Ending Homelessness Today — Youth
New Alliance Staff!
July 27, 2010
For a walk on the lighter side of the Alliance, we would like to introduce you to two new members of our staff!
Stephanie is a graduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno studying Public Administration. Stephanie says she has been keeping up with the Alliance’s research for a few years, and has wanted to come to DC to engage in real policy research, so she came here to work with us! Stephanie is a Youth Policy Research intern, who will be working on creating Best practices for applying HPRP to youth programs, and is also helping create a baseline for the number of homeless youths. Also, one of her hobbies is welding!
We are glad to welcome Pete to the staff as our new Research Associate for the Homelessness Research Institute (HRI). Before he was with us, Pete worked with the Montgomery County Planning Department for the National Center for Smart Growth. While he is here, Pete will be helping with HRI’s general goal of disseminating research and data throughout the community, as well as helping to educate people about homelessness. One project he is working on right now is to create Community Snapshots of homelessness. Fun fact, Pete is the 7th of eight children. Also, we are all very excited for Pete and his wife who are expecting their first little girl September 21st!... Read More »
Examining the Federal Plan: Objective 8 –Youth Homelessness
July 08, 2010
The new federal plan to end homelessness has set 10 objectives to guide us on the path to ending homelessness.
And the bait was just to good to pass up.
On the blog, we’ll examine each goal, what’s known, what isn’t, and what we’re going to do moving forward on that goal. We’ll call the series, “Examining the Federal Plan.”
This week we will be looking at objective eight, “Advance health and housing stability for youth aging out of systems such as foster care and juvenile justice”.
I myself am still learning a lot about the different kinds of homelessness, but the Alliance is chock full of people who are each a wealth of information and more than willing to help me learn. Since this objective has to do with youth homelessness, I thought this week I could do a post about youth homelessness in general, since it is an area of homelessness that often goes unseen.
To learn about youth homelessness, I talked to LaKesha Pope, Senior Youth Policy and Program Analyst.
Here are some of the questions I asked her and what I learned:
What causes youth homelessness?
Youth can become homelessness for many different reasons, many of them the same factors that cause other groups to experience homelessness. However, the major factors that usually contribute to youth homelessness are family dysfunction and breakdown, specifically family conflict, abuse, and disruption. Many youth enter a state of homeless... Read More »
What you should know about the Runaway Homeless Youth Act
May 12, 2010
Maybe you read in USA Today that the number of calls to the National Runaway Switchboard doubled in 2009. Maybe you've heard that running away from home puts young people at risk of violence, crime, prostitution, drugs and health problems. Maybe you're an outreach worker who hears these stories every day. If, for these or any other reasons, you're concerned about youth homelessness, you should know about the Runaway Homeless Youth Act (RHYA). Along with the Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) Act, RHYA is one of two federal programs aimed at helping homeless youth.There are 3 main RHYA programs:The Basic Center Program, which helps meet immediate needs of runaway and homeless youth and their families including providing emergency shelter, reunification when possible, food, clothing, counseling, and access to health care;The Transitional Living Program, which provides funding long-term residential services to homeless youth ages 16 to 21 for up to 18 months;The Street Outreach Program, which funds outreach efforts designed to move youth off the streets.Particularly in these tough economic times, these programs are crucial. Not only do they prevent victimization on the streets, but they are more cost-effective than foster care or a correctional facility. And still, current programs do not meet the need: in 2009, RHYA programs served less than 41,000 with shelter services and less than 4,000 received transitional housing. Over 7,500 youth were turned away and denied shelter and housing.We at the Alliance are now looking to Congress... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Good News for People Who Want Progress
April 09, 2010
I like good news. As I read our daily media clips and search the blogosphere for news about homelessness, what I find is mostly infuriating, depressing, or somehow deeply upsetting. While that's the nature of the beast, I also think we're making progress, and I want to highlight it. Here's a few bright spots in homelessness headlines from the week.Boston's WBUR reported on how funds from the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program helped a mother fleeing from an abusive boyfriend find housing. (I interned for Heading Home, the organization profiled, in summer of 2006, helping out in their drop-in shelter and helping pave the way for their transition to providing permanent housing. I think they're amazing - and that's where I first learned about the Alliance!)Folks broke ground on a new housing development for veterans experiencing homelessness outside Seattle As part of their ongoing series on youth homelessness in FL, the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida posted some adorable pictures of the children at their Early Child Development Center. This is a pretty incredible story: despite struggling with homelessness, this LA teen has totally conquered his high school and is moving on to West Point with the help of their alumni association. A new permanent supportive housing development called Florence House opens this week in Portland. For more on progress toward ending homelessness there, check out this post from HUD's blog. Speaking of frustrating news, the... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Research on chronic homelessness, youth, vets
