Ending Homelessness Today — Publications
How Coordinated Entry Works
May 25, 2011
Today's post comes to us from Kim Walker, capacity building associate at the Alliance.
The Center for Capacity Building just released our paper on developing a coordinated intake system for homeless families!
We’re so excited because we’ve gotten so many requests for more information on this approach from participants in our HEARTH Academies and other providers across the country. (Need a refresher on what coordinated entry is? Check out this blog post from Norm from a few months back.)
So, what kinds of things do we cover in this paper? Answers to questions like:
What are the different types of coordinated entry models?
How are other communities doing coordinated entry?
What changes will my system have to make in order to adopt coordinated entry?
How will I be able to tell if our coordinated entry system is functioning properly?
Not enough coordinated entry content for you?
Lucky for you, we have two webinars on coordinated entry in June.
On June 9 at 2 p.m. ET, we’ll host a webinar with Joyce Probst MacAlpine from Dayton/Montgomery County, OH, who just completed a six-month review of their brand new coordinated intake process. You can register for that webinar here.
Toward the end of June (date and time TBD), we will highlight the coordinated entry model in Columbus, OH and provide insight into their systems for singles and for families.
Still not enough? No worries – we’ll be rolling out more and more “front door” related materials, including papers and interactive tools, as the summer goes on, including resources on prevention targeting and diversion (which we know are also hot topics out there in the field).
We hope, as with everything else we do, that you find the materials we provide useful to you in your daily work. If you have any questions about anything, please feel free to contact the Center for Capacity Building at email@example.com.... Read More »
Examining the Family Self-Sufficiency Program
May 03, 2011
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently released the second study of a three-part series evaluating the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program. FSS is a program meant to help residents of public housing who are also participants in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program – sometimes called the Section 8 Program - become self-sufficient.
The current study examined programmatic features and family characteristics that appear to influence the success of families participating in FSS.
An FSS program basically works like this:
You are a family using a Section 8 voucher. This means that you pay 30 percent of your monthly income toward your rent; the federal government kicks in whatever else you need.
The FSS program you’re in helps you gain the skills to make more money through supportive services and case management.
As you make more money, instead of contributing the any additional income toward rent (up to 1/3 of your monthly income), the FSS program puts that money in an interest-earning escrow account.
When you graduate from the FSS program, you get all that savings.
There are caveats, of course.
All families volunteering for the FSS program have to sign a 5- year Contract of Participation (COP) which basically stipulates that they will engage in the program, follow all the rules, take all the steps, etc.
People who exit the program before graduating forfeit the savings in their escrow account.
So at the end of the 4-year study period:
41 participants (or 24 per... Read More »
What Will We Do About Affordable Rental Housing?
April 27, 2011
Today's guest post comes to us from Pete Witte, research associate at the Alliance.
I wasn’t surprised while reading the recent report, America’s Rental Housing: Meeting Challenges, Building on Opportunities, by the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) of Harvard University. Among other things, the paper points out that there is a substantial—and growing—gap between the number of very low-income renters and available affordable rental units. But though the report is unsurprising, it’s disconcerting nonetheless.
In the State of Homelessness, we found that from 2008 to 2009, the number of poor, severely housing cost burdened renter households increased by 9 percent to nearly 5.9 million households nationally (severe housing cost burden = households paying 50 percent of their monthly income or more on rent). Families are finding it difficult to afford rents and the recent JCHS paper points out that, in part, rents are rising due to a lack of supply and increasing demand.
These factors reveal that there are more and more people at increased risk of homelessness When households pay such a great majority of their monthly income on rent (50 percent or more, in the case of severely housing cost burdened households), they have little money left over for other expenses, including transportation, healthcare, education, and food. The scarcity of resources means that that any unforeseen financial hurdle – a large bill, car breakdown, hospitalization – could jeopardize the household’s housing situation.
The JCHS paper also predicts that “Given the long lead times n... 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 »
NLIHC: Dark Before the Storm
April 20, 2011
In The State of Homelessness report, Alliance research staff examined some of the economic indicators of homelessness, including severe housing cost burden, real income, unemployment, and foreclosure.
A report authored by the National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) – called Dark Before the Storm echoes some of the findings of The State of Homelessness report, specifically as it pertains to severe housing cost burden.
