubled up” households, the size of these at-risk populations have been steadily growing over the last 5 years.
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The State of Homelessness in America 2013: Chapter 1
April 12, 2013
This has been a busy week at the Alliance. The Homelessness Research Institute released The State of Homelessness in America 2013. This is the third installment in a series of reports that examines trends in homelessness and the economic and housing context in which those trends occur.
Today we are going to take a quick look at Chapter 1, which examines national and state level trends in homelessness. The data presented in Chapter 1 comes from Point-In-Time estimates for January 2011 and January 2012 reported to the Department of Housing and Urban Development by communities across the U.S.
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No HPRP? What now?
April 01, 2013
Some innovative communities have already shown how much we can accomplish when homeless service providers partner up with state agencies administering the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. This Thursday, the National Alliance to End Homelessness hosted a webinar, Partnering with TANF Agencies to End Family Homelessness: Idaho, that examined how one local provider did just that.
The webinar which was recorded on March 28 features representatives from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and the Charitable Assistance for The Community’s Homeless (CATCH, Inc.) who share how the public-private partnership evolved. Check out the embedded video of the webinar to see how.
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More than 1,000 Homeless Families Re-Housed with TANF Support
January 15, 2013
Over the course of the last several years, more than 1,000 formerly homeless families have returned to permanent housing in Salt Lake City thanks to a rapid rehousing program supported by Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) resources.
A new profile by the Alliance examines the partnership between the homeless service provider, The Road Home, and the Utah Department of Workforce Services, the state agency that administers TANF and Workforce Investment Act (WIA) programs, that helped all these families escape homelessness. This partnership is a unique one. It brings together both the expertise and the resources of The Road Home and Workforce Services in order to help homeless families. More communities would benefit from adopting this approach.
Here’s how it works.
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NBC Spotlights Family Homelessness
November 30, 2012
Last night NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams ran a short news segment about two homeless families. It was a rare instance of a national television network sharing with the nation the plight of homeless families and the issues they face.
One of the families spotlighted in the program received shelter from a church program that required them to move to a different church every week; while the other family faced the threat of being broken up because of the scarcity of shelters that accommodate large families or families with older male children.
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USICH’s Amendment to Opening Doors Focuses on Young People
September 17, 2012
The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) recently released an amendment to Opening Doors, the federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. The amendment, which USICH officials developed with its federal partners, addresses the education needs of children experiencing homelessness and provides strategies to solve the problem of homelessness amongst youth.
The amendment, which calls for data, more research, more resources, systems-level thinking, and true collaborations across systems and disciplines, adds depth and context to the administration’s current thinking on what’s needed to address these issues.
This new perspective comes from two models included in the amendment, one that outlines a new strategy for obtaining more accurate data on youth, and another, which shows the administration’s framework for ending youth homelessness, which was released in conjunction with USICH’s June 2012 council meeting.
The new amendment:
Adds robust language on obtaining a more comprehensive understanding of the scope of youth homelessness;
Outlines new strategies for increasing access to education for unaccompanied youth and improving their educational outcomes;
Adds a new emphasis on increasing access for unaccompanied youth to early childhood education programs;
Adds a new focus on awareness among practitioners of the importance of child and youth development;
Outlines new strategies to support healthy child and youth development within housing programs;and
Adds a new focus on advancing the health and housing stability for youth experiencing homelessness and youth exiting the foster... Read More »
Children in Poverty: A Census Update
September 13, 2012
Yesterday the U.S. Census released data on income, poverty, and health insurance coverage in 2011. By now you’ve seen the headlines: the poverty rate has leveled off at 15 percent after three years of increasing and remains at the highest level since 1993, while median income has declined by 1.5 percent, which means that the middle class continues to feel the strain of the bad economy. More people are covered by health insurance (1.4 million more than in 2010), which is certainly welcome news, since the number of people with health insurance has been going down for the last 10 years. But while poverty has leveled off, it remains at historically high levels, and children continue to be disproportionately impacted. We could be doing a lot more.
16.1 million children in the U.S. lived in poverty in 2011—that’s more than one in five children.
Young children in families headed by a single mother were hardest hit: 57.6 percent of children under the age of 6 in families headed by a single mother live in poverty.
Over 7 million children live in deep poverty, subsisting on less than $1,000 a month for a family of four ($11,511 annually) – that’s 9.8 percent of all children in the U.S.
And deep poverty is much more prevalent among very young children, with 11.8 percent of all children under the age of 6 living in families with incomes below half the poverty level.
