Ending Homelessness Today — HUD
June Wrap: Federal Funding, Family Intervention, Rapid Re-Housing
July 02, 2012
We’re all very busy getting ready for our upcoming National Conference on Ending Homelessness. Expect plenty of great workshops, pre-conference, and plenary sessions, and of course great speakers and presenters!
Along with our conference prep, we’ve been busy with appropriations, capacity building, and much more. In case you missed anything, here’s a breakdown of what we worked on in June.
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Learning More About Homelessness Research
June 19, 2012
Today’s post was written by Christian Brandt, Federal Policy Intern for the Alliance.
Last Wednesday I had the privilege of sitting in on a meeting for the Research Council, a group comprised of prominent researchers in the areas of homelessness and housing from around the country. The Council meets to gather and share their new information and recent research activities, propose new research to fill existing gaps, and guide the agenda of the Homelessness Research Institute, the research division of the Alliance. At the end of most meetings some kind of research agenda is prepared from the meeting’s conversation. This time the Council was visited by several researchers from HUD who were able to listen and respond to the suggestions that the researchers made. Besides being among greats within the homelessness and housing sphere, it was really cool to be able to see how the Alliance sets its research agenda and interacts with agencies like HUD.
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What will the “Fiscal Cliff” Mean for Ending Homelessness?
June 14, 2012
Originally only in the wonky DC-based policy blogs, but increasingly also in the mainstream media, the phrase “fiscal cliff” has been appearing. It describes a number of simultaneous events scheduled for the beginning of 2013 that together would disrupt the federal budget, cutting federal spending and raising taxes in an unprecedented and clumsy manner. What does it mean, in general and for homelessness in particular? This blog will attempt to answer that question.
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So, What’s Going on with Appropriations?
May 31, 2012
As regular readers of this blog know, we write fairly often about federal homelessness appropriations – what’s happening, how you can get involved, and what various proposals would mean for your daily work on the ground to prevent and end homelessness. But we haven’t written about appropriations (the federal funding process) in several weeks, so you may be wondering: what’s the latest news?
The House and Senate are both busy working on their fiscal year (FY) 2013 funding bills. We have been tracking three particular bills very closely, so read on for more information on each of those funding measures!
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Senate Passes Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
April 30, 2012
On Thursday, April 26, the U.S. Senate voted to pass S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 in a vote of 68 to 31. This reauthorization, sponsored by Senator Leahy from Vermont and co-sponsored by 61 bipartisan Members of the Senate, has stronger language to help protect LGBT, tribal, and immigrant survivors which gained the bill its 31 “nays” in the Senate and fairly wide media attention.
Perhaps of more importance in the field of homelessness assistance is another provision of the bill, it would provide particular protections for survivors in a variety of HUD programs. Current law provides survivors with protections from eviction and the opportunity to transfer in Section 8 and Public Housing. This reauthorization bill would extend those protections to a variety of other HUD programs, including McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance grant, Sections 202 and 811, and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, among others. And, if transfer is not possible, it requires HUD to establish a policy for how a survivor can access a Section 8 voucher instead.
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Our Reflections on Mark Johnston's Remarks at the COHHIO Conference
April 23, 2012
Last week, I attended a conference in Columbus put on by the Coalition on Housing and Homelessness in Ohio (COHHIO). The program included a wide slate of workshops on topics like diversion and coordinated intake, along with an entire set of workshops devoted to advocacy (including a session led by yours truly on how to engage one’s congressional delegation).
Perhaps what struck me most was the keynote address given Tuesday morning by Mark Johnston, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs Assistance Programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Although it might not be immediately clear from his extremely long title, Mr. Johnston plays a critical role at HUD: he oversees the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants programs, among others. He is one of the most important people at HUD advancing the effort to prevent and end homelessness.
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Starting off with a Bang! Increases to Key Housing and Homelessness Programs
April 19, 2012
This morning, the Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to approve its fiscal year (FY) 2013 funding bill for programs within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). And the highlights are pretty exciting.
First and foremost, we at the Alliance were happy to see that the bill includes a $245 million increase to HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants – the largest one-year increase in nearly 20 years! According to our estimates, the McKinney-Vento funding level of $2.15 billion would fund all renewals and provide $286 million for the new Emergency Solutions Grant program. It’s still about $80 million less than the level proposed by the President, so we hope you’ll work with us to thank your senators but urge them to work throughout the rest of the annual funding process to provide the full increase requested by the President.
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Budget Resolutions: What Are They and Why Do They Matter?
March 22, 2012
As you may have seen, the House released a budget plan this week that shrinks the deficit, cuts taxes, and reduces spending on social programs. What you may not have realized, however, is how much this plan would affect the fiscal year (FY) 2013 funding process for key programs for homeless and at-risk people, including HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants, Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, and homeless veteran programs.