Using the Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS) data, made available by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), researchers at the NLIHC examine housing affordability for low-income (LI), very low-income (VLI) and extremely low-income (ELI) renters. What they find is that, even before the recession began, these low income populations were experiencing a pronounced shortage of affordable housing only exacerbated by the recession.
Some of the report’s key findings:
63 percent of ELI renters and 28 percent of VLI renters paid more than half their monthly income on rent and utilities (paying more than half of monthly income on rent is characterized as “severe housing cost burden”).
In ten states, 65 percent or more of ELI renters experienced severe housing cost burden.
The West was the most difficult region for ELI renters to find affordable housing; 10 of the 13 states in the West had fewer than 35 affordable and available units for every 100 ELI renter households.
The report also suggests that housing affordability problems climbed the income ladder in the years before the recession, affecting VLI and low-income households at high... Read More »
The Center for Housing Policy: Should I Stay or Should I Go?
April 19, 2011
A recent report commissioned by the Center for Housing Policy finds that low-income families move much more frequently than the general population. These moves often have to do with the family’s financial status, caused by foreclosure and eviction, among other catalysts.
The report specifically investigates the ways that such mobility impacts children in these families. It finds that children in “hyper-mobile families” – families that move very often – experience negative outcomes including high absenteeism from schools, neighborhood problems, and lower educational development.
Among the conclusions drawn in report is the importance of affordable housing for children and families. Access to affordable housing can reduce the incidence of housing mobility and, in turn, foster housing stability and developmental growth for children.
This report is the first in a series to be release by the National Housing Conference and the Center for Housing Policy.
... Read More »
Community-based health providers preventing and ending homelessness
March 28, 2011
Today's post comes from Alliance policy analyst, Lisa Stand.
A new report from the National Association of Community Health Centers discusses the crucial role community-based health providers play in efforts to end homelessness and relieve its effects on health and quality of life.
Community agencies that work with people experiencing homelessness are probably most familiar with the specialized Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) clinics, which last year served more than 800,000 people experiencing homelessness nationwide, through 208 separate projects. In addition, permanent supportive housing (PSH) programs are often connected in one way or another to a community health clinic, assuring a source of primary care for PSH residents and adding to housing stability.
While community health is financed in a variety of ways, federal funding is paramount, through Medicaid and grants to Federally-Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), to name a few federal sources. According to the NACHC report, “health centers operate in more than 8,000 locations and serve 23 million patients.” Access to community health care services helps make the business case for PSH, and health centers anchor local safety nets to help prevent homelessness.
The report, “Community Health Centers: The Local Prescription for Better Quality and Lower Costs,” was released last week, as a couple thousand advocates for community health centers gathered in Washington to help Congress understand their vital role in communities across the country.
Are you interested in learning more about how health care reform can help end homelessness? Email us and check o... Read More »
A Remarkably Simple Solution to Eviction Prevention
March 16, 2011
Last week the Alliance released a series of profiles focusing on eviction prevention strategies. Specifically, this series examined evictions from public housing units and focused on the successful work of the Tri-City area of Massachusetts; King County, Washington; and Cleveland, Ohio.
Research has shown that a housing subsidy is the single most effective tool in preventing homelessness because it makes market-rate housing affordable. All too often these subsidies are lost through an eviction and it becomes extremely difficult for a household to find affordable housing, thereby placing them at a heightened and totally preventable risk of homelessness.
While public housing authorities (PHA) and direct service providers may not always see eye-to-eye, these partnerships have proven to be very successful and have become the foundation for a richer and more sustained relationship between the organizations.
As it turns out it isremarkably simple to prevent evictions for most households. Assistance with paperwork or one-time cash assistance was generally all that was needed. That is because in many communities, evictions occur due to incomplete paperwork and/or failure to pay rent on time (the latter is often caused by some life change – loss of job, family conflict, etc.).
Our Eviction Prevention series highlights three communities that made these strategies work:
In Massachusetts, the Malden Housing Authority partnered with the nonprofit Housing Families, Inc. to provide interventions to tenants who were behind on rent payments and had received an eviction warning notice. Interventions included one-time... Read More »
How Health Care Reform Will Affect Homeless or At-Risk Populations
February 28, 2011
If you are not sure how the new health care law will help end homelessness, you are not alone.
Only time will tell – and it may be a long time. That’s because some of the biggest changes do not take effect until 2014. And even then, so much depends on decisions to be made in Washington, DC and in each state – before and after 2014.
