Ending Homelessness Today — Youth
Monday News Roundup: Special Edition
November 22, 2010
So, we know it’s not Friday but we’ve got big surprises headed your way this Thanksgiving week so we’ve decide to do a Monday News Roundup (I know – we’re living right on the edge!)
In honor of the holidays quickly approaching, we thought we’d do a quick recap of the efforts being made across the country to provide homeless assistance services to our friends and neighbors in need – and summarize how great the need has become during these troubled economic times.
Topping the news of the season is the city of Los Angeles. I know we’ve talked about it before, but it’s worth a second note that the city, which has long struggled with its homeless population, released an ambitious plan to end chronic homelessness. The plan, supported by business leaders in the area, has the potential to permanently house some of the most vulnerable homeless people and measurably reduce homelessness in a city that has been called that “homeless capital of the nation.”
Youth homelessness seems to have hit a stride in the news cycle. While a few stories have percolated over the year, the issue seems to have reached the top of the collective media consciousness in recent weeks: on Monday alone, there were at least five stories on the subject across the county. While the issue of youth homelessness still requires research study, the gravity of the situation needs an equal amount of attention. Youth represent an overlooked and often underserved homeless population - one that we have the capacity and responsibility to help. Kudos to the news media for paying special notice to this important group.
Unfortunately, need is always met with appropriate resources. Along with the stories about youth homelessness on Monday came a rash of stories about lack of aid. In states from New Hampshire to Massachusetts to Washington, journalists detailed the rising need of services coupled with the declining supply. This time of financial instability, strapped state budgets, and high unemployment seems to present a perfect storm for the most economically vulnerable among us.
This is exactly why solution-focused, cost-effective, and practical conversations about social problems – like homelessness – are so important year round. So while you may be paying particular attention to homelessness this winter, make sure to try it remember before Turkey Day 2011.
... Read More »
Alliance welcomes Lisa Stand and Andre Wade
November 10, 2010
Special thanks to Rachel Costas, Alliance intern, for her help with today’s blogpost.
The Alliance is delighted and lucky to announce two new members of our staff! André Wade joins us to serve as point person on youth policy; Lisa Stand offers her expertise on health care policy.
Throughout his career, André worked with children/families who experienced homelessness at some point in their lives and learned that children exiting foster care children often experiencing homelessness as young adults.
Upon arriving at the Alliance and examining homelessness and homelessness policy, he (like most of us) was surprised by the lack of data on homeless youth and dearth of policy around the issue. He also observed much more closely that homelessness is, in fact, a problem that exists “literally everywhere.” Luckily, Andre is eager and ready to join the mission and work on LGBTQ homeless youth issues and youth and child welfare issues as they relate to homelessness.
Our new youth programs and policy analyst is a Las Vegas native with a fondness for white chocolate chip cookies.
Our new senior policy analyst, Lisa Stand, comes to us with a strong background in health care policy and an enthusiasm for the new health care reform policies. She especially interested in health care reform as it could aid people who need it most – namely, people experiencing homelessness.
Our new analyst has worked in health policy for her entire career; her most recent po... Read More »
But what about the children?
November 08, 2010
Okay, so I really mean what about the youth.
Today, we hosted our first in a series of webinars about youth homelessness.
Here's the thing about youth homelessness: we know just enough to know that we hardly know anything at all.
We know a little: RHYA shows us that there are young people out there looking for help. Data from the juvenile justice and the foster care systems show us that young people are exiting those systems and ending up homeless. Research from institutions like Chapin Hall outline the relationship between youth homelessness and child welfare.
We know that there's a problem.
But we're grappling with pieces of the puzzle. And if we at the Alliance have learned anything at all, it's that we must fully understand a problem in order to really get serious about solving it.
So we're asking you guys to start with the data. On our webinar today, Barbara Poppe from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and Nan Roman, the Alliance's own president, emphasized the importance of including youth in the 2011 community point-in-time counts. The first step to solving a problem, we've concluded, is to determine the scope of the problem.
