Ending Homelessness Today — HUD
Alliance President Keynote Remarks, 2013 National Family and Youth Conference
May 10, 2013
Back in February, about 900 advocates, practitioners, and officials convened in Seattle for two days of sharing innovative practices and new research on family and youth homelessness at the Alliance’s 2013 National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness. These are the keynote remarks delivered by the Alliance's President and CEO Nan Roman at that conference.
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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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What Happened with Sequestration?
April 22, 2013
Lately, we’ve been talking a lot about the federal budget. We wrapped up fiscal year (FY) 2013 in mid-March with some good news for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants: the program received a post-sequestration increase! Shortly after, we released our State of Homelessness in America 2013, and the Administration released its FY 2014 Budget Proposal. In other words, it seems like we’ve moved past all the talk of the fiscal cliff and sequestration. But have we?
The President’s Budget Proposal had some great news for HUD – proposing increases to a variety of programs, including, once again, the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants. All the funding levels proposed by the President for all federal programs include an important caveat – they assume sequestration will be reversed. Well, OK, but where is that assumption coming from? Can we assume that sequestration was just a blip that’s probably going to go away?
The answer, of course, like so many other things related to federal policymaking lately, is that we don’t quite know. No one on either side of the aisle will argue that sequestration is good policy. Indiscriminate cuts to virtually all federal programs won’t make much of a dent in the federal deficit, and they will most certainly have a negative impact on the operation of many federal programs. But unfortunately, sequestration is a done deal. It went into effect on March 1 and while some programs haven’t yet felt the pinch of the 5 percent cut, they no doubt will, with many of those negative impacts being felt as the summer approaches.
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Veteran Homelessness Funding in the President’s Budget
April 18, 2013
As you may have heard, the Administration has requested another historic increase in funding for homelessness assistance programs under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In the Administration’s FY2014 budget request the president’s budget proposal calls for 1.4 billion. This is a 3 percent increase over last year’s historic 33 percent funding increase. So what does this mean?
This budget reflects a strong, ongoing commitment to the goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015. It continues Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program funding at a scale necessary on both ending veteran homelessness in this timeframe and preventing future veteran homelessness. This budget also calls for an additional 10,000 HUD-Veteran Assistance Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program housing vouchers and a modest increase in VA’s Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem program.
This is what a fully funded system looks like: a full spectrum of programs and interventions to address the housing needs of homeless and at-risk veterans and their families. It would ensure permanent housing for more chronically homeless veterans, put transitional housing programs in place, and expand the rapid re-housing and prevention system.
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Get Your U.S. Rep to Support Homeless Assistance Funding! Here’s How.
April 05, 2013
After what can only be called an epic journey, fiscal year (FY) 2013 is over and Congress has moved full steam ahead into FY 2014. After the release of their Budget Resolutions (non-binding outlines of how the federal budget should look this year and in the near future – both the House and Senate came out with very different visions), the House and Senate are now working on the specifics of funding programs for various programs, including HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants.
As such, Members of Congress are currently circulating Dear Colleague letters. Dear Colleague letters, also known as “sign-on letters,” are usually sponsored by one to three Members of Congress and contain a message for specific people in Congress – in this case, the Chair and Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee or an Appropriations Subcommittee. The message usually refers to increasing or maintaining funding levels for specific programs for the upcoming fiscal year. The sponsors circulate the letter among their colleagues in either the House or Senate (in this case, both letters are in the House) to gather signatures.
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Homeless Assistance Grants Receive Funding INCREASE!
March 27, 2013
Last week, the House and Senate finalized a final fiscal year (FY) 2013 funding bill for all federal discretionary spending. As we read through the list of anomalies (the handful of programs that received funding increases, as opposed to the vast majority of programs that received flat funding from FY 2012), we felt mixed emotions. We were relieved and excited to see an increase for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants and beyond thrilled at the 33 percent increase homeless assistance programs within the Department of Veterans Affairs received. On the other hand, we were shocked and disappointed to see that following sequestration, many programs serving low-income populations would be taking a tremendous hit.
