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National Alliance to End Homelessness

Newsletters | October 3, 2006

October 3, 2006    

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

Housing Costs Rising, According to the Census


The Census Bureau released the American Community Survey housing characteristics data for 2005 on October 3. The data released today include housing characteristic information such as occupancy, units in structure, year built, rooms, occupants per room, vehicles available, gross rent, house heating fuel, and other characteristics. The data show that, between 2000 and 2005, real median monthly owner costs have increased 5 percent with some of the highest increases in Detroit, Chicago, and San Francisco. The cost of rental housing is also increasing nationally—6.7 percent from 2000 to 2005 with San Diego, Detroit, and Los Angles experiencing some of the biggest increases. Look for more in- depth analysis coming next week.



Congress passed the conference agreement on the Children and Family Services Improvement Act of 2006 (S.3525), which reauthorizes the Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) program. PSSF offers funding to prevent families from entering the child welfare system and supports family reunification and other permanency services to allow youth to exit foster care or institutional placements in a timely manner. The newly reauthorized program also includes funding for regional partnerships to address substance abuse and child welfare workforce improvements. The PSSF program was given mandatory funding of $305 million (funding provided automatically without an annual appropriation) and $200 million in authorized funds (funding requiring authorization by Congress).

The reauthorization legislation offers an additional $40 million annually (totaling $345 million in mandatory funds for the PSSF program). These new funds will be divided between competitive grants to regional partnerships designed to address the safety, permanence, and well-being of children at risk of placement as a result of substance abuse and support for monthly caseworker visits with foster children in their foster homes. In addition, the conference agreement requires that states have plans for their child welfare systems in case of a disaster. The final legislation was a compromise between the House and Senate versions of the reauthorization and included strong bipartisan support.

Kids in the City: American Community Survey Indicators

The Brookings Institution recently published a report on urban child poverty, health, and security. According to the Brookings Institution, in 2004, poverty among children in the 50 largest cities in the US was 28 percent, 10 percent higher than the national average. This rate increased between 1999 and 2004 in 16 cities, decreased in one, and remained statistically unchanged in the remaining 33 cities. Atlanta experienced the highest rate of child poverty in both 1999 and 2004. Los Angeles is the only city in the study to have seen declines in the rate in the five year period. Labor force participation and single parenthood were found to be closely related to the rate of child poverty in a city. This study utilized published and unpublished data on child poverty from the 2004 American Community Survey (ACS) and reported the conditions in 50 of the largest cities in the country.

GAO Evaluates VA’s GPD Program

The Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) estimates that, in 2005, on any given night there are about 194,000 homeless veterans, according to a recent report released by the General Accounting Office (GAO). The report examines the VA’s Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem (GPD) program, which is up for reauthorization. The program provides transitional housing to homeless veterans. While the VA has increased its capacity to serve homeless veterans—increasing the number of transitional housing beds from 2,000 in 2000 to 8,000 in 2005— there are still not enough beds to meet the need. The VA estimates that an additional 9,600 beds are needed to cover the current gap. The study found that “resource and communication gaps may stand in the way of VA and provider efforts to meet these [program] goals.” The GAO recommended that the VA “take steps to ensure polices are understood by providers and staff” and that the VA explore options for obtaining data on long term outcomes for veterans who leave GPD programs.

The State of Working America 2006/2007

The Economic Policy Institute recently released The State of Working America 2006/2007. It examines the challenges faced by middle- and low-income working families. While the economic growth that began in this country in 2001 has helped raise the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to a 50 year high and incomes of the wealthiest in this country have grown substantially, wages and incomes for middle- and low- income Americans have fallen to a historic low. The book points to a rise in productivity and a lowered demand for domestic products contributing to low wages and a rise in unemployment. The books authors also contend that real unemployment is actually higher than reported due to discouraged workers who have stopped looking for jobs and those who have taken part-time jobs because that was all they could find. The authors made several policy recommendations including raising the minimum wage, a universal health care system, the creation of more public sector jobs in order to create true full employment, and revising the current tax policies.

Community Ten Year Plans: National Update

All across the country, advocates, nonprofit providers, and city and county officials are continuing to develop and implement ten year plans to end homelessness. Over ninety ten year plans have been completed, and more are continuing to be developed. Most recently, on September 27, 2006, county and city leaders in Sacramento, CA unanimously approved a plan that will focus on ending chronic homelessness. Sacramento’s “10-Year- Plan to End Chronic Homelessness” adopts a Housing First approach and promises approximately 500 permanent supportive housing units to be built over the next five years.

Several other plans have been fully developed and are waiting approval from government leaders, including a ten year plan in Hennepin County, Minnesota and one in Manatee County, Florida which targets chronic homelessness. One of the most encouraging developments is in the state of Michigan. In March 2006, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) challenged all 83 counties in Michigan to develop ten year plans to end homelessness. Now, these communities are in the process of submitting their plans to the state, and, on Oct. 24-25, 2006, MSHDA will host a celebration for the progress that Michigan communities have made in ending homelessness.

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

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 month's expert is Dennis Culhane from the University of Pennsylvania.

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