Ending Homelessness Today — Uncategorized
The Federal Plan to End Homelessness: Turning Plans into Action
June 22, 2010
The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) released a new federal strategic plan geared toward preventing and ending homelessness today. And it was quite the production. Not quite presidential, but the Secretaries of the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (Shaun Donovan), Health and Human Services (Kathleen Sebelius), Labor (Hilda Solis), and Veterans Affairs (Gen. Eric Shinseki) all showed up to unveil Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness at a White House briefing this morning. And right they were to make a to-do. Opening Doors is the first comprehensive federal plan developed to prevent and end homelessness, laying out specific goals and clear timeframes. The plan even identifies the data sources (point-in-time homeless counts, to be exact) by which they’ll be measuring progress, allowing for real accountability. Opening Doors sets four major goals: Finish the job of ending chronic homelessness in five years;Prevent and end homelessness among veterans in five years;Prevent and end homelessness for families, youth, and children in ten years; andSet a path to ending all types of homelessness.(Any of this sound familiar?) And while we’re very excited at the prospect of having a federal partner to help achieve our mutual goal of ending homelessness, we know that it’s not going to be easy. We know that the process of moving from plan to action will require more than good intentions.How do we know? Because this isn’t the first time we’ve heard of a plan. In 2000, we launched the Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness. After releasing, A Plan, Not a Dream: How to End Homelessness in Ten Years, we asked communities to take the charge and develop local plans to incrementally, systematically, end homelessness in their communities.And the results were remarkable!From 2005 to 2008, we saw a ten percent decrease in the total number of homeless people in the United States. In the same timeframe, there was a nearly 20 percent decrease in homeless families and a nearly 30 percent decrease in chronic homelessness. (For the full report on progress, check out Homelessness Counts: Changes in Homelessness from 2005 to 2007.But progress didn’t come easily. To date, over 266 communities have developed their own community plans to end homelessness and those plans that have shown real progress have harnessed the political will and public support to invest real resources into the cause. Hard work, financial resources, and plenty of community investment were the keys to success. (In fact, the Alliance identified the four components critical to ensuring community plan success in this report.)So all we’re hoping is that the plan can be turned into action. Implementation is the key to progress (as Nan notes) – and if this plan is implemented well with the heft and resources of the federal government, it promises to be instrumental in ending homelessness in the United States. As a next step, federal agencies are meeting to prioritize which strategies should be implemented first and to develop implementation plans. USICH will report annually on progress toward implementation and achieving reductions in homelessness. The plan was required by the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act, which was enacted into law in May 2009. For the full, 67-page plan, check out the USICH website.... Read More »
Media 2.0 and Homelessness
June 17, 2010
Hello all! My name's Marisa, and I’m the new social media intern here at the Alliance (there's actually a LOT of new folk here this summer - but more about us later).On June 14, I was given the opportunity to attend a series of talks on social media and media in general, as part of Digital Capital Week, an event focused on technology, innovation, and all things digital in Washington DC.I was sent because, as the Alliance has noted on this blog before, the use of social media tools in poverty and homeless assistance organizations continues to drag behind as compared to other movements.So we're studying up! In a discussion about the use of social media tools in news organizations - “Social and Traditional Media: How News and Media Organizations Are Getting Social and Why They Need to Do It” – panelists were all quick to agree that there is no longer an “if” as to whether businesses and organizations should use social media. Andy Carvin, who works for NPR, noted how people have been “social” with the organization for years, even since the late 1970s when people would send self-created audio files to local stations. Today’s social media platforms - including Facebook and Twitter - are only newer, faster ways for an audience to interact with organizations.The panelists also agreed that the beauty of social media is that it acknowledges the power of the people. According to Carv... Read More »
A Peek Inside Fairfax, VA
June 01, 2010
Last week there was a blog post in the Washington Post about Fairfax County, VA and the great work they’re doing using HPRP funds to prevent homelessness. To date, over 600 people have evaded homelessness in Fairfax.The success in Fairfax County prompted some curiosity and excitement about the work being done there. As a member of the Capacity Building Center at the Alliance, I’ve worked in Fairfax County to support their community leaders’ efforts to achieve this great success. For the last 18 months, the Alliance has worked to help the County transform their homeless assistance system into a Housing First/Rapid Re-housing model that focuses on housing-oriented strategies. Fairfax County covers 395 square miles and has a population of over one million residents. With an Annual Median Income (AMI) of over $100,000, you might think that homelessness wouldn’t be a huge issue for the county – but high rental prices and low vacancy rates make the house-hunt hard for low-income families.At the last point-in-time count, conducted on January 27, 2010, there were 1,544 people experiencing homelessness. Luckily, the County’s taking action. In 2007, the County approved the proposed Ten Year Plan to end homelessness; an implementation plan was completed in March 2008. The plan called for the creation of the Office to Prevent and End Homelessness and has since formed a Governing Board responsible for overseeing the progress towards the goal of ending homelessness by the end of 2018. Ten task groups of dedicated stakeholder... Read More »
A Transforming Time: Rapid Re-Housing in Salt Lake City
May 25, 2010
Today's guest blog post is from our partners at the Road Home in Salt Lake City. Thanks to Donor Coordinator Jacqueline Jensen for contributing! It is a transforming time for our agency and the services we provide. After many years without the tools to really help families end homelessness, we are finally seeing the resources needed to end homelessness. (The Road Home in Salt Lake City -operating the largest homeless shelter in Utah as well as an extensive transitional and permanent housing program.) The Road Home has recently partnered with the State of Utah, Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County to utilize federal stimulus dollars to rapidly re-house families.With the flexibility allowed by the funds, our Rapid Re-Housing program is designed to give families a jump start. Funding allows payments for utility debts, deposits and rental assistance as well as a strong case management component. We have seen that once in housing, families rarely need to return to emergency shelter ever again. The Road Home recently assisted a young single mother who had been living in the family winter shelter facility. She was able to move out with the assistance of the Rapid Rehousing Program. She and her three children found a nice apartment in West Valley City. Soon after moving, the mother found a job at a grocery store. Recently, she was promoted to be a manager there and has increased her income enough to afford her... Read More »
Are you out there?? Help us find you…online!