As a critical observer in the field, I can testify that I've been hearing stories from advocates and reporters alike asking if there's any evidence to back up anecdotal data about an increase in homeless youth and specifically about the vulnerability of those... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Are we really okay with that? Edition
November 05, 2010
News stories from across the country this week seemed to point to a growing epidemic of youth homelessness.
In New Hampshire a letter to the editor (aptly) titled “In Claremont, 1 in 10 kids is homeless - Is New Hampshire really okay with that?” called for more funding for youth programs. Headed out west, in Green Bay, WI another piece reports a 20 percent increase over last year in the number of school-aged kids experiencing homelessness.
How can we let this happen? I think most people agree that youth homelessness is a problem that just plain shouldn’t exist.
It’s time to take action. Unfortunately, there is just not enough data on youth homelessness - and we can’t solve a problem unless we fully understand it.
Luckily (!) we’re here to help! The Alliance president, Nan Roman, along with executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness will hold a webinar on Monday, November 8 at 2 p.m. ET going over strategies to acquire an accurate homeless youth count. We know they’re out there, we know we can help, and now it’s time to figure out how. Join us for our webinar on Monday – register here.
Another buzz topic this week was the prevalence of homelessness in rural areas. Folks in rural North Carolina and North Dakota are proclaiming “Homelessness is here.” The prevalence of rural homelessness can come as a surprise, even to those in the communities themselves. Homelessn... Read More »
How to Count Homeless Youth - Find out With Nan Roman and Barbra Poppe!
November 04, 2010
We know they’re out there.
Young people who are living on the streets alone. Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) program counts show us that there are young people seeking assistance in communities across the country. The National Extranet Optimized Runaway and Homeless Youth Management Information System (NEO-RHYMIS) shows us that there are thousands of young people seeking basic services and beds.
We know they’re out there – but that’s about all we know.
Lost in the mix of seasons greetings and veterans remembrance is a noteworthy event that doesn’t hit the radar for most Americans this month: it’s National Homeless Youth Awareness Month.
It’s a really important month. Despite the fact that everyone will agree that youth homelessness is an existing problem, there’s nothing else to agree on: we have no reliable or regular source of data on this vulnerable subpopulation. We know they’re there, we know they’re young, we know they need our help. But we don’t know how many there are, we don’t know much about the characteristics of this group, we don’t know how they enter or exit homelessness, we don’t know how they survive while experiencing homelessness, we don’t know how long they’re homeless, where, or how.
And we can’t solve a problem without fully understanding it.
So that’s where we need to start: with data.
We at the Alliance are encouraging our local ... Read More »
Last Chance! Scholarships available for HS students (Deadline Oct 30)!!
October 28, 2010
Today’s post comes to us from John McGah, Executive Director of Give US Your Poor.
This Saturday, October 30, is the deadline for homeless, formerly homeless, and at-risk high school students to apply for a Horatio Alger Association college scholarship.
Nearly 1,000 scholarships are available this year. The Horatio Alger Association helps students who have overcome hardship attend college. This year, through a partnership with Give US Your Poor: The Campaign to End Homelessness (part of UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies), they are targeting students who have experienced homelessness.
The relationship between the Horatio Alger Association and Give US Your Poor began in 2007, at the Give US Your Poor Concert for to benefit people experiencing homelessness in Boston, MA.
During his performance, Greek tenor Mario Frangoulis welcomed 13-year-old Kyla Middleton on stage. Kyla is a top-notch student, articulate public speaker, sings beautifully, and was homeless with her family for a year. Mario and Kyla sang a duet of John Lennon’s, “Imagine,” to the Dorchester audience. Tears, applause, and a standing ovation followed.
Then, to Kyla’s surprise, Mario announced that she was being awarded a $20,000 college scholarship from The Horatio Alger Association.
That was a cool moment. So cool, that it inspired UMass Boston Chancellor, Dr. Keith Motley, to create a 4-year scholarship, given annually, to attend UMass Boston for a Mass. student that has experienced homelessness.
Which leads us to the scholarships offered this year: almost 1,00... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Youth Aging Out, Elderly Homelessness, and Domestic Violence
October 22, 2010
So, truth - it was a pretty slow news week. It seems like the news media covers homelessness in cycles: it gets really good (covering solutions and strategies and communities) and then it gets really bad (covering pan handling and camp outs).
