Ending Homelessness Today — Veterans
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.
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My Experience at the Alliance: A Brief Look (because it WAS brief)
July 06, 2012
Today’s post was written by Tessa Knight, West Point Fellow with the Alliance.
There’s this idea in my mind that someday I want to be part of changing lives, and I really can’t think of a better way to directly influence people than by housing and clothing them. So when West Point offered this three week summer academic enrichment opportunity at the National Alliance to End Homelessness, I jumped at it.
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Learning More About Homelessness Research
June 19, 2012
Today’s post was written by Christian Brandt, Federal Policy Intern for the Alliance.
Last Wednesday I had the privilege of sitting in on a meeting for the Research Council, a group comprised of prominent researchers in the areas of homelessness and housing from around the country. The Council meets to gather and share their new information and recent research activities, propose new research to fill existing gaps, and guide the agenda of the Homelessness Research Institute, the research division of the Alliance. At the end of most meetings some kind of research agenda is prepared from the meeting’s conversation. This time the Council was visited by several researchers from HUD who were able to listen and respond to the suggestions that the researchers made. Besides being among greats within the homelessness and housing sphere, it was really cool to be able to see how the Alliance sets its research agenda and interacts with agencies like HUD.
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So, What’s Going on with Appropriations?
May 31, 2012
As regular readers of this blog know, we write fairly often about federal homelessness appropriations – what’s happening, how you can get involved, and what various proposals would mean for your daily work on the ground to prevent and end homelessness. But we haven’t written about appropriations (the federal funding process) in several weeks, so you may be wondering: what’s the latest news?
The House and Senate are both busy working on their fiscal year (FY) 2013 funding bills. We have been tracking three particular bills very closely, so read on for more information on each of those funding measures!
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Congressional Briefing on Ending Veterans Homelessness
May 28, 2012
The Alliance and its partners have formed the Homeless Veteran’s National Advocacy Working Group. This group is dedicated to ending homelessness among veterans through sensible policy and targeted programs. Among other things, the group is putting on a series of Congressional briefings. The first one was this last Wednesday, May 23. This was a joint briefing for both Houses of Congress and both parties. It was sponsored by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), who also provided opening remarks. Attendees included staffers from the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees and the MilCon-VA and T-HUD Appropriations Subcommittees, as well as non-Congressional staff.
Antonia Fasanelli, chair of the American Bar Association Commission on Homelessness and Poverty, acted as moderator and introduced our panel. She spoke to the need for continued funding of these programs, and introduced Senator Burr. The Senator spoke to the need to use data-driven resources wisely, but to never forget the human faces of the people that these programs serve. Barbara Poppe with USICH covered a brief overview of veterans homelessness, and progress in the federal government’s five-year plan to end veterans homelessness; and expressed an impassioned plea to keep the plan on track through continued funding and support.
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VA Leading the Way
April 17, 2012
As we have discussed on this blog many times, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has set a clear goal of ending homelessness among veterans by 2015.
The recent fiscal year (FY) 2013 VA budget proposal shows a strong commitment to this mission of ending homelessness among veterans. As part of a recent webinar on the budget proposal, I went over VA’s ask for a 33 percent increase in its budget for homeless veteran programs. This remarkable increase fully funds the transitional housing Grant and Per Diem (GPD) and permanent supportive housing (HUD-VASH) programs, as well as tripling in size the rapid re-housing and prevention model program, Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF).
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The President's FY 2013 Budget Proposal: Ending Veterans Homelessness
February 15, 2012
Yesterday, the Administration released its fiscal year (FY) 2013 Budget Proposal. The proposal included increases in funding for some programs that are key to ending homelessness for veterans. One of these, the the Grant and Per Diem (GPD) program, would increase from $224 million to $235 million. Currently, GPD assistance is limited to transitional housing and services. VA is planning to propose legislation that would allow GPD grantees and subgrantees to utilize a ―transition in place model and provide permanent housing. Below is an interview with Ian Lisman, Program and Policy Analyst at the Alliance, about these proposed changes to the GPD program. More resources on the President's Budget and what this means for homelessness assistance programs can be found on the our website.
