Ending Homelessness Today — TANF
Friday News Round Up: Where Do We Go From Here?
July 16, 2010
In the policy realm, PETRA (Preservation, Enhancement and Transformation of Rental Assistance Act) has been rapidly introduced and pushed into Congress, with mixed support. TANF, though, is still being praised, but the effort to have it extended is ever in need of support. (So show yours by calling your members of Congress!)
Many people still struggle with high rates of homelessness, particularly female veterans. However many programs that have been underway for years in places like Washington, D.C. are proving to be effective at reducing and ending hoemlessness.
Also, the Washington Post is doing it’s part to change the ways Americans see homelessness. Last week, the Post published an article entitled “Five Myths About America’s Homeless”, which was written by our Research Council co-chair Dennis Culhane. The acclaimed scholars refuted some of the major misconceptions about homelessness – and people experiencing homelessness, shedding light on the realities of the experience – and the solutions to the social problem.
Lastly, with our conference this week and all the great new federal efforts supporting the fight to end homelessness, one has to wonder, where do we go from here? Our President Nan Roman offers her view.... Read More »
Friday News Round Up: Newsflash – We need TANF!
July 09, 2010
This week we’ve seen a lot of love for TANF. We have talked about it a lot, and this week CNN Money and the New York Times both noted how important the program is, and why it’s important to keep it funded. LaDonna Pavetti from the Center on Budget on Policy Priorities also offered her perspective for the continuation of the program.
CNN also put out an interesting piece this week about a group of homeless teens, which helped illustrate the hardships homeless youths experience. (In case you missed it: we talked about homeless youths just yesterday.)
Out of Austin, TX we are unfortunately seeing more of one of the main causes of homelessness: a lack of affordable housing. However, in Western Massachusetts and Asheville, NC, programs intended to reduce homelessness are proving effective.
Finally, the new federal plan is still a hot topic, and many critical reviews of the plan are circulating around.
And there’s no doubt that the plan is exactly what Secretary Donovan will be discussing during his keynote speech at our own – you got it – Annual Conference! Next time we blog, we’ll be live-blogging from the Hyatt!... Read More »
Examining the Federal Plan: Objective 10 – Crisis Response Systems
July 01, 2010
And we’re back!
The Alliance is examining all ten goals of Opening Doors, the federal strategic plan to end homelessness. You may remember that we took a closer look at Goal 8 – Ending Youth Homelessness a bit back.
As the Alliance’s new media intern, I’m really excited to be writing this series, because every time I examine one of these goals, I get to learn about a new aspect of homelessness and solutions to homelessness (and really, that’s what the Alliance is all about).
This week we’ll be looking at Objective 10: “Transform homeless services to crisis response systems that prevent homelessness and rapidly return people who experience homelessness to stable housing.”
To learn more about this objective, I talked to Norm Suchar, our new (!) Director of the Center for Capacity Building (formerly senior policy analyst at the Alliance).
The first thing I tried to wrap my head around was what this objective meant, and why it was part of the federal plan.
Right now, the “crisis response system” in place is shelters. When someone encounters an event that creates a situation where they can no longer afford housing, the first response is to put them in a shelter.
This shelter system, however, is not effective if we are to eradicate homelessness. The crisis response system for homelessness needs to be transformed, so that when someone enters a crisis situation and that person’s housing needs are addressed, we turn to... Read More »
What Happened to the Tax Extenders Bill?
June 29, 2010
The Alliance blog has talked before about what is formally known as the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act (HR 4213), but is often called the “tax extenders bill”.
The bill would include funding for a number of programs, but there are two that interest us: the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF) and the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF).
The TANF ECF is this extra pool of money helped TANF support more families during the recession and we were looking to have it renewed so that more support would be available. For more information about the TANF ECF (and family homelessness!) check out yesterday’s blogpost.
The second is the NHTF, a program created under President Bush to create affordable housing. Unfortunately, when the program was created, no money was allocated to it (it’s pretty hard to develop affordable housing with no money, FYI). The tax extenders bill would fund (we call that “capitalize”) NHTF – and more affordable housing means fewer people experiencing homelessness.
Unfortunately, last Thursday, June 24th, the House-approved bill was shut down in the Senate, with a 57 to 41 vote (60 votes were needed to pass it). Republicans and some others claimed to have withheld support because portions of the bill remained unfunded. No timeline was set as to when the tax extenders bill would be picked back up.
All in all, this means that we don’t know if the programs we mentioned will be receiving funding or if these pro... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Welcome new Alliance staff!