I think we’re in an in-between phase.
This week, we noticed a very long feature on youth aging out of foster care in the Seattle Post Intelligencer written by reporters at Investigate West. While we at the Alliance wholeheartedly agree that this is an oft-overlooked and very important issue, we took serious issue with the article’s wildly inaccurate depiction of our own organization:
“At the national level, it's barely on the radar of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, a powerful advocacy group that provides information the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.”
In fact, not only is youth homelessness a 2010 Policy Priority for the Alliance, but in the last year alone, we’ve:
published a series profiling the way some communities are using HPRP funds to assist youth,
launched a youth site visit campaign encouraging legislators to examine the issue in their own communities,
hired new staff to work on the issue,
and – just this week – wrote a toolkit encouraging communities to fully incorporate youth in their January 2011 point-in-time counts.
I’m hoping that next time, before writing such inflammatory remarks, it would occur to a journalist to pick up the phone as I’m always happ... Read More »
Major Findings in the 5th Quarterly Pulse Report
October 21, 2010
On Tuesday, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released the Fifth Quarterly Pulse report – a snapshot of homelessness in eight communities across the country. This latest report covers the time between January to March 2010.
The moral of the story, as conveyed by the current report, is that homelessness is mostly down.
There was a one percent decrease in the overall shelter count between the fourth and fifth quarters. (All but NYC reported decreases in their local counts.)
There was a four percent decrease in the number of sheltered persons in families between the fourth and fifth quarters (All but the Richmond, VA community reported decreases in their local family counts.)
There was a three percent increase in sheltered homeless individuals between the fourth and fifth quarters. (Despite notable decreases in some areas – VA, CT, and KY – increases in other communities, including OH and NYC, contributed to a rise in this number.)
We also noted a couple of economic indicators:
When comparing January – March 2009 to January – March 2010, seven of the eight sites showed increased joblessness. (LA showed a 0.1 percent improvement in joblessness.)
Five communities experienced increased joblessness between the fourth and fifth quarters.
Half of the sites had increased rates of foreclosure activity.
Another point of concern (that’s often reported in news outlets) is the number of newly homeless. In this quarter’s Pulse report, we see that:
In the eight communities surveyed, the number of newly homeless serv... Read More »
The 10 Best Things on Our Website
October 20, 2010
So after tipping my hat to the 100,000 Homes Campaign for featuring our interactive tools and maps on their (awesome!) blog, I did a little tooling around to remind myself of other really useful tools on our very own website!
The Alliance has, for almost 30 years, lead the campaign to end homelessness in the United States. And over the decades, we’ve accumulated the data, best practices, and effective strategies necessary to end homelessness.
And we’re hoping to share them with you!
After checking out our most visited pages and most popular tools, we’ve compiled a list of ten things - links, pages, reports – you need in order to end homelessness in your community (read: really great tools and info). And, just for good measure, I've tossed in a couple not-so-popular but ever-so-useful links as well.
The About Homelessness section.
This section gives you a broad snapshot of homelessness at the national level and includes sections and information on different demographics, the cost of homelessness, and maps produced by the Homelessness Research Institute(HRI).
The Interactive Tools and Solutions section.
HRI produces a number of charts, tools, and maps to help you better understand homelessness. Some of the more recent tools illustrate the number of doubled-up households in the United States, HPRP spending per household in the cities we’re tracking, and reductions in point-in-time counts necessary to meet the goals outlined in the federal strategic plan to end homel... Read More »
The McKinney-Vento Awards hosted by the Law Center
October 18, 2010
Imagine you’re a 7 year old and your family becomes homeless. Every night, you fall asleep in a shelter, in a car, on the street. Imagine moving in and out of the assistance system, shuffled back and forth from shelters to programs to relatives. Suddenly, school, teachers, classmates, and even homework become the constants in your life - anchors of normalcy when everything else seems to be falling apart.
Last Thursday, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty hosted the annual McKinney-Vento Awards, the organization’s yearly tribute to leaders in the field. This year’s awardees included best-selling author Barbara Ehrenreich, the law firm Dechert LLP, and the Elzer family of Pittsburgh, PA.
