Ending Homelessness Today — Policy and Legislation
Congressional Briefing on the Importance of Funding for Rapid Re-Housing
May 18, 2012
On Thursday, May 17, the Alliance hosted a Congressional Briefing, “Rapid Re-Housing: Ending Family Homelessness.” The briefing was sponsored by Senator Patty Murray, and provided a glimpse into how a couple of communities are using rapid re-housing to revolutionize how they are responding to family homelessness as well as the critical important role that federal funding plays in continuing the success of these programs.
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Learning about Advocacy at our National Conference on Ending Homelessness
May 16, 2012
When our blog readers think of Washington, DC, they often think of politics (and politicians, of course), soaring monuments, and hopefully, the Alliance’s advocacy efforts. But in all seriousness, coming to our nation’s capital is a great opportunity to learn what’s happening with federal policy and to make an impact on it. We talked last week about how to participate in Capitol Hill Day, but our National Conference on Ending Homelessness also offers a great opportunity to learn more about federal policy and advocacy, including messaging and how-tos. This year, we’ve got a great track of workshops for anyone who wants to better hone their advocacy skills, for seasoned advocates, for Capitol Hill Day participants, or for folks who are just curious. Here’s a basic overview of some of the great advocacy workshops we’re planning.
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Rapid Re-housing for Families Briefing
May 16, 2012
On Thursday, the Alliance will host a Congressional Briefing, “Rapid Re-Housing: Ending Family Homelessness.” The briefing, sponsored by Senator Patty Murray, will provide a glimpse in to how rapid re-housing is revolutionizing how we are responding to family homelessness.
Homeless program administrators across the country provided an enthusiastic (shall we say overwhelming?) response to the Alliance’s request for data to help inform the audience about the impact that rapid re-housing is having. The compelling data the Alliance received is showing the successes communities are having helping families move out of homelessness with rapid re-housing.
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Advocating for LGBTQ Homeless Youth with Cyndi Lauper
May 11, 2012
On May 10, 2012, I had the pleasure of spending the entire day with Cyndi Lauper lobbying on behalf of LGBTQ youth that experience homelessness. Along with Gregory Lewis, Executive Director of Cyndi’s foundation, the True Colors Fund, the Center for American Progress and the Human Rights Campaign we spent the morning briefing Cyndi on how to lobby members of Congress.
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May Congressional Briefings
May 03, 2012
The Alliance will be busy this month up on Capitol Hill with three different congressional briefings with which we’re involved. These briefings are intended to give Members of Congress and their staff details on key programs working to end homelessness as well as an overview of the solutions for certain subpopulations. Briefings are an opportunity to showcase successful programs for all Members of Congress as well as an opportunity for consumers to share the personal impact that programs funded by Congress have. Here’s a summary of what we’ll be covering in our briefings this May.
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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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What's a 302(b) Allocation?
April 25, 2012
We often write about the appropriations process on this blog, and we try to avoid using too much jargon. But when discussing the federal funding process, it’s hard to avoid using at least a few terms that don’t come up in normal everyday conversation (unless, of course, you work with us). They include “appropriations” – a formal word for “funding” – and “mark up” – the process whereby a committee amends and votes on legislation. And finally, there are “allocations,” which, to add further confusion, come in both 302(a) and 302(b) varieties. This blog will hopefully clarify both of those terms and provide a little insight into why these references to an obscure part of the federal budget code matter to your efforts to prevent and end homelessness.
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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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VA Leading the Way
April 17, 2012
As we have discussed on this blog many times, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has set a clear goal of ending homelessness among veterans by 2015.
The recent fiscal year (FY) 2013 VA budget proposal shows a strong commitment to this mission of ending homelessness among veterans. As part of a recent webinar on the budget proposal, I went over VA’s ask for a 33 percent increase in its budget for homeless veteran programs. This remarkable increase fully funds the transitional housing Grant and Per Diem (GPD) and permanent supportive housing (HUD-VASH) programs, as well as tripling in size the rapid re-housing and prevention model program, Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF).
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Field Notes: The Emergency Solutions Grant, Recommendations From The Alliance
February 08, 2012
In response to some questions we have received recently regarding new regulations for the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program, the Center for Capacity Building at the Alliance has decided to address some of these questions in video form. Today’s video features Kay Moshier McDivitt, Capacity Building Associate here at the Alliance. In this interview, Kay discusses how communities can rethink sustainability as an eligibility requirement for rapid re-housing and prevention assistance.