... Read More »
Help Homeless Vets This Veterans Day
November 10, 2011
Often when we think of homeless veterans, the image that comes to mind is that of an older man, likely of the Vietnam generation, living on the streets. In other words, we tend to associate homeless veterans with chronically homeless people. For this group of people, we know that one of the best interventions to end their homelessness and to prevent future episodes is the joint Departments of Housing and Urban Development – Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) voucher program. Permanent supportive housing, we know, is solution to chronic homelessness; housing, with services and case management through VA, is ending chronic homelessness among veterans one unit at a time.
As such, even in this difficult funding environment, Congress is likely to provide $75 million for approximately 11,000 new vouchers this year.
This is fantastic news and it is helping to end veterans homelessness, but unfortunately, our homeless veterans don’t always meet that image we have in our head. Instead, many are increasingly younger, veterans not only of the Gulf War, but our current conflicts as well. Larger and larger portions of the homeless vet population are females, often with young children.
So how do we serve homeless veterans that may not fit into the definition we have in our heads? VA is responding to the changing face of our veterans with programs like the Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) program, which provides services to families residing in transitional or permanent supportive housing.... 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 »
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 »
Friday News Roundup: Recovering from Disasters, Supporting our Veterans
September 02, 2011
This week, while some communities were still cleaning up after Hurricane Irene, we also paused to reflect on the six year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall in Louisiana.
Those unaffected by Katrina may be surprised to learn that many people who lost their homes as a result of the hurricane are still living in makeshift homes and abandoned buildings. Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont, said this week that coming together to help after disasters “is what being a nation is about.” I couldn’t agree more that as a nation we need to make sure that those still recovering from Katrina, the tornados in Joplin, and other disasters receive the help they need, and that we are prepared for a disaster before it strikes.
The state of our veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were also heavily discussed in the news this week, due to a speech President Obama gave at the American Legion national convention on Tuesday. In this address, the president discussed the federal government’s commitment to better support veterans when they return home, noting “that includes making sure that federal agencies are working together so that every veteran who fought for America has a home in America.” He also pledged to protect programs that assist veterans from budget cuts.
“We cannot, will not, and we must not, balance the budget on the backs of our veterans,” Obama said.
Also of note: NPR launched a se... Read More »
Home For Good: An Opportunity to End Homelessness Through Partnership
July 28, 2011
Today's post comes to us from Donna Gallup, MSW, LSW, and Executive Director of Lamp Community in Los Angeles, CA.
Recent homeless counts have found that nearly 50,000 homeless individuals and families live in Los Angeles County on any given night. Chronically homeless individuals – homeless for a year or more and coping with one or more serious health, mental health and addiction problems – account for nearly 12,000 of that total; 6,000 newly homeless veterans also live in L.A.
Last November, an extraordinary report called Home For Good laid out a blueprint to end chronic and veteran homelessness in L.A. County by 2016. Lamp Community is proud to support the plan, based on 10 months of work by the Business Leaders Task Force on Homelessness, a group of 22 organizations assembled by the United Way and the L.A. Chamber of Commerce. Home For Good’s goal is not only to find permanent housing for chronically homeless individuals, but also to provide intensive supportive services and treatment to help them regain their physical and mental health and self-esteem, and to help them reintegrate into the community. This is the work that Lamp Community has done for more than 25 years in L.A.’s Skid Row, which has the highest concentration of homelessness in Los Angeles. We at Lamp are happy to see the movement toward permanent supportive housing as a best practice for ending homelessness.
Think about what it would mean to end chronic and veteran... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Vets, state budgets, and politics
June 10, 2011
Perhaps the biggest news this week was that the lawsuit between the ACLU and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Over land in Los Angeles, the ACLU is alleging that the land, deed to the VA to provide housing for homeless veterans, is not being used as it was intended. The NYT offered an editorial about the situation this week.