As a novice to the organization and the issue, I felt lucky to tag along and learn. Even on a national level the homeless assistance community is a small one. That is why these events like this one are great opportunities to meet other people in the field, recognize the innovators, and connect with like-minded people and organizations.
As I sat taking in the night, one issue resonated with me most: the plight of homeless children.
The McKinney-Vento Act allows children in homeless families to stay in their original public school regardless of where their family is temporarily staying. Still, as I learned Thursday evening, there are homeless children who face discrimination when trying to exercise that right.
The Elzer family faced just this situation. When ... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Making Progress
October 15, 2010
This week we have heard some powerful arguments for Housing First and supportive housing.
Our good friends Rosanne Haggerty of Common Ground in New York and Martha Kegel of UNITY in New Orleans authored a fantastic piece in defense of supportive housing. A proposed project in New Orleans – a city still suffering the effects of a hurricane five years past - would redevelop an abandoned nursing home into supportive housing for people with disabilities and low-income working people is facing opposition from the local community. Rosanne and Martha do such a great job articulating the argument, I’ll let them speak for themselves:
“Homelessness is a humanitarian crisis, but it is bad for a community in many other ways as well. By converting abandoned buildings into beautifully renovated apartments, supportive housing offers an opportunity to help solve several of New Orleans' pressing problems at once. Housing the homeless is good for everyone.”
In other news: Massachusetts is kicking butt in implementing and executing their plan to end homelessness; the state has helped place 376 people in housing and has helped prevent almost 11,000 families from becoming homeless through a Housing First model. Even as the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance reports the numbers of new families and individuals seeking help continues to grow in the area, Boston's Pine St. Inn claims to have eliminated 10 percent of their shelter beds due to successful housing placements – at an estimated savings of $9,000 per person. Way to go, MA!
A new... Read More »
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty to host McKinney-Vento Awards
October 13, 2010
Today’s guest post comes from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. Our good friends at NLCHP are hosting their annual McKinney-Vento Awards tomorrow - Thursday, October 14 - at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel.
Each year, at our annual McKinney-Vento Awards, NLCHP pays tribute to the voices of homeless persons and those fighting to make them heard. This year, on Thursday, October 14, at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, D.C., NLCHP is proud to welcome U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan as keynote speaker at an evening honoring individuals and organizations who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the fight to end homelessness in America.
The NLCHP is pleased honor New York Times best-selling author Barbara Ehrenreich, whose work has demonstrated a deep commitment to raising awareness of and promoting understanding about poverty and homelessness in the U.S. We are also excited to honor Dechert LLP, a firm with an exemplary record of pro bono legal work. Lastly, we will honor the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania, which will receive the Bruce F. Vento Award.
We are also honored to recognize the Elzer family with the Personal Achievement Award.
Last spring, in the span of a month, the Elzers lost everything. The father, William, lost his job, the family's vehicle was repossessed, and they were forced out of their house and into shelter. But as the children began to adjust to their... Read More »
Youth Site Visit Campaign: Educating our leaders about youth homelessness (over turkey)
October 12, 2010
Today's guest post comes from Jeremy Nichols - advocacy intern at the Alliance.
If you stop by the Alliance and pop your head in to see what the Advocacy staff is working on, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll hear rumblings about our Youth Site Visit Campaign.
What’s the Youth Site Visit Campaign, you ask? Good question! We’re asking homeless assistance providers around the country to invite their Member(s) of Congress to visit their programs over the Thanksgiving recess. (site visit, get it?)
With the Youth Site Visit Campaign, we hope to:
Raise awareness among Members of Congress about the issue of youth homelessness
Strengthen local relationships with Members of Congress from across the country
Encourage Congress to increase funding for Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs.
Youth homelessness is an issue that’s always bubbled just beneath the surface of headline news. Just today, there were two articles – one from Tampa, FL and the other from Pittsburgh, PA - about the troublesome incidence of youth homelessness.
