Ending Homelessness Today — HEARTH Act
Nonprofits Should Be Able to Administer Rental Assistance
August 07, 2013
On the whole, the Continuum of Care (CoC) regulations that HUD released in July 2012 reflected the intent of the HEARTH Act to prevent and end homelessness more effectively. However, for many communities, a few of the provisions seemed to come from out of nowhere.
While system-wide changes like implementing a coordinated assessment system, establishing a governance structure, ensuring system-wide participation in HMIS, and others made perfect sense, some did not. I’m of course talking about nonprofits not being able to administer rental assistance, which seems to fly in the face of what we learned during the nation’s recent economic downturn, when nonprofits were able to draw on HPRP funds under the Administration’s stimulus to do just that.
At the time, HPRP was a great boon to many communities. In addition to the much-needed funds that came with the stimulus program, the program also taught nonprofits how to house families and individuals quickly and efficiently – largely through rapid re-housing. The nonprofits administering HPRP funds were often the same offering assistance through CoC programs, giving them know-how and practice on how to get the job done right.
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Resources for Meeting Ann Oliva’s Recommendations
May 08, 2013
On Monday, Ann Oliva, Director of the Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs at HUD released a letter with information and recommendations for CoC leaders and stakeholders. The letter outlined four things community stakeholders should consider in striving to reach the goals laid out in Opening Doors. We have a number of resources on our website that address the various recommendations in Ms. Oliva’s letter, and I wanted to highlight them today because I know our website can be a little overwhelming at times.
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The CAP Team and the Performance Improvement Clinic
June 01, 2011
While the Alliance is identifies primarily as a policy organization, we do some other things that you may not know about.
In fact, we have this great little department called the Center for Capacity Building. And lately, they’ve been really busy with a project called the Performance Improvement Clinic (formerly called the HEARTH Academy).
Refresher: In 2008, Congress passed the HEARTH Act which was intended to streamline and modernize the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants. You can find out more about the HEARTH Act on our website.
The Performance Improvement Clinic is designed to prepare communities for the HEARTH Act, which is going to change the way communities both apply for federal funding under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants and they way that money can be applied within communities. Moreover, the HEARTH Act asks communities to change some of the ways they operate and measure the progress of their efforts to end homelessness and meet specific, numerical goals.
The Center for Capacity Building (CAP Team) is traveling to help communities prepare for the new legislation with an arsenal of new tools to help communities evaluate their systems and implement systems change. You can find these tools, including the Homeless System Evaluator Tool, as well as webinars, briefs, and resources on our website.
So far, the CAP Team has been to Mississippi, Iowa, Washington, Connecticut, Missouri, North Carolina, and Texas. This week, our intrepid capacity builders are in California before they hit West ... Read More »
How Coordinated Entry Works
May 25, 2011
Today's post comes to us from Kim Walker, capacity building associate at the Alliance.
The Center for Capacity Building just released our paper on developing a coordinated intake system for homeless families!
We’re so excited because we’ve gotten so many requests for more information on this approach from participants in our HEARTH Academies and other providers across the country. (Need a refresher on what coordinated entry is? Check out this blog post from Norm from a few months back.)
So, what kinds of things do we cover in this paper? Answers to questions like:
What are the different types of coordinated entry models?
How are other communities doing coordinated entry?
What changes will my system have to make in order to adopt coordinated entry?
How will I be able to tell if our coordinated entry system is functioning properly?
Not enough coordinated entry content for you?
Lucky for you, we have two webinars on coordinated entry in June.
On June 9 at 2 p.m. ET, we’ll host a webinar with Joyce Probst MacAlpine from Dayton/Montgomery County, OH, who just completed a six-month review of their brand new coordinated intake process. You can register for that webinar here.
Toward the end of June (date and time TBD), we will highlight the coordinated entry model in Columbus, OH and provide insight into their systems for singles and for families.
Still not enough? No worries – we’ll be rolling out more and mo... Read More »
What does the federal budget mean for HEARTH Act Implementation?
April 18, 2011
After a long and contentious process, Congress has finally passed a budget for fiscal year 2011. HUD’s homeless assistance grants, will receive a $40 million increase, which is a much smaller increase than we were hoping for, but not as bad as some of the worst-case scenarios that were possible. What does that mean for HEARTH Act implementation?
The short answer is that it means new funding for prevention and rapid re-housing programs, but little to implement changes to the Continuum of Care program.
While the overall increase was $40 million, Congress chose to increase funding for the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) by $65 million. The HEARTH Act changes the ESG program to include both the traditional shelter activities, which ESG has always funded, and also the prevention and rapid re-housing activities of HPRP. The $65 million increase will go almost entirely to prevention and rapid re-housing. For most jurisdictions receiving ESG, this will mean an increase of about 35 percent. While it will certainly not replace all of the funding provided by HPRP, it will help sustain some of these programs.
