Ending Homelessness Today — Housing First
Data Points: Unaffordable Housing
March 19, 2013
We spend lots of time developing and evaluating program models and service and housing interventions, but, on a basic level, homelessness occurs because of a household’s inability to afford housing.
Here are some startling statistics from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s recent Out of Reach report: There are a total of 10.1 million extremely low income (ELI) renter households across the U.S. For every 100 ELI renter households, there are just 30 affordable housing units. Most newly constructed rental units are for high income households and older units are being swiftly upgraded to serve a higher income market. To afford a decent apartment at fair market rent, a household needs to make $18.79 per hour, but the average renter earns only $14.32 per hour.
So, what does this mean for families and individuals every day? It means that households don’t make enough money to afford decent housing.
Read More »
National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day
December 21, 2012
The date December 21 has meanings both ancient and new. Communities in every era have paused in awareness of waning daylight and the promise of the sun’s return; in our era, some will pause to look for assurance that the world keeps turning. It is appropriate that National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day is December 21.
For people living on the street, the darkest day of the calendar is especially dark; for a person to die on the street is an ending that should be unthinkable. Homeless advocates, today, will pause to honor the neighbors and fellow citizens who passed away in 2012 without a home.
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What We Know About Housing First
August 04, 2011
Nan Roman, president and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, penned this piece on Housing First for FEANTSA (the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless) which is an umbrella of not-for-profit organisations which participate in or contribute to the fight against homelessness in Europe.
What Is Housing First?
Housing First is an approach that is built on the principle that a short experience of homelessness and rapid stabilization in housing are best for homeless people and most effective in ending homelessness. Housing First places homeless people in housing quickly and then provides or links them to services as needed, rather than the more customary approach of services first, then housing. While not assuming that housing is sufficient to solve all the problems that people have, Housing First does assume that housing is a necessary platform for success in services, education, employment, and health: in short for achieving personal and family well-being. It also has the benefit of being consumer-driven: housing is what homeless people want and seek.
The Housing First approach focuses on a few critical elements.
There is a focus on helping individuals and families access housing as quickly as possible and the housing is not time-limited (it is not shelter, transitional housing, etc.).
While some crisis resolution and housing search services might be delivered in the process of obtaining housing, core services to promote well-being and housing stability (treatment, education, child development, etc.) a... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Glee, NY, and Sam Tsemberis
December 10, 2010
Happy Friday, everyone!
To start, I thought I’d just point out that in this week’s episode of , the song-singing cast decides to donate presents and money to the McKinney Vento Program for Homeless Kids – or some variation of those six words.
So they didn’t get it exactly right, but it was awesome seeing the all-important McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants, the federal government’s largest investment in homeless assistance, get a shout-out on such a hit show. First Glee - then the world!
In more down-to-earth news, youth homelessness is at it again. There were three stories, an opinion piece in Oregon’s Statesman Journal, a news article from the Associated Press, and a Boston Globe piece (quote our own Nan Roman!) going over the purported rise in youth homelessness across the country. Just last week, we were discussing in the office the ascendancy of this issue in the news media – more evidence that the time is ripe to act on this important topic.
New York is under fire again. A controversial new study evaluating the effects of prevention has reached front page status in the New York Times. I know advocates across the country are feverishly discussing this new study – and whether or not it’s the right thing to do. What do you guys think about the New York study?
Prevention does seem to be doing something in Salt Lake City, UT. Our good friend Julia Lyon at the Salt ... Read More »
Take Five with Rosanne Haggerty!
October 27, 2010
Today's guest post comes to us from Rosanne Haggerty,founder of Common Ground New York and the 100,000 Homes Campaign.
What is the newest issue emerging in homelessness policy?
One issue with large potential impact is that more communities are using data to redesign their response to homelessness. Communities with the most information on who is homeless are in the best position to help people out of homelessness. Better data means being able to use mainstream programs more effectively— for instance, if we know who exactly is a veteran, or who qualifies for senior housing, our options for housing those people expand significantly. Along with many partners, we recently launched the 100,000 Homes Campaign to help communities across the country identify, house and support their most vulnerable homeless residents. Participating means having help in gathering person-specific data on who is homeless and in the most fragile health; creating a successful housing placement system; and being part of and learning from a network of others working collectively to house 100,000 vulnerable people by July 2013.
What issue in homelessness policy should everyone be reminded of?
