Ending Homelessness Today — Veterans
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. Lyon said it best - not only is supportive housing the right thing to do its also the most sensible.
Eilleen Higgins from Catholic Charities brought her experience has the manager for residential housing to the table when discussing the options available to veterans experiencing homelessness, stressing that a close partnership with the VA was crucial to success.
The final speaker for the two briefings was Anthony Taylor. A United States Army veteran, Mr. Taylor struggled with homelessness but with the assistance of the HUD-VASH voucher program now has an apartment in DC. Mr. Taylor’s success story was truly inspiring to all of us attending the briefing. He is a firm supporter of Housing First and discussed the positive changes he had seen in other veterans once they received housing and achieved the stability that housing can give people.
If there was one message to take away from the briefings, it was just that: the imperativeness of housing as a way to end veterans homelessness. These American heroes deserve nothing less than all we have to offer. The least – the very least – we can do is ensure that, when they return, they have a place to call home.... 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 »
Exciting News About Capitol Hill Day 2010!
August 18, 2010
For those of you who don’t know, Capitol Hill Day 2010 was held in conjunction with our annual National Conference on Ending Homelessness in July. Nonprofit providers, public officials, private sector representatives, consumers, and other key stakeholders visited their Members of Congress on Capitol Hill to update them on local progress in ending homelessness and urge them to make ending homelessness a federal policy priority.
So, what’s the news? We have posted our 2010 Capitol Hill Day report on our website. The report highlights the unprecedented success of this year’s Capitol Hill Day. This year, a record 40 states were represented by more than 340 participants. Eight states, including Connecticut, Hawaii, Arkansas, Montana, Nevada, Idaho, New Mexico, and South Dakota all had a 100 percent participation rate, meaning that everyone from the state who registered for our conference participated in Capitol Hill Day.
Not only was Capitol Hill Day an amazing effort by advocates from around the country, but the effort has already proven effective on advancing legislation. Less than a week after Hill Day, the House Appropriations Committee increased its proposed fiscal year (FY) 2011 funding for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program. Not only is the proposed funding level an 18 percent increase over the FY 2010 funding level, but it is also higher than the amount proposed by the T-HUD appropriations subcommittee! Way to go Capitol Hill Day participants!
Participants held almost 230 congressional meetings, and more than 45 of those meetings were held with a Mem... Read More »
Friday News Round Up: A Lot to Anticipate
August 06, 2010
August tends to be a slow month, what with everyone including Congress taking their vacations, but even now we can hear the sounds of change rattling up the gangway.
On the subject of homeless veterans, new plans are being released. The White House blog talked this week about “10 Ways the VA is Serving Our Vets”, and the Politico featured a guest opinion about the federal strategic plan's strategy to deal with the veterans at risk of homelessness - and specifically those who will soon be returning from our current conflicts.
Out of Indiana, we heard about new legislation that will help youth who are dealing with homelessness. (It's always so great when student papers cover homelessness!)
Finally, you've already probably seen the first couple stories of a series the Los Angeles Times is running about Project 50 - the controversial local initiative to fight chronic homelessness. The series will continue through the weekend and spotlight one of our organizations own goals: to finish the job of ending homelessness. LA is certainly the place to pilot such a program - the local equivalent of the 100,000 Homes Campaign - as the city is home to a solid ten percent of the national homeless population. Thanks to the LAT for bringing us the series - and here's hoping that the city turns around on permanent supportive housing.... Read More »
House Approves $2.2 Billion for McKinney-Vento, $75 Million for VASH
July 30, 2010
House Approves $2.2 Billion for McKinney-Vento, $75 Million for VASH
Last night, the House approved H.R. 5850, the fiscal year (FY) 2011 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations Bill. The bill includes a number of provisions to help people experiencing homelessness.
Although a proposed amendment to the bill would have eliminated funding for the HUD - Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, the amendment was eventually withdrawn. As a result of YOUR help in making phone calls to your representatives, the final bill includes $75 million for HUD-VASH.
In addition to funding for HUD-VASH, the legislation includes:
$2.2 billion for HUD's McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants (an 18 percent increase over FY 2010);
$17.080 billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance renewals (a $740.8 million increase over FY 2010), including:
$85 million for 10,000 housing vouchers for the Housing and Services for Homeless Persons Demonstration;
$350 million for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program (a $15 million increase over FY 2010);
$4.829 billion for the Public Housing Operating Fund (a $54 million increase over FY 2010); and
$2.5 billion for the Public Housing Capital Fund (no change from FY 2010).
