Ending Homelessness Today — HPRP
NYC Homelessness Commissioner Rob Hess Steps Down
April 19, 2010
Today, we at the Alliance learned that Rob Hess, commissioner of the NYC Department of Homeless Services, will be stepping down from his post on Friday, April 23. During his tenure, Rob has been a valuable contributor to the efforts of the Alliance and an important ally in our fight to end homelessness in America. Most recently, Rob had served as co-chairman of the Alliance’s Leadership Council - a group of eleven leaders in the homeless assistance field from across the country. The Leadership Council has been instrumental in pulling together information about effective work around the country, most notably in the implementation of the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP), the $1.5 billion stimulus-funded effort to prevent and curb homelessness resulting from the recession. Rob also served as frequent speaker at Alliance Conferences, sharing his experience as a leader in our homeless assistance community and offering lessons from the field. He has been an important source of information, for people working at the local level and for policymakers. He also made important strides in his work at the city-level. As DHS Commissioner, Rob was committed to innovation – he expanded the HomeBase program in NYC, which was the inspiration for the existing federal HPRP program. He worked to reduce street homelessness and focused his efforts on homelessness prevention for families. He also brought thoughtful, empirical data to the problem – integrating data into prevention efforts and emphasizing outcomes for street outreach. His leadership on this issue will continue as he transitions into his new job with the Doe Fund. We look forward to future opportunities to draw on his wisdom and experience.... 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 »
A Take Five Excerpt: SF Mayor Gavin Newsom on HPRP
March 09, 2010
Have you seen the latest in our Take Five Q&A series? It's featuring Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, where they've created 1, 679 units of permanent supportive housing in the last 6 years. What's below is excerpt of our Take Five piece, and you can read more about SF's work to end homelessness on his blog and here.
What is the newest issue emerging in homelessness policy?
Homelessness among families and children is increasing. We have seen greater demand for our homeless services by families throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Our ability to address this spike in demand has been strengthened as a result of the Obama Administration's $1.5 billion for the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program (HPRP).
Using local and HPRP funds we have prevented 1,612 households from becoming homeless and/or entering the emergency shelter system. Our programs are focused on keeping families in housing by both addressing the financial burden they are experiencing, coupled with short term supportive services so they can maintain that housing for the long term.
In addition, we allocated local funds to provide short-term rental subsidies so families could circumvent the shelter system and move directly into housing with supportive services so they can secure employment and take over the rent payment of their new home. We will also continue to build both affordable housing and permanent supportive housing so that families with disabilities, and those that just need a stable home, can... Read More »
Senate passes latest version of the Jobs Bill, but HPRP funding is nowhere to be found
February 24, 2010
Okay – so we’re going to take some time to talk about something a tad bit boring…and pretty important. That’s right: Congress.This just in: the Senate just passed the first piece of the Jobs bill (recap: once upon a time, there was one giant Senate Jobs bill. But some people thought it’d be better to break it up into a bunch of little bills). This $15 billion bill is focused primarily on providing tax credits for employers who are hiring – and especially hiring the unemployed. More, similar legislation will be coming down the pike, but no where in the distance is one key element that we – the Alliance and homeless asisistance providers and advocates – are looking for. Additional funding for the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP). As a part of the Jobs Bill, we at the Alliance are hoping for $1 billion. Here's why:The unemployment outlook has worsened significantly since HPRP was created last year, which puts more people in danger of becoming homeless. It was designed to help 600,000 people, but communities are finding there are more people who need assistance than we'd planned for. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), communities from states - including California, Michigan, Nebraska, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Utah, and South Carolina - have reported that there are far more families who are homeless or at-risk than there is money to help them get back on their feet. An ... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Everybody's talking budget
February 05, 2010
This week, it's all about the budget. The president's recommendations for fiscal year 2011 came out on Monday, and bloggers and organizations have spent this week responding.On the HUD blog, Secretary Shaun Donovan summarizes what's in the president's proposed budget for housing. We're particularly excited about a new initiative that will provide 10,000 vouchers for supportive housing and encourage collaboration between departments. (Stay tuned for more on this program.) Plus, Secretary Donovan is talking about using "housing as a platform for improving quality of life"! That sounds like progress.Elsewhere in the blogosphere, the 13th juror points out that the budget includes some painful cuts in housing for the disabled and the elderly and Open House stresses the innovative affordable housing programs that are included.The National Low Income Housing Coalition's response to the proposed budget highlighted the $1 billion for the National Housing Trust Fund, but there's more to it says President Sheila Crowley: "We are grateful that the HUD budget was spared the cuts to domestic discretionary programs that are included in the overall budget. Nonetheless, essentially flat funding for HUD this year is insufficient given the high demand for housing assistance as a result of the recession."Around here, we're also talking about how we can impact the budget process. Check out yesterday's post about how you can get involved in our McKinney-Vento Appropriations campaign, which will increase federal funding for homelessness services. And then do it!Life goes... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Quotes on Counts and more