I think many of us were inspired after Hurricane Katrina when over 80,000 people took to craigslist to offer housing to those made homeless by the storm. It jolted me into realizing that people naturally take care of each other in moments of crisis. The homeless never forget that homelessness is an urgent problem, but I think the rest of us o... 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 »
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 »
Encouraging community investment in Lincoln NE
October 07, 2010
Today's guest post is the next - and last! - installment of our Nebraska series from Kim Walker of our Center for Capacity Building. For more about the Center for Capacity Building and the services they offer, check on the Training section of our website.
Believe it or not, our time in Lincoln is at an end!
This last visited was from September 29 – October 1. The bulk of this last visit was a presentation to the larger Lincoln community, particularly targeting those whose work touches homeless individuals and have not been present for our meetings thus far. It’s about rallying community support and understanding that in order to make big change, we have to all be willing to invest in that change.
For our piece, we’ll review the process we’ve gone through with the Lincoln Homeless Coalition, including the data we collected through our survey and data analysis. Then we’ll turn things over to the Coalition members, who will talk in-depth about each of the goals they have for Lincoln’s system and invite the audience to become involved. This is where, if all goes well, we’ll see our hard work turn to into collective action as the larger community takes ownership of the work ahead.
In addition to presenting, we’ll be visiting the Coalition’s Project Homeless Connect event. Like other communities across the country, Lincoln puts on this one-day event that brings together different service... 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 »
Friday News Round Up: Housing First
August 20, 2010
There is a lot of good news that came out this week, especially from The Coloradoan. They had two articles this week, the first, a great defense of Housing First and homelessness prevention, called, “A radical idea: Ending homelessness”. The second was about Denver’s successful efforts to prevent homelessness by keeping 2,500 families in homes.
We take the bad with the good, though. From the Las Vegas Sun, we hear about how Las Vegas, an area where homelessness has been unfortunately increasing over the last few years, is struggling to get enough federal funding to help combat their growing problem.
From Journal Standard, we read a great personal story about how HPRP funds helped one family stay together and in a home.
Finally, Kathleen Pender of the San Francisco Chronicle told us about how the federal government is allocating funds not just to help homeowners, but the renters who are often at a higher risk of homelessness.... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: a farewell, vets, and the cost-effectiveness of Housing FIrst
June 04, 2010
This is my last Friday news roundup at the Alliance. I've been really inspired by all the fantastic work that's happening, both locally and at the federal level, and I'm so glad I got to help spread the word. Hearing stories from community across the country has made me believe that ending homelessness really is possible. Catherine's back at the helm of the About Homelessness blog and soon she'll be joined by a NEW new media intern. Thanks for reading!Memorial Day brought some attention to veterans experiencing homelessness. An in-depth piece from the Arizona Star takes a look at the divide between the VA's plan to end homelessness within 5 years and the attitudes of some vets who are chronically homeless. Change.org's Poverty in America blog features Swords and Plowshares, a facility that combines housing and services to get former soldiers back on their feet. The Corporation for Supportive Housing's Deborah DeSantis shares a recent report that shows there are three times more mentally ill people in jail than in hospitals. The solution is not only humane, but cost-effective: Permanent Supportive Housing.Speaking of cost-effectiveness, the Providence Journal discussed the benefits of the Housing First model by telling the story of Bill Victoria, who was homeless for 30 years before finally finding stable housing: "I thought I'd be homeless forever," he says.Not so. About the Housing First approach, Eric Hirsch, a sociology professor at Providence College, says:It’s d... 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 »
Friday News Roundup: Welcome new Alliance staff!