The House approved $2.2 billion in funding for McKinney-Vento programs due to all of YOUR hard work. Although we need $2.4 billion to fully implement the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act, we need to let our representatives know how appreciative we are to them for providing an 18 percent increase for McKinney-Vento programs.
Check the House Appropriations Committee website for more information on H.R. 5850.
Again – none o... Read More »
Act NOW: House May Cut Veterans Housing Assistance Program Today
July 29, 2010
The saga of the congressional appropriations continues – but today, we’re talking about something other than the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Programs.
You may remember that we’ve talked about congressional appropriations at length – the most recent post was about the surprising move by the House Appropriations Committee to allocate $2.2 billion to the McKinney-Vento programs – even more than was requested by President Obama or recommended by the HouseT-HUD subcommittee.
But today – there’s a really serious bump in the road.
Today, the House is expected to vote on H.R. 5850, the fiscal year (FY) 2011 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations Bill – the same bill we’ve been concerned about for all these months. The bill includes a number of provisions to help people experiencing homelessness, including that $2.2 billion for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance programs we’ve been crowing about.
But danger lurked around a different corner. Now, funding for the HUD - Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program is in danger of being eliminated.
It’s called Amendment #106 and it cuts a number of programs – HUD-VASH being of particular importance.
Because HUD-VASH houses homeless veterans by coupling rent assistance from HUD and medical treatment + case management from the VA. This program has shown to be effective at keeping even the most vulnerable veterans housed and safe.
The House Appropriations Committee included $75 million for 10,000 additional HUD-VASH vouchers in H.R. 5850 but four congressmen have filed Amendment #106, which would eliminate this funding.
They say it’s because H... Read More »
Mental Illness and Homelessness - Notes from the Alliance for Research Progress at NIMH
July 26, 2010
Today’s post comes to us from the newest member of the Alliance staff, research associate Peter Witte.
On Friday, July 23, I had the opportunity to attend the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) summer meeting of the Alliance for Research Progress in Bethesda, Maryland. The Alliance for Research Progress is a group of advocates that represent national organizations (like ours) with an interest in mental health. The group meets twice a year to discuss the mental health field and hear about NIMH research activities and priorities.
About 45 percent of homeless people report that they have experienced an indicator of a mental health problem. Homeless people also report a high level of substance abuse problems. It’s critical that groups invested in ending homelessness – like the Alliance - take part in the dialogue about mental illness and hear about the latest research because so many people experiencing homelessness could benefit the information. (For more information on the relationship between homelessness and mental and physical health, see our “Issues” section.)
Lisa J. Colpe, Chief in the Office of Clinical and Population Epidemiology Research, presented about the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Service Members (Army STARRS) project. The project is investigating “factors that help protect a soldier’s mental health and those factors that put a soldier’s mental health at risk.”
As an organization that has worked hard to address homelessness among veterans, this presentation was an illuminating look at what we c... Read More »
Friday News Round Up: Community stories and McKinney excitement!
July 23, 2010
We are certainly worried about our seniors this week. All Voices talked about seniors living below the poverty line who are never even counted, The Signal wrote about the projected rise of homeless seniors, and the Jacksonville Register also commented on the rise in homeless elderly population. While the predictions are of concern, they certainly do reflect the Alliance’s own projections in the first of Demographics series.
Across the country, communities are undertaking efforts to reduce veterans homelessness. The Washington state paper, The Olympian featured an editorial about updating health care for female veterans, while the LA Times published another piece about Secretary Shinseki’s visit to the region. The Department of Veterans Affairs, emphasized the Secretary, is committed to ensuring those who served in defense of the country are not abandoned when they return from service.
And while some wrote about how deficit worries are slowing funding for federal homeless programs, we were happy to find out this week that House Appropriations Committee proposed increasing funding for McKinney-Vento homeless assistance programs in FY 2011! In a notable departure from longstanding protocol, the House Appropriations deviated from recommendations from both President Obama and it’s own T-HUD subcommittee and increased proposed funding by $145 million. (Is this news to you? Check out our (rather long) post about it.... Read More »
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 »
Sec. Eric K. Shinseki of Veterans Affairs at the Alliance Conference
July 15, 2010
Hi all. We'll write a conference wrap-up post later today, but in the interim, we thought we'd share Secretary Eric Shinseki's remarks on Wednesday, July 14 to the conference attendees. His thoughts on ending veterans homelessness - and his apparent commitment and dedication to the goal - were truly inspiring words on which to end our event! The Secretary's remarks are below.