After a tumultuous (to say the least) year, well, 16 months, focusing on FY 2013 funding, here’s our assessment on the final funding levels and what they mean.
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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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Can Veterans Fall Off the Fiscal Cliff?
December 13, 2012
As we approach the fiscal cliff, there is a common misperception that, since Congress exempted all programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from sequestration in the Budget Control Act of 2011, programs that assist low-income and homeless veterans are safe from spending cuts.
That’s not quite true.
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A New Toolkit for Public Housing agencies and their partners
September 27, 2012
Today’s guest post was written by Jordan Press, Director of Federal Policy at the Corporation for Supportive Housing.
As the federal budget tightens and the growth of programs targeted for the homeless slows, it is more important than ever for homeless advocates and service providers to engage in a more meaningful way with Public Housing Agencies (PHAs). After all, these agencies administer billions of dollars nationally in rental and other housing assistance and, in many communities, are on the front lines of preventing and ending homelessness.
Over the past two years, we at the Corporation for Supportive Housing(CSH) have focused more of our resources and advocacy efforts on programs integral to the success of PHAs, such as Section 8 rental assistance, Section 8 administrative fees and Public Housing operating funds. We’ve also looked closely at the work of PHAs to identify issues preventing PHAs from doing more to end homelessness. It has become clear to us that non-profit organizations like CSH and the Alliance, as well as government agencies such as HUD and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, need to do more work to build capacity and know-how among PHAs, to debunk myths about restrictions on who can be housed in federally-assisted housing, and to help share best practices from successful communities.
We also have seen that PHAs and homeless service providers can have a complementary relationship, with PHAs and providers helping each other achieve... Read More »
Webinar: “It’s a Data Driven World: Making the Most of the 2013 Youth Inclusive PIT Count.”
September 25, 2012
This January communities will feverishly conduct Point-in-Time counts of people experiencing homelessness. And guess what – for the first time youth ages 18-24 will be included as a specific population that will be counted and reported to HUD. This means that Continuum of Cares (CoCs) will need to develop key partnerships with youth providers and youth stakeholders to ensure a successful count. This also means that communities will need to know what methodologies have been proven to work. So, to help communities with the planning process, the Alliance is co-hosting a webinar titled, “It’s a Data Driven World: Making the Most of the 2013 Youth Inclusive PIT Count.”
The webinar will highlight three communities (San Jose, So. Nevada, and D.C.) that have successfully performed targeted youth counts. The webinar will discuss:
How to partner with Continuum of Care (CoC) bodies to ensure a successful count;
Concrete strategies for Coc’s regarding promising practices, methodologies, and lessons learned;
How to incorporate these strategies into the youth inclusive Point in Time count in 2013;
Guidance on how to incorporate school data into point-in-time counts; and
Effective strategies for counting youth in rural communities.
Please join us on Thursday, October 4, at 1:30 P.M. EST by registering for this important webinar.
... Read More »
OMB Report: sequestration would cut Homeless Assistance by $156 million
September 21, 2012
For some time now, we have been telling you about big federal budgetary issues, and how these issues could affect efforts to end homelessness. A recent report to Congress by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), requested by Congress in the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012, is a reminder of the impact these issues can have.
We’ve already told you about “sequestration,” the across-the-board spending cuts scheduled to take effect in three and a half months under the Budget Control Act that Congress passed and the President signed into law in early 2011.
Now, a recent report to Congress by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), has spelled out, for the first time, which programs in the federal budget will be exempt from sequestration, and how much funding each nonexempt program will lose in January.
According to the report, sequestration would cut the HUD Homeless Assistance line by $156 million, with HUD deciding how much of this cut would come from the Emergency Solutions Grants, and how much from the Continuum of Care. Either way, existing programs would need to be scaled back or shut down.
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Tell HUD what you think!
