Ending Homelessness Today — Families
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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 Information Memorandum 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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Rapid Re-housing for Families Briefing
May 16, 2012
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.
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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 »
Poor, very poor people and families in need of concern
February 02, 2012
It’s been all over the news.
A few days ago, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that he wasn’t concerned about the very poor because we have a social safety net – and, when prodded, he said he would mend the safety net if necessary.
The candidate has been hounded by news outlets since the misstep. The Daily Beast, the Washington Post, and the TakeAway have all pointed out that the Romney should, in fact, show concern for the [growing] very poor population in America. The New York Times even ran an editorial on “the darkening tone of the primaries,” specifically citing this gaffe.
Needless to say, we here at the Alliance are very concerned about the very poor.
As has been widely reported, a full 15 percent of Americans live below the poverty line (which is $18,530 for a family of three) and 6.7 percent of Americans live in deep poverty (defined as half the poverty line.) Half of all Americans are either poor or low-income, living at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line.
While the last few years have, as the candidate notes, been hard for middle-class Americans, it has been a troublesome time for low-income and poor Americans as well. Recessionary times can be especially difficult for those households with little to no financial resources who suffer the same challenges as middle-income Americans including unemployment and housing crises. Unlike middle-income Americans, however, low-income and poor Americans often do not hav... Read More »
Incarceration and Homelessness
October 31, 2011
According to the Pew Center on the States, between 1973 and 2009, the nation’s prison population grew by 705 percent, resulting in more than 1 in 100 adults behind bars. When this growing population exits the corrections system, they are frequently at risk for homelessness, which can in turn increase the likelihood of another imprisonment. People leaving incarceration tend to have low incomes, and, often due to their criminal history, lack the ability to obtain housing through the channels that are open to other low-income people.
Recently, the Baltimore-based organization Health Care for the Homeless released a report on the link between incarceration and homelessness. This study focused on the situation in the Baltimore region, which has a particularly large population of people in jails and prisons. According to the report, among the cities with the largest jails, Baltimore has the highest percentage of its population in jail, more than three times that of New York City or Los Angeles County.
This report draws a very direct line between housing and homelessness. For example, 74 percent those surveyed who reported experiencing homelessness before their incarceration reported that stable housing would have prevented their incarceration. In Baltimore City, people experiencing homelessness spend an average of 35 days in jail annually.
It is important to point out that the connection goes both ways - incarceration often leads to homelessness, and homelessness can result in incarceration. This report found that the number of people who lacked stable housing after b... Read More »
Affordable Housing Saves on McKinney-Vento Transportation Costs
October 05, 2011
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, passed in 1987, provided children without a “fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence” some stability in the form of school.
Thanks to McKinney-Vento, children have the right to stay in their school of origin, despite the upheaval of homelessness. This means that even if kids have to move out of their original school district (because, for example, assistance is not available in that original district), students experiencing homelessness are able to continue attending their school. Because research has shown that students perform better when their school environment is stable, McKinney-Vento requires that school districts must provide transportation for the homeless student to the school of origin.
In recent recessionary years, the cost of bussing homeless students from shelter to school has been debated. States like Massachusetts have declared that they can no longer afford the cost of bussing; others have stopped paying for it outright. The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty recently released a report, “Beds Not Buses: Housing vs. Transportation for Homeless Students," arguing that a focus on housing will benefit the student and community more, while also cutting the high cost of bussing.
More specifically, the report calls for communities and schools to work together to create more affordable housing, which will prevent children from becoming homeless in the first place. The Law Center analyzed data from the Seattle area and found that “the costs to house unaccompanied homeless youth in supportive housing... Read More »
How to Make TANF Work Better for Homeless Families
September 07, 2011
Today, we pause to revisit the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. Sharon McDonald, Director for Families and Youth at the Alliance, shares her thoughts about welfare.
Last month marked the 15th anniversary of welfare reform. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) is often heralded as a success. With the flexibility of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) block grant, many states provided work supports that helped thousands of families transition off of financial assistance and enter the workforce.
The recent recession, however, highlighted some of the weaknesses of the program. The program did not adequately respond to the increased needs of families suddenly without work and whose unemployment insurance ran out, leaving them teetering on the edge and on their own. From its inception, the program has allowed too many families to fall through the cracks and into deeper poverty. Primary among them are families who experience homelessness.
Less than 20 percent of homeless families report receiving financial assistance from TANF agencies. Studies demonstrate that families who lose TANF assistance often include family members with a disability and other serious barriers to economic self-sufficiency. While some families may lose TANF financial assistance, other eligible families may never apply. With the hope of finding a new job quickly, parents experiencing a short-term economic crisis turn instead to extended families and friends. Many double up. When doubling up results in conflict, they turn to homeless programs.
TANF programs ... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Family, Youth, and Chronic Homelessness
August 26, 2011
Our Friday news Roundup is broken down today by some of the issue areas the Alliance works on:
Still not convinced that permanent supportive housing is the solution to chronic homelessness? Check out this story from Cleveland, Ohio and this recently published study from Australia.
The Reading Eagle out of Pennsylvania took an in-depth look at the rise in family homelessness, and the barriers some families face in finding affordable housing.
Annie Lowrey suggests one way to help the long-term unemployed is to bring back the Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF). The program expired last September, which this very blog called “a low down dirty shame.”
This week, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released a report finding that the child poverty rate increased 18% between 2000 and 2009, returning to the level of the early 1990s.
Monday will be back to school for many students across the country. The Tallahassee Democrat looks into what that means for students who don’t have a place to call home.
Did we miss any important news this week? Tell us in the comments!... Read More »
Urban Institute: The Role of TANF During the Recession
August 18, 2011
This month, our friends at the Urban Institute released a brief on the role of TANF during the recession.
The news is not so good.
According to researchers Sheila Zedlewski, Pamela Loprest, and Erika Huber, TANF did not play a significant role in keeping families economically stable during the recession. In fact, there were many states in which the number of people enrolled in the TANF program declined (this study specifically looks at years 2007 to 2010) while unemployment rose dramatically. Of particular note is the state of Arizona, where TANF rolls declined by 48 percent while unemployment in Arizona rose by 134 percent.
The finding is curious. TANF is meant to assist poor families with cash assistance and promote self-sufficiency and work. Why then, during a time of economic turmoil and high unemployment, would poor families not take advantage of TANF benefits?
Reduced TANF use has left a number of families in dire financial situations, what the writers of the brief call “disconnected.” “Disconnected” families have no earnings of cash government assistance of any kind. The writers found that in 1996, one in eight low-income single mothers was disconnected; that jumped to one in five disconnected single mothers from 2004 to 2008.
And this is the kind of economic vulnerability that leads to homelessness.
Mainstream welfare programs, like TANF, are often a bridge for many poor people and families between homelessness and housing. Most poor people – and people who become homeless are typically poor people – have scant resou... Read More »