Ending Homelessness Today — Veterans
Mental Health and Military Appreciation
May 09, 2013
In our media-driven, socially-conscious era, every month has its many associations, and May is no exception. Did you know that May is National Salad Month? Neither did I. It’s also National Mental Health Awareness month and Military Appreciation Month. It’s fitting that these two issues share a month because, due to over ten years of continuous conflict, they are inextricably linked.
With a small, all-volunteer military pressed into duty for over a decade, many service members have faced multiple deployments and experienced sexual trauma, horrifying urban combat, traumatic head wounds, and they have suffered from lack of employment opportunities when they return home. All of these factors can contribute to mental health issues.
As many as 40 percent of all veterans will experience some form of mental health or trauma related symptoms as a result of their service. These are complex and often long lasting conditions that veterans will live with for many years. The Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have both struggled to come to grips with this growing problem.
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State of Homelessness 2013: Ending Veteran Homelessness
May 06, 2013
Last month, the Homelessness Research Institute here at the Alliance released our annual research report: The State of Homelessness in America. The report provides information on trends in homelessness in addition to other economic, housing and demographic factors. One of the subpopulations we examined was homeless veterans.
Between 2011 and 2012 overall homelessness among veterans decreased 7.2 percent, which is great progress, but the rate of homelessness among veterans remained higher than the rate of homelessness among the general population, at 29 homeless veterans for every 10,000 veterans in the general population.
Last week, the Alliance published a one page graphic representation of the current trends in veteran homelessness. The map on this one pager shows the one year change in veteran homelessness from 2011 to 2012 in each state. Minnesota decreased veteran homelessness by 31.2 percent, the largest percentage decrease in the country.
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Veteran Homelessness Funding in the President’s Budget
April 18, 2013
As you may have heard, the Administration has requested another historic increase in funding for homelessness assistance programs under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In the Administration’s FY2014 budget request the president’s budget proposal calls for 1.4 billion. This is a 3 percent increase over last year’s historic 33 percent funding increase. So what does this mean?
This budget reflects a strong, ongoing commitment to the goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015. It continues Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program funding at a scale necessary on both ending veteran homelessness in this timeframe and preventing future veteran homelessness. This budget also calls for an additional 10,000 HUD-Veteran Assistance Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program housing vouchers and a modest increase in VA’s Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem program.
This is what a fully funded system looks like: a full spectrum of programs and interventions to address the housing needs of homeless and at-risk veterans and their families. It would ensure permanent housing for more chronically homeless veterans, put transitional housing programs in place, and expand the rapid re-housing and prevention system.
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The State of Homelessness in America 2013: Chapter 1
April 12, 2013
This has been a busy week at the Alliance. The Homelessness Research Institute released The State of Homelessness in America 2013. This is the third installment in a series of reports that examines trends in homelessness and the economic and housing context in which those trends occur.
Today we are going to take a quick look at Chapter 1, which examines national and state level trends in homelessness. The data presented in Chapter 1 comes from Point-In-Time estimates for January 2011 and January 2012 reported to the Department of Housing and Urban Development by communities across the U.S.
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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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Homeless Assistance Grants Receive Funding INCREASE!
March 27, 2013
Last week, the House and Senate finalized a final fiscal year (FY) 2013 funding bill for all federal discretionary spending. As we read through the list of anomalies (the handful of programs that received funding increases, as opposed to the vast majority of programs that received flat funding from FY 2012), we felt mixed emotions. We were relieved and excited to see an increase for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants and beyond thrilled at the 33 percent increase homeless assistance programs within the Department of Veterans Affairs received. On the other hand, we were shocked and disappointed to see that following sequestration, many programs serving low-income populations would be taking a tremendous hit.
After a tumultuous (to say the least) year, well, 16 months, focusing on FY 2013 funding, here’s our assessment on the final funding levels and what they mean.
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One-stop-shop for homeless vets coming soon to a community near you?
March 25, 2013
Over the last year or so, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been implementing a new model, the Community Resource and Referral Center or “CRRC.” Basically, it’s a one-stop-shop for homeless and at-risk veterans, and it’s being tested in 17 urban sites across the nation. Most of these initial test sites are currently operating and more are planned for the future. So, what exactly is this new model and how does it work?
The CRRC is VA’s attempt to develop a centralized assessment of homeless veterans at the community level. The goal is to get vets connected to stable housing and supportive services. These centers assess veterans for programs and services, both within VA and community-based organizations. Besides offering housing assistance through VASH Referrals, SSVF interventions and other housing services, CRRCs also offer medical services, employment and training services, hygiene and laundry services, benefit assessment (both VA and non-VA) and much more.
