Ending Homelessness Today — Guest Blog
Make a Real Difference in Ending Homelessness: Get Involved in Elections!
August 03, 2010
Today’s guest post comes from Will O’Brien of Project H.O.M.E. in Philadelphia.
It’s an election year, and here in Philadelphia, we’re feeling the usual election-year buzz.
This year, Pennsylvanians will elect a governor and a U.S. senator - so people across the city are organizing, registering, mobilizing and educating potential voters and candidates on the state’s critical issues.
This year, one of the most active groups mobilizing voters is a coalition called Vote For Homes!, a group comprised of people experiencing homelessness, formerly homeless persons, low-income individuals and families, along with allies and advocates.
For the past dozen election cycles (or so), Vote For Homes! has worked to mobilize and educate citizens during the about the issues that impact our communities, with particular emphasis on the needs of low-income and homeless people and families: housing, jobs, and support services. Drawing on a range of experience and expertise, Vote For Homes! proposes constructive policies and engages in dialogue with candidates. We lead non-partisan voter registration campaigns, reaching out especially to folks in shelters, programs and struggling neighborhoods where people often feel alienated from the political system. Project H.O.M.E. is proud to be one of the leaders in the Vote For Homes! campaign.
We do this because we recognize that it isn’t enough to provide quality services to persons and families in need – we must also address the structures, systems, and policies that aggravate situations of poverty and homelessness. We do this because we believe that all citizens must act responsibly through the political process to try to better our community.
And – most importantly - we do it because it works.
During the 2008 mayoral election, we reached out to all the candidates with a platform to address critical issues about homelessness and poverty in the city. We packed a local church for one of the most well-attended and energetic candidate forums of the entire campaign. We hosted hundreds at a Get Out a Vote rally and both major candidates appeared to speak to our constituents.
The eventual winner, Mayor Michael Nutter, quickly reached out to us for input in formulating policies on homelessness. A few months into his administration the Mayor announced significant new initiatives which have resulted in over 2,000 new housing opportunities created for homeless persons and families thus far. He has also worked hard in the midst of major economic crisis to minimize cuts to programs serving the most vulnerable citizens.
This shows what can happen when we take our democratic rights and responsibilities seriously – it shows what can happen when we claim our power as individuals and as a community working together.
But we also need to realize that success only happens when we work together.
In the past several years, we’ve registered well over 10,000 homeless and low-income voters. We’ve mobilized thousands of people to get to the polls. And we’re doing it again this year.
We believe it is vital for service providers to take the next step and turn your commitments, experience, and knowledge of the issues into nonpartisan electoral action.
Whether the races are for local, state, or federal offices, educate yourselves about what is at stake in this election. Find out about the issues and the candidates. Talk with friends and colleagues. Encourage folks to get out and vote – and do so yourself!
The opportunity is at hand. Together, we can make a difference – just as we have in the past.
For out more abo... 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 »
African American Homeless Veterans
July 01, 2010
Today’s guest blog comes from Ron Armstead, Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus’ Veterans Braintrust.
At a workshop that Ron organized for the National Coalition on Homeless Veterans, I had the honor of presenting data that show that African Americans are overrepresented among the homeless veteran population. As illustrated in the Alliance’s most recent report on homelessness among veterans, while African American veterans make up 10 - 11 percent of the veteran population, they make up 45 percent of the homeless veteran population.
As I was pulling together my slides for this presentation, I was struck by following from the HUD’s fifth Annual Homeless Assessment Report:
“When compared to their counterparts nationwide, homeless people are much more likely to be adult males, African Americans, non-elderly, alone, veterans and disabled.”