Secretary Shaun Donovan had a thing or two to say about veteran homelessness on the HUD blog, The HUDdle. Writing about his experience before the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, he called the effort to end homeless veterans, “beyond political” – a sentiment that we can all get behind.
But some things are political.
According to a piece in the NYT, state judiciaries are getting into the game of balancing state budgets. As governors and legislators try to balance their budgets, some are being taken to court over their decisions. And some judiciaries are reversing budget decisions, compelling lawmakers to respect constitutional standards despite their empty pocketbooks.
And the effects of these decisions are tangible at the local level. Today, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette ran a touching story about the impact of reduced assistance on one crisis center serving far too many people and families experiencing homelessness. While the staff there clearly does what they can, slashed budgets – and an end to rent subsidies – are leaving people with few, if any, options.
For more news clips from the week, check out the Allia... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Did you expect something other than budgets?
March 25, 2011
So good news first.
Evidently, Newport is doing something right. The small Rhode Island community has reduced chronic homelessness by half utilizing the Housing First strategy and a collaboration of six agencies and churches is aiming to end chronic homelessness in Newport and other small surrounding communities. It’s like the good program director says, ““It’s not rocket science. Homeless people need homes. ”
This message, unfortunately, is being lost among those in charge of our city, state, and federal budgets. It’s no secret by now – we’ve been writing about it for months now! – that everyone feels up against the wall trying to stay in the black. But the choices our leaders are being forced to make are cringe-worthy indeed, from reducing housing vouchers for veterans, to eliminating food stamps and cash assistance, to downsizing state safety nets for the poor. While it’s clear that all of us will have to compromise to preserve the greater good, certainly we don’t have to balance the budget on the backs of our most vulnerable friends and neighbors – right?
Speaking of, two more quick hits to round out the week.
There was an interesting post in the Atlantic asking “should you give money to homeless people?” And in the Nation, there was an summary about US poverty rates. (We actually blogged about it yesterday.)
Check those out and let us know what you think!... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: The Components of Homelessness
March 04, 2011
This week the news media has focused on the essentials of our field: housing, data, populations, and public policy.
Let’s start right in the District. In her column, Michelle Singletary cited our own report to discuss people spending more than 50 percent of their monthly income on rent - what is called a "severe housing cost burden" - a situation that can put people at risk of homelessness.
From Tiffin, OH, the Advertiser-Tribune discussed a sticky situation concerning data collection, showing that data collection methodology should be examined as it affects count accuracy. Perhaps a dry topic for a news article, but methodology is a central component of learning about homelessness, especially at the community level.
Then there was a flurry of reports about different populations experiencing homelessness.
Both the Sacramento Bee and CNN covered veteran homelessness. The Bee zoomed in the challenges specific to women returning from combat and CNN took their turn examining the potential ramifications of federal budget cuts to vulnerable veterans (stay tuned). The Medill News Service also took a crack at state budgets and the potential impact reductions will have on homeless youth. (They’re projecting pronounced increases). And New America Media traveled to the other end of the spectrum writing about elderly people living in poverty, at risk of homelessness, while raising their own grandchildren. (Which comes as no surprise.)
Predictably, there were scant few articles about solutions but there does seem to be good... Read More »
New Report on Veteran Homelessness
February 10, 2011
We have more information about veteran homelessness than we have ever had thanks to a report released today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – “Veteran Homelessness: A Supplement to the 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress.”'
First, some major findings from the report:
An estimated 136,334 veterans spent at least one night in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009; or 1 of every 168 veterans.
Veterans are overrepresented among the homeless population. Approximately 10 percent of all people who experienced homelessness over the year identified themselves as veterans.
Minorities are over represented among homeless veterans. Rates of homelessness among veterans living in poverty are particularly high for veterans identifying as Hispanic/Latino (1 in 4) or African American (1 in 4).
One-half of homeless veterans on a single night are located in just four states: California (26 percent), Florida (9 percent), New York (8 percent), and Texas (7 percent).