May 21, 2010
We're welcoming two new staff members at the Alliance this week: Kim Walker is our new Capacity Building Associate and Kate Seif is our new Assistant to the President. We're excited to have their experience and enthusiasm in our office!We had a visit this week from Sarah, John and James, three intrepid college students from North Carolina who are biking across the country to research Housing First initiatives and raise money for housing in their own community. We'll be following them on their blog - and you should too. We're still waiting on the Federal Plan to End Homelessness, but in the meantime, check out the Homeless Law blog's post "Five Reasons I'm Looking Forward to the Federal Plan.The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities sets the record straight about the Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund, in response to claims on the YouCut website. (Pssst: The Emergency Contingency Fund is part of HR 4123, which is being discussed in the House today. if you haven't called your Members of Congress about HR4123, do it now!)We've mentioned Street Roots' photo project, where they asked their vendors what matters most and this week, they posted this cool word cloud. What jumps out at you? Love this editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune about how to end homelessness. They're speaking our language:How do you eliminate chronic homelessness? The problem seems so complex that the obvious solution... Read More »
McKinney-Vento Advocates Speak Out: Q&A with Leah Bradley
May 11, 2010
As we've talked about the McKinney-Vento Appropriations Campaign on this blog, we've often mentioned the impact that that federal funding has on homeless assistance in your community. Today's blog post is from Leah Bradley, Director of Housing and Program Development at Community Health Link, and one of the winners of our 2010 Letter Writing Contest. She knows first-hand how crucial McKinney-Vento funding is for Worcester, and along with our advocacy team, she traveled to Washington DC to tell her members of Congress.Why is it important for your community to fund McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance programs at $2.4 billion? Can you give an example of a program that might be affected? The McKinney Vento- Homeless Assistance programs have been the primary programs in our community to reduce chronic homelessness. According to our 2010 Point In Time survey, chronic homelessness in the City of Worcester was reduced by 38% from 2009 to 2010. The majority of those were housed in McKinney-funded permanent supportive housing. In addition, our community has used HPRP funds to transform our emergency shelter system to a rapid re-housing system. The components of this are a triage system where anyone seeking emergency shelter must see a triage worker first. No one is denied shelter; however, through this system we have been able to divert 67.4% (622 out of 923) of those seeking shelter from staying at the shelter. In order to maintain this new system and house those individuals who become chronically homeless over the next year, we... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Good News for People Who Want Progress
April 09, 2010
I like good news. As I read our daily media clips and search the blogosphere for news about homelessness, what I find is mostly infuriating, depressing, or somehow deeply upsetting. While that's the nature of the beast, I also think we're making progress, and I want to highlight it. Here's a few bright spots in homelessness headlines from the week.Boston's WBUR reported on how funds from the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program helped a mother fleeing from an abusive boyfriend find housing. (I interned for Heading Home, the organization profiled, in summer of 2006, helping out in their drop-in shelter and helping pave the way for their transition to providing permanent housing. I think they're amazing - and that's where I first learned about the Alliance!)Folks broke ground on a new housing development for veterans experiencing homelessness outside Seattle As part of their ongoing series on youth homelessness in FL, the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida posted some adorable pictures of the children at their Early Child Development Center. This is a pretty incredible story: despite struggling with homelessness, this LA teen has totally conquered his high school and is moving on to West Point with the help of their alumni association. A new permanent supportive housing development called Florence House opens this week in Portland. For more on progress toward ending homelessness there, check out this post from HUD's blog. Speaking of frustrating news, the... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: new HUD study, plus healthcare and homelessness
March 26, 2010
This week, HUD released a study that supports this argument we’ve been making for years: emergency shelter is actually more expensive for society than providing permanent housing. Along those lines, the latest in our series of seriously neat interactive tools, which we launched this week, illustrates the cost savings to communities with permanent supportive housing. You can read more on the new HUD study on Change.org's End Homelessness blog or in USA Today. As this week began, a historic piece of healthcare legislation was passed in the House and signed by President Obama. While kinks get worked out and the fight continues, we’re focusing on how reform will impact people experiencing homelessness. On Monday, we talked about why healthcare matters in the fight against homelessness and in the Huffington Post, Deborah De Santis of the Corporation for Supportive Housing made a convincing case:The administration's proposal includes expanding Medicaid to everyone who earns below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Currently, permanent supportive housing projects across the country are constantly trying to find funding to pay for mental health services, substance abuse treatment, primary health care and intensive case management services. Expanded Medicaid insurance coverage will allow supportive housing providers to focus on providing services, rather than chasing after funding.The full article is definitely worth a read. Speaking of healthcare, the Street Roots blog published a stellar interview with Jim O’Connell, one of the founding physician... Read More »
Spotlight on budget: Permanent Supportive Housing!
