Ending Homelessness Today — HHS
Mental Health and Military Appreciation
May 09, 2013
In our media-driven, socially-conscious era, every month has its many associations, and May is no exception. Did you know that May is National Salad Month? Neither did I. It’s also National Mental Health Awareness month and Military Appreciation Month. It’s fitting that these two issues share a month because, due to over ten years of continuous conflict, they are inextricably linked.
With a small, all-volunteer military pressed into duty for over a decade, many service members have faced multiple deployments and experienced sexual trauma, horrifying urban combat, traumatic head wounds, and they have suffered from lack of employment opportunities when they return home. All of these factors can contribute to mental health issues.
As many as 40 percent of all veterans will experience some form of mental health or trauma related symptoms as a result of their service. These are complex and often long lasting conditions that veterans will live with for many years. The Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have both struggled to come to grips with this growing problem.
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Youth Homelessness: This Year We Learn More
January 04, 2013
It's January and that means that communities across the country are preparing for their HUD mandated Point-In-Time Counts, which they will be performing at the end of this month. This year the homeless assistance field will take an important step toward ending youth homelessness by 2020 - one of the four major goals of Opening Doors – by collecting more accurate data on the population of youth experiencing homelessness.
Recently, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) completed a series of webinars focused on showing a number of communities how to collect more detailed and accurate data on homeless youth during their counts. Though targeted at specific communities – Boston, Houston, and Los Angeles – the webinars provide information that should be useful for training volunteers, picking locations to survey, and finalizing survey questions in a wide range of communities.
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Advocacy in 2013: A Look Ahead
January 03, 2013
Last year, I wrote a blog post about the 2012 outlook for homelessness policy and legislation. I described 2011 as a tumultuous year during which many challenges arose that would eventually shape our advocacy and policy work in 2012. Looking back, I’d have to say that 2012 indeed proved to be an enormously challenging but successful year for us (see my 2012 wrap-up for details).
These last few weeks, we’ve been inundated with news of action or, has more often been the case, inaction, dealing with the fiscal cliff and the details of the last-minute deal to avert it. Thanks to the deal Congress struck with the Administration, 2013 should be just as challenging for advocates, if not more so, as last year. That deal, which you can read more about here, kicked the can down the road two months on sequestration, which should give the newly minted 113th Congress time to do something about it, such as eliminating the measure, or reversing it and replacing it with a more balanced plan.
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How the Fiscal Cliff Deal Will Impact Homelessness
January 02, 2013
Last night Congress passed a bipartisan bill that eliminates or postpones many aspects of the “fiscal cliff.” President Obama is expected to sign the bill shortly.
As readers of this blog are no doubt aware, the fiscal cliff was made up of different federal laws that would have taken effect around now that would have either raised taxes or cut spending in a number of different areas, including programs important to ending homelessness. The Congressional Budget Office found that, if all these measures took effect on schedule, it would have sent the economy back into a recession and substantially increased the unemployment rate.
For people working on homelessness, here are some of the important things the new bill does.
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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 InformationMemorandum indicating the Administration’s interest in granting waivers to states for the administration of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. States may now seek waivers from the administration that allow them to experiment with new strategies to help low-income parents on TANF connect with employment.
States are required to demonstrate that 50 percent of the TANF caseload complies with work activity requirements. Advocates have long been concerned that the federal rules regarding “what counts” as a work activity is often a poor match for what many parents need to successfully prepare for, or enter, the workforce. Families in which a parent or a child has a disability are often poorly served under the current rules. Some are unable to meet the required number of hours in a work activity. Others require work preparation activities that are not countable, and so are simply not offered.
The mismatch between what families need to transition to work and what TANF agencies can provide has important consequences. Some households face impending time limits for cash assistance without ever receiving the individually tailored supports that could help them succeed in the workforce. High numbers of families, including those that include a member with a disability, lose cash assistance because they are... Read More »