We know social benefits can... Read More »
Family Options Study: Research Update
August 21, 2012
In July, researchers contracted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development provided an update on a study that examines the comparative impact of various housing and service interventions on families experiencing homelessness. To date, more than 2,000 families in 12 communities have enrolled in the Family Options Study. While the current data available is limited to the baseline level, some findings do raise questions about how well we are using our homeless and mainstream resources to prevent and end homelessness. Readers interested in listening to an audio recording of HUD's July 19 presentation on this study can download Part 1 of the recording here, and Part 2 here.
Here’s a look at the study's findings:
Resources for homelessness prevention: As in other studies, the data indicate that parents in homeless families are very young. Nearly 30 percent of the mothers are under the age of 25. They are also very poor, with an annual income averaging around $7,500. Significantly, more families are coming from doubled-up situations than are being evicted from housing they hold in their own name. This is useful information when it comes to assessing our use of homelessness prevention resources and the characteristics of the kinds of families most likely to fall into homelessness. It tells us that we should be targeting our resources at multi-generational and doubled-up families, families with very young parents, and families with minimal incomes.
Resources for vulnerable and low-income families: The findings also provide further... Read More »
Preparing for Your Community’s Point in Time Count
August 07, 2012
January 2013 will be here before you know it. And what does that mean? In January many communities across the country will be conducting point in time (PIT) counts of persons experiencing homelessness.
Why Are PIT Counts Important?
Collecting and using data on both sheltered and unsheltered unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness can help communities improve policies and programming;
Data can provide communities with a baseline of the number of unaccompanied youth to determine if there are increases or decreases over time;
Data can be used to help with requesting funding through the grant process;
Results of the PIT count can raise awareness of the issue of youth homelessness.
Why is Including Youth Important?
Historically, unaccompanied youth are undercounted during PIT counts; therefore, many communities do not have an accurate estimate of the prevalence and nature of youth homelessness.
Annually, HUD is mandated to submit a report to Congress called the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR). The report describes the number and characteristics of all people experiencing homelessness across the nation. If youth are left out, then Congress is not provided with that data within the report and they will have less information to make informed decisions about funding and resources at the federal level.
Alliance Tools and Resources
The Alliance has developed tools and resources to help communities purposefully include youth in their PIT counts. Over the next few months we will do even more to help everyone plan, organize and... Read More »
Another Update from Maddison Bruer
August 06, 2012
Today’s guest blog is from Maddison Bruer, who we will be hearing from periodically on our blog this summer as she updates us on her work withBridges of Norman.
Hi ya’ll! It seems the longer I stay here in Oklahoma, the more my southern roots take over. I hope all of you are having a fantastic summer, as I have been. One of my part-time jobs this summer is working under the supervision of a Geography professor at Oklahoma University doing research on one of the predominant Native American tribes, the Chickasaw, and how tobacco use impacts their nation.
The reason I mention this is twofold, one being that it has taught me a lot about research methods, which I believe is important for my work on the youth homelessness front, two being that while visiting the small town of Ada, Oklahoma (the capital of the Chickasaw Nation) to conduct some field research, I stumbled upon a youth shelter. At first glance, I was astounded to have found another youth shelter. As many of you probably know, youth shelters here are few and far between.
I asked my team to stop and I hopped out to do some investigating. The building was very new looking and well maintained, but I must say I was slightly shocked to see babies of all ages just sitting on the sidewalks, half clothed, and some crying.
This was the... Read More »
New Opportunities to Improve Families’ Employment Outcomes
August 02, 2012
States have an important new opportunity to improve the employment outcomes of low-income families. In July, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an InformationMemorandum indicating the Administration’s interest in granting waivers to states for the administration of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. States may now seek waivers from the administration that allow them to experiment with new strategies to help low-income parents on TANF connect with employment.
States are required to demonstrate that 50 percent of the TANF caseload complies with work activity requirements. Advocates have long been concerned that the federal rules regarding “what counts” as a work activity is often a poor match for what many parents need to successfully prepare for, or enter, the workforce. Families in which a parent or a child has a disability are often poorly served under the current rules. Some are unable to meet the required number of hours in a work activity. Others require work preparation activities that are not countable, and so are simply not offered.
The mismatch between what families need to transition to work and what TANF agencies can provide has important consequences. Some households face impending time limits for cash assistance without ever receiving the individually tailored supports that could help them succeed in the workforce. High numbers of families, including those that include a member with a disability, lose cash assistance because they are... Read More »
Leaders in the Fight Against Youth Homelessness honored
July 13, 2012
On Wednesday, July 12, the White House and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness recognized some of the foremost leaders in responding to youth homelessness at Champions of Change: Fight Against Homelessness. The 13 awardees shared their own experiences serving youth in two panel discussions hosted by the Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Bryan Samuels of the Administration for Children, Youth, and Families.
