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National Alliance to End Homelessness

Newsletters | November 21, 2006

November 21, 2006    

    POLICY  \|  DATA + RESEARCH  \|  TOOL + TRAINING  \|  NEWS + MEDIA Forward Editor: Samantha Batko    
   
 
Spotlight On...

Managing the Media: Holiday Questions

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As the holiday season approaches and the temperature starts to dip, local reporters are likely to inquire about holiday-oriented activities by homeless service providers and what communities are doing to help homeless people. These are important questions to answer, and you can encourage your newspaper to ask questions that focus on ending homelessness. Here are some suggestions to move the conversation:

 

  • Remind reporters that while no one wants to be without a home during the holiday season, people are homeless in your community year-round, needing assistance of all types.
  • While many in the community reach out to homeless people during the holiday season, this type of support should be channeled year round by advocating for more units of affordable and supportive housing as a real solution to ending homelessness.
  • Are you serving fewer people this holiday season than last year? If so, discuss the strategies that your community is using to end homelessness.

 

For more tips on managing the media, contact Nell McGarity, Media Relations Associate at the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

 

 


Republican Congressional leaders have decided to leave the federal budget unfinished and allow the incoming Congress to finish appropriations bills that fund most federal agencies, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Lawmakers are expected to pass a temporary bill to keep agencies on the same spending levels as this past year until the new Democratically controlled Congress can complete the measures in late January or February. The release of HUD's SuperNOFA and other notices of funding availability could be delayed as agencies wait for funding levels and policy guidance from Congress. The delay could also make it more difficult for Public Housing Agencies to manage their subsidy programs, because they won't know their funding levels until several months after their fiscal year begins January 1.



Both chambers of Congress and both political parties held elections last week to determine the leadership for the new 110th Congress which will officially begin in January 2007. The Senate Democrats elected Senator Harry Reid (NV) as the Majority Leader and Senator Richard Durbin (IL) for the second highest ranking post of Majority Whip. The House Democrats elected Representative Nancy Pelosi (CA) as the Speaker and Representative Steny Hoyer (MD) as the Majority Leader.

Republicans elected Senator Mitch McConnell (KY) as their new Minority Leader and Senator Trent Lott (MS) as Minority Whip. In the House, Rep John Boehner (OH) will become the Minority Leader and Rep Roy Blunt (MO) the Minority Whip.

The Senate Democrats also announced their committee assignments. The following committees have jurisdiction over issues involving homelessness:
  • Agriculture
  • Appropriations (particularly the Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury, and Housing and Urban Development (TTHUD) and the Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services and Education)
  • Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
  • Budget
  • Finance
  • Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
  • Veterans’ Affairs
While all Members of Congress play a role in changing policy, membership on these committees gives a Member of Congress a more influential role on federal homeless policy. The Senate Democrats have assigned members to these committees already; the House of Representatives will be announcing their committee assignments in January.



The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) recently released a policy brief on how Congress can strengthen the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8). According to the brief, alterations made to the Section 8 formula over the past three years have had unintended effects such as shortages of vouchers at some housing agencies while other agencies have surpluses. Overall, there has been a national loss of 130,000 vouchers since 2004. CBPP believes that the President’s suggested appropriation of $14.4 billion would be sufficient to renew all vouchers if the formula was adjusted to one that distributes funds more efficiently. In the brief, CBPP analyzes three approaches to funding the voucher program: the approach used in the SEVRA bill, the House’s 2007 HUD appropriations bill, and that of the Senate. Using the most recent HUD data, they find that the SEVRA formula makes the most efficient use of federal dollars, and would avoid voucher cuts in 2007 as well as reverse some of the more recent cuts.



On November 17, the Religion, Public Policy, and Political Change Consultation of the American Academy of Religion; The Urban Institute; and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy cosponsored “Forum on Young Black Men: Challenges Facing Young African-American Men, Their Families, and Their Communities: The Role of Policy, Culture, and Faith.” The forum consisted of two panels, “The Costs of Neighborhood Exclusion and Isolation” and “Improving Work and Family Prospects for Young African American Men.”

“The Costs of Neighborhood Exclusion and Isolation,” moderated by Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune and paneled by Margery Austin Turner of The Urban Institute, Darryl Timiew of Medgar Evers College, and Joe Pettit of Morgan State University, focused on housing and community building in largely minority areas with high poverty rates. Turner proposed a two point approach to helping poor communities: enabling families that would like to leave poor communities through voucher programs and restoring the health of poor areas through resources so that those families that choose to stay are also receiving benefits. Turner also stressed that the African- American population tends to suffer more from structural and systemic deficiencies because poor African-Americans tend to live in centralized locations while poor white Americans tend to be spread throughout the suburbs, benefiting from the resources provided by wealthier neighbors such as good schools systems and ample employment opportunities. Trimiew stressed the role of those who succeed in the African-American community, suggesting that instead of “escaping” to the suburbs, those individuals should stay in impoverished areas and “lift as they climb,” advocating for an agenda that moves the focus from female-lead households and failure to graduate high school and incarceration rates to the concept of an untapped population with a plethora of skills. Petit also focused on the need for a change in the way the situation is discussed, stressing the importance of faith based communities in welcoming African-American families into their communities.


The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) of the US Department of Justice is accepting applications for fiscal year 2007 Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program Grants. Often, people leaving jails and prisons have a history of mental illness, physical and sexual abuse, addiction to alcohol and drugs, and homelessness. It is important to ensure these individuals receive the necessary care to ensure successful reentry and public safety. This often requires the collaboration between the community and correctional treatment providers. The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program Grants, authorized by the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act, are available to facilitate this cooperation of criminal justice, juvenile justice, mental health, and substance abuse agencies to help individuals with successful reentry.


 
 
   ABOUT US
 
The National Alliance to End Homelessness is a nonpartisan, non profit organization dedicated to solving the problem of homelessness and preventing its continued growth.

www.endhomelessness.org


 
   EXPERT Q & A
 
Dan Mudd
Take a five minute break from whatever you are doing to hear about emerging issues, new research, and personal stories from experts and leaders in homelessness and housing policy. This months expert is Dan Mudd, Chief Executive Officer of Fannie Mae.


 
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