Ending Homelessness Today — News Clips
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 States. See how important data can be??
Speaking of research, despite overwhelming evidence and countless case studies, some people are still apprehensive about Housing First programs. Nashville has struggled with this, as well as New Orleans, this time against units that would provide permanent supportive housing. Admittedly, it's not a popular strategy, especially for community members. But it's one that has repeatedly demonstrated success - and it's the best strategy we know to effectively end homelessness. And really, isn't that what it's all about?
Finally, the Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF) expired yesterday. The New York Times profiled a community in Tennessee that expects to be hit hard by this loss, and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities rounded up how some states will feel the burn. This is disappointing news, but now is not the time to throw in the towel!
We know that our supporters are committed to ending homelessness - roadblocks or no roadblocks! You can still make an impact - call your senators and speak to the housing staffer. Tell them their boss should commit to restoring TANF ECF and capitalizing the Trust Fund this year. Let us know in the comments how it goes! (Find you Senators' phone number through the congressional switchboard: 202-224-3121.)
Happy Friday!... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Community efforts to end homelessness
September 24, 2010
In truth, it’s been a quiet week on the news front. No big surprise. With 38 days until midterm elections, it seems like voracious news cycle has bigger and juicier fish to fry that handle homelessness and housing.
But we know better.
First up, we got the poverty numbers. Last week, we wrote about the numbers coming out of the Census Bureau showing that the number of people living in poverty went up by 4 million people this year. This week, there were some noteworthy pieces floating around about the reaction to those numbers. The good people at NPR wrote about how the numbers are creating some (much needed) stir about aid programs. An editorial in the Detroit Free Press echoed sentiments that growing poverty numbers indicate a need to extend relief efforts to those most vulnerable. Yet the Washington Post observed that – even in the face of such important news – the numbers got a “muted reaction” on the Hill.
There was also some buzz at the local level – both good and bad news.
There’s was a flurry of news coming out of Oregon when the state released a report that homelessness among students was on the rise. Education Weekly also hit upon the affect of schools on homeless youth just yesterday, noting that the school system can offer resources and stability that such students don’t get elsewhere.
There’s some buzz in California about homeless youth too. The State Assembly is... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Poverty, housing, and photos
September 17, 2010
Welcome to the Friday news roundup!
So headlining the news this week (or at least yesterday) are the poverty numbers. No surprises: poverty, uninsured, up in 2009.
The nation's official poverty rate in 2009 was 14.3 percent, up from 13.2 percent in 2008. The number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 46.3 million in 2008 to 50.7 million in 2009, or an increase from 15.4 percent to 16.7 percent of the total population. You can check out the full report on the census website.
What’s that mean? Well, from our perspective, it means that there are more people at risk of experiencing homelessness. If you remember our brief on ”sustainable cost burden”, you know that more than half of poor families spend more than half their monthly income for housing (this is often termed “severe housing cost burden.”) You might also remember that severe housing cost burden is up among individuals and families doubled up.
With need so high, this is exactly the wrong time to be rising the elimination of TANF ECF. This job-creating service to the most vulnerable families is in danger of expiring at the end of the month. We’ve written about it before and there are daily stories cropping up the program’s importance. It seems that the program may be seeing rays of hope - but that doesn’t mean you should rest on your laurels. If you haven’t already (and you better have!) call your senator today.
An interesting report shows that housin... Read More »
News Roundup – Special Tuesday/college student edition
September 14, 2010
It’s a story that’s a little outside our wheelhouse, but has started showing up on our telephone lines.
We’re talking about college students facing cost-prohibitive housing options and turning to fitness center facilities, coach-surfing, and shelters.
We’ve heard whispers of this story before. In July, NPR released a story about the confluence of rising education costs and a poor economy. The result, the story suggests, is financially-strapped college student struggling to meet the most basic needs – including food and housing. In December of last year, the Washington Post ran a column about a couple local students who were struggling to keep their head above water in classes while living in shelters. Change.org also featured a post about the rising number of homeless college students, suggesting that colleges and universities take into consideration the rising cost of living as well as the rising cost of higher education.