January 29, 2010
As America counted it's homeless population this week, the media came out to cover it. The following quotes, pulled from this year's coverage of Point in Time counts, provide a useful summary. (For some context, read Caroline's post about the significance of counts and our press release about what these counts show.)Beth McKee-Huger, executive director of the Greensboro Housing Coalition: “With the economic situation getting worse, we know that there are a lot more people losing their housing than there used to be or about to lose housing.” From the story "Homeless survey also notes who is nearly homeless" in Greensboro's News-Record. Robert Hess, commissioner for NYC's Department of Homeless Services: "We know where folks are living on the street. Hopefully, they will move into their own homes as 3,000 have done so in over the last 3 years." From Boonsri Dickinson's comprehensive account of NYC's HOPE count. Check out the photos too!Michael Ferrell, chairman of the Homeless Services Committee of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments: "There is no way you can count every single person who's homeless. We give our best representation of what the homeless population is in our area . . . from one year to another." From the Washington Post's piece on counts in the DC metro area. Our very own Bill Sermons and Meghan Greenwell were out counting in DC!Jarome Watts, resident of the Salvation Army shelter in Tuscaloosa, OK: “I think there are a lot more ... Read More »
More HPRP trends: Centralization and Coordination
January 27, 2010
The Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing program is making good news throughout the U.S. We're keeping track of the media coverage on this interactive map, and we're also highlighting some of the common themes we've seen in the implementation of the program. (Hat tip to fellow intern Grace Stubee for her help with this post!)CentralizationMany groups have used funding from HPRP to create a one-stop shop, or centralized point of access, for services to people experiencing homelessness. One example comes from Cowlitz County, WA, where the center is the office of Lower Columbia Community Action Program. Making services easily accessible is particularly important because many people seeking assistance through HPRP don't know how to navigate the social services system, because they have never needed government assistance before.Elsewhere, the one-stop shop isn't a physical space, but folks can connect with numerous services through an HPRP hotline, which Allegheny County and the city of Pittsburgh worked together to start up.CoordinationIn Columbus, OH, it's not just about having a central location, but also a common way of doing things: "For the community and for the homeless population, there will be one point of contact, with a common language, common process and a hot line," said Dave Davis, director of programs and planning at the shelter board. In Las Vegas, the federal money has encouraged more than 35 social service agencies to coordinate. The county designed a three-tier network of assistance,... Read More »
Demand for HPRP program "overwhelming," says McClatchy story
January 14, 2010
"When you think about it, it really makes sense to focus on getting people back into housing faster," said Alliance president Nan Roman in Tony Pugh's McClatchy story Demand overwhelms program to prevent homelessness, out yesterday. "Instead of long stays in some homeless facility with a lot of service delivery, wouldn't a little bit of money help people stay where they are and not end up in the system at all?"The story shows what a little bit of money can do: it helped Joseph Wright get back on his feet after he fell behind on rent. Instead of sleeping at a shelter today, he's got a new apartment and a stable teaching job. Service providers have made the original $1.5 billion allocated for HPRP go a long way, but those Pugh talked to - in Salt Lake City, Raleigh, Washington State and Alameda County, California - all agree: the funding is not enough.How much more is needed? The Alliance estimates that an extra $1 billion would not only help 200,000 more families, but also create about 2,000 more jobs at community organizations.As Elaine de Coligny, executive director of EveryOne Home, a housing agency in Alameda County, Calif, said simply: "It's good money to spend."... Read More »
HPRP Success Stories: 16-month-old has a new heart and a new home
January 04, 2010
For most homeless families, living in a friend's apartment might work better than sleeping in a car or finding shelter space, but for a family caring for an infant who is recovering from a heart transplant, these options are simply not an option. This family needs a stable home.With the help of New York's Department of Homeless Services, their partners and stimulus funding through the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, Baby J and his family found one.The latest in our series of HPRP success stories comes from Holly Frindell from the Department of Homeless Services in New York. In August, Baby J was hospitalized with what doctors initially thought was bronchiolitis, but was quickly discovered to be heart failure. His health deteriorated rapidly and he was placed on the waiting list for a heart transplant. Two weeks following the baby’s admission to the hospital, his parents and three-year-old brother were evicted from their apartment. His father had lost his construction job eight months prior, and the family fell into arrears, eventually losing the apartment where they had lived for more than four years. The family was fortunate to have relatives to turn to for help, doubling up in a two-bedroom apartment where two other adults and two other children already were living. Word came in November that a heart finally had become available. With the transplant complete, however, the overcrowded apartment no longer was suitable. The h... Read More »
