Ending Homelessness Today — Families
The Center for Housing Policy: Should I Stay or Should I Go?
April 19, 2011
A recent report commissioned by the Center for Housing Policy finds that low-income families move much more frequently than the general population. These moves often have to do with the family’s financial status, caused by foreclosure and eviction, among other catalysts.
The report specifically investigates the ways that such mobility impacts children in these families. It finds that children in “hyper-mobile families” – families that move very often – experience negative outcomes including high absenteeism from schools, neighborhood problems, and lower educational development.
Among the conclusions drawn in report is the importance of affordable housing for children and families. Access to affordable housing can reduce the incidence of housing mobility and, in turn, foster housing stability and developmental growth for children.
This report is the first in a series to be release by the National Housing Conference and the Center for Housing Policy.
... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Having our Voices Heard
April 15, 2011
The biggest news item this week occurred when debate over the federal budget finally ended on Thursday when Congress passed the spending bill that cut $38 billion from FY 2011. (Stay tuned, on Monday we will discuss the bill in greater depth.)
Throughout the debate process one thing remained clear to us at the Alliance – homelessness advocates will have their voices heard.
Cathy ten Broeke from the Office to End Homelessness in Minneapolis and Hennepin County composed a powerful argument for why ending homelessness is not only the right thing to do, but also the fiscally responsible thing to do.
Another excellent opinion piece was authored this week by Former Sen. Tom Daschle and the Hon. Linda Hall Daschle. The Daschle’s wrote about the strides that N Street Village – where Alliance staff members volunteer from time to time – have made toward ending homelessness, in particular, N Street’s successful housing model that integrates housing and health services for women.
On the topic of women, there was an NPR story about a report by Wider Opportunities for Women that found the minimum income workers need to attain basic economic security is about three times more than the federal poverty line. What was the biggest expense among the majority of people studied? Unsurprisingly, housing and utilities.
Finally, a few other stories of note:
Results from the 2011 point in time counts from Metropolitan Washington, D.C. are out. Overall, there were 11,988 homeless people, up from 11,7... Read More »
Congressional Briefing on Homeless Children, Youth, and Families
March 29, 2011
Tomorrow, the Congressional Caucus on Homelessness is holding a briefing on “Homeless Children, Youth, and Families.”
During the briefing, panelists will discuss the profound impact that homelessness wields on children and youth, as well as their parents. In addition to the loss of safe, stable housing, homelessness can cause a sense of displacement, trauma, and stress. This can corrupt positive child development, health, and school participation and create life-long costs to children and parents.
The briefing will reference the 60 Minutes segment on homeless children that cast some media attention on the problem. The briefing will also examine the growing epidemic of homeless children and families as well as model programs, strategies, and initiatives to keep children in school and to secure stable housing.
Invited speakers include:
Diane Nilan, Founder and President, HEAR US, Naperville, IL
Barbara Duffield, Policy Director, National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, Washington, DC
Beth McCullough, Home and School Liaison, Adrian School District, Adrian, Michigan
Lori Criss, Chief Operating Officer, Amethyst Inc, Columbus, Ohio
Michelle Flynn, Associate Executive Director of Programs, The Road Home, Salt Lake City, Utah.
For more information about family and youth homelessness, please visit the Alliance website. If you’re interested in the Congressional Caucus on Homelessness or would like to attend the briefing, please contact the Alliance advocacy team.... Read More »
A Remarkably Simple Solution to Eviction Prevention
March 16, 2011
Last week the Alliance released a series of profiles focusing on eviction prevention strategies. Specifically, this series examined evictions from public housing units and focused on the successful work of the Tri-City area of Massachusetts; King County, Washington; and Cleveland, Ohio.
Research has shown that a housing subsidy is the single most effective tool in preventing homelessness because it makes market-rate housing affordable. All too often these subsidies are lost through an eviction and it becomes extremely difficult for a household to find affordable housing, thereby placing them at a heightened and totally preventable risk of homelessness.