For the Continuum of Care program, things are more complicated. The HEARTH Act combines the Supportive Housing Program, Shelter Plus Care, and Moderate Rehabilitation/Single Room Occupancy programs into a single Continuum of Care program that still funds all of the eligible activities of the previous programs. The amount provided by Congress is enough to fund all renewals, but little will be left f... 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 »
Check out the Alliance's Columbus Model
November 30, 2010
The Alliance just put out a huge (seriously, it’s hefty) toolkit – what we’re calling the Columbus Model.
So here's the thing: Columbus, OH is really good at ending homelessness. Really, they've done all the right things: focused on prevention, implemented rapid re-housing techniques, encouraged excellent data collecting - all the things that make a program measurably successful. They're so good, in fact, that we published a community snapshot on their 46 percent decrease in homelessness a few years ago.
And they're still at it! With laser-focus on performance measurement and performance evaluation of both their community-wide homeless assistance system and their individual programs, Columbus has managed to really focus on improving assistance and reducing homelessness.
Lucky for you, we've distilled the lessons learned in this community and we're sharing them with you so that you can implement them in yours! Our four-part profile of the Columbus Model includes:
Becoming a Data Driven System,
Performance Measurement and Evaluation,
Quality Improvment, and
We've also included tools and samples that you can download and adapt for your own community.
Why do you care? You care because next year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is going to get serious about the outcomes laid out in the HEARTH Act (that's the reauthorization of the McKinney Vento Grants) - and communities everywhere are going to have to shape up to meet those outcomes. One of the great things about the Columbus Model... Read More »
It's Election Day - Go Vote!
November 02, 2010
It’s election day, people.
When Congress comes back – whatever the election results – the men and women we elect will be facing appropriations season; they’ll be trying to determine how much money to spend on which programs. Ask any staffer on the Hill and they can tell you it’s always a rigorous and deliberate process – and passing a budget is one of the most important things that Congress does all year.
And that’s not all. We at the Alliance set policy priorities every year that we work toward with Congress and the Administration.
Right this very second, we're working hard on the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act and - as always - the McKinney-Vento. But this year, we also aim to:
Increase access to permanent, affordable housing for extremely low-income families by funding new Section 8 Housing Choice vouchers and supporting the capitalization of the National Housing Trust Fund.
Increase the capacity of the VA and HUD to prevent and end veterans homelessness by enacting S. 1547, the Zero Tolerance for Homeless Veterans Act and supporting funding for additional HUD-VASH vouchers.
End youth homelessness through supportive housing, rental assistance, and services specific to unaccompanied youth by supporting a baseline youth count in 2011 community homeless counts and increasing funding of the Family Unification Program
And really, that’s not all. Remember the whole federal plan to end homelessness that the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness released last June? Remember the youth homel... Read More »
The 10 Best Things on Our Website
October 20, 2010
So after tipping my hat to the 100,000 Homes Campaign for featuring our interactive tools and maps on their (awesome!) blog, I did a little tooling around to remind myself of other really useful tools on our very own website!
The Alliance has, for almost 30 years, lead the campaign to end homelessness in the United States. And over the decades, we’ve accumulated the data, best practices, and effective strategies necessary to end homelessness.
And we’re hoping to share them with you!
After checking out our most visited pages and most popular tools, we’ve compiled a list of ten things - links, pages, reports – you need in order to end homelessness in your community (read: really great tools and info). And, just for good measure, I've tossed in a couple not-so-popular but ever-so-useful links as well.
The About Homelessness section.
This section gives you a broad snapshot of homelessness at the national level and includes sections and information on different demographics, the cost of homelessness, and maps produced by the Homelessness Research Institute(HRI).
The Interactive Tools and Solutions section.
HRI produces a number of charts, tools, and maps to help you better understand homelessness. Some of the more recent tools illustrate the number of doubled-up households in the United States, HPRP spending per household in the cities we’re tracking, and reductions in point-in-time counts necessary to meet the goals outlined in the federal strategic plan to end homel... Read More »
Meet Norm Suchar!
September 02, 2010
Today, we continue the meet-the-staff series with Norm Suchar, the new director of the Alliance’s Center for Capacity Building. We’ve written about the Center for the blog before - now take some time to learn about the new director!
For more information about the Center for Capacity Building – including the new Performance Improvement Clinic (formerly called the HEARTH Academy) – check out the Alliance website!
... Read More »
Building Capacity to End Homelessness
August 23, 2010
Today's blog comes from Norm Suchar, the recently promoted Director of the Center for Capacity Building. Read on to hear about what the Center is up to!