This plan – officially called a “budget resolution” – is a regular and important part of the federal budget process. It is not law but sets out Congress’ budgetary plans for the year. The most important aspect of the budget resolution is that it lays out the overall amount of funding that will be available to the Appropriations Committee for its annual funding bills. This overall amount is then eventually split up among countless federal programs, including homeless assistance programs.
In theory, the House and Senate should agree on a budget resolution by April 15 of each year. This often does not happen, though. In fact, the Senate does not plan to pass a budget resolution at all this year, since last year’s big debt deal included an agreement about how much funding would be available to the Appropriations Committee this year.
However, the House still plans to pass a budget resolution this year – one that goes beyond last year’s agreement in cutting overall funding for the annual funding bills. The budget resolution releas... Read More »
And We’re Off! President Releases FY 2013 Budget Proposal
February 16, 2012
On Monday, the Administration released its fiscal year (FY) 2013 Budget Proposal. This is the start of the Alliance’s advocacy season and we’re excited by some of the numbers! This year is a great time to start getting involved with advocating for homeless assistance programs – join us today!
If you’re wondering what the President’s Budget Proposal is – and why it’s important - you’re not alone. This big document is released every year by the Administration in early February . It officially kicks off the federal budget process for the upcoming fiscal year, which will start on October 1.
A couple of weeks ago, we discussed why this proposal matters. The President’s budget Proposal is not law. It’s meant to serve as a guide for Congress as it makes its own decisions about appropriations and the federal budget.
The President's FY 2013 Budget Proposal includes suggested funding levels for many key programs targeted toward low-income or homeless people. This year, we at the Alliance were really excited to see some impressive increases proposed to homeless assistance programs:
$2.23 billion for HUD's McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants, a 17 percent increase over the FY 2012 level;
$1.35 billion for targeted homeless veteran programs within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), a 33 percent increase over the FY 2012 level; and
$19.07 billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, including $75 million for about 10,000 new HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers.
These increases of about $330 million to VA’s homelessness programs and HUD’s McKinney-Ven... Read More »
Congress Finishes Appropriations
December 22, 2011
All year, we’ve been talking on this blog about congressional appropriations. In April, Congress passed its fiscal year (FY) 2011 appropriations bill, more than five months into the fiscal year. FY 2012 officially started on October 1, and Congress finalized FY 2012 funding for several departments, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in November. But what about the other government agencies?
Last weekend, Congress passed legislation to finalize all remaining FY 2012 appropriations bills. This included funding for programs within the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, Education, and Veterans Affairs (VA), among many others. The bill includes:
• $115 million for Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs;
• $75 million for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) homeless services programs;
• $65 million for the Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) program;
• $137 million for Health Care for the Homeless Centers;
• $65 million for the Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program; and
• $38 million for the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP), a slight increase over FY 2011.
When we look at both this bill and the one passed in November, we can see that funding for most targeted homeless assistance programs was held flat compared to FY 2011, despite deep cuts to many other federal programs. One notable exception to this was the joint HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, which actually received increased resources in FY 2012.
All of this tells us that funding for targeted homeless assistance programs was generally protected or even expanded, eve... Read More »
A Review of Federal Programs Serving Homeless Youth
November 22, 2011
Continuing our series on homeless youth, today we are going to take a look at the primary federal programs that currently serve this vulnerable population.
The only federal program that is exclusively focused on homeless youth is the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) program administered by the Department of Health and Human Services. The RHYA program is made up of three components:
Street Outreach consists of outreach workers connecting youth living on the street to housing programs, hygiene kits, food, and other necessities; Basic Centers provide short-term (up to 21 days) emergency housing for youth under the age of 18 while working on reunification with their family or finding an alternative long-term housing option; and
Transitional Living Programs (TLPs) provide up to 18 months of housing and supportive services youth ages 16 to 21, including youth who are pregnant and/or parenting. TLPs manifest in a variety of models from congregate facilities to scattered site apartments with flexible rent assistance to host homes where youth live with a volunteer or subsidized family in the community.
While tens of thousands of youth are served annually by the RHYA programs, the need far outweighs the program’s capacity, which means that some homeless youth need to be served by McKinney-Vento homeless assistance programs administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
For youth ages 18 and older, the McKinney Vento programs are the only federal funding source for emergency housing. Moreover, many youth, particularly a large numb... Read More »
An Update on the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget
October 20, 2011
The U.S. Senate may vote as early as today on the fiscal year (FY) 2012 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill which has been combined with similar bills for the Commerce, Justice, and Science as well as Agriculture bills (into what they’re calling a “minibus” bill).