While public housing authorities (PHA) and direct service providers may not always see eye-to-eye, these partnerships have proven to be very successful and have become the foundation for a richer and more sustained relationship between the organizations.
As it turns out it isremarkably simple to prevent evictions for most households. Assistance with paperwork or one-time cash assistance was generally all that was needed. That is because in many communities, evictions occur due to incomplete paperwork and/or failure to pay rent on time (the latter is often caused by some life change – loss of job, family conflict, etc.).
Our Eviction Prevention series highlights three communities that made these strategies work:
In Massachusetts, the Malden Housing Authority partnered with the nonprofit Housing Families, Inc. to provide interventions to tenants who were behind on rent payments and had received an eviction warning notice. Interventions included one-time... Read More »
How to house homeless families
March 14, 2011
Today's guest post comes to us from Alliance VP of Programs and Policy Steve Berg.
A little over a week ago, CBS’ “60 Minutes” focused on children and families experiencing homelessness. The piece received a lot of attention in the week that followed – and rightly so. The piece explored the effect that the recession has had on financially vulnerable families and poverty among children. It specifically featured interviews with children experiencing homelessness and highlighted the problem of families who are forced to live in motels.
I wanted to pass along an update on one of the featured families, the Bravermans. Jacob Braverman, just 14, came home from school one day to find himself locked out of his house. His mom had lost her job, and the bank warned them they had 30 days to leave their home. But just five days later, the police made them vacate the property. Jacob, his mom, and their dog moved in with neighbors across the street. In the episode, Jacob talks about how this experience made him more shy and forced him to mature much more quickly than his peers. He was constantly concerned about the instability he faced and worried what would happen if the neighbors kicked his family out of their home.
Since the episode (filmed in mid-December), the Bravermans have moved into their own apartment in Altamonte Springs, FL. They were able to do so with the help of a Recovery Act program called the Hom... Read More »
Spokesman Review (WA): “State Assistance Terminated for 5,000 Families”
February 02, 2011
This morning, a little news clip from the Spokeman Review (WA) caught my eye. The title read: “State assistance terminated for 5,000 families.”
For months now, the Alliance and like-minded interest groups had warned against the impact of the recession on state budgets. (In fact, Nan discussed it in the Washington Post after the release of The State of Homelessness in America.)
States, already feeling pressure on their financial resources, strained to meet the needs of the increasing number of people and families seeking public assistance as they experienced job loss, unemployment, and other economic distress as a result of the recession.
And now, at least in Washington state, it seems that the pressure has finally come to a hilt. The state has decided to reduce their TANF program by 15 percent – cutting nearly 5,000 families off welfare.
Clearly this is exactly the wrong time to deny struggling families the resources they need to avoid economic turmoil - like homelessness. While the recession may be over in theory, communities across the country can testify to the increased – and sometimes still increasing – number of people seeking charitable as they continue to struggle.
And frankly, we all saw it coming. The Alliance examined state budgets in the research newsletter last fall, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities published a number of briefs about TANF and the Emergency Contingency Fund, and on this very blog, we asked you to support the extension of TANF ECF, a small, e... Read More »
Major Findings in the 5th Quarterly Pulse Report
October 21, 2010
On Tuesday, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released the Fifth Quarterly Pulse report – a snapshot of homelessness in eight communities across the country. This latest report covers the time between January to March 2010.
The moral of the story, as conveyed by the current report, is that homelessness is mostly down.
There was a one percent decrease in the overall shelter count between the fourth and fifth quarters. (All but NYC reported decreases in their local counts.)
There was a four percent decrease in the number of sheltered persons in families between the fourth and fifth quarters (All but the Richmond, VA community reported decreases in their local family counts.)
There was a three percent increase in sheltered homeless individuals between the fourth and fifth quarters. (Despite notable decreases in some areas – VA, CT, and KY – increases in other communities, including OH and NYC, contributed to a rise in this number.)