January 22, 2010
Organizations across the country are looking to fill their volunteer rosters for annual Point in Time counts next week. Volunteer in your area and look forward to a more detailed look at counts on this blog next week.Otherwise, a variety of interesting, important research pieces have come out this week. Here's a handful of highlights:Results of a study on youth homelessness in Oregon came out this week. While we're always glad to see data on youth homelessness, it looks like numbers of youth experiencing homelessness are increasing pretty dramatically, service providers say.A University of Birmingham professor Jeffrey Michael Clair spent two years interviewing Birmingham's chronically homeless. His conclusion? "Public policy should be oriented more toward enabling people to work and to secure a dwelling." Agreed. (Found this one through Inforumusa.)The Corporation for Supportive Housing's Richard Cho was featured on the Funders Together blog this week with research from the Frequent Users Forum. Their work shows why permanent supportive housing is a cost-effective solution to chronic homelessness: case management combined with permanent housing for those stuck in the "institutional circuit" reduces time and public money spent in hospitals, jails and shelters. The Department of Veteran's Affairs recently reported on the ways they're shifting medical systems to better serve veterans who are homeless, including integrating health care and other services, like job training and housing. Though many of the 131,000 homeless veterans in the U.S. struggle with addiction... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: 38 percent drop in homelessness in Los Angeles, California
October 30, 2009
Without question, the news of the day is the reported 38 percent drop in Los Angeles, CA.
In a year when everything seemed to present endless challenges for the homeless and homeless advocacy community – rising unemployment, stifled state budgets, increasing homeless counts, reduction of public services, and the rest – it seemed incredible that the city with the largest homeless population in the country saw such a pronounced decrease in their numbers. The Los Angeles Continuum of Care (CoC) is a solid ten percent of the entire homeless population in the country – so any significant movement in their number would represent a notable change in the nation’s homeless population.
All to say – we definitely noticed.
And the inevitable question that rises from such a report is this: how?
Alliance staff has ruminated about the data for the last couple days. Together, we discussed the drop in the sheltered count (down by 19 percent), rental unit vacancy rates for the last five years (up by 3 percent), the unemployment rate (up by 5 percent), the Consumer Price Index (down by 4 percent), and – of course – methodology. We compared Los Angeles to New York and the nation, comparing numbers and rates and population, noting the general difficulties in counting homelessness people – especially the unsheltered (67 percent of the homeless population in LA is unsheltered.)
Of course, all these variables could play a role in determining how and why the count went down as significantly as it did. The rate of rental ... Read More »
Research Council Notes - What's Next in the Field of Homelessness Research?
October 28, 2009
Yesterday, the Alliance hosted a convening of the Research Council – a handful of leaders in the homelessness research field – to discuss the direction of homelessness research. After a few moments sharing new and innovative projects that each member was working on, the group went forth to discuss three major points:
What has been achieved from the last agenda?
What is the future of homelessness research?
What are the policy implications of our research?
In the last Research Agenda, the council attempted to answer some of the bigger questions facing the field:
What programs and policies are effective in preventing chronic homelessness?
What mix of housing assistance and services prevents and ends homelessness?
What characteristics distinguish those poor, at-risk families who become homeless from those who don’t?
As the voices of these research heavyweights whirled around the room, I furiously took notes on the questions that seemed to resonate loudest. It became clearer and clearer that as much as we have learned about homelessness, there is even more that we don’t know. Now that the foundation has been laid on the issue of homelessness, the charge – it seems – is to dig deeper and deeper until homelessness is no longer the social problem we know today.
But in this economic climate and at this particular point in time, there are a few questions that rose as the obvious questions we need to answer soonest:
1. What is the impact of the recession o... Read More »
Data + Research: Video Fact Sheet
October 06, 2009
Apologies for the hiatus over the last week.
But today, we make it up to you by launching our very first video fact sheet.
A lot of times, we get asked this question: How many homeless people are there?
