Ending Homelessness Today — Publications
Hundreds Took the Message of Ending Homelessness to Capitol Hill
August 15, 2013
Last month, nearly 1,600 people traveled from all over the country to Washington, DC for the Alliance’s National Conference on Ending Homelessness. That’s already pretty big news, but what’s more is that approximately one-in-four of those registrants participated in Capitol Hill Day. A wide array of key stakeholders on homelessness visited their Members of Congress on Capitol Hill to update them on local progress in ending homelessness and to urge them to make providing sufficient funding for homeless assistance programs a federal priority.
Based on our State Captains’ report backs from more than 300 meetings (which, in case you were wondering, is a record!) we’ve compiled a 2013 Capitol Hill Day Report and Summary. The report highlights the major successes of this year’s Capitol Hill Day. For starters, more than 415 participants (what’s that? You guessed it: it’s another record!) went on more than 300 meetings.
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We’re Screening a Movie at our DC Conference
April 04, 2013
This is turning out to be quite a busy week at the Alliance. We’re currently preparing for the release of our State of Homelessness 2013 report this Tuesday, April 9, which will involve a press conference that morning and webinar that afternoon for advocates and stakeholders. You should register, if you’d like to hear about the data in the report as well as ways to act on the information through media engagement and advocacy efforts.
But we’re also putting together our next National Conference on Ending Homelessness. It’s happening on Monday July 22 through Wednesday July 24 at The Renaissance Washington DC Hotel in Washington, DC. Already, we’re at work on roughly 80 workshops covering veteran homelessness, youth homelessness, chronic homelessness, homelessness advocacy, Continuums of Care, rapid re-housing, and more.
This February, we had to close registration early for our Family and Youth conference because so many people registered for it so quickly, and we had to set up a wait-list for those who weren’t able to register in time. Obviously, we’re pleased with the huge response, and we want everyone who wants to attend to be able to, but we can only accommodate so many people.
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On The Road: Rapid Re-Housing for Survivors of Domestic Training in Connecticut
May 04, 2012
I used to work in the Alliance’s Center for Capacity Building and spent a lot of time in local communities working with providers and local governments to implement rapid re-housing programs. About a year and a half ago I shifted to our policy team and the amount of time I spent in communities doing trainings decreased significantly. I spend much more time up on the Hill now—educating Congressional staff and analyzing federal programs and policies to try and improve the national response to homelessness. This week provided me with the opportunity to get back out in the field and talk to providers about a topic I am particularly passionate about—making sure that survivors of domestic violence are able to safely access the housing they need to move forward in their lives.
Yesterday, I presented at the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness’ (CCEH’s) 10th Annual Training Institute in Meriden, CT. Approximately 300 attendees representing homeless service providers and government agencies from throughout Connecticut attend the training institute to learn about what is happening on the federal and state level as well as learn about successful strategies being implemented by other communities in the state.
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Field Notes: Introducing the Prevention and Diversion Toolkit
April 26, 2012
Last month, the Center for Capacity Building brought you the Coordinated Assessment Toolkit to help you design, implement, and evaluate an efficient coordinated process at the front door of your system. But, as many successful communities and a few Alliance staff members will tell you, the best coordinated assessment processes incorporate prevention and diversion at their assessment points by screening for eligibility for these strategies and providing the associated services before admitting a household to a shelter, transitional housing, or rapid re-housing program.
This initial screening process can help people salvage housing situations without having to enter shelter, or provide viable temporary housing options outside shelter. Prevention and diversion, in many cases, do not require a major investment of money or resources (and in some cases, as we often hear, require no financial assistance at all), and are therefore quite cost effective compared to an avoidable shelter entry, even more so when you consider that prevention means avoiding robbing another person of a bed that they desperately need.
That’s why we published our Prevention and Diversion Toolkit yesterday.
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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.
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Field Notes: Coordinated Assessment Gets Results
April 04, 2012
Last week, we released our Coordinated Assessment/Coordinated Entry Toolkit. In it, we provide tools to help communities plan, implement, and evaluate a coordinated entry system. We're going to continue to build on the toolkit, adding to it and updating it as new information comes in. And remember - we want you to be a part of that, so keep sending suggestions and feedback to me at email@example.com.
The reason we're excited about this tool is that we know that coordinated assessment is something that gets results. The perfect example of this is in Dayton/Montgomery County, OH. Though they switched over to a coordinated assessment approach somewhat recently - August 2010 - they have already seen major results. These are just a few of them:
18% of families over the past 7 months have been diverted from entering shelter. The vast majority of these families are being diverted without receiving any financial assistance - many of them are able to secure housing outside of shelter with the help of a case manager mediating on their behalf.
