Ending Homelessness Today — Point in Time Counts
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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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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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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Moving Forward on a Framework to End Youth Homelessness
June 12, 2012
The following are remarks from the Alliance's President and CEO, Nan Roman, regarding the U.S. Department of of Health and Human Services' new framework to advance the goal of ending youth homelessness by 2020, as announced at a live webcast of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness meeting.
The National Alliance to End Homelessness applauds the commitment of Chairman Sebelius and the members of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) to end youth homelessness by 2020. For far too long the plight of unaccompanied children and young adults has gone unaddressed. Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness brought much needed attention to this particularly vulnerable population. The USICH Proposed Framework for Ending Youth Homelessness is an important next step in laying out what the Federal government will do to achieve this goal.
The Alliance concurs with the major focus areas in the Framework: sizing the population; identifying the key segments of the population; identifying solutions for each segment; and going to scale with the solutions for each segment. We also support the outcomes of housing, connection, wellbeing, and education/employment.
Earlier this year the Alliance made a preliminary effort, using existing data, to estimate the size and segments of the population and examined this information for implications to policy and practice. Based on this framework as well as the USICH Framework presented today, the Alliance offers the following thoughts for the future.
Improving Data. The Alli... Read More »
A Closer Look at Homelessness in the National Capital Region: A Metropolitan Perspective
April 16, 2012
Renowned urban thinker Anthony Downs wrote: “No jurisdiction is an island. Every suburb is linked to its central city and to other suburbs.” But intra-regional social and economic dynamics can sometimes make it appear as though there are actual oceans separating jurisdictional boundaries. The intra-regional social dynamic of homelessness is no exception.
Are there actually homelessness disparities within a region? If so, how large? I examine these questions in this article using the specific case of the national capital region.
But first, some background.
In The State of Homelessness in America 2012 (SOH12), we included an appendix with 2011 homelessness data for the 100 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), as measured at a point-in-time. This includes data on nearly all of the metro areas in the country with populations over 500,000 people. Homeless point-in-time counts are reported to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at the geographic level known as the Continuum of Care (CoC), which is a local planning network designed to facilitate and encourage coordination of local efforts to address housing and homeless assistance. These CoC boundary lines are organized based on numerous local decisions of which the primary consideration should be to design a system that will most effectively meet the needs of the homeless population.
CoC boundaries may or may not reflect other demographic patterns or economic realities that shape how people interact in the physical environment. MSA boundaries, on the other hand, are determined by commuting to ... Read More »
Visualize the 2012 Point-in-Time Count
March 30, 2012
Well, it’s that time of year again when we start to see media stories come in from across the country that report the results of January 2012 point-in-time (PIT) counts. The Alliance is collecting and mapping these media accounts—or when/where available the Continuum of Care (CoC) reports—in order to provide a sense of the changing homeless situation in communities across the country.
Once again these collected reports are the basis of our new interactive 2012 Counts Media Map. In our map, we examine changes in overall homelessness (increases are noted by a red placemarker and decreases by a green placemarker). At the time of this article, we currently have 14 reports. Fifty percent of the communities (7/14) included in the map show that, locally, there have been increases in overall homelessness. The largest community featured to date is San Diego County, which has seen a 9 percent increase in overall homelessness, going from 9,020 people in 2011 to 9,800 in 2012.
We need your help!
Has a media source or a CoC in your community released a report that shows changes in overall homelessness between the January 2011 and January 2012 counts?
Please let us know. You can email me directly and I’ll be sure to add your community’s results to our interactive map.
The map provides a sense about how homelessness is changing in communities across the country. This is especially important amid current economic and budgetary conversations when local homeless, health care, employment, and other aid... Read More »
Taking part in the DC Annual PIT Count
January 26, 2012
Do you know how many alleys there are in the average city? Well, ok, neither do I…but after last night, I have a much better idea. Last night, instead of just bustling by these dark passages as I usually do, I traipsed up and down every alley I came across here in downtown DC.
As you’ve probably guessed, I was exploring these alleys, and every other nook and cranny of the Golden Triangle (which also happens to be, more or less, the Alliance’s neighborhood) as a volunteer with DC’s annual PIT Count. Still relatively new to the field and working on federal policy here at the Alliance, I don’t often venture over to the practice side of the field. I do, however, rely heavily on data and experiences gathered by practitioners every day to make the argument for increased funding for key federal homelessness programs. Last night was my opportunity to match each number with a face.