In the bill, S. 1596, the subcommittee calls for $1.9 billion dollars to be allocated to the homeless assistance grants – which is level funding as compared to last year. Unfortunately, this is simply not enough to fully fund the programs necessary to make substantial progress towards ending homelessness. Specifically, $1.9 billion is inadequate to fully implement the HEARTH Act, which was passed in 2009 and would modernize and streamline the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants.
As our colleagues at the National Low-Income Housing Coalition point out, there are other worrisome provisions in the bill. The bill would underfund tenant-based rental assistance, underfund the project based rental assistance contracts, and cut the public housing capital fund.
The Obama Administration also weighed in on the bills, specifically urging the Senate to provide additional funds for Homeless Assistance Grants and pointing out that resources are necessary to implement the Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness.
Congress has expressed a bipartisan commitment to ensuring that deficit reduction efforts do not happen on the backs of the most vulnerable Americans, but many affordable housing programs have nonetheless seen dramatic cuts. These federal reductions, especially when coupled with shrinking state and local budgets, will further... Read More »
A Summary of the HUD Homeless Pulse Report, First Quarter 2011
September 01, 2011
Today's post was written by Alliance research associate Pete Witte.
Last week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released the Homelessness Pulse Report: First Quarter, 2011, which attempts to provide a timely sense on how sheltered homelessness is changing in a number of communities. The major findings show that sheltered homelessness increased in three-quarters of the CoCs included in the report, but that the newly sheltered homeless population decreased in greater than half of the CoCs.
But, as is so often the case with data reports, in HUD’s latest homelessness report the devil’s in the details.
First, a little background.
HUD views the purpose of the Pulse Report as twofold: to disseminate data more frequently than the AHAR and to monitor progress against the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.
To this aim, the Pulse Report presents quarterly trends of homelessness data with a view on two data points: (1) estimates of sheltered point-in-time counts (i.e. “Are we ending homelessness?”) and (2) estimates of newly sheltered homeless (i.e. “Are we preventing homelessness?”). These data points are analyzed at quarterly intervals ending with January, 2011 and are also broken into two subpopulations, members of families and individuals (though there are also minimal data on newly sheltered unaccompanied youth). The report provides data from a total of 23 CoCs (representing 361 counties and 422 cities). It’s also worth noting that the participating CoCs are selected because they have a history of quality da... Read More »
Alliance Releases Year One Progress Report of Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness
June 22, 2011
Today is the one-year anniversary of Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness. One year ago, the federal government committed to ending chronic and veteran homelessness in five years; homelessness among families, children, and youth in ten years; and moving the country toward ending all homelessness.
The Alliance released a Progress Report on the federal plan today; the Progress Report reveals that while there was a great deal of activity on the 52 strategies the Plan identified to meet the goals, measurable progress has been made on only 18 strategies. The two-part report assesses the Plan’s success on its own terms, measuring how much progress (none, some, or measurable) was made on each of the 52 strategies identified to achieve the goals. The second part of the report looks at a set of available local counts of homeless people to assess whether or not the number went up or down during the Plan’s first year.
Ultimately, we find that while the member agencies of the USICH have clearly been active, results have not yet started to emerge from the activity. External factors such as the economy and the budget deficit played a role in deterring progress on the Plan but they were hardly the only factor; an emphasis on coordination and information strategies rather than more substantive housing, treatment, and jobs strategies has also hindered progress.
Finally, data show a potential increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness since the... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: HUD, SF/DC, and LGBTQ youth homelessness
May 20, 2011
The unavoidable story of the week was the Washington Post series on the HUD HOME Program. We wrote about it earlier this week and pointed to some organizations that refuted the article’s accusations (including a blogpost directly from HUD). Other organizations have come out to respond to the article but we want to know your response: what do you think of this series and what it says about the housing program?
In other news, our good friend Judy Lightfoot highlighted the work of our colleagues at Building Changes in Washington. The organization is working with homeless families to make strides toward employment – a key element to both ending homelessness and gaining economic self-sufficiency.
Both San Francisco and DC are facing some troubles as local counts and the local budget – respectively - point to continued challenges in ending homelessness. San Francisco continues their ongoing battles to reduce homelessness despite economic hurdles and DC fights to maintain local funding for homeless assistance programs.
Late last week, Sen. John Kerry introduced a bill in the Senate that would, among other things, help fight LGBTQ youth homelessness. We’ve long talked about how youth homelessness has been an overlooked problem in the field – and certainly the same notion applies to LGBTQ youth homelessness. We’re excited to work on this new legislation; we’ll keep writing about it as events progress.