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Busting Silos: the Veterans Track
February 04, 2013
Let me start off by saying that this year’s Family and Youth conference will be the best one the Alliance has put together, ever. There are a variety of factors of why this is so: record attendance (The event is already sold out), world class speakers and presenters, and, from my perspective, the coolest thing of all: a track of workshops on veteran homelessness.
That’s right. You heard me! A veterans track at a family and youth conference? How odd, you might think. Aren’t veterans are their own category, their own silo? That’s the point. We’re busting these silos – both internally as an organization, and externally as a way of doing business. We’re acknowledging the intersection of the various subpopulations that the homeless assistance field has identified. Every subpopulation includes an element of veteran homelessness. That goes for both families and youth.
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A Long Cold Night
February 01, 2013
Last night, some Alliance staff and I joined thousands of volunteers nationwide who participated this month in the 2013 Point-in-Time Count. (This year’s count was unique because Continuums of Care (CoCs) are required to report the numbers of youth aged 18 to 24 they encountered.) The purpose of the count is to reach an accurate estimate of the number of people experiencing homelessness, so that HUD can target funding for services where the need is greatest.
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SSVF Funding: Act Now
January 07, 2013
There's still funding out there, folks! And there's a great need. Just take a look at this graph, which shows the amount of funding that should be available in 2013 for Texas, New York, Florida and California under the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF ) grant program, based on the number of veterans experiencing homelessness in 2010. Compare that to the total amount of SSVF funding each state received in 2012.
This year states will need increased funding to meet the needs of veterans and their families. Thankfully there's still time for them to get it! On the first of February, the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for $300 million for the SSVF grant will close. So if you're looking for funding, apply now.
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A Look at the New Homelessness Numbers
December 18, 2012
On Monday, December 10, The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released national numbers from the January 2012 Point-In-Time (PIT) Counts, which give an estimate of the number of people sleeping in shelters and other housing for homeless people and also in places not meant for human habitation (aka “the streets”) at a single point in time. In this case, that point in time was mid-January, 2012.
Since a lot of people around the country are entering the final month of preparation for the 2013 PIT count, I want to start by saying that having these numbers every year has turned out to be extremely important. The enumeration is not perfect. But PIT Counts have become more rigorous over the years, and we believe they provide a reliable and worthwhile estimate.
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Can Veterans Fall Off the Fiscal Cliff?
December 13, 2012
As we approach the fiscal cliff, there is a common misperception that, since Congress exempted all programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from sequestration in the Budget Control Act of 2011, programs that assist low-income and homeless veterans are safe from spending cuts.
That’s not quite true.
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Veteran Homelessness Down More than 17 Percent From 2009
December 11, 2012
This week the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released some encouraging numbers on veteran homelessness. The number of the homeless veterans recorded during the January 2012 PIT count was 62,619. That's down 7.2 percent from last year’s count.
That number represents a greater than 17 percent reduction compared to 2009 levels, which means that, even though there are still lot of veterans out there who need our help, we’re making real and significant progress. That’s great news, indeed.
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Celebrating Service and Sacrifice
November 12, 2012
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year 1919, the guns stopped firing and the Great War ended. On that day, the First Armistice Day, the Allies and the Germans signed the armistice that ended “the war to end all wars.”
It wasn’t until the second global war that we started assigning numbers to them, and “the war to end all wars” became “World War I,” the first of two. Today we call that first Armistice Day “Veterans Day” (in other parts of the world, it’s “Remembrance Day”). The purpose of this day is not to celebrate war; it’s to honor all those who have served bravely in our armed forces.
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Need funding to help veterans? Check this out.
November 05, 2012
As we notified our networks last week, there is an amazing opportunity going on right now. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has put out a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA).
This NOFA is for $300 million for the 2013 Supportive Service for Veteran Families (SSVF) grant, over half of which will go to organizations that have not had this grant before.
The name of the grant program is a little confusing: a more accurate name might be the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) for veterans, because that’s basically what it’s for: rapid re-housing and prevention for veterans.
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Setting Aside Differences to End Veteran Homelessness
October 26, 2012
In mid-2011, when I was still relatively new to the Alliance and DC, I started reaching out to partner agencies in an effort to form a group that would work behind the scenes, advocating policies to end veteran homelessness. It took a bit of cajoling to get people to join, as there is a perception out there that groups like these can be ineffective or too political for their own good.
Being a wide-eyed newbie to the national advocacy scene, I was, of course, undeterred.
This week marks the one year anniversary of that group, the Homeless Veterans National Advocacy Working Group* (HVNAWG). Happy one year anniversary HVNAWG! It is a long name for a really cool group. (A little disclaimer here – for a variety of political and bureaucratic reason, we remain an “unofficial” group.)
We began relatively small, just seven core representatives from veteran service organizations, national advocacy groups, and a local organization active in national advocacy, but over the last 12 months we have expanded the reach and membership and accomplished a lot. One of our proudest achievements was a well-attended and highly informative congressional briefing we put together several months back.