(In the video, Kay refers to a webinar - this is the webinar.)
For more information, you can visit our website, where the Alliance has recently posted a wealth of material on the new ESG program.... Read More »
Help Homeless Vets This Veterans Day
November 10, 2011
Often when we think of homeless veterans, the image that comes to mind is that of an older man, likely of the Vietnam generation, living on the streets. In other words, we tend to associate homeless veterans with chronically homeless people. For this group of people, we know that one of the best interventions to end their homelessness and to prevent future episodes is the joint Departments of Housing and Urban Development – Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) voucher program. Permanent supportive housing, we know, is solution to chronic homelessness; housing, with services and case management through VA, is ending chronic homelessness among veterans one unit at a time.
As such, even in this difficult funding environment, Congress is likely to provide $75 million for approximately 11,000 new vouchers this year.
This is fantastic news and it is helping to end veterans homelessness, but unfortunately, our homeless veterans don’t always meet that image we have in our head. Instead, many are increasingly younger, veterans not only of the Gulf War, but our current conflicts as well. Larger and larger portions of the homeless vet population are females, often with young children.
So how do we serve homeless veterans that may not fit into the definition we have in our heads? VA is responding to the changing face of our veterans with programs like the Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) program, which provides services to families residing in transitional or permanent supportive housing.... Read More »
The State of HUD Funding
November 03, 2011
Today’s post comes to us from Amanda Benton (née Krusemark), director of grassroots mobilizing at the Alliance.
Over the last couple of months, the Alliance has been working with the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF) to secure the greatest possible amount of overall funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in fiscal year (FY) 2012.
The HUD budget funds programs that offer affordable housing to needy families, assist homeless people into stable living situations, provide block grants to improve communities, among others. The HUD budget has and continues to provide assistance to the lowest-income and most vulnerable Americans who have been hit hardest by our recent economic downturn - and this includes homeless and at-risk veterans as well as their families.
On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill to provide $37 billion in new funding in FY 2012 for HUD – about 10 percent less than last year. The HUD Appropriations Subcommittee in the House has proposed similar legislation that would cut funding for HUD programs by 7.3 percent. Key senators are already meeting with their colleagues in the House to work out a final, compromise piece of legislation.
Under the spending caps set by the deficit reduction deal passed in August, funding for non-security discretionary spending (as opposed to mandatory spending, like Medicaid) should decline by an average of about five percent relative to last year; in other words, both current House and Senate proposals would hit the H... 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 »
Update on HUD Funding
September 09, 2011
Yesterday, Congress held its first vote on a proposal to fund programs within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), including homeless assistance programs, for the upcoming fiscal year, FY 2012. This process, called the appropriations process, is one of the most critical times for advocates to get involved and reach out to their Members of Congress to educate them on the important programs funded through this yearly process.
The draft legislation, passed by the House HUD Appropriations Subcommittee yesterday, would provide the same amount of funding for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants in FY 2012 as in FY 2011. Unfortunately, as many of our readers know, this is disappointing because a significant increase in funding is needed to address the needs of the growing population of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and to implement the HEARTH Act.
However, there was definitely some good news! The legislation would provide $75 million for new vouchers under the joint HUD – Department of Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, as the Alliance had advocated!
The original draft of the legislation, released on Wednesday, removed all funding for the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), which is key to coordinating the federal government’s response to homelessness. Fortunately, the subcommittee adopted an amendment, proposed by Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) to provide about $3 million in funding for USICH. It is likely that the Senate will also provide funding for USICH, allowing them to co... Read More »
Introducting: Guest bloggers, tweeters, and Facebook friends for the week
September 09, 2011
Greetings Alliance friends and supporters!
The week of September 12, we – the usual guards of the Alliance blog, Facebook, and Twitter accounts – will be away from the office. But during that time, you will have the great opportunity to hear directly from some of our colleagues.
Each day, a new expert will take the reigns of our online community and share with you their perspectives on the Alliance, our work, and ending homelessness.
Monday, September 12: Elizabeth
Our resident fundraiser will share with you news from our latest Annual Report, how fundraising happens here at the Alliance, and how your hard earned donations make the difference in our program and policy work. If you have questions about the way the Alliance conducts fundraising, nonprofit development news, or have suggestions about online fundraising for the Alliance, make sure to shoot a note to Elizabeth on Facebook or Twitter on Monday!
