Looking forward: A federal program, state budgets and local counts

written by naehblog
January 6, 2010

It’s a brand new year – a time to start anew, set resolutions and goals, and look forward to the year ahead.

Here at the Alliance, we’re readying for exciting new year: a midterm election, new legislative challenges, a focus on prevention and housing for the homeless – and that’s just the beginning. It’s a promising year in the field of housing and homelessness.

There are a lot of issues we’re keeping an eye on, but here are a few highlights:

HEARTH Act implementation 
Last May, President Obama signed into law the HEARTH Act. The HEARTH Act is the first significant reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance programs in nearly 20 years and allocates millions more to homelessness prevention, rapidly re-housing homeless families, and providing permanent supportive housing for homeless people with disabilities. There’s a lot of work to be done before any changes are implemented. We’re looking out for draft regulations, and we expect finalized regulations by May 20.

State Budgets
43 states have made cuts to services for vulnerable residents and with a $140 billion projected shortfall for state budgets in fiscal year 2011, there’s likely more to come. From California toConnecticut, programs that support homeless people have already seen their funding slashed. As the need for these services persist – and even rise – how will states respond with fewer and fewer resources?

In order to receive HUD funding, municipalities must provide counts of people experiencing homelessness during odd-numbered years (like 2009), but they are not required during even years (like 2010). However, these counts help track our progress toward ending homelessness and provide a clearer, more accurate picture of the landscape of homelessness and how it may or may not be changing. The January 2010 count is particularly significant, as it may be the first notable indication on how the recession is affecting homelessness. We at the Alliance are keeping an eye on how many communities are counting, and what those counts may suggest.

Prevention and Re-Housing strategies
By now you know that the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing is no small matter for the Alliance – this new program has the potential to generate some real, tangible, and lasting new strategies and practices in ending homelessness. As 2010 marches forward, the Alliance will continue to monitor how communities are implementing these new funds, and share HPRP stories from municipalities across the country.

January always brings with it the hope of the New Year – a chance to renew our commitments and goals. Feel free to share with us any goals you have in the New Year – anything you think we should be keeping an eye on?

What questions are on your mind about homelessness in 2010?