May 17, 2010
You’ve been asked before – and no doubt you’ll be asked again. Yes, the Alliance is asking you to participate in an online survey. (We’ve gone to great lengths to try and ensure it’s as quick and painless as possible – I promise.)Here’s the thing: like all nonprofits navigating our way through an increasingly social, online world, we’re trying to figure out where you’re finding us online – and then move in that direction. Like I mentioned in last week’s post about social media in the homeless assistance field, we’ve been trying to make the best use of these great new online tools. Our own personal social media journey has been a pretty rewarding one. We launched social networks in June 2009 and with our one-year anniversary around the corner and a slowly-but-surely-growing audience of supporters, friends, and colleagues, we want to make sure that we’re meeting your needs and expectations. What do you want to hear from us? What do you find most helpful, least helpful? Where do you connect with us – and what forum is most useful for you? Where do you see the Alliance in the homeless assistance field? How do we fit into your efforts?These are all important questions – questions that will undoubtedly inform the way we do our work. And only you can help us find the answers. So please, take a moment to fill out our social media survey. It shoul... Read More »
What's the deal with social media in the homeless assistance field?
May 13, 2010
One of my responsibilities at the Alliance is to manage our social networks, and in the era of furious blogging and even more frenetic tweeting, it can get chaotic. Often times, I find the need to stop, take a breath, and evaluate exactly how all this social media frenzy contributes to the Alliance’s goals and mission.Which isn’t to say I don’t see the value in the mediums. I’m the lucky product of a world full of information technology and social media tools. I grew up with high-speed internet at my fingertips and an iPod on my hip; I was an early adopter of Facebook and yes, I have my very own Twitter account. And while I would hardly call myself a pusher or an expert, I do truly believe in the potential of social media tools to cultivate change, progress, and conversation.It's is why I’m so excited to be doing it in this field. While nonprofits are often slightly behind the curve to pick up new technologies, it’s been my personal experience that my own field has been particularly slow to adopt new media platforms. At this years Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), I found a small cohort of colleagues in the homeless assistance and housing field to swap stories with – and a major theme of those stories is our missing presence among nonprofits utilizing these new tools.And many of us are.At NTC, I too... Read More »
Guest Blog: Shelter Partnership launches a brand new blog!