A recurring theme of the day was the shortage of resources needed to address the problem of youth homelessness. During the discussion, one panelist speculated that New York City’s subway system could be that city’s largest provider of overnight accommodation for homeless youth.
Panelists also spoke about the importance of helping youth and their families reconnect and ensuring that appropriate services are in place for them when that is not possible. In Santa Clara, CA, up to a third of youth served by the Bill Wilson Center have homeless parents, which has led the agency to increase the resources it provides to help families and their children stay together.
Panelists explored how to improve services for youth, many of whom have complex needs. Awardee Sherilyn Adams of Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco noted that the difficulty lies not in dealing with the kids themselves but, rather, contending with the insufficient systems meant to support them.
To learn more about the Champions of Change, visit the USICH website. A video of the even... Read More »
New Page Dedicated to Young Parents on Alliance Website
June 29, 2012
In 2010, the most recent annual data we have from HUD, there were nearly 170,000 homeless households with children in the nation. We know that a large number of those households are headed by young parents. In fact, the Alliance estimates that over 25 percent of homeless families are headed by a young adult under the age of 25—that’s approximately 50,000 to 60,000 families a year.
Because these families are accessing the homeless services through the adult family system, their needs as developing young adults may not necessarily be noticed or attended to and there may be some solutions to their homelessness that are being overlooked.
We know that the majority of homeless youth return home to family and that family intervention is a strategy that can effectively end homelessness not just for youth under the age of 18, but also for youth over the age of 18. When serving a family headed by a young adult, providers should be attentive to whether or not there is a parent or extended family member that is willing to take in the young parent and their child(ren). This may provide a more stable and supportive living arrangement for a young parent.
For young parents that cannot be reunified with family or a caring adult, rapid re-housing, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing have all proven effective in ending a young parents’ homelessness when properly targeted. The Alliance has created a new page on its website dedicated to young pare... Read More »
ACF Welfare Research Conference
June 04, 2012
Last week, the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services hosted the 15th Annual Welfare Research and Evaluation Conference in Washington, DC. This conference provides welfare and poverty researchers, state and local administrators, practitioners, and Federal officials to meet and discuss research, programs, and policies that impact welfare and related programs.
This year, the conference featured tracks on TANF, education and the labor market, child and youth well-being, fatherhood, evaluation of social programs, and alleviating poverty and strengthening the safety net. While a number of the sessions at the conference had implications for homeless families, individuals, and youth, there was a session specifically dedicated to the role that TANF and other human services programs play in ending family homelessness.
The session was moderator by the Alliance’s own Sharon McDonald, Director of Families and Youth, and featured:
Dennis Culhane of the University of Pennsylvania who provided an overview of his widely accepted typology of homeless families and discussed the important role that short- and medium-term rent assistance in ending homelessness for a large proportion of homeless families;
Frank Cirillo of the Mercer County Board of Social Services in New Jersey who discussed the successful efforts in Mercer County to fund rapid re-housing for families using TANF funds; and
Alvaro Cortes from Abt Associates who provided a broad overview of findings from a st... Read More »
Webinar on Increasing Stability for Runaway and Homeless Youth
May 22, 2012
On June 14 at 2 p.m. ET the Alliance is holding a webinar on using family intervention to reunify and connect homeless youth with their parents. Family intervention is a strategy used to link unaccompanied runaway and homeless youth, regardless of age, to their family or a caring adult. It provides an avenue for families in crisis to work on core issues that led to a youth leaving the home, identify extended family members who they’d like to be a part of the process, and learn to identify resources that can mitigate future crises.
A number of strategies fall under family intervention, such as family reunification, family connecting, family finding, and even aftercare services. Family intervention should be made available to all unaccompanied runaway or homeless youth, including:
Youth over the age of 18,
Youth that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ),
Youth who access street outreach, basic center, transitional living and other housing programs,
Youth who are in need of a caring adult in their life, and
Youth who have the desire to be reunited or connected with their family when it is safe to do so.
There are several evidenced-based family intervention models available for providers looking to implement this strategy. The Support to Reunite, Involve, and Value Each Other (STRIVE) model will specifically be discussed during the webinar. Other models include:
Strengthening Families Program
Brief Strategic Family Therapy
Family Behavior Therapy
Family Acceptance Project
Multisystemic Th... Read More »
Workshops on Ending Homelessness for Survivors of Domestic Violence
May 21, 2012
This coming July, the Alliance’s National Conference on Ending Homelessness to be held in Washington, DC, will feature a variety of workshops that are designed to help domestic violence service providers find ways to better meet the housing needs of survivors in their programs as well as help homeless service provides better provide safety and services to survivors in their housing programs.