Emergency shelters that had up to 40 families a night last summer now have 7 families per night.
There were 12% fewer families who had a night of shelter in 2011 than in 2010.
We've seen similar results in other communities that are adopting this approach. By using a consistent assessment and referral process with a permanent housing focus, people are entering the system less, moving around within it less,... Read More »
The Importance of Stable Housing for Survivors of Domestic Violence
April 03, 2012
A little over a year ago, the Alliance released a paper on using a rapid re-housing model to end homelessness for survivors of domestic violence. This paper was based on the successes and lessons learned by community programs using a rapid re-housing model to serve survivors.
One of the programs featured in that paper and also featured in a separate best practice on the Alliance website is Home Free, a Volunteers of America – Oregon program. Home Free recently participated in a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study that examined the link between stable housing and domestic violence.
Recently, the Alliance hosted a webinar that highlighted some of the findings from that study, including that as housing stability increased:
Women and children were safer,
Women had greater job stability and improved income, and
Children missed fewer days in school and displayed fewer behavior problems.
Perhaps most strikingly, when women who participated in the study were asked what made the biggest difference in their life, they said “having housing.” And, when asked what agencies did that was the most helpful, they stated the provision of housing services.
If that weren’t enough, the study also estimated the cost savings of housing survivors on the basis of decreases in their need of emergency services, including police, emergency medical care, and safety net programs. The total savings for emergency systems based on estimated costs was $535,000.
To learn more, please join the Alliance’s next webinar on A... 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 »
Field Notes: Coordinated Assessment Toolkit
March 28, 2012
Yesterday, we released our Coordinated Assessment Toolkit (also known as our Coordinated Entry/Coordinated Intake Toolkit)! It’s been a labor of love for the Center for Capacity Building, and we’re very excited to have it out on the website at last.
But…it’s not finished.
Don’t get us wrong – there’s lots of great stuff in there already. The toolkit has four sections: Planning and Assessment, Data and Implementation, Evaluation, and Community Examples and Materials. The Planning and Assessment section has materials to help get you started in thinking about what coordinated assessment is and how it could look and function in your community. Data and Implementation gives you some information on how to collect and share data in an effective way when doing intakes and assessments and making referrals. Evaluation is all about measuring and continuing your success. The Community Examples section provides materials from communities that have done this already and information on how they’ve made everything work.
But we need, and want, more. We know there a lot of communities that have started to plan for and implement this approach, and we want to share your products and lessons learned with everyone else. Send us your checklists, assessment and intake forms, policy and procedure documents, and data reports. And send us your suggestions and feedback as well. Specific information about including domestic violence survivors and youth is also coming but we would like input in t... Read More »
Veterans Homelessness: An Overview of the Data
November 07, 2011
Here are the eye-popping facts taken from the October report authored by the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, Veteran Homelessness: A Supplemental Report to the 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress:
On a given night in 2010, more veterans were homeless than in 2009 (76,329 compared to 75,609);
Nearly 33,000 of those veterans were living on the streets, in abandoned buildings, in cars, or other places non intended for human habitation;
Veterans make up nearly 12 percent of the total homeless population;
From October 2009 to September 2010, almost 150,000 veterans spent a night at a shelter or in transitional housing;
About one-third of those veterans were sheltered in suburban or rural areas;
Nationally, the rate of veterans homelessness is 35 out of every 10,000 veterans are homeless;
There are 12 states where this rate is higher (see map above); and
In Washington, DC, the rate is 190 per 10,000 veterans;
More than half (51 percent) of sheltered homeless veterans have a disability;
Veterans are more than twice as likely to be homeless as non-veterans;
If you are a female veteran, you are two and a half times more likely to be homeless as non-veteran females;
If you are a poor female veteran, you are nearly three and a half times as likely to be homeless as non-veteran poor females;
Among minority groups, poor veterans’ risk of homelessness is higher;
Poor Hispanics and Latinos veterans are nearly three times more likely to be homeless than non-veteran poor Hispanics and Latinos;
Poor H... Read More »
Incarceration and Homelessness
October 31, 2011
According to the Pew Center on the States, between 1973 and 2009, the nation’s prison population grew by 705 percent, resulting in more than 1 in 100 adults behind bars. When this growing population exits the corrections system, they are frequently at risk for homelessness, which can in turn increase the likelihood of another imprisonment. People leaving incarceration tend to have low incomes, and, often due to their criminal history, lack the ability to obtain housing through the channels that are open to other low-income people.