We also noted a couple of economic indicators:
When comparing January – March 2009 to January – March 2010, seven of the eight sites showed increased joblessness. (LA showed a 0.1 percent improvement in joblessness.)
Five communities experienced increased joblessness between the fourth and fifth quarters.
Half of the sites had increased rates of foreclosure activity.
Another point of concern (that’s often reported in news outlets) is the number of newly homeless. In this quarter’s Pulse report, we see that:
In the eight communities surveyed, the number of newly homeless serv... Read More »
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 ... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Making Progress
October 15, 2010
This week we have heard some powerful arguments for Housing First and supportive housing.
Our good friends Rosanne Haggerty of Common Ground in New York and Martha Kegel of UNITY in New Orleans authored a fantastic piece in defense of supportive housing. A proposed project in New Orleans – a city still suffering the effects of a hurricane five years past - would redevelop an abandoned nursing home into supportive housing for people with disabilities and low-income working people is facing opposition from the local community. Rosanne and Martha do such a great job articulating the argument, I’ll let them speak for themselves:
“Homelessness is a humanitarian crisis, but it is bad for a community in many other ways as well. By converting abandoned buildings into beautifully renovated apartments, supportive housing offers an opportunity to help solve several of New Orleans' pressing problems at once. Housing the homeless is good for everyone.”
In other news: Massachusetts is kicking butt in implementing and executing their plan to end homelessness; the state has helped place 376 people in housing and has helped prevent almost 11,000 families from becoming homeless through a Housing First model. Even as the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance reports the numbers of new families and individuals seeking help continues to grow in the area, Boston's Pine St. Inn claims to have eliminated 10 percent of their shelter beds due to successful housing placements – at an estimated savings of $9,000 per person. Way to go, MA!
A new... 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 »
Educating homeless children - Nathan Hand, School on Wheels
October 05, 2010
Our guest post today comes from Nathan Hand of School on Wheels in Indianapolis, IN.
The anatomy of a movement
Seventeen years ago, Agnes Stevens saw something severely wrong with the world. Millions of children were homeless and not able to focus on their education among the distractions and hardships that come with their situation. She started School on Wheels Inc. – a volunteer-based tutoring effort to support these vulnerable children. She rallied volunteer support and started gathering supplies.
It literally all began by handing out backpacks, pencils, crayons and glue sticks to kids on the street. Today, there are nearly 1,500 tutors spread across Southern California helping homeless youth focus on their education and get the one-on-one help they often need.
Nine years ago, Sally Bindley from Indianapolis, Indiana saw a similar problem. She learned of Agnes’ efforts, flew to L.A. and shadowed her. For two weeks she talked to kids, parents, tutors, staff, shelters and anyone involved in the effort. Taking copious notes she brought back the pieces of the program that she thought would best suit the issue in Indianapolis and got to work. She gathered a couple friends, started collecting supplies, engaged tutors, and built funding relationships. And sure enough, School on Wheels Corp. was born. Today there are over 500 volunteer tutors serving every child in a family homeless shelter in Indianapolis. In addition, all students receive a new backpack packed full of school supplies, a new boo... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Check the Facts
October 01, 2010
I am going to start off with the good news first because I know the East coast has had a rough week! We at the Alliance got a little recognition today for our work helping the The Lincoln Homeless Coalition revamp the way they serve homeless families. Which, faithful reader, you already know all about from this blog. So kudos to our CAP team! (Want the CAP team in your community? Check out the website.)
Working at the Alliance may make me biased but I was convinced even more this week about the importance of homelessness research. In order to effectively solve a problem, we must first fully understand it. And the research can be hard to swallow - like this report from Toronto - which indicates that homeless youth, particularly lesbian and bisexual women and young people of color, are overwhelmingly victims of crime. Why on earth would anyone victimize a homeless kid?