But only lately has the problem shown up – live and on the phone – in our own offices. We’ve had students call and want to know how to navigate financial aid bureaucracy in order to qualify for more housing aid. We’ve had students call simply to see if we can help them find housing or housing assistance. It came to such a point that our administrative staff asked, in staff meeting, for resources that we can share with these young people who turn to us for support – usually as a last resort as... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Refugees, hate crimes, and HPRP
September 03, 2010
News on homelessness this week was a mixed bag.
Our friend Lornet Turnbull wrote a touching story about refugees facing homelessness in the United States. The piece highlighted the struggles of refugee families fleeing conflict areas across the world only to experience homelessness in the United States. Not only do they face the often-complicated homeless support system, they face language and cultural obstacles as well.
Merrill Balassone of McClatchy Newspapers reported more sobering news – that people experiencing homelessness and increasingly targets of crime. According to the story, “new data show homeless people nationwide were singled out in more than 1,000 attacked over the last 11 years by perpetrators motivated by anti-homeless hostility”. There is some movement (as reported in the New York Times last year and seen on change.org now) to categorize violence against people experiencing homelessness as a hate crime.
And we can’t forget about HPRP, especially not with Congress about to come back into session. The federal prevention and rapid re-housing program is still being implemented in communities across the country. And while there are reports of challenges in performance and outreach (like in Texas), there are more and more success stories everyday.
In fact, the Journal Sentinel shared a story just last week about a Harvard study that examined the effect stimulus dollars were having on evictions in Milwaukee County. The study concluded that homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing stimulus dollars had contributed to a 15 percent decrease in evic... Read More »
Friday News Round Up: Looking Back
August 27, 2010
As the anniversary of hurricane Katrina is upon us, we hear about the state of homelessness in the affected areas. From Newsweek, we read about how after five years, the situation is still dire with some statistics saying that the problem of homelessness has doubled.
In other news, the Daily Record tells us how Medicaid expansion will help those experiencing homelessness, and the Berkley Daily Planet informs us on the Western Regional Advocacy Project’s update of their report on homelessness.
The Sacramento Press also brought us some good news, writing on how HPRP funds were used in this past year to house 1,168 families.... 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 Round Up: Housing Those Most At Risk
August 13, 2010
This week, we heard a lot about the troubles people are having in housing. In Boston, we read about how rentals are becoming harder to find and afford, while in Atlanta, we saw the commotion caused by crowds gathered in an attempt to sign up for Section 8 assistance. What a state things are in when over 20,000 brave the heat in order to seek help!
However, we have also heard good news coming out of places like Arkansas, where they are using HPRP funds to help house people in their population who are experiencing homelessness.
In USA Today, they even examined the possibility that home ownership might not be the best thing for the federal government to push.
Finally, in the LA Times this week they talked about Project 50, a pilot program to house some of Los Angeles’ most vulnerable citizens experiencing homelessness. This program, they explain, could be the start of housing not only 50 of the most vulnerable people, but 10,000. Shelter Partnership also wrote a blog, examining Project 50 on a deeper level.... Read More »
Friday News Round Up: A Lot to Anticipate
August 06, 2010
August tends to be a slow month, what with everyone including Congress taking their vacations, but even now we can hear the sounds of change rattling up the gangway.
On the subject of homeless veterans, new plans are being released. The White House blog talked this week about “10 Ways the VA is Serving Our Vets”, and the Politico featured a guest opinion about the federal strategic plan's strategy to deal with the veterans at risk of homelessness - and specifically those who will soon be returning from our current conflicts.
Out of Indiana, we heard about new legislation that will help youth who are dealing with homelessness. (It's always so great when student papers cover homelessness!)
Finally, you've already probably seen the first couple stories of a series the Los Angeles Times is running about Project 50 - the controversial local initiative to fight chronic homelessness. The series will continue through the weekend and spotlight one of our organizations own goals: to finish the job of ending homelessness. LA is certainly the place to pilot such a program - the local equivalent of the 100,000 Homes Campaign - as the city is home to a solid ten percent of the national homeless population. Thanks to the LAT for bringing us the series - and here's hoping that the city turns around on permanent supportive housing.... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Federal Legislation Takes a Front Seat
July 30, 2010
As the end date for possible extension of the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund draws ever nearer, we hear more and more pleas for Congress to pass funds for this important program that has done so much in helping end and prevent homelessness.