May 21, 2010
We're welcoming two new staff members at the Alliance this week: Kim Walker is our new Capacity Building Associate and Kate Seif is our new Assistant to the President. We're excited to have their experience and enthusiasm in our office!We had a visit this week from Sarah, John and James, three intrepid college students from North Carolina who are biking across the country to research Housing First initiatives and raise money for housing in their own community. We'll be following them on their blog - and you should too. We're still waiting on the Federal Plan to End Homelessness, but in the meantime, check out the Homeless Law blog's post "Five Reasons I'm Looking Forward to the Federal Plan.The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities sets the record straight about the Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund, in response to claims on the YouCut website. (Pssst: The Emergency Contingency Fund is part of HR 4123, which is being discussed in the House today. if you haven't called your Members of Congress about HR4123, do it now!)We've mentioned Street Roots' photo project, where they asked their vendors what matters most and this week, they posted this cool word cloud. What jumps out at you? Love this editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune about how to end homelessness. They're speaking our language:How do you eliminate chronic homelessness? The problem seems so complex that the obvious solution... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: talking TANF and Ten Year Plans
May 07, 2010
It's been another seriously busy week at the Alliance. Not only did we recognize the formation of the new Congressional Caucus on Homelessness and launch a brand-new website, we also put out the latest Community Snapshot, which highlights the progress in Alameda County, CA. They've reduced homelessness by 15% since 2003. Find out how they did it here.This week on the Change.org End Homelessness blog, blogger Jessica Rowshandel also discussed news about the Congressional Caucus on Homelessness briefing. Plus, they featured a post by our very own Catherine An! On Off the Charts, the Center on Budget names yet another reason for Congress to extend the Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund: it's helping create jobs for more than 180,000 people across the U.S. That's in addition to preventing families from ending up homeless by providing income and short-term rent assistance. (Read our latest on the Emergency Contingency Fund here. The Center for American Progress was also talking TANF this week - check out what they have to say about changing TANF asset tests. And let's end on some good news: Memphis, a city where 1600 people experience homelessness each night, just announced that they've created a Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness. Hats off to Memphis! Plus, Cape Cod's Point in Time Count showed a 10% decrease in the number of people experiencing homelessness.... Read More »
Foster Children: Youth Homelessness and Housing
September 10, 2009
Today, I had the opportunity to attend a meeting addressing housing and homelessness issues for foster children and youth. Hosted by the National Foster Care Coalition (NFCC), this meeting brought together advocates, policymakers, government officials, and other interested parties in addressing the issue of foster children.
According to the NFCC, there are nearly half a million children and youth in foster care - and of those, over 26,000 age out of the foster care program without ever having joined a permanent family. Studies have demonstrated that these youth - who never experience the benefits of permanent housing and support - often are more likely to experience negative outcomes, including poverty, homelessness, incarceration, as well as mental and physical illness. They often never learn the life and educational skills necessary to live successful, independent lives.
Luckily, there are actions that we can take to help these foster care children, and increase the odds that they will become productive, active members of society. The NFCC presented a housing policy platform for foster care children, which include the following (these are just a selection among a longer list):
Increase the legal and financial incentive to providing foster placement prevention services, including housing.
Require federally-mandated child welfare planning/plans to integrate housing goals.
Provide federal incentives for states to extend foster care [services] until 21, if needed.
Change TANF to support minor parents in their efforts to find housing for themselves and their children.
As an... Read More »
Guest Blog: On the Ground Notes, Community Lodgings (Alexandria, VA)
September 03, 2009
In the fight against homelessness, there are a number of solutions and ideas. So far, we as a country have embraced homelessness management – and constructed a series of shelters and assistance programs that do benefit the lives of the homeless but does little else to lift them out of homelessness in a more effective and permanent way.
The Alliance supports a different approach – one based on permanent housing as a solution to homelessness.
In between the two is the concept of transitional housing – a temporary situation that can aid individuals and family who are suffering a short-term crisis. Here’s a story from Bonnie Baxley, Executive Director at Community Lodgings. Inc., a transitional housing program in Alexandria, Virginia.
All families who enter Community Lodgings’ Transitional Housing Program are homeless and most are referred to us by local temporary shelters. Each of our families has their own unique story usually revolving around themes that are all too familiar: addiction, domestic violence and a lack of education.
Recently, we welcomed a new family to our program. J.D., a single mother, and her 5-month old son exemplify the constant struggle that characterizes homelessness. Still, they continue to overcome seemingly incomprehensible problems through support from our caseworkers and their own enduring hope and perseverance.
A 31-year old single mother, J.D., was referred to Community Lodgings from a local homeless shelter. She entered our two-year program with a history of incarceration and substance abuse as ... Read More »
Ten Things You Need to Know to End Homelessnessc
August 13, 2009
Okay, I'm a little excited! Yesterday, our friends at The Nation published an editorial we wrote for the "Ten Things" series. You can access the article, "Ten Things You Need to Know to End Homelessness," on the Nation website but - if you're feeling lazy - you can just read it below!
Ten Things You Need to Know to End Homelessness
In July 2009, The Nation published a "Ten Things" piece titled "Ten Things You Need to Know to Live on the Streets." The provocative and thoughtful piece elicited quite a response. We, however, respectfully disagree with the premise of the piece. Before submitting to the idea that there are things you need to know to live on the streets, we suggest that you consider whether living on the streets is necessary at all.
We're no strangers to the issue of homelessness--rather, we're quite well-versed in the subject. Homelessness, as we know it, began in the 1980s and has persisted through the decades. Some see it as an inevitable byproduct of a diminishing affordable housing supply, a lack of well-paying jobs, tumult in the economic sector, and both globalization and urbanization. Many see it as an unavoidable social nuisance. Some don't see it at all. But here, at the National Alliance to End Homelessness, we see it as a problem with a solution.
The causes of homelessness are many and complex--but the solution to homelessness heads toward one straight goal: housing.
... Read More »