Rapid Re-Housing: From tent to apartment in 12 days
December 16, 2009
Michelle Zamora of The Road Home in Salt Lake City shows us just how quickly rapid rehousing can work. Using Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing (HPRP) funds, her organization moved a family from a tent to a stable apartment in under 2 weeks. Instead of getting stuck in a shelter or out in the cold, HPRP helped this family of six to stay safe, healthy, and together. The Road Home launched our Rapid Rehousing program on October 1, 2009. With funding contracts from the State of Utah, the County of Salt Lake and Salt Lake City, we invited homeless families to be assessed for Rapid Rehousing participation. A family came to us on October 8. Dad, Mom and four little kids were disheveled, scared and cold. Mom told us she is seven months pregnant and couldn't stay where they had been for several months before. When we asked for further clarification we learned that they had been sleeping in a tent west of Salt Lake City. The family was assessed for Rapid Rehousing on that day. Dad is employed making $9.00 an hour. His job seems stable and he is very proud of being employed. He was nervous that his boss might find out he was homeless and that he could be terminated. The family was welcomed in to The Road Home for crisis shelter. Their assessment for Rapid Rehousing participation was approved soon after and they started looking for employment. Today is October 20, and... Read More »
Hunger and Homelessness Survey, courtesy of the Conference of Mayors
December 10, 2009
So I guess the homelessness news of the week is that the U.S. Conference of Mayors came out with the Annual Hunger and Homelessness Report, suggesting that family homelessness is on the rise and that hunger has reached record rates. Specifically, the Mayors Report says: In the area of homelessness, nineteen cities (76 percent), reported an increase in family homelessness, while homelessness among individuals decreased or stayed the same for 16 of the 25 cities (64 percent). Most of the cities that experienced drops in individual homelessness attribute the decline to a policy strategy by federal, state and local governments of instituting 10-year plans to end chronic homelessness among single adults. Not surprisingly, the recession and a lack of affordable housing were cited as the top causes of family homelessness in the surveyed cities. While there’s no doubt in my mind that the recession has impacted homelessness on all fronts, I hadn’t been made aware that family homelessness was definitively up. In fact, I think I stumbled across just this quandary earlier this year when the Department of Housing and Urban Development released their Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) in July of this year. But while we may not have any definitive data, Alliance staff are hearing reports from our friends in the field that need is undoubtedly up. From programs and shelters and advocates across the country, we hear stories of both individuals and families who are nearly that precarious edg... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Family Homelessness
December 04, 2009
So today, the Alliance had a Congressional Briefing on Family Homelessness. I've never been to one of these myself (at least, not one hosted by the Alliance) so I wasn't sure what to expect - but things clarified about ten minutes into the briefing.It was a reasonably packed room - no place to sit for the whole staff, and we invited speakers from all over the country to discuss state, community, and local solutions to end homelessness among families.So here's where we start: family homelessness is a problem.That's been clear for a while now. News reports have (as of late) fixated on student homelessness - and while youth homelessness is nothing less than a critical problem - there's usually an entire family there that deserves our attention. Authors of the latest Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR) from the Department of Housing and Urban Development will argue that family homelessness is up 4 percent from 2007 - 2008 (that's the latest data we have).The numbers are fuzzy, but between unemployment and poverty rates, enrollment in social services, use of food stamps, and other indicators - it's pretty clear that need is up.At our briefing, I had the privilege to listen to three representatives from three states:Bob Pulster, of the MA Department of Housing and Community Development;Kay Moshier McDivitt of the Lancaster County Coalition to End Homelessness in PA;Kathy Wahto, of the Serenity House of... Read More »
"One Paycheck Away" at Thanksgiving
November 25, 2009
The time has rolled around again for us to give thanks for all our blessings, and the Alliance thought it might be helpful to take a sharp look at those who are less fortunate. Thanks for reading our wandering thoughts - and have a happy Thanksgiving!It’s that time of year again. Pumpkins retreat as the mercury plunges, and we’re seized with the charitable desire to be kind to those less fortunate. Suddenly, those on the economic brink of society – those just “one paycheck away” from homelessness – have taken center stage in our national conscience.It’s a shift as sure as the season – and this year, it’s one that resonates all the louder. While homelessness has long been the exclusive plight of Americans living in poverty, its reach is climbing up the socioeconomic ladder. Increasingly, middle-class Americans are seeing the distance from one paycheck to the next get shorter and shorter while their incomes – and savings – dwindle. Combined with cash-strapped states cutting back social services and a continued rise in unemployment, the reality of homelessness comes sharply into focus.This holiday season, there will be far more families living just “one paycheck away.”The good news: this is not news. The ravaging effects of the economy and it’s impact on those living in poverty has not been wholly overlooked. An important federal stimulus initiative known as the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) is one of the few Congress-fun... Read More »
Research Council Notes - What's Next in the Field of Homelessness Research?