Recently, the Baltimore-based organization Health Care for the Homeless released a report on the link between incarceration and homelessness. This study focused on the situation in the Baltimore region, which has a particularly large population of people in jails and prisons. According to the report, among the cities with the largest jails, Baltimore has the highest percentage of its population in jail, more than three times that of New York City or Los Angeles County.
This report draws a very direct line between housing and homelessness. For example, 74 percent those surveyed who reported experiencing homelessness before their incarceration reported that stable housing would have prevented their incarceration. In Baltimore City, people experiencing homelessness spend an average of 35 days in jail annually.
It is important to point out that the connection goes both ways - incarceration often leads to homelessness, and homelessness can result in incarceration. This report found that the number of people who lacked stable housing after b... Read More »
Veterans AHAR Supplement - Part 2
October 11, 2011
In the veterans supplement to the AHAR last week, we learned that the point-in-time count of veterans experiencing homelessness rose one percent to 76,329 from 2009 to 2010. In the same time period, year-round counts of homeless veterans seeking services decreased by 3 percent, to 144,842.
There were a number of other observations and statistics presented in the report, which covered
estimates of homelessness among veterans
demographic characteristics of sheltered veterans
risk of homelessness among veterans, examining gender, race/ethnicity, age, and disability status
location of homeless veterans
veterans’ access and use of the shelter system
permanent supportive housing use by veterans
Among the many findings presented in the report, I was struck by two in particular, both pertaining to the risk of homelessness among veterans.
First is the widely-reported idea that female veterans are at higher risk of homelessness than their male counterparts. The report suggests that the wide reporting is based on fact, suggesting that female veterans are twice as likely as their non-veteran counterparts to experience homelessness. Poor female veterans are three times as likely to experience homelessness as their non-veteran counterparts living in poverty. In fact, it can be said that military service heightens the American woman’s risk of experiencing homelessness.
I was also taken by the racial breakdown of risk. As the Alliance has observed before, African Americans are strongly overrepresented in the homeless veterans population. African Americans make up approximately 35 percent of the homeless veteran population but only 10 per... Read More »
HUD and VA Release Homeless Vet Numbers
October 06, 2011
Recently, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released the second annual veteran-specific supplement to the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR). This report provides one-day and one-year estimates of the number of veterans experiencing homelessness in the United States, as well as the demographic characteristics of the veterans experiencing homelessness.
The report found that veteran homelessness in 2010 changed only slightly from 2009. The one-day estimate, called a Point-in-Time count, increased by 1 percent, from 75,609 homeless veterans on a single night in 2009 to 76,329 homeless veterans on a single night in 2010. The one-year count of sheltered veterans decreased by 3 percent between 2009 and 2010, from 149,635 to 144,842.
The demographic characteristics of homeless veterans were also largely unchanged. Homeless veterans in 2010 were slightly older, slightly more likely to be white, and slightly more likely to be disabled than they were in 2009.
One aspect of this report was particularly worrisome considering the Obama Administration’s plans to bring home large numbers of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the report, young veterans (between 18 and 30) are more than twice as likely to be homeless than non-veterans, and young veterans living in poverty are almost four times as likely to be homeless as non-veterans. Veterans about to return from our current conflicts will face a difficult economy and job market and may need extra support to ensure they don’t experience poverty or homelessness as they rejoin civilian life.
Finally, while all sta... Read More »
Affordable Housing Saves on McKinney-Vento Transportation Costs
October 05, 2011
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, passed in 1987, provided children without a “fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence” some stability in the form of school.
Thanks to McKinney-Vento, children have the right to stay in their school of origin, despite the upheaval of homelessness. This means that even if kids have to move out of their original school district (because, for example, assistance is not available in that original district), students experiencing homelessness are able to continue attending their school. Because research has shown that students perform better when their school environment is stable, McKinney-Vento requires that school districts must provide transportation for the homeless student to the school of origin.
In recent recessionary years, the cost of bussing homeless students from shelter to school has been debated. States like Massachusetts have declared that they can no longer afford the cost of bussing; others have stopped paying for it outright. The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty recently released a report, “Beds Not Buses: Housing vs. Transportation for Homeless Students," arguing that a focus on housing will benefit the student and community more, while also cutting the high cost of bussing.
More specifically, the report calls for communities and schools to work together to create more affordable housing, which will prevent children from becoming homeless in the first place. The Law Center analyzed data from the Seattle area and found that “the costs to house unaccompanied homeless youth in supportive housing... Read More »
Working Poor People in the United States
September 06, 2011
It’s a week about employment.
Yesterday, the country celebrated Labor Day (the federal holiday intended to honor the economic and social contributions of workers ) and the country is awaiting President Obama’s jobs speech which is slated for this Thursday (after quite a hullaballoo).