Remarks by Eric K. Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs
National Alliance to End Homelessness
National Conference on Ending Homelessness
Grand Hyatt, Washington, DC
14 July, 2010
Nan, thank you for that kind introduction and for your leadership of the National Alliance. Your work on behalf of the homeless is well-known and much-respected. Our thanks to you and your staff for your diligence in supporting all the rest of us, VA included, in our commitments to end homelessness amongst our populations. Your address at our Summit on Veteran Homelessness, last November, resonated with attendees then, and still does today at VA.
I am honored to be here today. From your modest beginnings in 1983, this alliance has grown into a powerful organization of more than 10,000 public and private sector partners. Along the way, you’ve succeeded in housing hundreds of thousands of Americans, a tremendous record of service and achievement. VA is very proud to be one of your partners.
Sometimes, we say that caring for those who cannot care for themselves is a longstanding tradition in this country, that threads of selflessness a... Read More »
African American Homeless Veterans
July 01, 2010
Today’s guest blog comes from Ron Armstead, Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus’ Veterans Braintrust.
At a workshop that Ron organized for the National Coalition on Homeless Veterans, I had the honor of presenting data that show that African Americans are overrepresented among the homeless veteran population. As illustrated in the Alliance’s most recent report on homelessness among veterans, while African American veterans make up 10 - 11 percent of the veteran population, they make up 45 percent of the homeless veteran population.
As I was pulling together my slides for this presentation, I was struck by following from the HUD’s fifth Annual Homeless Assessment Report:
“When compared to their counterparts nationwide, homeless people are much more likely to be adult males, African Americans, non-elderly, alone, veterans and disabled.”
For more than two decades the homeless veteran’s population has been a scar on the face of America. The Heroes Today, Homeless Tomorrow Report (1991), set the stage, or tone at the national public policy level for dialogue. Yet little inside, or outside the national debate has focused on why African American veterans are continually disproportionately represented. Early Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust issues forums convened in 1992, and in 1993, in which deceased VA Secretary Jesse Brown (1992) testified, revealed that of the estimated 250,000 single male veterans who were homeless nationally, 40% were Black, or African American. The currently available literature does not reveal, nor does it provide meaningful explanations on this phenomenon. H... Read More »
The political commitment to ending veterans homelessness
May 21, 2010
Today, our Vice President of Programs and Policy Steve Berg went up to the Hill to attend a joint hearing including the Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development. The joint hearing examined the nation’s progress in ending veterans homelessness.
Currently, there are about 131,000 veterans experiencing homelessness in the United States, representing about one-fifth of the entire homeless population on any given night. Veterans often experience homeless as a result of post-war distress, including emotional or physical trauma which can manifest in diseases, including substance abuse and addiction.
In our last Veterans Update, we presented the challenges to women veterans as a new emerging component of this issue. As women continue to make up a greater percentage of the armed forces, we take greater note of their particular vulnerability to and experience with homelessness. There is also a growing body of evidence that indicates that female veterans have a higher risk of homelessness as compared to their male counterparts – some speculate that this may have to do with a greater incidence of sever housing cost burden, lower incomes, higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, among others contributors.
In recent months, both Secretary Shinseki of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and President Obama have come out strongly with intentions to reduce and end veterans homelessness in the United States. Secretary Shinseki has publicly announced the VA’s intent to end v... Read More »
Friday: News Roundup! Veteran's Edition
August 28, 2009
It seems to be that there’s been quite a hullabaloo about veterans and homelessness lately. Has anyone else noticed that?
Just this week, there were two articles about Secretary Shinseki’s commitment to ending veterans homelessness – one from the AP about veteran homelessness in rural areas and one in the Argus Leader as well.
The Secretary’s message has be gaining momentum this month. Since early August, Secretary Shinseki has promised the American Legion that the country “will end vet homelessness.” He discussed homeless veterans issues in Oregon and in his home state of Hawaii. Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth also carried a similar message on Fox News this week.