Tuesday, September 13: Pete
Research associate and fan favorite Pete will share with you the poverty data that the U.S. Census Bureau will release that day and help break down what the data means for low-income and homeless people. It’s no surprise that many poor people are at risk of experiencing homelessness and that poverty is often associated with the highest homelessness risk factors including doubled up housing situations, severe housing cost burden, unemployment and/or low wages, and the like. Got research questions? Tuesday’s the day for them!
Wednesday, September 14: Kim &am... Read More »
Ending youth homelessness through federal policy reform
June 27, 2011
Today's guest post comes to us from Alliance intern Rricha Mathur.
On June 17, I attended the Voices of Youth briefing held at the Capitol. A group of student panelists, who were and continue to be affected by homelessness, lead a stimulating conversation in which they shared their stories of homelessness, perseverance, and triumph. Currently, each speaker is enrolled in a university program. Their stories underlined that there is a lot Congress can do to help them and the millions of other youth affected by homelessness.
Some of the common struggles relayed in the heartbreaking stories by the panelists are basic and can be alleviated through federal policy. For example, many of the panelists suffered from physical and mental abuse by their parents and relatives and were thrown out of their homes. Once on the street, the young men and women struggled to find food, housing, and stability. They found barriers to food stamps due to eligibility criteria and oftentimes could not locate housing because they couldn’t put down deposits or show a credit history. Policy aimed at giving these young men and women better access to shelters and welfare programs would help their situations tremendously.
Furthermore, these students’ testimonies emphasized that education is an essential asset for homeless youth. Education was one of the major avenues these students used to create better futures. The students turned to teachers, coaches, and counselors for the guidance they lacked at home, and the... Read More »
The CAP Team and the Performance Improvement Clinic
June 01, 2011
While the Alliance is identifies primarily as a policy organization, we do some other things that you may not know about.
In fact, we have this great little department called the Center for Capacity Building. And lately, they’ve been really busy with a project called the Performance Improvement Clinic (formerly called the HEARTH Academy).
Refresher: In 2008, Congress passed the HEARTH Act which was intended to streamline and modernize the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants. You can find out more about the HEARTH Act on our website.
The Performance Improvement Clinic is designed to prepare communities for the HEARTH Act, which is going to change the way communities both apply for federal funding under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants and they way that money can be applied within communities. Moreover, the HEARTH Act asks communities to change some of the ways they operate and measure the progress of their efforts to end homelessness and meet specific, numerical goals.
The Center for Capacity Building (CAP Team) is traveling to help communities prepare for the new legislation with an arsenal of new tools to help communities evaluate their systems and implement systems change. You can find these tools, including the Homeless System Evaluator Tool, as well as webinars, briefs, and resources on our website.
So far, the CAP Team has been to Mississippi, Iowa, Washington, Connecticut, Missouri, North Carolina, and Texas. This week, our intrepid capacity builders are in California before they hit West ... 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 »
Congressional Briefing on Homeless Children, Youth, and Families
March 29, 2011
Tomorrow, the Congressional Caucus on Homelessness is holding a briefing on “Homeless Children, Youth, and Families.”
During the briefing, panelists will discuss the profound impact that homelessness wields on children and youth, as well as their parents. In addition to the loss of safe, stable housing, homelessness can cause a sense of displacement, trauma, and stress. This can corrupt positive child development, health, and school participation and create life-long costs to children and parents.
The briefing will reference the 60 Minutes segment on homeless children that cast some media attention on the problem. The briefing will also examine the growing epidemic of homeless children and families as well as model programs, strategies, and initiatives to keep children in school and to secure stable housing.
Invited speakers include:
Diane Nilan, Founder and President, HEAR US, Naperville, IL
Barbara Duffield, Policy Director, National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, Washington, DC
Beth McCullough, Home and School Liaison, Adrian School District, Adrian, Michigan
Lori Criss, Chief Operating Officer, Amethyst Inc, Columbus, Ohio
Michelle Flynn, Associate Executive Director of Programs, The Road Home, Salt Lake City, Utah.
For more information about family and youth homelessness, please visit the Alliance website. If you’re interested in the Congressional Caucus on Homelessness or would like to attend the briefing, please contact the Alliance advocacy team.... Read More »