September 12, 2012
As the Alliance’s Policy Outreach Coordinator, I spend a lot of time working with many of you to help you build and strengthen relationships with your Members of Congress in order to ensure preventing and ending homelessness is a federal priority. But there’s another aspect to this that goes beyond Capitol Hill – working with the Administration.
Of course, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) holds authority over many homeless assistance and housing programs. Now you have an opportunity to tell them what you think! In July, HUD released the interim rule for the Continuum of Care (CoC) program within the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program. The interim rule went into effect on August 30, but the public has until Monday, October 1 to comment on the rule. HUD will process the comments and eventually release a final rule. Basically, although your comments won’t immediately affect the program, they’ll have a significant impact in the way the program is ultimately designed over the long run.
If your community has any concerns, or if you particularly like something and want to make sure it stays in the final rule – now is your chance to let HUD know!
To help get you started, we’ve released a draft of our own comments. You are welcome to use our comments to help craft your own, but we’re also releasing them to... Read More »
How to take advantage of the August recess
August 15, 2012
This summer, we’ve heard a lot about how there may not be enough funding in fiscal year (FY) 2013 to cover all Continuum of Care renewals within HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants. With the release of the CoC interim rule (HEARTH Regs) and the prolonged August congressional recess and seeming quiet from Capitol Hill, it is easy to forget that this short-funding remains a very real possibility.
Fortunately, there’s still plenty we can do about it! The House’s proposed funding level for the McKinney program of $2.005 billion – aka the increase that isn’t really an increase – is not yet finalized. Anyone concerned about potential funding cuts to their CoC program should act now! Members of Congress are home in their states and districts until Monday, Sept. 10, so advocates and any concerned stakeholders have a perfect opportunity to show them the positive impact these programs are having in their districts!
Conduct a Site Visit!
The Congressional Management Foundation recently reported that Members of Congress rate site visits (tours of or visits to local, federally-funded programs) as one of the most valuable ways to collect constituent views and information. Take this opportunity to join the McKinney Site Visit Campaign and invite your Member of Congress to tour your McKinney-funded program!
To help you plan... Read More »
A detailed look at Veteran Homelessness
August 10, 2012
The following blog post is adapted from “Tackling Veteran Homelessness with HUDStat,” the lead story of the summer issue of Evidence Matters, a publication by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
More than 2.4 million American soldiers have served in Operation Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom since September 11, 2001.2 Hundreds of thousands of these men and women have returned from Iraq, and many more will be returning from Afghanistan in the next few years.
“Soldiers are returning with higher rates of injury after multiple deployments with severe economic hardships,” says John Driscoll, president and chief executive officer of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. Studies show that nearly 20 percent of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have experienced a traumatic brain injury, and 10 to 18 percent suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
A recent Pew Research Center survey showed that post-9/11 veterans found the transition to civilian life harder and had higher rates of post-traumatic stress than veterans who served in previous wars. Rates of military sexual trauma, which is associated with an increased risk of developing PTSD, are high among female veterans, who make up more than 11 percent of veterans of these two wars. For both male and female veterans, PTSD is linked to an increased risk of depression and substance abuse, which exacerbate .
The economic downturn and high unemployment rates add to the challenges these soldiers face on returning from... Read More »
Our 2012 Conference: Some Themes and thoughts
July 20, 2012
We’d like to thank the nearly 1,500 practitioners, public officials and other stakeholders who took time out of their busy schedules to attend our 2012 National Conference on Ending Homelessness. For us in the Alliance, the level of enthusiasm and positivity on display in the plenary sessions and workshops was immensely gratifying. The homeless assistance community has come far, in terms of its overall level of sophistication and focus on implementation in order to get results, and the conference was a great opportunity for people to share what they have learned, as well as for those of us in the community to engage in a discussion about what we still must do to achieve our goals.
In her remarks at the conference’s closing plenary, Alliance CEO Nan Roman touched on a few of the themes that emerged over the course of the three days. I’ll expand on some of those here.