It’s a serious if underreported problem: homeless youth are at higher risk than their adult counterparts of abuse, exploitation, violence, and crime. And if that weren’t enough, we’re really bad at finding them, counting them, and helping them out. Youth tend to fly under the radar of local and federal assistance programs, evade outreach efforts, and slip through the cracks of the system. Even when young people... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: The good, the bad, the soccer
October 08, 2010
Let’s start with some good news.
A great little article from up in Oneida, NY notes the importance of the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program. In Madison County, the Community Action Partnership (CAP) took their HPRP stimulus money and used it to extend short-term, temporary housing assistance for nearly a hundred families in the community.
According to the executive director of CAP, this temporary assistance can be a “soft gap” for people waiting to qualify for Section 8 housing vouchers or for those who need a little extra time before achieving self-sufficiency. The program has been “phenomenal,” not only aiding vulnerable families and providing budgeting counseling but also preventing hundreds of instances of homelessness in the neighborhood.
Things are less phenomenal in Las Vegas, NV where public schools are witnessing an influx of homeless students – an increase of 15 percent according to this morning’s article on the issue. Officials in Nevada note the affect – particularly hard in that state – of three year’s of recession the state resulting in persistent unemployment and, sometimes, job loss (a lagging indicator, as we’ve noted.) The story notes a specific increase in the number of “couch surfers” and doubled up families. Homeless youth are even more vulnerable than their adult counterparts, at higher risk to violence, abuse, and crime.
New York caused a bit of a buzz earlier this week when it announced the city’s Department of Homeless Services decided to run a study to determine if... Read More »
Educating homeless children - Nathan Hand, School on Wheels
October 05, 2010
Our guest post today comes from Nathan Hand of School on Wheels in Indianapolis, IN.
The anatomy of a movement
Seventeen years ago, Agnes Stevens saw something severely wrong with the world. Millions of children were homeless and not able to focus on their education among the distractions and hardships that come with their situation. She started School on Wheels Inc. – a volunteer-based tutoring effort to support these vulnerable children. She rallied volunteer support and started gathering supplies.
It literally all began by handing out backpacks, pencils, crayons and glue sticks to kids on the street. Today, there are nearly 1,500 tutors spread across Southern California helping homeless youth focus on their education and get the one-on-one help they often need.
Nine years ago, Sally Bindley from Indianapolis, Indiana saw a similar problem. She learned of Agnes’ efforts, flew to L.A. and shadowed her. For two weeks she talked to kids, parents, tutors, staff, shelters and anyone involved in the effort. Taking copious notes she brought back the pieces of the program that she thought would best suit the issue in Indianapolis and got to work. She gathered a couple friends, started collecting supplies, engaged tutors, and built funding relationships. And sure enough, School on Wheels Corp. was born. Today there are over 500 volunteer tutors serving every child in a family homeless shelter in Indianapolis. In addition, all students receive a new backpack packed full of school supplies, a new boo... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Check the Facts
October 01, 2010
I am going to start off with the good news first because I know the East coast has had a rough week! We at the Alliance got a little recognition today for our work helping the The Lincoln Homeless Coalition revamp the way they serve homeless families. Which, faithful reader, you already know all about from this blog. So kudos to our CAP team! (Want the CAP team in your community? Check out the website.)
Working at the Alliance may make me biased but I was convinced even more this week about the importance of homelessness research. In order to effectively solve a problem, we must first fully understand it. And the research can be hard to swallow - like this report from Toronto - which indicates that homeless youth, particularly lesbian and bisexual women and young people of color, are overwhelmingly victims of crime. Why on earth would anyone victimize a homeless kid?
But with every cloud comes a silver lining. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) has urged members of the Senate to designate these kind of violent attacks against people experiencing homelessness as hate crimes. This act, the "Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act," would lead to stiffer penalties for perpetrators and mandate the collection of data on this problem - which hopefully will lead to better solutions. All this because of reports that violent attacks of this nature have been on the rise here in the United Stat... Read More »
Tiago Russo Pinto: Run Home
September 29, 2010
Today’s post comes from Tiago Russo Pinto, the winner of the Alliance photo contest. He shares with us the origins of the beautiful photograph and how he came upon the opportunity to take it.