Related: The Wall Street Journal talked this week about the federal poverty level, an important measurement that helps us understand more about how many people could be at risk for homelessness. We’re pleased to see that notable news organizations and important thinkers are paying attention to the state of poverty and vulnerability of so many Americans.
Especially because it seems like the problem is prevalent: a startling statistic came out of Indiana this week. According to AP writer Ken Kusmer the number of homeless students has increased 26 percent in the state since 2006-07. We saw a string of similar stories in the year – is this a resurgence of that trend?
Which doesn’t mean there’s isn’t help to be had. The Pittsburg Post-Gazette wrote this week about how HPRP funds are being used prevent evictions in Westmoreland County, PA, and the Sequim Gazette wrote about great homeless assistance work in Clallam County - work that was highlighted at the Alliance’s national conference in July as one of five high-performing counties in preventing and ending homelessness. Great work!
And finally – the big news – the danger posed on the House T-HUD spending bill – we called it H.R. 5850 yesterd... Read More »
Friday News Round Up: Where Do We Go From Here?
July 16, 2010
In the policy realm, PETRA (Preservation, Enhancement and Transformation of Rental Assistance Act) has been rapidly introduced and pushed into Congress, with mixed support. TANF, though, is still being praised, but the effort to have it extended is ever in need of support. (So show yours by calling your members of Congress!)
Many people still struggle with high rates of homelessness, particularly female veterans. However many programs that have been underway for years in places like Washington, D.C. are proving to be effective at reducing and ending hoemlessness.
Also, the Washington Post is doing it’s part to change the ways Americans see homelessness. Last week, the Post published an article entitled “Five Myths About America’s Homeless”, which was written by our Research Council co-chair Dennis Culhane. The acclaimed scholars refuted some of the major misconceptions about homelessness – and people experiencing homelessness, shedding light on the realities of the experience – and the solutions to the social problem.
Lastly, with our conference this week and all the great new federal efforts supporting the fight to end homelessness, one has to wonder, where do we go from here? Our President Nan Roman offers her view.... Read More »
Friday News Round Up: Newsflash – We need TANF!
July 09, 2010
This week we’ve seen a lot of love for TANF. We have talked about it a lot, and this week CNN Money and the New York Times both noted how important the program is, and why it’s important to keep it funded. LaDonna Pavetti from the Center on Budget on Policy Priorities also offered her perspective for the continuation of the program.
CNN also put out an interesting piece this week about a group of homeless teens, which helped illustrate the hardships homeless youths experience. (In case you missed it: we talked about homeless youths just yesterday.)
Out of Austin, TX we are unfortunately seeing more of one of the main causes of homelessness: a lack of affordable housing. However, in Western Massachusetts and Asheville, NC, programs intended to reduce homelessness are proving effective.
Finally, the new federal plan is still a hot topic, and many critical reviews of the plan are circulating around.