And while that may seem like a simple question to answer, it’s actually more complicated than it seems. It’s not easy to count homeless people, so there are a lot of estimates. It depends on how you define “homelessness”. It depends on the groups you’re interested in – most people think of single adult men when they picture homelessness, but there are also families and children and veterans.
There’s also different methodology – the Department of Housing and Urban Development requires that all communities count homeless persons in their area every other year, but people count in different ways, so the number should account for that.
And we get variations of the question, too. How many people are homeless in a specific community? How many people who are homeless have a serious disorder? How many people are disabled? How many are youth? How many qualify for federal assistance – and of those, who’s accessing federal assistance?
So it’s actually a pretty complicated answer – and sometimes it can be hard to understand.
But luckily for you, the director of the Homelessness Research Institute – M William Sermons – put together this great video fact sheet explaining the numbers in an easy, understandable way... Read More »
Troubles in Colorado
September 18, 2009
So Colorado is counting their homeless population, and the outlook doesn’t really look so great for the state.
According to the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, there are about 11,061 homeless people in the metro Denver region. That number is about 4 percent higher than the last official count in 2007, but homeless advocates think that the survey results are already out of date since their January 2009 count. John Parvensky, director of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, suggests that the real number could be up to 20 percent higher than the 2007 count.
The Alliance had long anticipated that the number of people experiencing homelessness would rise in these economic times, especially if there were no national or other concerted actions to try to remedy the effects of the recession on the very poor and the homeless (who, as we know, are often the hardest hit by economy tumult). Luckily since then, the President has since then created the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing program (HPRP) as a part of the stimulus and we are, in fact, seeing evidence of rising homelessness and more people in need of basic services.
Here are a couple of highlights about the news from Colorado.
The Denver Post reports that almost approximately 45 percent of those recently counted were newly homeless.
34.7 percent of those counted attribute their homelessness primarily to job loss; 31.2 percent counted attribute their homelessness to the inability to pay for housing.
The Denver count also suggest t... Read More »
Foster Children: Youth Homelessness and Housing
September 10, 2009
Today, I had the opportunity to attend a meeting addressing housing and homelessness issues for foster children and youth. Hosted by the National Foster Care Coalition (NFCC), this meeting brought together advocates, policymakers, government officials, and other interested parties in addressing the issue of foster children.
According to the NFCC, there are nearly half a million children and youth in foster care - and of those, over 26,000 age out of the foster care program without ever having joined a permanent family. Studies have demonstrated that these youth - who never experience the benefits of permanent housing and support - often are more likely to experience negative outcomes, including poverty, homelessness, incarceration, as well as mental and physical illness. They often never learn the life and educational skills necessary to live successful, independent lives.
Luckily, there are actions that we can take to help these foster care children, and increase the odds that they will become productive, active members of society. The NFCC presented a housing policy platform for foster care children, which include the following (these are just a selection among a longer list):
Increase the legal and financial incentive to providing foster placement prevention services, including housing.
Require federally-mandated child welfare planning/plans to integrate housing goals.
Provide federal incentives for states to extend foster care [services] until 21, if needed.
Change TANF to support minor parents in their efforts to find housing for themselves and their children.
As an... Read More »
Guest Blog: On the Ground Notes, Community Lodgings (Alexandria, VA)
September 03, 2009
In the fight against homelessness, there are a number of solutions and ideas. So far, we as a country have embraced homelessness management – and constructed a series of shelters and assistance programs that do benefit the lives of the homeless but does little else to lift them out of homelessness in a more effective and permanent way.
The Alliance supports a different approach – one based on permanent housing as a solution to homelessness.
In between the two is the concept of transitional housing – a temporary situation that can aid individuals and family who are suffering a short-term crisis. Here’s a story from Bonnie Baxley, Executive Director at Community Lodgings. Inc., a transitional housing program in Alexandria, Virginia.
All families who enter Community Lodgings’ Transitional Housing Program are homeless and most are referred to us by local temporary shelters. Each of our families has their own unique story usually revolving around themes that are all too familiar: addiction, domestic violence and a lack of education.
Recently, we welcomed a new family to our program. J.D., a single mother, and her 5-month old son exemplify the constant struggle that characterizes homelessness. Still, they continue to overcome seemingly incomprehensible problems through support from our caseworkers and their own enduring hope and perseverance.