The value of this working group cannot be overstated. It allows national leaders on ending veteran homelessness to work together and share the expertise of their respective organizations. The diversity of the members’ perspectives, which overlap and complement each other,... Read More »
How you can help: The exciting reality of ending veteran homelessness
October 16, 2012
As we reach the halfway point in the Department of Veterans Affairs five-year plan to end homelessness among veterans, there is a great excitement in communities across the nation. This is a historic process. Never before have we seen so many people working together to end veteran homelessness. Never before have there been so many resources available to communities wishing to solve this problem.
But what can you as an individual do to contribute to the vital mission of ending veteran homelessness? Besides making a donation to organizations like the Alliance that are working hard on the problem, you can contribute to the effort in a variety of ways. Last week, I discussed the ways individuals can contribute in a webinar hosted by the Points of Light foundation.
The webinar, titled “Finding Community Solutions to Serving the Military Community Part 1: Housing,” was aimed at people who were participating the Martin Luther King Day of Service initiative, as well as other members of communities who were looking to broaden their understanding of the issue and looking for ways to donate their time to serve this cause. A recording of the webinar is available online.
Participating with the local Point in Time (PIT) Count is one way almost anyone can make a huge difference. This annual event is coming up in mid- January, right around the time of the MLK day of service, so it is a natural... Read More »
Keynote Remarks and Workshop Materials
August 13, 2012
It has been almost a month now since the Alliance’s National Conference on Ending Homelessness, and we have been doing our best to make sure that you have access to as much of our conference materials as possible. All the workshop materials that presenters provided to us have been placed on our website here, where they are available for download. We will continue to update the page as we receive materials.
Finally, we have already received numerous requests for the keynote remarks that our CEO and President Nan Roman delivered at the conference, so we thank you for your patience. We have finallypublished them on our website, and we are including them in this blog post below.
NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ENDING FAMILY HOMELESSNESS NAN ROMAN
President and CEO
July 16 2012
Good afternoon and welcome to the 2012 National Alliance on Ending Homelessness. I want to extend our most heartfelt and deep thanks to all of you for being here today. We have over 1400 people in attendance – a record! Most of you are here because you have a burning desire to learn from your colleagues what you can do to improve your own approaches to ending homelessness. You want to know about the most effective practices and the most promising innovations that will work for you. Many of you have traveled far and put a lot of resources into making... Read More »
A detailed look at Veteran Homelessness
August 10, 2012
The following blog post is adapted from “Tackling Veteran Homelessness with HUDStat,” the lead story of the summer issue of Evidence Matters, a publication by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
More than 2.4 million American soldiers have served in Operation Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom since September 11, 2001.2 Hundreds of thousands of these men and women have returned from Iraq, and many more will be returning from Afghanistan in the next few years.
“Soldiers are returning with higher rates of injury after multiple deployments with severe economic hardships,” says John Driscoll, president and chief executive officer of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. Studies show that nearly 20 percent of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have experienced a traumatic brain injury, and 10 to 18 percent suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
A recent Pew Research Center survey showed that post-9/11 veterans found the transition to civilian life harder and had higher rates of post-traumatic stress than veterans who served in previous wars. Rates of military sexual trauma, which is associated with an increased risk of developing PTSD, are high among female veterans, who make up more than 11 percent of veterans of these two wars. For both male and female veterans, PTSD is linked to an increased risk of depression and substance abuse, which exacerbate .
The economic downturn and high unemployment rates add to the challenges these soldiers face on returning from... Read More »
Our 2012 Conference: Some Themes and thoughts
July 20, 2012
We’d like to thank the nearly 1,500 practitioners, public officials and other stakeholders who took time out of their busy schedules to attend our 2012 National Conference on Ending Homelessness. For us in the Alliance, the level of enthusiasm and positivity on display in the plenary sessions and workshops was immensely gratifying. The homeless assistance community has come far, in terms of its overall level of sophistication and focus on implementation in order to get results, and the conference was a great opportunity for people to share what they have learned, as well as for those of us in the community to engage in a discussion about what we still must do to achieve our goals.
In her remarks at the conference’s closing plenary, Alliance CEO Nan Roman touched on a few of the themes that emerged over the course of the three days. I’ll expand on some of those here.
Targeting – The message came through loud and clear: there are a range of interventions to draw upon, but for an intervention to be successful it must be targeted at the right people. Specifically, supportive housing is our most intensive intervention, and it is designed for the most vulnerable population with the most severe disabilities. If such people are screened out in favor of people with fewer challenges, they will live and probably die on the streets.
Olmstead – The Olmstead case reminded us that large programs devoted solely to housing p... Read More »