I was very interested to see how much the risk for becoming homeless varied among sub-populations. Veterans, the report noted, have higher median incomes than the U.S. average. But once a veteran slips into poverty, they are more likely to become homeless. Although there are a small number of female veterans, they are even more at risk than male veterans. They are actually twice as likely to experience homelessness than not.
The report also shows that young veterans – those most likely to be disc... Read More »
On This Veterans Day, Correcting the Mistakes of the Past
November 11, 2010
Today's guest blog comes from Steve Berg, Vice President of Programs and Policy at the Alliance.
Since the early 1980s, America has been turning away from homeless veterans. When widespread homelessness emerged, veterans who had served in Vietnam or in the years after were already overrepresented among homeless people. Instead of an outcry and demand for an immediate solution, however, there was hand wringing, a few programs, but mostly no response.
As a boy, I grew up watching the Vietnam war and public reaction to the war on TV. I was 18 when the last ten Marines were helicoptered off the roof of the embassy in Saigon in early 1975.
What I remember most is the anger and hatred between Americans, and especially toward the young men a few years older than me - men I admired and looked up to growing up and entering adulthood, every one of whom had to make a hard decision about how to deal with the war.
Some young men went to Vietnam and did everything they could to keep their colleagues safe from harm, risking their own lives on a daily basis. Many more went and did their jobs more or less efficiently, with enthusiasm or indifference or loathing. Some went and thought only about staying out of harm’s way.
Regardless of their actions, what all of them faced upon returning was something we all know and regret now: protests and criticism and disapproval f... Read More »
Ending Veterans Homelessness: A recap of our congressional briefings
October 06, 2010
Today's guest post comes from our new Advocacy intern, Jeremy Nichols. Yesterday, Jeremy attended the Alliance-sponsored congressional briefings on ending veterans homelessness - this is his report.
Did you know that though veterans make up only 11 percent of the civilian population they account for roughly 20 percent of homeless people in the nation?
With that alarming statistic in the back of our minds, my colleagues and I headed to Capitol Hill for two briefings on Tuesday about ending veterans homelessness.
As far as Capitol Hill briefings go, these received great attendance from Hill staffers and members of the homelessness provider community. The morning briefing was hosted by Congressional Caucus on Homelessness with a strong presence from the Alliance and the Corporation for Supportive Housing and the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. The Honorable Congresswoman Judy Biggert (who also happens to be a co-chair of the Caucus) gave the opening remarks and once again showed her support for the cause. Brava Congresswoman Biggert!
Our second briefing was for the Senate and quite a few staffers turned out to hear the message.
Tori Lyon, the Executive Director for the Jericho Project in New York City was the first speaker. She discussed how her program is using the HUD-VASH program to make supportive housing a cost-effective solution to veterans homelessness. It costs $12,000 for the Jericho Project to house someone for a year compared to $20,000 for a shelter cot and $67,000 for a jail cell. Ms.... Read More »
Steve Berg: What ending homelessness looks like
September 20, 2010
Thanks to all our wonderful fans and supporters who submitted photos for the Alliance photo contest. Our judges are reviewing all the excellent entries and while we wait for the results, we have a very special guest on the blog. Steve Berg, Vice President of Programs and Policy at the Alliance, speculates on what a country without homelessness could look like .
She’s not going to be homeless, even though her boyfriend beat her and disappeared with her money. Even though her job disappeared next, she and her babies had to move in with her mom, and now her mom’s boyfriend wants them out.
She’s not going to be homeless because the domestic violence counselor sent over a woman who mediated, found some places that were hiring, contacted a new day care center, connected her with a different landlord, and paid the security deposit and her storage bill.
She’s not going to be homeless.
She’s going to unwrap the dishes. On one of the newspapers she’s using there’s a story about The Last Homeless Person in America. She laughs, thinking, “That could have been me.” She’ll have to read it later.
He’s not going to be homeless even though he came back from overseas and couldn’t talk to anybody. Even though his girlfriend, his boss, his friends and parents all made him so furious he couldn’t be around them.
He’s not going to be homeless ... Read More »