There’s a lot happening in the homelessness assistance world these days, and we at the Alliance are working on big things to help communities implement the HEARTH Act and end homelessness.
The Center for Capacity Building is the Alliance’s training, technical assistance, and consulting arm. Over the years, we’ve worked on a lot of interesting projects, including the Rural Homelessness Initiative of Southeast and Central Ohio, which as the name implies is a homelessness planning and implementation project in a 17 county region in Ohio, and Shifting Gears, an initiative to help homelessness assistance providers transition to a housing first approach. More recently, we’ve been working with communities in the DC metro area to implement strategies that reduce family homelessness, holding trainings on rapid re-housing and creating and piloting a new Ending Family Homelessness Tool.
The Center’s mission is to bring together three areas of the homelessness assistance field: what we aspire to, what we know, and what we practice.
Over the past decade, the aspiration to end homelessness has taken hold. Over 300 communities have plans to end homelessness, and now the federal government has an ambitious plan to prevent and end homelessness.
At the same time what we know about solving homelessness through prevention and rapid re-housing has increased... 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 »
House Approves $2.2 Billion for McKinney-Vento, $75 Million for VASH
July 30, 2010
House Approves $2.2 Billion for McKinney-Vento, $75 Million for VASH
Last night, the House approved H.R. 5850, the fiscal year (FY) 2011 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations Bill. The bill includes a number of provisions to help people experiencing homelessness.
Although a proposed amendment to the bill would have eliminated funding for the HUD - Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, the amendment was eventually withdrawn. As a result of YOUR help in making phone calls to your representatives, the final bill includes $75 million for HUD-VASH.
In addition to funding for HUD-VASH, the legislation includes:
$2.2 billion for HUD's McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants (an 18 percent increase over FY 2010);
$17.080 billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance renewals (a $740.8 million increase over FY 2010), including:
$85 million for 10,000 housing vouchers for the Housing and Services for Homeless Persons Demonstration;
$350 million for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program (a $15 million increase over FY 2010);
$4.829 billion for the Public Housing Operating Fund (a $54 million increase over FY 2010); and
$2.5 billion for the Public Housing Capital Fund (no change from FY 2010).
The House approved $2.2 billion in funding for McKinney-Vento programs due to all of YOUR hard work. Although we need $2.4 billion to fully implement the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act, we need to let our representatives know how appreciative we are to them for providing an 18 percent increase for McKinney-Vento programs.
Check the House Appropriations Committee website for more information on H.R. 5850.
Again – none o... Read More »
Last thoughts on the 2010 National Conference on Ending Homelessness
July 15, 2010
So it’s all over.
The 2010 National Conference on Ending Homelessness is behind us.
And – even from a non-expert standpoint – I have to say that it was a pretty incredible experience. From the industry luminaries that graced the stage at plenary sessions to the incredible workshop speakers to the [really outstanding] hotel staff, I really felt that the last three days were both educational and inspiring.
Alliance staff are all encouraged to attend [and staff] workshops, so I had the opportunity to learn about a lot of things that I don’t encounter in my communication-and-social-media-days in the office. I learned about the role rapid re-housing can play in the life of domestic violence survivors, I learned about the implications of the HEARTH Act in ending family homelessness, I learned how much interest there was in communications and social media, and I learned a lot – a ton! – about the federal plan to end homelessness and HPRP.
I learned a lot about people! Our field is full of such wonderfully different, quirky, and committed practitioners and advocates! Walking around with an Alliance nametag gave me an avenue to introduce myself to folks – and every time I turned around I had the opportunity to meet direct service providers, advocates, government employees, and real, true experts in the field. And every so often (I think I mentioned this before), I got a chance to meet Twitter friends and Facebook buds that I had chatted with ... Read More »
House T-HUD Numbers Out!
July 01, 2010
This morning, the House Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations Subcommittee marked up its fiscal year (FY) 2011 spending bill. (This is the subcommittee - along with its Senate counterpart - that governs the HUD budget.)
Although all of the details of the bill are not yet available, the legislation includes:
$2.055 billion for the HUD McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants (the amount requested by the Administration and a 10 percent increase over FY 2010);
$75 million for HUD-VA Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers;
$85 million for a Housing and Services for Homeless Persons Demonstration; and
$350 million for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program (a $15 million increase over FY 2010).
Given the current budget climate and the emphasis on keeping the deficit down, we are delighted that the House has provided increased resources for each of these programs. In fact, if passed by Congress, this would be the largest one-year increase for the McKinney programs in 15 years.
However, it will require $2.4 billion to fully implement the HEARTH Act.