March 25, 2010
We're happy to share the latest addition to the homelessness blogosphere. Today's guest post is by Dhakshike Wickrema at Shelter Partnership. In an attempt to expand our role as a community resource on homelessness in LA County, Shelter Partnership just started a new blog! We hope that it will get the word out to those looking to learn more about homelessness policy and programs in LA County and City. Our goal is to inform not only the general public, but also homeless service providers and public agency staff so that they can stay abreast of important policy decisions and programmatic changes that may affect their clients.Thus far we have covered topics such as the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, LA County’s initiative to provide rental subsidies to 10,000 recipients of General Relief (Assistance) and a program that links homeless older adults to subsidized housing. The contributors to our blog will include Ruth Schwartz, our Executive Director, and the planning/technical assistance staff, Nicky Viola, Steve Renahan and Dhakshike Wickrema. Established in 1985, Shelter Partnership is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to alleviating, preventing and ending homelessness in Los Angeles County. We carry out our mission in several ways: providing policy and planning advice and technical assistance to community-based organizations and public agencies and conducting research and publishing analytical studies to inform public policy regarding homelessness. We also operate a warehouse where large-scale donations of merchandise are stored and redistributed t... Read More »
Counting Homelessness - the 2010 point-in-time counts
January 26, 2010
Hello! I’m Caroline Wagner, and I’m the newest addition to the Alliance staff - Nan Roman’s new assistant. This is my very first blogpost – and it’s about something that I’ve been interested in since I started working in the housing and homelessness field. As anyone on the Alliance staff will tell you, accurate, comprehensive data about homelessness is both critical to creating effective policy and hard to come by. And one of the most reliable, most regular pieces of data mandated nationally is the January point-in-time counts. In the last week of January – read: this week – communities across the country conduct a count to gauge the number of people experiencing homelessness in their area. This information, mandated every other year by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is a prerequisite to receiving homeless assistance funding. Counts data is aggregated and analyzed by HUD and local governments across the country. The Department releases a national report of their findings based on these counts in late summer. So the question plaguing me was this: how exactly are these extensive, seemingly impossible counts conducted? The answer is surprisingly simple. It’s a lot like you’d expect – heavy legwork by community officials, local leaders, and service providers. Volunteers comb sidewalks, shelters, and soup kitchens counting each and every person experiencing homelessness. For many larger cities, methodology gets even more sophisticated in an effort to ensure accuracy. Los Angeles, Californ... Read More »
Guest Blog: Perla Ni, GreatNonprofits
December 08, 2009
This morning, we’re thrilled to host Perla Ni, former publisher of the the Stanford Social Innovation Review and founder of GreatNonprofits on our blog! She’s writes today about our partnership to promote awareness of great organizations benefiting the poor and homeless. A Proud PartnershipGreatNonprofits and the National Alliance to End Homelessness Team Up for Hunger and Homelessness AwarenessWhen Hurricane Katrina hit, I was the publisher of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and we wanted to write a story about how nonprofits were helping the victims. Even though we had access to far more information than the ordinary donor or volunteer, we found it difficult to find out which nonprofits were doing a good job of helping those in need.We only started to get a clearer understanding of which nonprofits were actually rising to the challenge when our former managing editor, David Weir, flew out to Biloxi, Miss., and walked up and down the streets, asking people which nonprofits had been out there helping them. The locals told him about several excellent small, local nonprofits that provided supplies and help. One guy told him how he had broken his leg and had been living in his car until volunteers from a local nonprofit came and found him and took him to the doctor. The local nonprofit in that case was unknown to the larger world and received little public attention or funding. .It struck me, as I struggled pro... Read More »
Steve Berg on invisibletv!
August 31, 2009
Earlier this morning, Mark Horvath came over to interview Alliance VP Steve Berg on the landscape of homelessness.
In a short conversation (maybe about 15 minutes), the two discuss the recession, housing, and the future of homelessness - both best and worst case scenarios.
If you missed the live broadcast, you can watch it here! Please let me know if you have any reactions, questions or thoughts!
... Read More »
We're on Facebook!
August 18, 2009
After holding out - for months! - I've succumbed to the awesome power of Facebook.
As you can see, we're brand new to the site and we need your support! Please use the link below to become a fan of our organization on Facebook, and get updates on new homelessness research, legislation, and Alliance activities!
Thanks all for your continued support!
National Alliance to End Homelessness on Facebook... Read More »
ADVICE: Podcast Idea - Social Innovation
August 17, 2009
Happy Monday, all!
We here in the research arm of the Alliance are kicking around an idea for a podcast series.
We're thinking about profiling social innovation leaders in the homelessness field. Recipients of social innovation awards, or just organizations and community heavyweights who are leading the charge in looking at homelessness in a new and different way.
Would you guys be interested in something like that?
And would you prefer it live (calling into an audio conference) or would you prefer it taped (posted to our website with maybe some materials)?
Please let me know! I'll hold out for about a week for feedback!
Catherine... Read More »
the view from: Los Angeles, California
July 14, 2009
The Alliance is probably best known as a federal policy shop, but that’s not all we do here. Nope – we’re a multi-talented organization!
While I may be partial to my native Homelessness Research Institute, we also have a department called the Center for Capacity Building. That’s our field team – the great folks who go out into the field and work directly with communities and local officials to help turn great policy into effective programs and best practices.
Just last week, the Director of the Center for Capacity Building – our own Damien Heath – flew to sunny L.A. to provide technical support to some service providers in southern California. Hosted by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Damien gave a couple workshops on rapid re-housing.
The idea behind rapid re-housing is fairly simple, and it’s borne out of the Housing First model. Basically, we recommend that people experiencing homelessness be housed as quickly as possible – the principle being that providing housing first (get it? Housing First?), and then providing other services as needed, is the best way to reduce and end homelessness in the long run. (For a more comprehensive analysis on Housing First and rapid re-housing, you can always visit our website.
FYI: That’s not how we approach homelessness in America today. Our homeless systems today are focused on managing homelessness through shelters and soup kitchens – not ending homelessness through strategic, systematic means like permanent housing and... Read More »