Targeting – The message came through loud and clear: there are a range of interventions to draw upon, but for an intervention to be successful it must be targeted at the right people. Specifically, supportive housing is our most intensive intervention, and it is designed for the most vulnerable population with the most severe disabilities. If such people are screened out in favor of people with fewer challenges, they will live and probably die on the streets.
Olmstead – The Olmstead case reminded us that large programs devoted solely to housing p... Read More »
Tomorrow is Capitol Hill Day 2012!
July 17, 2012
We at the Alliance are getting increasingly excited for tomorrow, July 18 – the official Capitol Hill Day 2012! Capitol Hill Day is held every year in conjunction with our National Conference on Ending Homelessness. This year, conference participants from an astounding – and record-breaking! 44 states will head up to Capitol Hill to meet with their senators, representatives, and their staff members. They are scheduled to attend upwards of 250 meetings.
We’ve been extremely busy! Conference participants have been stopping by the Advocacy Information Table at the conference to pick up Capitol Hill Day Packets that contain information on each of the official Capitol Hill Day policy priorities. Advocates will then educate members of congress and their staff about the great work being done in their communities to solve homelessness, and explain the impact of these policy issues on their efforts.
If you’re unable to attend the conference, please keep an eye on this blog next month for a full report of the success of this year’s Capitol Hill Day. In the meantime, you can always check out last year’s report and get involved in the Alliance’s advocacy efforts by checking out our ongoing campaigns.
But if you ARE at the conference, we hope you plan to participate in Capitol Hill Day 2012! It couldn’t be any easier. Your state captains have been busy scheduling meetings. They just need YOU to participate! Stop by the Advocacy Information Table to get more informatio... Read More »
HUD's Mark Johnston speaks at 2012 National Conference
July 17, 2012
This year will be a year of change for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and, by extension, for advocates and people working on behalf of people experiencing homelessness, said HUD’s acting assistant secretary for the Office of Community Planning and Development, Mark Johnston.
Speaking at the opening plenary session of the 2012 National Conference on Ending Homelessness on Monday, July 16, Assistant Secretary Johnston addressed what is perhaps the most significant piece of news circulating the conference, the release on Saturday, July 15 of the Continuum of Care interim regulations under the HEARTH Act.
Assistant Secretary Johnston reminded the nearly 1,500 practitioners, public officials, and advocates at the conference that the new regulations will alter how communities manage and distribute resources in the future, but will also provide communities with important tools that have the potential to strengthen prevention and rapid re-housing efforts.
He noted that the HEARTH was signed into law in 2009, the same year as the Recovery Act, which created the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP). Developing and implementing both policy initiatives have been a challenge for his agency, he said, but doing so has taught HUD officials a great deal about homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing.
“In retrospect, it was great timing,” he added.
HUD officials have incorporated lessons learned from the implementation of HPRP into their regulations for the HEARTH act.
But Assistant Secretary Johnston also acknowledged the difficult fiscal environment in which agencies and ad... Read More »
The Regs are out!
July 16, 2012
Just in time for our conference, HUD has published an interim rule for the new Continuum of Care program (CoC program). The regulations follow the HEARTH Act closely, so if you've read any of our material about the changes made by the HEARTH Act, you already know much of the story. However, there are a few new and interesting things.
First of all, the regulations provide a little more detail on what will be expected with coordinated assessment systems. Your CoC will have to develop a process that assesses people's need for housing and services. There are numerous ways HUD will allow you to structure a coordinated assessment system, including having one centralized location where the assessments take place, using a 2-1-1 based system, or having multiple entry points. In addition to conducting the assessment, CoCs will have to have uniform process for evaluating eligibility for different types of assistance for determining how people will be prioritized for different types of assistance. We discuss a lot of these issues in our Coordinated Assessment Toolkit.
There are now two types of permanent housing--permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing. Permanent supportive will generally look and function as it does currently, however, there are a several changes. The match will be 25 percent cash or in-kind as it will be for all activities except for leasing, which has no match requirement. Projects will be allowed to get funding for rental assistance and services... Read More »