And there’s no doubt that the plan is exactly what Secretary Donovan will be discussing during his keynote speech at our own – you got it – Annual Conference! Next time we blog, we’ll be live-blogging from the Hyatt!... Read More »
Affordable Housing: For many Americans, it's Out of Reach
April 21, 2010
Today, the National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) released Out of Reach, an annual analysis of the cost of rental housing in the United States. In order to understand the report, it’s important to establish two things: “Fair Market Rent” refers to the national average cost of a rental unit; it usually refers to a two-bedroom unit. ”Housing Wage” refers to the hourly wage a person must earn – working full-time – in order to afford Fair Market Rent. The report found that a family needs to earn $18.44 per hour in order to afford a modest rental, two-bedroom home in the United States. This amounts to $38,360 per year - $16,310 more than the federal poverty level for a family of four. Key findings of the report include: In 2010, the estimated average wage for renters in the United States is $14.44 – a decline from $14.69 in 2009;At the federal minimum wage of $7.25, a household would have top work 102 hours a week to afford the national average FMR;There is no county in the United States in which a full-time minimum wage worker can afford even a one-bedroom apartment at FMR.The report also found that the two-bedroom Housing Wage topped $20 in 10 states, including the District of Columbia, California, New York, Florida, and Hawaii. The five most expensive metro areas included San Francisco (CA), Honolulu (HI), Stamford-Norwalk (CT), San Cruz-Watsonville (CA), and Westchester County (NY) – the housing wage for each of those areas topped $30 per hour. In their report, the... Read More »
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 l... Read More »
Why healthcare reform matters in the fight against homelessness
March 22, 2010
Yesterday marked an important moment in American legislative history. Last night (so late it was almost early this morning), the U.S. House of Representatives passed health care reform legislation. The hotly-contested legislation endured fierce debate up to the very end, and the final bill passed without any Republican support. While it may not be readily apparent, the health care reform bill has a significant effects on the homeless population. Among many other things, this legislation expands Medicaid eligibility to include people with incomes of up to 133 percent of the poverty level, covering nearly all people experiencing homelessness. Moreover, the legislation will also provide approximately $10 billion for community health centers for Fiscal Years (FY) 2011 through 2015. Typically, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) allocates 8.7 percent of total community health center funding toward the Health Care for the Homeless program, which can be used to provide services to people in permanent supportive housing. The health care legislation also expands early childhood home visitation programs, which provide parent education, child development, and support services to low-income, at-risk young children and their families. President Obama has said he plans to sign the legislation on Tuesday, March 23.P.S. We made the video above last summer, when the healthcare reform debate was just heating up, but it still does a pretty adequate job of wrapping up how the two are related and why health care reform matters to homelessness. Let us know what... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Leadership in SF, jobs for vets in TX, and stories from the blogosphere
February 26, 2010
In the homelessness headlines this week, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom reported on his city's progress toward the goals set in their 10-year plan to end homelessness. Since 2004 - when the plan was initiated - the city has created 1,649 units of permanent housing. Although advocates have pointed out that the city still needs more services for the homeless and a stronger emphasis on helping homeless families, San Francisco shows why it pays to have local political support for your ten year plan. Mayor Newsom - a reputedly charismatic and persuasive political leader - and his support of the Ten Year Plan has created momentum in addressing homelessness in his community.In Waco, the VA office has started hiring homeless veterans to help them get back on their feet. Combined with housing, this sounds like a recipe for stability. Three cheers for the Texas city for NOT just talking the talk, but walking the walk to end homelessness!Also in the news this week was this piece from northeastern Minnesota, which has some useful analysis of how to better serve people experiencing homelessness in rural areas.There's all kinds of exciting things happening in the blogosphere this week. For one, our McKinney-Vento Appropriations got picked up by the Change.org End Homelessness blog! (If you haven't already, it's time to write Congress! Now!)I've also been really inspired by some of the amazing stuff coming from service providers, including Calvary Women's... 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 »
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 »
Friday News Roundup: 38 percent drop in homelessness in Los Angeles, California
October 30, 2009
Without question, the news of the day is the reported 38 percent drop in Los Angeles, CA.
In a year when everything seemed to present endless challenges for the homeless and homeless advocacy community – rising unemployment, stifled state budgets, increasing homeless counts, reduction of public services, and the rest – it seemed incredible that the city with the largest homeless population in the country saw such a pronounced decrease in their numbers. The Los Angeles Continuum of Care (CoC) is a solid ten percent of the entire homeless population in the country – so any significant movement in their number would represent a notable change in the nation’s homeless population.
All to say – we definitely noticed.
And the inevitable question that rises from such a report is this: how?
Alliance staff has ruminated about the data for the last couple days. Together, we discussed the drop in the sheltered count (down by 19 percent), rental unit vacancy rates for the last five years (up by 3 percent), the unemployment rate (up by 5 percent), the Consumer Price Index (down by 4 percent), and – of course – methodology. We compared Los Angeles to New York and the nation, comparing numbers and rates and population, noting the general difficulties in counting homelessness people – especially the unsheltered (67 percent of the homeless population in LA is unsheltered.)
Of course, all these variables could play a role in determining how and why the count went down as significantly as it did. The rate of rental ... Read More »