While we’ve been plagued with worries about the high rate of unemployment for years now, we haven’t acknowledged the hurdles that poor employed people face. As New York Times contributor Paul Osterman asked in an editorial yesterday, “yes, we need jobs, but what kind?” Osterman astutely points out that despite job growth in Texas, many people are still struggling to make ends meet as the jobs that were created were low-wage and unskilled.
Late last year, the Alliance highlighted a similar point in Economy Byte: Working Poor People in the United States brief. Nearly six percent of the general working population live at or below the federal poverty line and nearly 20 percent of all poor people work. Though they might be employed, their economic fragility leaves that at elevated risk of experiencing homelessness.
Worth noting, I think, are the federal poverty levels definitions:
Persons in Family
48 Contiguous States and D.C.
Given these poverty levels, it’s no wonder that that any individual or family living at or below the federal poverty level is at risk of homelessness. With so little income, any unplanned or unexpected expense could cripple a household.
As we discussed in ... 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 »
Urban Institute: The Role of TANF During the Recession
August 18, 2011
This month, our friends at the Urban Institute released a brief on the role of TANF during the recession.
The news is not so good.
According to researchers Sheila Zedlewski, Pamela Loprest, and Erika Huber, TANF did not play a significant role in keeping families economically stable during the recession. In fact, there were many states in which the number of people enrolled in the TANF program declined (this study specifically looks at years 2007 to 2010) while unemployment rose dramatically. Of particular note is the state of Arizona, where TANF rolls declined by 48 percent while unemployment in Arizona rose by 134 percent.
The finding is curious. TANF is meant to assist poor families with cash assistance and promote self-sufficiency and work. Why then, during a time of economic turmoil and high unemployment, would poor families not take advantage of TANF benefits?
Reduced TANF use has left a number of families in dire financial situations, what the writers of the brief call “disconnected.” “Disconnected” families have no earnings of cash government assistance of any kind. The writers found that in 1996, one in eight low-income single mothers was disconnected; that jumped to one in five disconnected single mothers from 2004 to 2008.
And this is the kind of economic vulnerability that leads to homelessness.
Mainstream welfare programs, like TANF, are often a bridge for many poor people and families between homelessness and housing. Most poor people – and people who become homeless are typically poor people – have scant resou... Read More »
What’s diversion, you ask, and why do we care? Glad you asked
August 16, 2011
Today's guest post is written by Alliance Capacity Building Associate Kim Walker.
We’ve been moving forward with our development of “front door” materials (have you visited our Front Door Strategies page?), and this week we’re unveiling our new brief on shelter diversion!
What’s diversion, you ask, and why do we care? Glad you asked.
Diversion is defined by the point at which intervention occurs and the type of assistance a household is seeking. At the Alliance, we say that in order for the intervention to be diversion, the household being served must be coming to the homeless assistance system specifically seeking shelter. Target households for diversion believe they have need somewhere to stay that night.
Diversion reduces homelessness. Shelter diversion works by helping individuals and families seeking shelter find alternative housing options (such as staying with friends or family members). Diverting households, then, means fewer households will be entering homelessness. Reducing entries into homelessness is one of the stated goals of the HEARTH Act. Diverting households from shelter also can reduce the stress and disruption that shelter entry may cause in a household’s daily life. [CA1]
Diversion conserves resources. By finding other housing options for some households, communities can ensure that shelter beds are reserved for those households that literally have nowhere else to go. Successful diversion, therefore, can ease the demand for shelter beds and reduce the need for overflow shelters and hotel/motel rooms.
I... 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 »
HUD Releases AHAR – Part 2
June 15, 2011
In case you missed it, HUD released the Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress yesterday, showing that homelessness went up one percent overall from 2009 to 2010. For the major numbers, check out the post from yesterday.
Here at the Alliance, we were surprised that homelessness in the United States did not increase more significantly despite the effects of the recession. We surmise that the flat numbers, in spite of an idling economy, are a testament to improved homeless assistance systems and the adoption of housing-based strategies to end homelessness.
But we’re not out of the woods yet. Like we’ve been saying for months, budget cuts at the federal, state, and local levels could break the dam that’s been keeping increased homelessness at bay for the last couple of years.
And it’s not just budget cuts that we’re concerned about. For the first time, the impact of the federal Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) was included in the AHAR. The $1.5 billion program, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), offered communities significant new resources to curb homelessness resulting from the recession. And communities used that money - in the first year, HPRP funds prevented and ended homelessness for an estimated 690,000 people. Those funds are also credited with decreasing the length of time people stayed homeless in suburban and rural communities, where the average length of stay in an emergency family shelter declined from 62 days to 4... Read More »