But with every cloud comes a silver lining. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) has urged members of the Senate to designate these kind of violent attacks against people experiencing homelessness as hate crimes. This act, the "Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act," would lead to stiffer penalties for perpetrators and mandate the collection of data on this problem - which hopefully will lead to better solutions. All this because of reports that violent attacks of this nature have been on the rise here in the United Stat... 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 »
Photo Contest Winner - Tiago Russo!
September 27, 2010
We are delighted to announce that Tiago Russo is the winner of the Alliance’s first ever photo contest!
Tiago submitted the photo “Run Home,” a heartwarming picture of a young boy running up the stairs towards with his family in the background. Alliance staff, judges, and friends all agreed that photo evoked an enthusiasm, joy, and energy around the concept of housing and home.
The contest was a close one and we’re so appreciative of all the people who took the time to submit photos and share their thoughts on what ending homelessness really looks like. The photos you’ve shared will find their ways into Alliance reports, products, and web pages – in fact, some staff favorites will cycle through the slideshow on the Alliance’s website this week (take a look!).
Thank you so much for your participation – we couldn’t have done it without you! This was the first time the Alliance engaged with supporters and advocates online and your participation ensures that this certainly won’t be the last! Please keep your eyes out for more contests, discussions, and other requests for feedback!
Congratulations again for Tiago and many thanks to you all!... Read More »
LAST CHANCE for TANF ECF
September 22, 2010
Seriously, this is your LAST CHANCE.
We’ve been beating the issue – we know – but TANF Emergency Contingency Fund (TANF ECF) will expire in 8 days. And there’s just no time to dawdle!
Urge Congress to save TANF ECF by calling your senator now.
Call your senators and ask to speak to the person who works on welfare issues. Don’t know the number? Call the congressional switchboard to find out: 202-224-3121.
When the staffer who works on welfare issues picks up, ask him or her to urge their boss (read: the senator) to call Senate leaders and tell them that they support extending TANF ECF.
If you can, report back! We want to hear what happened – what they said, what they promised, if they had any objections. Learning about your efforts can help us make a more concerted try with ours. Call (202-942-2856), email, or drop us a note here or on Facebook.
Remember: The ECF was created as part of the Recovery Act, intended to help states support the increasing number of people receiving TANF due to the recession. Since it passed, the program has:
provided cash assistance to low-income families;
provided short-term rent assistance to families experiencing a housing crisis; and
created 250,000 subsidized employment opportunities nationally, many of which will end on September 30 if Congress does not act to extend the funding.
For more information, check out a great piece from the Center on Budget and Policy ... Read More »
Steve Berg: What ending homelessness looks like
September 20, 2010
Thanks to all our wonderful fans and supporters who submitted photos for the Alliance photo contest. Our judges are reviewing all the excellent entries and while we wait for the results, we have a very special guest on the blog. Steve Berg, Vice President of Programs and Policy at the Alliance, speculates on what a country without homelessness could look like .
She’s not going to be homeless, even though her boyfriend beat her and disappeared with her money. Even though her job disappeared next, she and her babies had to move in with her mom, and now her mom’s boyfriend wants them out.
She’s not going to be homeless because the domestic violence counselor sent over a woman who mediated, found some places that were hiring, contacted a new day care center, connected her with a different landlord, and paid the security deposit and her storage bill.
She’s not going to be homeless.
She’s going to unwrap the dishes. On one of the newspapers she’s using there’s a story about The Last Homeless Person in America. She laughs, thinking, “That could have been me.” She’ll have to read it later.
He’s not going to be homeless even though he came back from overseas and couldn’t talk to anybody. Even though his girlfriend, his boss, his friends and parents all made him so furious he couldn’t be around them.
He’s not going to be homeless ... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: the TANF month
September 10, 2010
If April is the cruelest month, then September - it seems - is the TANF month
(Okay, bad joke.)
Nonetheless, it's been all TANF, all the time.