A 31-year old single mother, J.D., was referred to Community Lodgings from a local homeless shelter. She entered our two-year program with a history of incarceration and substance abuse as ... Read More »
Meet Rich: Youth Homelessness and Housing
September 01, 2009
Richard HooksWayman - senior policy analyst at the National Alliance to End Homelessness - is the Alliance expert on youth homelessness and housing policy.
Last week, the Youth team launched a Youth Housing page. It's filled with great resources, presentations, and best practices - AND a national Youth Housing Policy Agenda to pursue more housing and resources for youth experiencing homelessness.
For more information about youth homelessness or youth housing, please do not hesitate to contact Rich HooksWayman or Lakesha Pope at the Alliance!... Read More »
One more day…until the Annual Conference!
July 27, 2009
The annual National Conference on Ending Homelessness officially starts on Wednesday, July 29 at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C.
The annual events hosts luminaries from the homeless advocacy fields, and presents workshops, plenary sessions, and keynotes speakers sharing a wide variety of perspectives, best practices, and new ideas.
This year, the Alliance is expecting 1200 participants, 250 speakers, presenting 76 workshops, six pre-conference meetings, four keynote speakers, as well as a couple focus groups, expert roundtables, and terrific networking opportunities. Keynote speakers include Sen. Jack Reed (D – RI), Director of White House Office of Urban Affairs Adolfo Carrion Jr., homelessness scholar Dennis Culhane, and Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs Shaun Donovan.
As usual, the gathering will be a rare opportunity for policymakers to mingle with direct service providers to mingle with elected officials to mingle with members of the general public and press. Each of these stakeholder groups will be able to offer their perspectives and concerns while attending workshops about the stimulus funds, housing strategies, chronic homelessness assessment, youth homelessness, and a breadth of other homelessness issues.
For three days, these 1200 people will trade their personal experiences and expertise on ending homelessness in the United States and hopefully – with luck and determination – everyone will leave the annual conference better equipped to address homelessness in their geographic, political, policy areas.
And behind this wonder of a conference is a small staff of very dedicated individuals (if we do... Read More »
Why Housing First?
July 23, 2009
Early last week, the staff at the Alliance had a messaging meeting where a staff member shared with us the frustrations of people he’s been meeting on the field. With the recession in high gear and people in dire need of help, why – advocates and providers asked – why were we not endorsing the rapid construction of temporary shelters?
And then I saw this article on my good friend Shannon’s change.org blog.
So I thought the timing was right to ask: Why Housing First?
But first: What is Housing First?
Housing First is a concept that was pioneered by Dr. Sam Tsemberis of the NYU School of Medicine and an organization in New York called Pathways to Housing.
The premise of the Housing First campaign is the housing is a basic human right and should not be denied to anyone, regardless of their habits or circumstances. Housing First prescribes providing the homeless permanent supportive housing – which includes supportive services coupled with permanent housing (not shelter). The supportive services address addiction, mental health, case management and the like, and provides stability for homeless individuals. These services increase the ability of homeless individuals to maintain permanent housing and achieve self-sufficiency.
It’s important to note that this approach is a significant departure from the traditional way the country approached homelessness before. In the old system, homelessness management was emphasized through shelter, mental health services, medical services, and the like before permanent h... Read More »
Understanding the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Programs
July 15, 2009
So last week I did something new – the release of the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), so I thought this week I’d do something old: the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistant Act.
The McKinney-Vento Act was authored by Stewart Brett McKinney – a Republican Congressman from Connecticut – and Bruce Frank Vento – a Democratic-Farm-Labor Congressman from Minnesota, both of whom were known to their peers as advocates of those less fortunate, and dedicated to finding supportive programs and solutions to homelessness. The bill was signed by President Ronald Reagan, who – ironically - is often accused of contributing to modern-day homelessness by deinstitutionalizing mental health facilities in the 1980s.
The McKinney-Vento Act was a comprehensive, multi-faceted bill that:
Established the Interagency Council on Homelessness, a group of representatives from 15 federal agencies charged to design a comprehensive approach to reduce, prevent, and end homelessness in the country, and
Created 20 assistance programs administered by nine federal agencies providing a spectrum of services to homeless people, including supportive housing, emergency shelter, emergency food and shelter grants, rental assistance, job training and education, etc.
The original text of the bill firmly establishes that homelessness is a growing social problem that can be addressed by the federal assistance. I found it particularly interesting that they wrote, “the problem of homelessness has become more severe and, in the absence of more effective efforts, is expected to become dramatically worse, endangering the lives and safety of the homeless; the... 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 »