In the meantime, advocates and housing providers can help shape the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a strong part of housing strategies – especially for chronically homeless individuals. As the ACA is implemented, the Alliance will offer tools, suggestions, and information for communities to make the most of new opportunities. We will also host webinars, post issue briefs, write fact sheets, and ask you what’s happening in your neck of the woods, and – more importantly - what you need to bridge access to housing with access to health care.
For starters, consider these two factoids:
the ACA will extend Medicaid to an additional 16 million people nationwide;
the ACA encourages states to increase access to services and supports, promoting independent living in communities.
If you begin to view your housing strategies in light of these two touchstones of health reform, you are on your way to joining implementation efforts in your state. Next, organize your resources to get in the conversations about the ACA – provide a unique housing-oriented perspective, and ensure access to specific information about implementation in your state... Read More »
Economy Byte: Working Poor at Higher Risk for Homelessness
December 08, 2010
Brief on the working poor
Interactive state-by-state map
Newsflash: the working poor are having an especially tough time in this recession.
Shocked yet? Probably not.
But the picture is more textured and nuanced than you might imagine.
For the second installment of our “Economy Bytes” series, the Alliance’s Homelessness Research Institute focused on a population that is struggling to weather the “Great Recession” – the working poor.
In short, we found that the working poor population is more likely to experience risk factors for homelessness than the general working population. And a lot of that is because they’ve been disproportionately affected by elements of this recession.
What do we mean? Okay, so we looked at three elements: severe housing cost burden, doubled up housing situations, and income.
And we found that – although people from different income brackets experience severe housing cost burden, doubled up housing situation, and reduced income – the working poor are more likely to experience these factors and experience them more acutely.
Severe housing cost burden: In 2008, 37.6 percent of the working poor population spent more than 50 percent of their monthly income on rent compared to just 3.8 percent of the general working population.
Doubled up: In 2008, an estimated 7.8 percent of the working poor population was doubled up with family or friends as compared to less than 6.5 percent of the general working population.
Income/workforce: On average, the working poor population works 46.2 weeks per year compared to the general working populatio... Read More »
Check out the Alliance's Columbus Model
November 30, 2010
The Alliance just put out a huge (seriously, it’s hefty) toolkit – what we’re calling the Columbus Model.
So here's the thing: Columbus, OH is really good at ending homelessness. Really, they've done all the right things: focused on prevention, implemented rapid re-housing techniques, encouraged excellent data collecting - all the things that make a program measurably successful. They're so good, in fact, that we published a community snapshot on their 46 percent decrease in homelessness a few years ago.
And they're still at it! With laser-focus on performance measurement and performance evaluation of both their community-wide homeless assistance system and their individual programs, Columbus has managed to really focus on improving assistance and reducing homelessness.
Lucky for you, we've distilled the lessons learned in this community and we're sharing them with you so that you can implement them in yours! Our four-part profile of the Columbus Model includes:
Becoming a Data Driven System,
Performance Measurement and Evaluation,
Quality Improvment, and
We've also included tools and samples that you can download and adapt for your own community.
Why do you care? You care because next year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is going to get serious about the outcomes laid out in the HEARTH Act (that's the reauthorization of the McKinney Vento Grants) - and communities everywhere are going to have to shape up to meet those outcomes. One of the great things about the Columbus Model... 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 »
The 10 Best Things on Our Website
October 20, 2010
So after tipping my hat to the 100,000 Homes Campaign for featuring our interactive tools and maps on their (awesome!) blog, I did a little tooling around to remind myself of other really useful tools on our very own website!
The Alliance has, for almost 30 years, lead the campaign to end homelessness in the United States. And over the decades, we’ve accumulated the data, best practices, and effective strategies necessary to end homelessness.
And we’re hoping to share them with you!
After checking out our most visited pages and most popular tools, we’ve compiled a list of ten things - links, pages, reports – you need in order to end homelessness in your community (read: really great tools and info). And, just for good measure, I've tossed in a couple not-so-popular but ever-so-useful links as well.
The About Homelessness section.
This section gives you a broad snapshot of homelessness at the national level and includes sections and information on different demographics, the cost of homelessness, and maps produced by the Homelessness Research Institute(HRI).
The Interactive Tools and Solutions section.