To kick off the conference, the Alliance is hosting a pre-conference session that is intended for homeless service providers who are interested in more effectively addressing the needs of survivors in their housing programs. The session will address increasing safety for survivors, best practices for case managers, and developing successful partnerships that benefit survivors. Speakers in the session will be from domestic violence programs that successfully implement a variety of housing models and are experts in adapting those housing models to survivors. While preregistration for this session is not required, we are asking that interested persons email their intent to attend this preconference session to Samantha Batko at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can track anticipated attendance.
Additionally, throughout the conference, participants will find content on better serving survivors in a number of sessions, including, but not limited to those focusing on:
Successful partnerships between domestic violence serving agencies, homelessness assistance programs, and employment programs,
Overarching strategies for ending family homelessness and rapid re-housing for survivors,
Research on homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing,
Development of and impl... Read More »
Congressional Briefing on the Importance of Funding for Rapid Re-Housing
May 18, 2012
On Thursday, May 17, the Alliance hosted a Congressional Briefing, “Rapid Re-Housing: Ending Family Homelessness.” The briefing was sponsored by Senator Patty Murray, and provided a glimpse into how a couple of communities are using rapid re-housing to revolutionize how they are responding to family homelessness as well as the critical important role that federal funding plays in continuing the success of these programs.
In addition to the Alliance’s own Nan Roman, the speakers included:
Matt Minkevitch, Executive Director of The Road Home in Salt Lake City, UT, who discussed how they have used rapid re-housing to prevent an increase in family homelessness during the recession by helping over 1,000 families move out of shelter and back into their housing using both TANF and HPRP funds;
Nan Stoops, Executive Director of the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in Seattle, WA , who shared the important benefits they have seen for both survivors and their families as well as to providers through the work they have been doing with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to provide grants and technical assistance to providers that help survivors get rapidly re-housed or safely stay in their own housing; and
Kelly Thompson, from Humility of Mary Shelter, Inc. in Davenport, IA, which has just begun to implement a rapid re-housing model with a grant from the Supportive Services for Veterans Families Program and has already seen the impact it has had on both t... Read More »
Rapid Re-housing for Families Briefing
May 16, 2012
View Rapid Re-Housing: Ending Family Homelessness in a larger map
On Thursday, the Alliance will host a Congressional Briefing, “Rapid Re-Housing: Ending Family Homelessness.” The briefing, sponsored by Senator Patty Murray, will provide a glimpse in to how rapid re-housing is revolutionizing how we are responding to family homelessness.
Homeless program administrators across the country provided an enthusiastic (shall we say overwhelming?) response to the Alliance’s request for data to help inform the audience about the impact that rapid re-housing is having. The compelling data the Alliance received is showing the successes communities are having helping families move out of homelessness with rapid re-housing. A small sample is included below:
Alabama rapidly re-housed 431 persons in homeless families through HPRP grants from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs with a median of 4 months of assistance. Over 80 percent of families assisted with three months of assistance or more exited homelessness for a permanent destination, as did virtually all families provided with less than three months of assistance.
Bakersfield and Kern County, California rapidly re-housed over 500 families. The new HPRP-funded prevention and rapid re-housing resources contributed to a 12 percent reduction in family homelessness between 2009 and 2011 despite a persistent double digit unemployment rate.
Palm Beach County, Florida has rapidly re-housed 154 homeless families. Nearly all (96 percent) of the households were re-housed directly from an emergency shelter or domestic violence program and most (69 percent) were re-housed within 30 days of entering shelter.
New York City, New... Read More »
The Importance of Stable Housing for Survivors of Domestic Violence
April 03, 2012
A little over a year ago, the Alliance released a paper on using a rapid re-housing model to end homelessness for survivors of domestic violence. This paper was based on the successes and lessons learned by community programs using a rapid re-housing model to serve survivors.
One of the programs featured in that paper and also featured in a separate best practice on the Alliance website is Home Free, a Volunteers of America – Oregon program. Home Free recently participated in a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study that examined the link between stable housing and domestic violence.
Recently, the Alliance hosted a webinar that highlighted some of the findings from that study, including that as housing stability increased:
Women and children were safer,
Women had greater job stability and improved income, and
Children missed fewer days in school and displayed fewer behavior problems.
Perhaps most strikingly, when women who participated in the study were asked what made the biggest difference in their life, they said “having housing.” And, when asked what agencies did that was the most helpful, they stated the provision of housing services.
If that weren’t enough, the study also estimated the cost savings of housing survivors on the basis of decreases in their need of emergency services, including police, emergency medical care, and safety net programs. The total savings for emergency systems based on estimated costs was $535,000.
To learn more, please join the Alliance’s next webinar on A... Read More »