October 28, 2009
Yesterday, the Alliance hosted a convening of the Research Council – a handful of leaders in the homelessness research field – to discuss the direction of homelessness research. After a few moments sharing new and innovative projects that each member was working on, the group went forth to discuss three major points:
What has been achieved from the last agenda?
What is the future of homelessness research?
What are the policy implications of our research?
In the last Research Agenda, the council attempted to answer some of the bigger questions facing the field:
What programs and policies are effective in preventing chronic homelessness?
What mix of housing assistance and services prevents and ends homelessness?
What characteristics distinguish those poor, at-risk families who become homeless from those who don’t?
As the voices of these research heavyweights whirled around the room, I furiously took notes on the questions that seemed to resonate loudest. It became clearer and clearer that as much as we have learned about homelessness, there is even more that we don’t know. Now that the foundation has been laid on the issue of homelessness, the charge – it seems – is to dig deeper and deeper until homelessness is no longer the social problem we know today.
But in this economic climate and at this particular point in time, there are a few questions that rose as the obvious questions we need to answer soonest:
1. What is the impact of the recession o... Read More »
Roundup of Helpful HPRP Resources
October 26, 2009
HUD has recently posted several resources to help communities implement their HPRP programs. The resources include:
Case studies of seven communities that have implemented homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing programs similar to those that can be funded through HPRP:
The HomeBase prevention program in New York City
The Ohio Family Homelessness Prevention Pilot
Chicago's Housing Locator program
The Family Housing Collaborative and rapid re-housing program in Columbus, OH
Hennepin County's rapid re-housing program, Rapid Exit
Shelter to Independent Living, a prevention program in Lancaster, PA
The Rural Homeless Initiative of Southeast and Central Ohio
A guide to designing and delivering financial assistance, including rental assistance
A description of the role of case management in preventing homelessness and in rapidly returning homeless individuals and families to housing stability, including specific information about case management within HPRP and useful information for system planners
Strategies for connecting HPRP with mainstream workforce programs
A presentation of HUD's vision for HPRP
Several resources to assist with documentation and certification, including a Habitability Standards Checklist and description of HPRP unit inspection requirements, and tools to assist with income and housing status determination
A sample sub-recipient agreement
These resources and others can be found in the HPRP Resource Library on HUD's Homelessness Resource Exchange.
Please note that these resources are posted to HUD's Homelessness Resource Exchange, and they come with the following disclaimer:
All peer-to-peer resources shared on www.HUDHRE.info have been provided by the community... Read More »
Friday: News Roundup! the NOFA
September 25, 2009
Today, a post from Amanda Krusemark, assistant to the President and a jane-of-all-trades member of the staff. The news: HUD released the NOFA today, which may seem insignificant to many, but often represents a large percentage of homeless assistance funding for many communities.
The big news today is that Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) finally released the 2009 CoC NOFA.
In homeless industry talk a NOFA is a Notice of Funding Availability. It let folks across the country know that the application for federal funds is available.
Specifically, the NOFA explains the pertinent details, including how much money is available, who is eligible, what the funds can be used for, and how to complete an application for funding. In essence, the NOFA is the siren call for service providers to apply for federal funding.
This particular NOFA is a pretty big deal for homeless service providers, because it covers the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance programs. As we’ve discussed before, the McKinney-Vento programs represent the largest chunk of federal funds dedicated solely to homeless programs. Applying for these funds is one of the biggest jobs that Continuums of Care (CoC) – the official administrative unit in charge of homeless programs - do all year, because these funds will be often be the biggest single funding sources for homeless programs for the year.
We’ve talked a lot on this blog about the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) and other stimu... Read More »
Troubles in Colorado
September 18, 2009
So Colorado is counting their homeless population, and the outlook doesn’t really look so great for the state.