After more than three hours and more than 30 people counted (yes, that’s unfortunately more than one person for every square block I covered in a neighborhood a stone’s throw from the White House), I was beginning to sympathize with the challenges that every homeless person faces, but particularly those living on the streets. There were common themes: bureaucratic delays within departments like Veterans Affairs, long waits (years and years) for Section 8 or Public Housing, and a distinct lack of ho... Read More »
Community Point-in-Time Counts
January 26, 2012
Here’s a smattering of clips about homeless point-in-time counts conducted this week. Did we miss your community? Tell us in the comment section below or shoot us a note on Facebook or Twitter!
Homeless tally 'not an accurate account' of population in Delaware County (Star Press, DE)
Point in Time homeless count offers opportunity to help (News Leader, MO)
Camden County begins 24-hour count of its homeless (Philadelphia Inquirer, PA)
Harford, Balto. counties survey homeless for annual census (Baltimore Sun, MD)
Connecticut social service providers set for annual count of homeless (Associated Press, CT)
... 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 »
Did Your Community Count Homeless Youth This Year?
April 07, 2011
We want to know if your community counted homeless youth* in the annual point-in-time count this year.
Take our survey and let us know!
Every year, communities across the nation conduct point-in-time counts of people experiencing homelessness. The Department of Housing and Urban Development requires a count every other year as part of a community’s application for federal funds; many communities, however, conduct one annually of their own accord.
Capitalizing on the yearly ritual, the Alliance launched a youth count campaign, encouraging communities to include youth in their 2011 counts. We put out tools to help communities figure out how to conduct youth and the importance of including this oft-overlooked community.
So we want to know how you did! Did you count youth? How so? And how many?
Take our 5 minute, 5 question survey to let us know and if you have any questions (per usual), don’t hesitate to contact us.
* Youth are those 12-24 years of age. ... Read More »
DC to conduct count of homeless youth
March 03, 2011
Yesterday, we talked about how help is long overdue for homeless youth. We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: there is not enough information about this very vulnerable, often overlooked population.
In fact, there isn’t even a baseline count; that is, we don’t even really know how many homeless youth there are in the country.
This is why the Alliance is urging communities to include youth in their annual point-in-time counts. All communities are required to regularly conduct counts of their local homeless populations (required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development) and while “youth” is a line item, hardly any communities report youth numbers.
But we need to start counting.
Our own district is starting this year. The DC Alliance of Youth Advocates is conducting a homeless youth survey in mid-March in concert with the George Washington University and the Interagency Council on Homelessness. The effort is meant to gauge how many youth are experiencing homelessness in the District, how youth in the District become homeless, and what the community can provide with services and programs to assist youth out of homelessness and into stable housing conditions.
DC is taking an essential step forward. In order to solve a problem, we must first fully understand it – and conducting this kind of count can increase our knowledge on this important social problem.
How does the youth homelessness situation look like in your community? What steps ar... Read More »
2011 PIT Counts Media Map
March 01, 2011
Today's post comes to us from Alliance research associate Pete Witte.
Earlier this year I wrote here about the annual point-in-time (PIT) counts being conducted across the country, and explained why the PIT counts are so important for helping us to understand homelessness and measure progress we’re making toward ending the problem.
Well, it’s that time of year again when local media stories announcing the results of their January point-in-time (PIT) slowly begin to sprout up in daily clips.
The Alliance is collecting and mapping these media accounts or, when available, the Continuum of Care (CoC) reports in order to provide a sense of the changing homeless situation in communities across the country. These reports are the basis of our new and—considering federal budget conversations where homeless programs are at-risk of being cut—timely, interactive 2011 Counts Media Map, which tracks reports on changes in overall homelessness (increases are noted by a red-colored placemarker and decreases are in green).
Amid current economic and budgetary conversations, providing a sense about the change in homeless counts across the country is important and timely, especially considering how homeless, health care, employment, and other aid programs are increasingly at-risk of being cut.
Tracking the 2011 PIT counts also provides an opportunity to get a sense on how much progress is being made at ending homelessness at the federal level, since the 2011 PIT counts will be the first count where both HPRP and Opening Doors h... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: the PIT counts!
January 28, 2011
Happy Friday, friends!
So, we could continue to flout the continued coverage of our newest report - The State of Homelessness in American (wink, wink!) – but I trust you’ve grown weary of our obsessive affection for that report. And rest assured, we’ll have plenty more posts about the report from friends and fans alike!
Homelessness news this week – no big surprise here – was all about community point-in-time (PIT) counts. (And snow.) Projected numbers, need for volunteers, implications on governments – local media covered the story from all angles.