February 09, 2010
Last week's budget recommendations included a pleasant surprise for permanent supportive housing advocates: 10,000 new homeless and special needs vouchers specifically focused on building collaboration between federal agencies. It's a welcome sign that the Obama administration is willing to invest in real, practical solutions to homelessness.Permanent supportive housing is a proven solution to chronic homelessness; it's a paradigm shift we've been working on here at the Alliance for years, so it's really exciting to hear the federal government speaking our language:Stable housing is the foundation upon which all else in a family’s or individual’s life is built--absent a safe, affordable place to live, it is next to impossible to achieve good health, positive educational outcomes, or reach one’s full economic potential.Here's what's special about this initiative:Targeting mainstream supports to homeless people: The program could be a catalyst for learning how to target programs like Medicaid and substance abuse treatment to homeless individuals. Since these systems are frequently used by chronically homeless individuals and permanent supportive housing cuts down on use of services, it just makes sense for these agencies to figure out how best to work together.A "silo-busting" alignment of resources: The program represents a move toward interagency collaboration. Take a child whose family is in shelter: not only would the program provide her family with a housing voucher, but it would also connect them with income support such as the Temporary Assistance for N... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Research on chronic homelessness, youth, vets
January 22, 2010
Organizations across the country are looking to fill their volunteer rosters for annual Point in Time counts next week. Volunteer in your area and look forward to a more detailed look at counts on this blog next week.Otherwise, a variety of interesting, important research pieces have come out this week. Here's a handful of highlights:Results of a study on youth homelessness in Oregon came out this week. While we're always glad to see data on youth homelessness, it looks like numbers of youth experiencing homelessness are increasing pretty dramatically, service providers say.A University of Birmingham professor Jeffrey Michael Clair spent two years interviewing Birmingham's chronically homeless. His conclusion? "Public policy should be oriented more toward enabling people to work and to secure a dwelling." Agreed. (Found this one through Inforumusa.)The Corporation for Supportive Housing's Richard Cho was featured on the Funders Together blog this week with research from the Frequent Users Forum. Their work shows why permanent supportive housing is a cost-effective solution to chronic homelessness: case management combined with permanent housing for those stuck in the "institutional circuit" reduces time and public money spent in hospitals, jails and shelters. The Department of Veteran's Affairs recently reported on the ways they're shifting medical systems to better serve veterans who are homeless, including integrating health care and other services, like job training and housing. Though many of the 131,000 homeless veterans in the U.S. struggle with addiction... Read More »
HIV/AIDS in DC and housing
October 21, 2009
Recently, the Washington Post launched a series about HIV/AIDS funding in the District of Columbia. The series shed light on waste, mismanagement, and neglect – hallmarks, it seems from the story, of a program intended to serve those desperately in need of services. DC, as the story confirms, has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the country; higher than some West African countries.
As I was reading this well-researched expose, I was struck at the intersection of HIV/AIDS and housing.
I was particular taken with the profiles of two people: a homeless man afflicted with HIV named Alexander Harrington and a [housed] single mother of two named J’Mia Edwards.
Harrington was an ex-offender who, upon his release, sought out assistance from an AIDS service center that promised counseling, a lead on permanent housing, and job training. Shortly after his stay there, he was pushed out with nothing to show for his time.
J’Mia Edwards is an outreach worker, attempting to ensure that her friends and neighbors are educated about HIV/AIDS, all the while caring for her two young children.
Resonant throughout the stories of these two was their deep desire for stable housing.
J’Mia Edwards go so far as to remark,”…if I don’t have adequate housing, I’m not gonna worry about taking my medication…a part of my prevention is my housing.”
And these deliberations by people who are presently experiencing this need only soli... Read More »
Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness
September 24, 2009
Almost ten years ago, the Alliance unveiled the Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness, a campaign aimed at engaging communities to look strategically and systemically examine homelessness in their localities. The plan outlined a community-based framework aimed at engaging a wide array of sectors and stakeholders to comprehensively broach and solve this social problem. The Alliance presented this campaign in a report called, A Plan, Not a Dream: How to End Homelessness in Ten Years. Six years into the project, over 200 communities had adopted this plan, initiating 10-year plans at the state, local, and regional levels. The plans developed timeline with tangible benchmarks, addressed different subpopulations of the homeless community, and incorporated data-driven, evidence-based strategies, as presented in the Alliance’s Ten Essentials, a list of best practices and proven techniques.
In response to this tremendous reaction, the Homeless Research Institute (HRI) published an analysis of the existing 10-year plans. A New Vision: What is in Community Plans to End Homelessness? examines the content of local plans and shares information developed by local planners and community officials.
Today, there are over 234* plans to end homelessness, and the Alliance has produced a timeline to track the evolution of these plans. To complement the online tool, Shannon Moriarty - former HRI intern and trusted colleague – produced A Shifting Focus: What’s New in Community Plans to End Homelessness, an update on 10-year plans since 2006.
Please take a moment to check out the tool ... Read More »