According to the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, there are about 11,061 homeless people in the metro Denver region. That number is about 4 percent higher than the last official count in 2007, but homeless advocates think that the survey results are already out of date since their January 2009 count. John Parvensky, director of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, suggests that the real number could be up to 20 percent higher than the 2007 count.
The Alliance had long anticipated that the number of people experiencing homelessness would rise in these economic times, especially if there were no national or other concerted actions to try to remedy the effects of the recession on the very poor and the homeless (who, as we know, are often the hardest hit by economy tumult). Luckily since then, the President has since then created the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing program (HPRP) as a part of the stimulus and we are, in fact, seeing evidence of rising homelessness and more people in need of basic services.
Here are a couple of highlights about the news from Colorado.
The Denver Post reports that almost approximately 45 percent of those recently counted were newly homeless.
34.7 percent of those counted attribute their homelessness primarily to job loss; 31.2 percent counted attribute their homelessness to the inability to pay for housing.
The Denver count also suggest t... Read More »
Secretary Donovan video - Annual Conference remarks
September 08, 2009
At long last, the video of Secretary Donovan at the Alliance's Annual Conference on Ending Homelessness. Below, please find the text of the remarks below.
More videos from the conference are forthcoming!
Thank you, Nan - for that introduction, for your remarkable leadership with the Alliance, and, above all, for the bedrock commitment to end homelessness you have impressed upon five different HUD Secretaries. I look forward to continuing our work together.
I want to also thank your board, particularly Co-Chairs Susan Baker and Mike Lowry. And I want to note the HUD team here helping us address homelessness - Mark Johnston, our Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs, and Ann Oliva, who heads up our Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs.
And of course, many of you know Fred Karnas - Fred is a senior adviser and has been critical in our Recovery Act efforts, including working with Mark and Ann quickly distributing the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing funds that so many of you made possible.
Will all of you stand up?
I want to also acknowledge the work of the Pete Dougherty, the interim executive director of the Interagency Council on Homelessness, and the USICH staff, many of whom are here today.
But most of all, I want to thank everyone in this room who labor day in and day out to help the millions of men, women, and children in our nation who experience homelessness.
In... Read More »
Ending Homelessness with HPRP: Transforming Homeless Assistance
August 27, 2009
Can homeless assistance be dramatically improved in a time of crisis?
Nine years ago, the Alliance launched A Plan, Not a Dream: How to End Homelessness in Ten Years which charted a course for ending homelessness in the United States. The central idea, grossly simplified, is this:
As a nation, we do a lot to address homelessness—build shelters, distribute food and blankets and the like. What we don’t do is prevent homelessness or help people exit homelessness.
Since then, the Alliance has been working on changing policies and programs to focus more on prevention and re-housing.
Right now, we spend a lot on shelters and other emergency homelessness programs. And any effort to shift to a more prevention and solution-based approach could divert resources away from these existing shelters and programs. It’s a great idea in theory, but one that will take time and patience and there are people that need shelter tonight, and it's pretty cruel to take that away, even if there's a long-term benefit.
So progress has been slow.
And there's a big barrier to making this change – money.
In the spring, Congress passed an economic stimulus bill that included a $1.5 billion Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP). One and a half billion isn't a lot compared to the size of the stimulus, but it's a lot for homeless assistance. And what's important is that HPRP will fund rental assistance, housing search assistance, and oth... Read More »
Ending Homelessness with HPRP: An Introduction
August 26, 2009
It's an interesting time to be working on ending homelessness.
The economy is terrible and creating havoc for a lot of people. Rising unemployment tends to lead to more homelessness – and this recession has had a lot of unemployment.
At the same time, there are some opportunities to make progress. Congress passed an almost $800 billion economic stimulus bill in the spring: the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It includes $1.5 billion Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP).
This summer, HUD gave HPRP grants to all 50 states and about 500 cities, counties, and territories. The three-year grants ranged from about $500,000 for smaller cities to $74 million for New York City. These local governments will pass on most of their funds to nonprofit organizations to provide several types of financial assistance and services with the goal of preventing homelessness or helping somebody who has become homeless move into an apartment. Here are some examples of what HPRP will be funding:
Up to 18 months of rental assistance, including up to six months of overdue rent;
Up to 18 months of utility assistance;
Moving costs; and
Rental or utility deposits;
Housing search assistance including help finding apartments and negotiating with landlords;
Help applying for and coordinating other services such as employment, child care, etc.
Legal services; and
Credit repair services.
There is strong evidence that when done smartly, these kinds of programs can reduce homelessness. You can see some examples in this n... Read More »