Happy Friday!... Read More »
WaPo launches a series about the HOME Program
May 17, 2011
As you undoubtedly caught in this past weekend’s Washington Post, the newspaper is doing a series of articles about the HOME Program run by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The series kicked off with a biting piece unveiling what the writer describes as a “dysfunctional system that delivers billions of dollars to local housing agencies with few rules, safeguards, or even a reliable way to track projects.”
Affordable housing advocates and other homelessness and housing community members talked back, offering counter arguments.
The National League of Cities underlines both the risks HUD takes in creating affordable housing and the many successes the department has had.
The Council of Large Public Housing Authorities calls the series “off target” emphasizing both the urgent need for affordable housing and the role HUD programs play in creating them for low-income families.
And finally, HUD comes to it’s own defense on the department blog, announcing that The HOME Program works!
The piece created a strong buzz in the housing community and will hopefully create a healthy dialogue about the imperative need for affordable housing and innovative new ways to meet that need.
The Post writer herself takes a first stab at illustrating the need with her accompanying story about a mother’s route from homeless to home, the story of a young woman and her fraught efforts to acquire affordable housing. The story illuminated a point that often gets lost: afforda... Read More »
HUD Releases 2010 PIT Counts
April 25, 2011
Last week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released national data showing that the number of homeless people was essentially unchanged from 2009 to 2010.
The number, based on counts conducted by localities and states across the nation in January 2010 (called point-in-time counts), increased one percent, rising from 643,067 to 649,879. There was a three percent increase in the number of homeless people who were unsheltered and a 1.5 percent increase among families experiencing homelessness. Chronic homelessness declined by 1 percent, continuing a downward trend begun in 2005.
The 2010 PIT counts were the first to reflect the impact of the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP), the $1.5 billion stimulus-funded program aimed at curbing homelessness resulting from the recession. Housing inventory data released in conjunction with the PIT counts showed that, at the time of the 2010 PIT counts, the stimulus program was funding 19,842 homeless assistance beds.
In 2009, the Alliance projected that without effective intervention, homelessness would increase dramatically as a result of the recession. These numbers show that our investment in homelessness prevention and housing-based strategies averted what could have been an alarming increase in the number of Americans experiencing homelessness, according the to Alliance.
Still, the recessions’ full impact on homelessness has yet to be seen. In 2010 the Alliance report The State of Homelessness in America noted that certain key economic factors associated with homelessness were on the rise. These included the number of poor households doubling up, unemployment, and severe housing c... 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 »
New Report on Veteran Homelessness
February 10, 2011
We have more information about veteran homelessness than we have ever had thanks to a report released today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – “Veteran Homelessness: A Supplement to the 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress.”'
First, some major findings from the report:
An estimated 136,334 veterans spent at least one night in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009; or 1 of every 168 veterans.
Veterans are overrepresented among the homeless population. Approximately 10 percent of all people who experienced homelessness over the year identified themselves as veterans.
Minorities are over represented among homeless veterans. Rates of homelessness among veterans living in poverty are particularly high for veterans identifying as Hispanic/Latino (1 in 4) or African American (1 in 4).
One-half of homeless veterans on a single night are located in just four states: California (26 percent), Florida (9 percent), New York (8 percent), and Texas (7 percent).
I was very interested to see how much the risk for becoming homeless varied among sub-populations. Veterans, the report noted, have higher median incomes than the U.S. average. But once a veteran slips into poverty, they are more likely to become homeless. Although there are a small number of female veterans, they are even more at risk than male veterans. They are actually twice as likely to experience homelessness than not.
The report also shows that young veterans – those most likely to be disc... Read More »
Researchers Have Fun Too
December 07, 2010
As the only non-researchy member of the Homelessness Research Institute at the Alliance, I felt especially privileged to be a guest at today’s meeting of the Research Council – a gathering of the leading thinkers on homelessness. I was lucky to be seated at a table with Dennis Culhane, Jill Khadduri, Mary Beth Shinn, Bob Rosenheck, and representatives from a smattering of federal agencies: HHS, Commerce, HUD, Census, and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
And after a morning spent going around the table to discuss everyone’s latest research efforts, those agency liaisons took their turns. We eagerly anticipated learning what, if anything, our federal partners are doing to advance the research necessary to end homelessness. What projects are they initiating? What questions are they asking and answering? What are they doing to bring us closer to a country where everyone has a place to call home?
This and that, it turns out.
By far the most impressive agency was the Department of Housing and Urban Development. They’re pursuing a number of reports and studies to examine the effects of some of the most promising strategies to end homelessness, including: research on the Housing and Services for Homeless Persons Demonstration, research on youth aging out of foster care, and research on the effectiveness of prevention (to name just a few). What’s admirable about the array of research topics is not how widely varied they are – but how they re... Read More »