For more than two decades the homeless veteran’s population has been a scar on the face of America. The Heroes Today, Homeless Tomorrow Report (1991), set the stage, or tone at the national public policy level for dialogue. Yet little inside, or outside the national debate has focused on why African American veterans are continually disproportionately represented. Early Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust issues forums convened in 1992, and in 1993, in which deceased VA Secretary Jesse Brown (1992) testified, revealed that of the estimated 250,000 single male veterans who were homeless nationally, 40% were Black, or African American. The currently available literature does not reveal, nor does it provide meaningful explanations on this phenomenon. H... Read More »
A Transforming Time: Rapid Re-Housing in Salt Lake City
May 25, 2010
Today's guest blog post is from our partners at the Road Home in Salt Lake City. Thanks to Donor Coordinator Jacqueline Jensen for contributing! It is a transforming time for our agency and the services we provide. After many years without the tools to really help families end homelessness, we are finally seeing the resources needed to end homelessness. (The Road Home in Salt Lake City -operating the largest homeless shelter in Utah as well as an extensive transitional and permanent housing program.) The Road Home has recently partnered with the State of Utah, Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County to utilize federal stimulus dollars to rapidly re-house families.With the flexibility allowed by the funds, our Rapid Re-Housing program is designed to give families a jump start. Funding allows payments for utility debts, deposits and rental assistance as well as a strong case management component. We have seen that once in housing, families rarely need to return to emergency shelter ever again. The Road Home recently assisted a young single mother who had been living in the family winter shelter facility. She was able to move out with the assistance of the Rapid Rehousing Program. She and her three children found a nice apartment in West Valley City. Soon after moving, the mother found a job at a grocery store. Recently, she was promoted to be a manager there and has increased her income enough to afford her... Read More »
Guest Blog: Shelter Partnership launches a brand new blog!
March 25, 2010
We're happy to share the latest addition to the homelessness blogosphere. Today's guest post is by Dhakshike Wickrema at Shelter Partnership. In an attempt to expand our role as a community resource on homelessness in LA County, Shelter Partnership just started a new blog! We hope that it will get the word out to those looking to learn more about homelessness policy and programs in LA County and City. Our goal is to inform not only the general public, but also homeless service providers and public agency staff so that they can stay abreast of important policy decisions and programmatic changes that may affect their clients.Thus far we have covered topics such as the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, LA County’s initiative to provide rental subsidies to 10,000 recipients of General Relief (Assistance) and a program that links homeless older adults to subsidized housing. The contributors to our blog will include Ruth Schwartz, our Executive Director, and the planning/technical assistance staff, Nicky Viola, Steve Renahan and Dhakshike Wickrema. Established in 1985, Shelter Partnership is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to alleviating, preventing and ending homelessness in Los Angeles County. We carry out our mission in several ways: providing policy and planning advice and technical assistance to community-based organizations and public agencies and conducting research and publishing analytical studies to inform public policy regarding homelessness. We also operate a warehouse where large-scale donations of merchandise are stored and redistributed t... Read More »
Guest Blog: Perla Ni, GreatNonprofits
December 08, 2009
This morning, we’re thrilled to host Perla Ni, former publisher of the the Stanford Social Innovation Review and founder of GreatNonprofits on our blog! She’s writes today about our partnership to promote awareness of great organizations benefiting the poor and homeless. A Proud PartnershipGreatNonprofits and the National Alliance to End Homelessness Team Up for Hunger and Homelessness AwarenessWhen Hurricane Katrina hit, I was the publisher of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and we wanted to write a story about how nonprofits were helping the victims. Even though we had access to far more information than the ordinary donor or volunteer, we found it difficult to find out which nonprofits were doing a good job of helping those in need.We only started to get a clearer understanding of which nonprofits were actually rising to the challenge when our former managing editor, David Weir, flew out to Biloxi, Miss., and walked up and down the streets, asking people which nonprofits had been out there helping them. The locals told him about several excellent small, local nonprofits that provided supplies and help. One guy told him how he had broken his leg and had been living in his car until volunteers from a local nonprofit came and found him and took him to the doctor. The local nonprofit in that case was unknown to the larger world and received little public attention or funding. .It struck me, as I struggled pro... Read More »
HMIS Data in Minnesota
September 28, 2009
Today, we have a great guest post from our friends in Minnesota. It discusses data, and the importance of that data in approaching homelessness effectively and responsibly. As a member of our own Homelessness Research Institute at the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the importance of good, solid data is something I’ve learned very, very well. Hope you get the message too.
Between October 1, 2007 and September 30, 2008, nearly 13,000 people stayed in the emergency shelter and transitional housing programs that participate in Minnesota’s Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), according to a recent report from Wilder Research. HMIS participating organizations have about 3,400 beds per night designated for people experiencing homelessness, about 57 percent of the state’s total capacity.