So we need you to get back to those phones and do YOUR part to ensure that you’re protecting the local programs that help our most vulnerable friends and neighbors.
Contact your Representative and ask him/her to work throughout the rest of the appropriations process to provide additional funding for McKinney programs. (And if they happen to be a House T-HUD member, thank them for their work on the spending bill!)
Call the housing staffers i... Read More »
Doubling Up: Examining the recession, homelessness, and economic indicators
May 19, 2010
How many people are homeless due to the recession? We're not sure yet. Homelessness is what we call a "lagging indicator" of a poor economy, so we still have yet to see the full impact of the economic recession on homelessness.
But that doesn’t mean the recession hasn’t had – or won’t have - an impact on homelessness. Today, the Homeless Research Institute's launches our Economy Bytes series, in which we investigate economic indicators that are associated with homelessness. The first in this series investigates doubled-up situations.
Our research shows that 5 percent more people lived in doubled up situations in 2008 than in 2005; in particular, we've seen a growing share of doubled up families.
Wait, so what's doubled up? Doubling up means that an individual or family lives with extended family, friends, and other non-relatives due to economic hardship. In this case, we define economic hardship as earning no more than 125 percent of the federal poverty level.
Not all doubled up people or families will become homeless but for many, it's a precursor. Of those people who weren't homeless before staying at a shelter, 46 percent spent the previous night at the home of a friend or family member, according to the 2008 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR).
But why do people double up? In short, people double up because they can't afford housing. They have had to choose between basic necessities like food, health care, clothing and housing, and peo... Read More »
New Rules for Homeless Assistance Programs
September 22, 2009
We're heard though the grapevine that some people are a little confused - and a little worried - by the new Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act, a.k.a. the HEARTH Act. There seem to be some question about what, exactly, this legislation will do and how it will affect local direct service providers.
Below, our senior policy analyst Norm Suchar has some answers. Take it away, Norm!
One of the major homelessness policy debates over the past 2 decades has been about updating the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD's) homeless assistance programs. After years of debates and several false starts, Congress passed a bill called the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act, a.k.a. the HEARTH Act. It was signed by President Obama on May 20, 2009.
The HEARTH Act makes mostly evolutionary changes to homeless assistance, although some of the changes are more substantial. The changes go into effect in about two years. Here are some of the highlights.
1. The HEARTH Act focuses much more on preventing homelessness. Currently federal homeless assistance programs don't fund many prevention programs. Because of the HEARTH Act, there will be a lot more homelessness prevention, particularly for helping people when they get behind on the rent or when they have a dispute with a landlord.
2. There is a greater focus on helping families with children move into their own housing. Families are typically homeless for... Read More »
Annual Conference - Sen. Jack Reed!
July 31, 2009
I'm sitting here, listening to what is NO DOUBT a standing ovation given to Sen. Jack Reed who just gave an address to at the final plenary session at the Conference.
The senator - a longtime homeless advocate and champion of highly successful legislation to prevent and end homelessness - touched upon a number of different topics, including the ramifications of the HEARTH Act and the inexcusable tragedy of veteran homelessness.
"We have a lot of work to do," said the senator.
He's already started, it seems. Yesterday, the senator announced, he introduced the Zero Tolerance for Homeless Veterans - in an effort to do just that: end veteran homelessness.
Whew! Guess you never know what'll happen!... Read More »
Understanding the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Programs
July 15, 2009
So last week I did something new – the release of the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), so I thought this week I’d do something old: the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistant Act.
The McKinney-Vento Act was authored by Stewart Brett McKinney – a Republican Congressman from Connecticut – and Bruce Frank Vento – a Democratic-Farm-Labor Congressman from Minnesota, both of whom were known to their peers as advocates of those less fortunate, and dedicated to finding supportive programs and solutions to homelessness. The bill was signed by President Ronald Reagan, who – ironically - is often accused of contributing to modern-day homelessness by deinstitutionalizing mental health facilities in the 1980s.
The McKinney-Vento Act was a comprehensive, multi-faceted bill that:
Established the Interagency Council on Homelessness, a group of representatives from 15 federal agencies charged to design a comprehensive approach to reduce, prevent, and end homelessness in the country, and
Created 20 assistance programs administered by nine federal agencies providing a spectrum of services to homeless people, including supportive housing, emergency shelter, emergency food and shelter grants, rental assistance, job training and education, etc.
The original text of the bill firmly establishes that homelessness is a growing social problem that can be addressed by the federal assistance. I found it particularly interesting that they wrote, “the problem of homelessness has become more severe and, in the absence of more effective efforts, is expected to become dramatically worse, endangering the lives and safety of the homeless; the... Read More »