HRI produces a number of charts, tools, and maps to help you better understand homelessness. Some of the more recent tools illustrate the number of doubled-up households in the United States, HPRP spending per household in the cities we’re tracking, and reductions in point-in-time counts necessary to meet the goals outlined in the federal strategic plan to end homel... Read More »
Quarterly HPRP Report: Part 3
September 21, 2010
A while back, the Alliance released the third Quarterly Leadership Council HPRP Report.
This report – like the two before it - illustrates how 13 cities across the nation are implementing the HPRP. Data from the following cities are included in this quarterly report:
Chicago, ILColumbus and Franklin County, OHDenver, COLos Angeles, CAMiami-Dade, FLMinneapolis and Hennepin County, MNNew Orleans, LANew York, NYPhiladelphia, PAPortland, ORSan Francisco, CASeattle and King County, WAWashington, DC.
Overall, the cities have spent $28.4 million (through June 2010) on homelessness prevention for 57,220 people at risk of homelessness and $12.5 million to rapidly re-house 35,135 people experiencing homelessness.
Of the over 92,000 people have been served by rapid re-housing and prevention programs in the Leadership Council cities, 45,205 people have exited to permanent housing. This includes at least 18,033 who have exited from prevention programs and at least 27,172 who exited from rapid re-housing programs.
The report highlights spending by strategy (prevention and rapid re-housing), by categories of those strategies (financial assistance, case management, outreach and engagement, motel vouchers, rental assistance, etc.), and by city. Both Washington, DC and Miami, FL have spent almost 75 percent of their prevention allocations. Minneapolis and Los Angeles are unique among the cities in having served more persons with rapid re-housing resources than with prevention resources.
You can read the entirety of the two-page report online. There, you can also access the first and second quarterly HPRP reports.
The Alliance has done a great deal of work around the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid R... Read More »
Examining the Federal Plan: Objective 6 – Mainstream Programs
August 12, 2010
Today I have another installment of our series “Examining the Federal Plan”. In this series, we look at the ten objectives of the new federal plan to end homelessness Opening Doors.
We’re looking at Objective 6: Improve access to mainstream programs and services to reduce people’s financial vulnerability to homelessness.
To learn more about this objective, I turned to Sharon McDonald, Senior Policy Analyst at the Alliance (who will be writing about rapid re-housing as a way to relieve growing shelter populations tomorrow – stay tuned!) .
The first thing I wanted to know was what was meant by “mainstream programs”.
Mainstream programs are those not specifically designed to aid the homeless population or to tackle homelessness issues, but the bigger programs that can help people before they become homeless (and after, if need be), such as those that deal with jobs or income. We’re talking about things like Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Unemployment Insurance (UI), and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), which is currently in real danger (we did a whole WEEK of posts about saving TANF.)
These programs are meant to reach large portions of the population with lower incomes. These programs are the first lines of defense for preventing people from becoming homeless by providing cash assistance, job placement aid, and other critical services.
The federal plan aims to improve access to these programs. If these mainstream programs could serve more people, we could stop homelessness before it start... Read More »
Thoughts on the 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report
June 16, 2010
Big, big news. (It’s been a big news week).Aside from the now-announced but still-anticipated release of the federal strategic plan to end homelessness – called Opening Doors - there’s even more news to digest!Today, the Department of Housing and Urban Development released the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR).And it’s pretty wild.Headlining the report is the fact that homelessness is marginally down. Despite the worst recession this country has seen since the Depression, we’ve managed to avoid an increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness. That may seem like a little thing, but persistent unemployment rate and the erosion of housing affordability we talked about on Monday, it’s a pretty great thing.Among the highlight is a ten percent reduction in chronic homelessness(!!). There’s little doubt that the hard work of communities to implement housing-based strategies and prevention practices was key in that that reduction. For decades, the Alliance has lead the way analyzing research and best practices around chronic homelessness – and we’re so excited to see the results!Such speculation is only further validated by the dramatic shift in the inventory of shelters beds in the United States. For years, emergency shelter and transitional housing beds dominated the supply. This is the first year that permanent supportive housing beds have topped the charts – and we hardly think it’s a coincidence.But the news isn’t all good. As was noted this morning ... Read More »
Doubling Up: Examining the recession, homelessness, and economic indicators
May 19, 2010
How many people are homeless due to the recession? We're not sure yet. Homelessness is what we call a "lagging indicator" of a poor economy, so we still have yet to see the full impact of the economic recession on homelessness.
But that doesn’t mean the recession hasn’t had – or won’t have - an impact on homelessness. Today, the Homeless Research Institute's launches our Economy Bytes series, in which we investigate economic indicators that are associated with homelessness. The first in this series investigates doubled-up situations.