The report, Homeless Service Use in Minnesota: Emergency shelter and transitional housing, federal fiscal year 2008 provides numbers and characteristics of people who reside in HMIS-participating emergency and transition housing. It uses aggregated data submitted annually to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for its Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress.
A companion report presents detailed tables for each of Minnesota’s 13 HUD-related ‘Continuum of Care’(CoC) regions. (As we’ve discussed on this blog before, a CoC is the administrative unit in charge homeless programs.)
Minnesota has among the highest AHAR participation rates in the county. In addition to strengthening HUD’s report and providing useful information at the local level, high AHAR participation helps secure funding for homeless programs throug... Read More »
Guest Blog: On the Ground Notes, Community Lodgings (Alexandria, VA)
September 03, 2009
In the fight against homelessness, there are a number of solutions and ideas. So far, we as a country have embraced homelessness management – and constructed a series of shelters and assistance programs that do benefit the lives of the homeless but does little else to lift them out of homelessness in a more effective and permanent way.
The Alliance supports a different approach – one based on permanent housing as a solution to homelessness.
In between the two is the concept of transitional housing – a temporary situation that can aid individuals and family who are suffering a short-term crisis. Here’s a story from Bonnie Baxley, Executive Director at Community Lodgings. Inc., a transitional housing program in Alexandria, Virginia.
All families who enter Community Lodgings’ Transitional Housing Program are homeless and most are referred to us by local temporary shelters. Each of our families has their own unique story usually revolving around themes that are all too familiar: addiction, domestic violence and a lack of education.
Recently, we welcomed a new family to our program. J.D., a single mother, and her 5-month old son exemplify the constant struggle that characterizes homelessness. Still, they continue to overcome seemingly incomprehensible problems through support from our caseworkers and their own enduring hope and perseverance.
A 31-year old single mother, J.D., was referred to Community Lodgings from a local homeless shelter. She entered our two-year program with a history of incarceration and substance abuse as ... Read More »
Guest Blog: Homelessness and Health Care
August 17, 2009
Happy Monday, everyone!
We have a GREAT treat today! Maria Foscarinis, of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP), sent us a piece on her organization's stance on the health care debate and the homelessness.
No doubt you've heard a thing or two about the raging controversy over health care. All the national papers, including the New York Times, the Washington Post and USA Today are a-buzz with recent criticisms, potential changes, and the likelihood that the administration will concede to the hysteria of the general public.
In our little corner of the world, we wonder what the health care debate will mean for the homeless population. We wonder if reform - should reform pass - will make a tangible difference in their lives: will the chronically homeless get the medical attention they need? Will improved coverage curb the number of costly emergency-room visits? Will the poor and very poor be assured health care coverage under federal programs like Medicaid? And since the Post brought it up, what about the families?
Here at the Alliance, we know what we'd like to see. Check out senior policy analyst Peggy Bailey outline the Alliance's goals for improving health care.
And a slightly different perspective from our friends at the NLCHP. Many thanks to Maria Foscarinis and Ashley Shuler at NLCHP for their invaluable help in getting this piece posted today.
Tale of two health crises
By: Maria Foscarinis
Twenty two... Read More »
Guest Blog: Poverty in Chicago
August 11, 2009
Afternoon, everyone! Apologies for the break in info - had some family in town and they required by strict attention (and tourist-guiding techniques).
No worries, though, we're back on the horse now!
A few pieces of business to wrap up:
Pictures from the Conference (172 of them!) are up on our Flickr account. Check it out and see if we snapped you up!
We didn't have a Friday news roundup, but I did notice this morning that there are a LOT of stories about the recession, a decline in services just as there's increased demand, and - as always - trickling stories about HPRP funds. Keep an eye on those daily clips to stay on top of the news.
We'd love to hear from you! Tell us what you want more information about - shoot us a comment, follow us on Twitter (@naehomelessness) or shoot me an email with an idea, request, whatever. This is all about you - really! (For me, it's just an exercise in writing concisely.)
Last week, I got an email from a woman at The Documentary Channel. They've created a piece on homelessness in Chicago, specifically looking at the role of addiction in homelessness. A spokesperson wrote to us, "Chicago filmmaker Brian Schodorf takes a raw and real look at the men behind the statistics with poignant testimonies from the streets and expert interviews inside elite university offices."
It's a long one - trust me, you'll... Read More »