So here's the story: TANF is a program that helps low-income families. It provides block grants to states and the funds are used to curb child child expenses and promote work preparation and opportunities. In the face of the recession, more and more families were in need of such assistance and the federal government created the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund - an extra pot of money that could help states with up to 80 percent of increased TANF assistance requests. States and think tanks alike have reported that the emergency fund has been a lifeline for both states and the families in those states requiring aid.
But here's where the bad news comes in. The emergency fund is set to expire on September30 of this year if it isn't renewed by the Senate (the House has already voted for an extension).
This seemingly innocuous little welfare program has gotten a decent amount of ink in the last few weeks. It hasn't been the firestorm set off by Quran-burning or midterm elections, but in national and local news sources alike, stories popped up like plastic whac-a-moles.
In Connecticut, the New Haven Register ran a story about the federal program's implications in the state. The article cited an excellent report by the Center for Budget and... Read More »
Call your senator - save TANF ECF!
September 08, 2010
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: we can – and must - save the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF).
And we’re not the only ones that think so. In the last few days, you may have noticed that the innocuous welfare program has received an unusual amount of ink. Stories praising the job-creating program have run in the Chicago Tribune and Huffington Post - among countless other publications.
We hate to say we told you so but we did call it. This stimulus program is making a difference where it’s needed most: offering cash assistance to low-income families, providing housing aid, and subsidizing jobs. In fact, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that the program has created 250,000 subsidized jobs for low-income parents and youth across the country.
But the program is about to come to a grinding halt. TANF ECF will expire on September 30 if Congress doesn’t act now.
We need you to tell them how.
Senator John Kerry (D-MA) is circulating a sign-on letter for his colleagues in the Senate to join. He wants them to sign the letter to urge Senate leaders to extend the ECF right away and provide a one-year, $2.5 billion extension of ECF to allow states to access additional funds and continue subsidizing jobs for low-income families and youth.
Want to know what you can do?
Call your senators TODAY (If you don’t k... Read More »
A New Capacity Center Tool
August 17, 2010
Today's post comes from Kimberly Walker, a Capacity Building Associate here at the Alliance.
Hello all! Kim here. As part of the Center for Capacity Building, my job is to help communities improve their homeless systems. As part of that mission, I’m working on the Center’s new Ending Family Homelessness Tool and Pilot Project (or the EFHT/PP). I’ve been told this may be of interest to our blog readers, so I thought I’d give you a synopsis of what exactly it is.
This tool turns what the Alliance staff has learned over the years about best practices in ending homelessness, what we’ve learned from the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP), and the new Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act requirements into a measuring stick for communities. The EFHT will hopefully encourage communities to use these standards to judge where their system is now and where it needs to be in order for them to end family homelessness.
The tool has several different parts (some that are finished, some that are still being developed/considered):
1) A set of three surveys regarding what communities think about their homeless system
2) A data collection worksheet
3) A resource list
4) A planning document
5) A check-in document (after a plan has been made), and
6) A community forum
As a final product, we hope to create a completely web-based version of these documents that communiti... Read More »
Using HPRP to Help Families
August 16, 2010
This week’s news has been full of reports about families in need overwhelming shelter systems. From Baltimore, MD to Springfield, MA, to LaPorte, IN, we’ve seen articles all week about homeless shelters “bursting” with people. Stories about an increase in the number of homeless children and families seem to be the news item of the week.
Shelter programs are struggling to accommodate more families in their existing programs. When they can’t, families are left to fend for themselves. They beg family and friends to let them stay for just one more night, they find well-lit places like train stations or hospital waiting rooms and try to look like they belong, they find retreat in abandoned buildings or quiet corners of parks where their children can rest.
Of course, shelters never want to turn away families in need. They work hard to find church basements that might serve as overflow shelter or to come up with the resources to pay for motel rooms to increase their capacity to serve families. While offering a temporary refuge, homeless providers recognize that overflow shelters and motels cannot provide families the security they need.
But are all the tools that can help shelter programs serve families better being put to use?
The Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) was created to curb the expected surge of families experiencing housing crises and homelessness as a result of the recession. It provides flexible resources... Read More »