The Review Journal in Las Vegas projected an increase in their count; the opposite was true according to WBUR-FM in Boston, which reported a dip in their numbers.
The community papers in Montgomery, AL and Detroit focused on the effort involved in reaching out to this oft-overlooked population. Our friends at the Los Angeles Times provided a detailed account of what it takes to conduct that sprawling city’s count – no easy feat by anyone’s standards.
And then there were the stories that put a human face on the annual task. The Dayton Daily News of Ohio profiled a 19-year-old young man who had aged out of the foster care system only to wind up on the streets. The Herald of Washington state focused on a volunteer who had once experienced homelessness himself who was now helping with the Snohomish County’s count.
And you know we were there to lend a hand for the... Read More »
What's so special about the PIT counts?
January 27, 2011
A few days ago, Catherine talked about point-in-time counts.
As a researcher, I can’t begin to tell you how important that raw data is to both understanding homelessness and measuring whether or not we’re making any progress on the problem. In fact, point-in-time (PIT) counts were pivotal to The State of Homelessness report.
The PIT counts are a census conducted on a single night in January by communities across the U.S (over 450 communities participated for the last count). This PIT count is not the only data available on the homeless population; there’s also 12-month data collected by these communities. However, the PIT counts have a clear advantage over the 12-month data because the PIT data captures data on the unsheltered populations as well as sheltered populations.
But getting this wonderful data – now that’s another thing altogether.
Imagine for a minute the logistical nightmares of conducting the PIT counts across the boundaries of an entire community, block by block, in order to capture that unsheltered data. Despite participation in the census by a large contingent of volunteers and an expert group of homeless service workers, it still sounds challenging, doesn’t it? Each year, though, communities are continually learning from their experiences, and their methodologies for conducting the census continue to improve.
The reality is, while imperfect, the PIT counts provide the best available data on what the homeless population “looks like” on a given night. And the reality... Read More »
Are you helping out with the point-in-time count?
January 19, 2011
Every year, right around this time, communities across the country conduct their point-in-time count.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires that communities receiving federal funds from the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program conduct a point-in-time count at least every other year. Most communities conduct their counts annually; some do it even more often than that.
These point-in-time counts are the cornerstone of homelessness data. Data conducted during these counts are used to create the Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress and provide the best data available on the number of people experiencing homelessness in the United States.
Count methodology varies across the country. For smaller communities, volunteers may comb the streets and individually count each and every person they see experiencing homelessness. And then there are some communities – think New York, Detroit, Los Angeles – where such a practice would be impossible. So advocates and city officials create formulas and algorithms to extrapolate a more limited count into a realistic estimate. And every year, count methodology evolves and improves so we’re able to get a more and more accurate count.
And why’s that important? Because in order to solve a problem, we first have to understand it – and these counts are the first line in developing that understanding. Before we delve into the details, before we pick apart subpopulations and demographics, we gauge the scope of the problem by understanding these point-in-time counts.
And – as always –... Read More »
Why Aren’t We Counting the Kids?
January 04, 2011
This January, every Continuum of Care (CoC) in the United States will be conducting a point-in-time count of their homeless population. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) wants an accurate count of all people experiencing homelessness in a community – so they require communities to submit a count when they apply for homeless assistance funding.
Trouble is, we’re not getting the full picture. All too often, unaccompanied youth (kids not with their parents), get overlooked during these counts.
Communities have found that young people (under the age of 25) don’t behave like their adult counterparts: they don’t congregate in the same areas, they don’t always access the same services, they just can’t be found in the same places. So to get an accurate count of the total homeless population, communities must develop a strategy specifically targeting unaccompanied homeless youth.
Why, you ask? That’s a great question. Because we know that point-in-time counts are no picnic. We know communities are already expending tremendous resources to conduct counts. We know that asking communities develop yet another program to count specifically unaccompanied youth can seem cumbersome. We get it, we know, it’s not easy.
But they’re our kids. We all know they’re out there, we all know they need our help. Research has demonstrated that youth experiencing homelessness are at higher risk of experiencing violence, abuse, exploitation, and a host of other dangers. But we still don’t have... Read More »
But what about the children?
November 08, 2010
Okay, so I really mean what about the youth.
Today, we hosted our first in a series of webinars about youth homelessness.
Here's the thing about youth homelessness: we know just enough to know that we hardly know anything at all.