Our research shows that 5 percent more people lived in doubled up situations in 2008 than in 2005; in particular, we've seen a growing share of doubled up families.
Wait, so what's doubled up? Doubling up means that an individual or family lives with extended family, friends, and other non-relatives due to economic hardship. In this case, we define economic hardship as earning no more than 125 percent of the federal poverty level.
Not all doubled up people or families will become homeless but for many, it's a precursor. Of those people who weren't homeless before staying at a shelter, 46 percent spent the previous night at the home of a friend or family member, according to the 2008 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR).
But why do people double up? In short, people double up because they can't afford housing. They have had to choose between basic necessities like food, health care, clothing and housing, and peo... Read More »
HUD report shows increase in newly homeless, especially families
February 24, 2010
I just finished watching this audio slideshow about a homeless family living in a hotel in Wentzville, Missouri. The specificity of the images struck me: the picnic in the parking lot of the Budget Inn, the can of food pantry carrots, the parents' hands holding. But it's a story that's more and more common: a lost job, a downward spiral, desperate phone calls to service providers, kids learning to cope. In fact, according to HUD's third quarterly Homelessness Pulse Report, the number of people accessing services for the first time increased by 26% from July to September 2009. Says one homeless outreach worker from Lincoln, NE:They are the new poor, only homeless because of the economy. These are the people who at the beginning of the 2000s might have been on the edge or middle class. These are people who never thought they'd be in the position they're in today.The report is intended to assess the impact of the current economic crisis and determine how unemployment and foreclosures affect homelessness. The seven Continuums of Care that participated - including New York City, Richmond, the state of Kentucky and Lakeland, FL - represent about 12 percent of the country’s overall shelter and transitional housing capacity. In particular, HUD's data shows that like the Tranthams in Wentzville, the newly homeless tend to be families: while the total number of newly homeless people accessing services increased by 26%, the rise for newly sheltered families w... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Research on chronic homelessness, youth, vets
January 22, 2010
Organizations across the country are looking to fill their volunteer rosters for annual Point in Time counts next week. Volunteer in your area and look forward to a more detailed look at counts on this blog next week.Otherwise, a variety of interesting, important research pieces have come out this week. Here's a handful of highlights:Results of a study on youth homelessness in Oregon came out this week. While we're always glad to see data on youth homelessness, it looks like numbers of youth experiencing homelessness are increasing pretty dramatically, service providers say.A University of Birmingham professor Jeffrey Michael Clair spent two years interviewing Birmingham's chronically homeless. His conclusion? "Public policy should be oriented more toward enabling people to work and to secure a dwelling." Agreed. (Found this one through Inforumusa.)The Corporation for Supportive Housing's Richard Cho was featured on the Funders Together blog this week with research from the Frequent Users Forum. Their work shows why permanent supportive housing is a cost-effective solution to chronic homelessness: case management combined with permanent housing for those stuck in the "institutional circuit" reduces time and public money spent in hospitals, jails and shelters. The Department of Veteran's Affairs recently reported on the ways they're shifting medical systems to better serve veterans who are homeless, including integrating health care and other services, like job training and housing. Though many of the 131,000 homeless veterans in the U.S. struggle with addiction... Read More »
Data + Research: Video Fact Sheet
October 06, 2009
Apologies for the hiatus over the last week.
But today, we make it up to you by launching our very first video fact sheet.
A lot of times, we get asked this question: How many homeless people are there?
And while that may seem like a simple question to answer, it’s actually more complicated than it seems. It’s not easy to count homeless people, so there are a lot of estimates. It depends on how you define “homelessness”. It depends on the groups you’re interested in – most people think of single adult men when they picture homelessness, but there are also families and children and veterans.
There’s also different methodology – the Department of Housing and Urban Development requires that all communities count homeless persons in their area every other year, but people count in different ways, so the number should account for that.
And we get variations of the question, too. How many people are homeless in a specific community? How many people who are homeless have a serious disorder? How many people are disabled? How many are youth? How many qualify for federal assistance – and of those, who’s accessing federal assistance?
So it’s actually a pretty complicated answer – and sometimes it can be hard to understand.
But luckily for you, the director of the Homelessness Research Institute – M William Sermons – put together this great video fact sheet explaining the numbers in an easy, understandable way... Read More »