The Run Home photo was part of a 2007 Bay Area Foundation Advisory Group to End Homelessness. It was a group effort to create the right image for the cover of the publication entitled, "Repairing Lives, Preparing Futures: Philanthropy's Role in Supportive Services to End Homelessness."
During the development of the project, the team had a concept in mind for the execution and look of the image; however, we were not sure if it would translate into what we wanted without looking staged. When I met the family featured in the photograph I knew that they would materialize our message – they had just been approved for housing and they were ready to move in a couple of months.
It was a great experience for me as a photographer because I had the chance to capture a scene that had meaning. The family in the photograph was truly feeling what the image portrayed as in real life they had conquered and fulfilled their dream. I was there just to capture their success story.
To see all the great photos submitted to the contest, check out our Flickr page. To keep up with other Alliance activities, events, or just to learn more about homelessness, join us on Facebook or ... Read More »
Photo Contest Winner - Tiago Russo!
September 27, 2010
We are delighted to announce that Tiago Russo is the winner of the Alliance’s first ever photo contest!
Tiago submitted the photo “Run Home,” a heartwarming picture of a young boy running up the stairs towards with his family in the background. Alliance staff, judges, and friends all agreed that photo evoked an enthusiasm, joy, and energy around the concept of housing and home.
The contest was a close one and we’re so appreciative of all the people who took the time to submit photos and share their thoughts on what ending homelessness really looks like. The photos you’ve shared will find their ways into Alliance reports, products, and web pages – in fact, some staff favorites will cycle through the slideshow on the Alliance’s website this week (take a look!).
Thank you so much for your participation – we couldn’t have done it without you! This was the first time the Alliance engaged with supporters and advocates online and your participation ensures that this certainly won’t be the last! Please keep your eyes out for more contests, discussions, and other requests for feedback!
Congratulations again for Tiago and many thanks to you all!... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Community efforts to end homelessness
September 24, 2010
In truth, it’s been a quiet week on the news front. No big surprise. With 38 days until midterm elections, it seems like voracious news cycle has bigger and juicier fish to fry that handle homelessness and housing.
But we know better.
First up, we got the poverty numbers. Last week, we wrote about the numbers coming out of the Census Bureau showing that the number of people living in poverty went up by 4 million people this year. This week, there were some noteworthy pieces floating around about the reaction to those numbers. The good people at NPR wrote about how the numbers are creating some (much needed) stir about aid programs. An editorial in the Detroit Free Press echoed sentiments that growing poverty numbers indicate a need to extend relief efforts to those most vulnerable. Yet the Washington Post observed that – even in the face of such important news – the numbers got a “muted reaction” on the Hill.
There was also some buzz at the local level – both good and bad news.
There’s was a flurry of news coming out of Oregon when the state released a report that homelessness among students was on the rise. Education Weekly also hit upon the affect of schools on homeless youth just yesterday, noting that the school system can offer resources and stability that such students don’t get elsewhere.
There’s some buzz in California about homeless youth too. The State Assembly is... Read More »
News Roundup – Special Tuesday/college student edition
September 14, 2010
It’s a story that’s a little outside our wheelhouse, but has started showing up on our telephone lines.
We’re talking about college students facing cost-prohibitive housing options and turning to fitness center facilities, coach-surfing, and shelters.
We’ve heard whispers of this story before. In July, NPR released a story about the confluence of rising education costs and a poor economy. The result, the story suggests, is financially-strapped college student struggling to meet the most basic needs – including food and housing. In December of last year, the Washington Post ran a column about a couple local students who were struggling to keep their head above water in classes while living in shelters. Change.org also featured a post about the rising number of homeless college students, suggesting that colleges and universities take into consideration the rising cost of living as well as the rising cost of higher education.
But only lately has the problem shown up – live and on the phone – in our own offices. We’ve had students call and want to know how to navigate financial aid bureaucracy in order to qualify for more housing aid. We’ve had students call simply to see if we can help them find housing or housing assistance. It came to such a point that our administrative staff asked, in staff meeting, for resources that we can share with these young people who turn to us for support – usually as a last resort as... Read More »