We know a little: RHYA shows us that there are young people out there looking for help. Data from the juvenile justice and the foster care systems show us that young people are exiting those systems and ending up homeless. Research from institutions like Chapin Hall outline the relationship between youth homelessness and child welfare.
We know that there's a problem.
But we're grappling with pieces of the puzzle. And if we at the Alliance have learned anything at all, it's that we must fully understand a problem in order to really get serious about solving it.
So we're asking you guys to start with the data. On our webinar today, Barbara Poppe from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and Nan Roman, the Alliance's own president, emphasized the importance of including youth in the 2011 community point-in-time counts. The first step to solving a problem, we've concluded, is to determine the scope of the problem.
As a critical observer in the field, I can testify that I've been hearing stories from advocates and reporters alike asking if there's any evidence to back up anecdotal data about an increase in homeless youth and specifically about the vulnerability of those... Read More »
How to Count Homeless Youth - Find out With Nan Roman and Barbra Poppe!
November 04, 2010
We know they’re out there.
Young people who are living on the streets alone. Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) program counts show us that there are young people seeking assistance in communities across the country. The National Extranet Optimized Runaway and Homeless Youth Management Information System (NEO-RHYMIS) shows us that there are thousands of young people seeking basic services and beds.
We know they’re out there – but that’s about all we know.
Lost in the mix of seasons greetings and veterans remembrance is a noteworthy event that doesn’t hit the radar for most Americans this month: it’s National Homeless Youth Awareness Month.
It’s a really important month. Despite the fact that everyone will agree that youth homelessness is an existing problem, there’s nothing else to agree on: we have no reliable or regular source of data on this vulnerable subpopulation. We know they’re there, we know they’re young, we know they need our help. But we don’t know how many there are, we don’t know much about the characteristics of this group, we don’t know how they enter or exit homelessness, we don’t know how they survive while experiencing homelessness, we don’t know how long they’re homeless, where, or how.
And we can’t solve a problem without fully understanding it.
So that’s where we need to start: with data.
We at the Alliance are encouraging our local ... Read More »
Major Findings in the 5th Quarterly Pulse Report
October 21, 2010
On Tuesday, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released the Fifth Quarterly Pulse report – a snapshot of homelessness in eight communities across the country. This latest report covers the time between January to March 2010.
The moral of the story, as conveyed by the current report, is that homelessness is mostly down.
There was a one percent decrease in the overall shelter count between the fourth and fifth quarters. (All but NYC reported decreases in their local counts.)
There was a four percent decrease in the number of sheltered persons in families between the fourth and fifth quarters (All but the Richmond, VA community reported decreases in their local family counts.)
There was a three percent increase in sheltered homeless individuals between the fourth and fifth quarters. (Despite notable decreases in some areas – VA, CT, and KY – increases in other communities, including OH and NYC, contributed to a rise in this number.)
We also noted a couple of economic indicators:
When comparing January – March 2009 to January – March 2010, seven of the eight sites showed increased joblessness. (LA showed a 0.1 percent improvement in joblessness.)
Five communities experienced increased joblessness between the fourth and fifth quarters.
Half of the sites had increased rates of foreclosure activity.
Another point of concern (that’s often reported in news outlets) is the number of newly homeless. In this quarter’s Pulse report, we see that:
In the eight communities surveyed, the number of newly homeless serv... Read More »
Counting Homelessness - the 2010 point-in-time counts
January 26, 2010
Hello! I’m Caroline Wagner, and I’m the newest addition to the Alliance staff - Nan Roman’s new assistant. This is my very first blogpost – and it’s about something that I’ve been interested in since I started working in the housing and homelessness field. As anyone on the Alliance staff will tell you, accurate, comprehensive data about homelessness is both critical to creating effective policy and hard to come by. And one of the most reliable, most regular pieces of data mandated nationally is the January point-in-time counts. In the last week of January – read: this week – communities across the country conduct a count to gauge the number of people experiencing homelessness in their area. This information, mandated every other year by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is a prerequisite to receiving homeless assistance funding. Counts data is aggregated and analyzed by HUD and local governments across the country. The Department releases a national report of their findings based on these counts in late summer. So the question plaguing me was this: how exactly are these extensive, seemingly impossible counts conducted? The answer is surprisingly simple. It’s a lot like you’d expect – heavy legwork by community officials, local leaders, and service providers. Volunteers comb sidewalks, shelters, and soup kitchens counting each and every person experiencing homelessness. For many larger cities, methodology gets even more sophisticated in an effort to ensure accuracy. Los Angeles, Californ... Read More »