The attention is certainly welcome and warranted. Veterans account for approximately one-quarter of the homeless population, and the group exhibits a high incidence of mental illness, substance abuse, and other behavioral disorders.
We at the Alliance are heartened by the renewed commitment to addressing and ending veteran homelessness – and we wholeheartedly agree that it’s not only a social ill long overdue for transformative action, but one that we can fix as a nation.... Read More »
Annual Conference - Sen. Jack Reed!
July 31, 2009
I'm sitting here, listening to what is NO DOUBT a standing ovation given to Sen. Jack Reed who just gave an address to at the final plenary session at the Conference.
The senator - a longtime homeless advocate and champion of highly successful legislation to prevent and end homelessness - touched upon a number of different topics, including the ramifications of the HEARTH Act and the inexcusable tragedy of veteran homelessness.
"We have a lot of work to do," said the senator.
He's already started, it seems. Yesterday, the senator announced, he introduced the Zero Tolerance for Homeless Veterans - in an effort to do just that: end veteran homelessness.
Whew! Guess you never know what'll happen!... Read More »
Annual Conference - End of Day One
July 29, 2009
That was an incredible day - opening session with Nan Roman, followed by roughly 25 different workshops until about 5 p.m. We're just about to start the fun part - reception! - after a very productive day of presentations, panels, and exchanging ideas. I personally attended a workshop about data (with Dennis Culhane!) and one about prevention techniques (with VERY engaging speakers Matt White of Ohio and Mellisa Mowery of New York). HPRP must've been the word of the day, cuz that second workshop had about 150 people in with seats filled and people standing around the edges!
Tomorrow features Secretary Donovan, new White House Director on Urban Affairs Policy Adolfo Carrion, 75 more workshops, and a ton of other information.
I'll post reception pictures later! Until then, some workshop pics.
... Read More »
the basics: Why are people homeless?
July 06, 2009
It’s a question that’s surprisingly overlooked – maybe overshadowed by the challenges of homelessness in and of itself.At the Alliance, we focus on different kinds of homelessness, including:Veteran HomelessnessFamily HomelessnessYouth HomelessnessChronic HomelessnessEach group comes to homelessness in different ways – and the solutions to that type of homelessness varies as well.Veteran HomelessnessVeterans often become homeless as a result of some post-war challenges. Emotional or mental distress (including PTSD, emotional trauma, etc.) can manifest in damaging behaviors, like substance abuse and addiction. These behaviors can then lead to the inability to maintain permanent housing.Recently, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Tammy Duckworth appeared on CNN to discuss the state and health of veterans returning from conflicts abroad. The Secretary expounded upon the increase of suicides, mental illness, and homelessness among veterans from our current conflicts, as well as the VA’s continued efforts to address these ongoing issues.Family HomelessnessFamily homelessness is typically caused by some unforeseen costly event: a raise in rent, medical emergency, or the like. The inability to manage this financial hurdle can push a family into homelessness – an occurrence that’s been felt more dramatically in the current recession.Despite sensationalized news reports, families that experience this kind of homelessness aren’t typically picturesque, middle-class families. They’re typically families that were already living on the economic fringes of society – often paycheck-to-paycheck – who are pushed off by the big event.The good news – if th... Read More »
Homelessness: A Brief History
July 01, 2009
So, to kick things off, here’s a nice, soft introduction into how we got where we are today: Homelessness has been around pretty much since there were more people than homes (read: a long, long time). A number of national and economic events (anyone remember the Great Depression?) prompted bursts of homelessness from time to time, but local and federal authorities usually answered the need. Homelessness as we know it today surged around the 1980s. Why the 80s? Good question. Perhaps the most sensationalized - and one of the more controversial - cause of modern-day homelessness is deinstitutionalization.
The 1950s and 1960s saw a wave of activism against mental health institutions as reports of neglect, abuse, and mistreatment in such facilities became commonplace. The goal of deinstitutionalization was to move people who are mentally ill and disabled from these institutions into community-based health centers, where they would be fewer restrictions on patients and a lesser financial burden to federal and state coffers. (Popular opinion seems to fault President Reagan for deinstitionalization, but my own research has not validated that opinion.) Many argue that the effort has been unsuccessful, and that people who are mentally ill are now housed in the criminal justice system or are homeless altogether.
Read More »