2011 National Conference Presentations

The 2011 National Conference on Ending Homelessness ended on Friday, July 15. For those unable to make our conference - or unable to make certain workshops - presentations materials from select workshops are available here.

Pre-Conference: Evidence-Based Practices for Serving Runaway and Homeless Youth
Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs and other agencies serving low-income and vulnerable populations are increasingly being encouraged to adopt evidence-based practice strategies. This session, hosted by the National Network for Youth (NN4Y), will examine evidence-based models to serve at-risk and homeless youth and explore efforts underway to develop further evidence on what works to prevent and end youth homelessness.

Medicaid: Tools and Information for the Fight Against Homelessness
Linking homeless people to Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income Americans, has become an increasingly important federal priority. Specifically, case management, substance use, mental health, and primary care services covered by Medicaid can play a critical role in helping many people who are homeless regain stability, both physical and residential. This preconference session will cover the most recent changes states are making as the result of the American Care Act, steps providers and homeless organizations can take to increase their organizational capacity and readiness for Medicaid, and a discussion of other federal and state policies such as the new Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act which was signed into law in the last Congress, that are influencing both supportive housing and Medicaid services programs.

1.1 Strategies for Engaging Congress
Getting resources for your community to prevent and end homelessness requires advocacy targeted toward the policymakers who control those resources. In this workshop, presenters will cover key advocacy strategies, including conducting congressional meetings to elevate the issue of ending homelessness as a priority for federal policymakers. This workshop is intended for those who wish to increase and improve their federal advocacy efforts and is ideal for participants involved or interested in Capitol Hill Day.

1.2 Engaging Local Political and Community Leaders
For communities aiming to implement the tools and strategies necessary to end homelessness, identifying a local champion to spearhead the movement can mean the difference between failure and success. Communities across the country are working diligently to get leaders on board with their message and impact the local dialogue around homelessness. This workshop will examine strategies to engage local and political leaders in efforts to end homelessness in your community.

1.3 Basics of Rapid Re-Housing
Rapid re-housing is a strategy that has been used successfully to reduce lengths of homeless episodes. This workshop will provide an introduction to rapid re-housing and include a discussion of how this strategy can be used to end homelessness for youth, families, and survivors of violence.

1.4 A Beginner’s Guide to Affordable Housing Development
A healthy stock of affordable housing is one of the key factors to preventing homelessness in a community. This workshop will present introductory information on how to effectively develop affordable housing. Presenters will discuss funding for and development of affordable housing, as well as examine barriers to successfully developing affordable housing.

1.6 Supported Employment: Strategies for Employing People with Disabilities
Helping people who are disabled and chronically homeless find employment is an important factor in ending homelessness. This workshop will examine strategies that aim to increase employment for this subpopulation. Presenters will discuss community partnerships and programs that serve to increase employment among the chronically homeless and disabled.

1.7 LGBTQ Youth: Improving our Response and Gaining Community Support
It is estimated that as many as 40 percent of youth experiencing homelessness in select cities across the nation are LGBTQ-identified. This workshop will explore program improvements to better serve LGBTQ youth, to build better funding applications, and to improve data collection along the way. In addition, this workshop will help organizations respond to changes in federal funding requirements and will also focus on working with the faith-based community, LGBTQ organizations, and community members.

1.8 Closing in on Zero: Lessons from Worcester, MA
Worcester, Massachusetts has reduced chronic homelessness by over 90 percent. This workshop will examine several strategies used in the community to achieve these dramatic reductions.

1.10 New Research on Homelessness among Veterans
Homelessness among veterans has been decreasing in recent years due to dedicated programs and increased resources. This workshop will provide a snapshot of recent research conducted by the National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans. More specifically, presenters will examine research data regarding the prevalence of homelessness, inter-city modeling of homelessness rates, aging of the homeless veteran population, and other relevant topics.

1.11 Data and Performance Simplified
Homeless assistance increasingly relies on data, performance measurement, and management information systems. This workshop will describe elementary concepts in data and performance management, as well as practical strategies for using data systems to support a performance-based homeless assistance system.

1.12 Innovative Housing Interventions for Survivors of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence service providers are working to increase their capacity and provide survivors with more options and control over their housing situations through the use of prevention and rapid re-housing strategies. This workshop will feature domestic violence service providers who, through their own organizational change or through creative partnerships, are helping survivors remain housed (when that is a safe option), or quickly re-access permanent housing while still providing an array of services to address survivors’ needs.

1.13 Expanding Housing Options for Youth: HPRP Innovations
The Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program (HPRP) provides communities with flexible funds to house families and individuals experiencing homelessness. A number of communities have appropriated some of these funds specifically for homeless youth providers. In other communities, youth providers and homeless service providers have formed partnerships to serve youth with these funds. This workshop will examine a variety of strategies providers are using to house youth with HPRP, and will also briefly review HPRP guidelines.

2.1 Federal Strategic Plan Update
The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, released in June 2010, set target goals for ending chronic and veteran homelessness in five years, and family, child, and youth homelessness in ten. In this workshop, presenters will review progress toward these ambitious, but achievable, goals. Presenters will also discuss the critical next steps required for continued implementation of the plan to end homelessness.

2.2 How to Create a Communications Strategy
To maximize their effectiveness, organizations must be able to clearly and concisely communicate both the mission of their organization and the importance of that mission to their community. In this workshop, presenters will cover the elements of effective messaging as well as the different ways to distribute a message to disparate audiences. Participants will partake in activities focused on distilling a clear idea and aligning messages with goals.

2.4 First Served: Prioritizing Tenants for Permanent Supportive Housing
Many communities have found that their efforts to end chronic homelessness are most effective when they target permanent supportive housing to people with the longest histories of homelessness, the most severe health problems, and the greatest risk of continued homelessness. Presenters in this workshop will provide examples of various targeting tools and initiatives, as well as answer questions about how these efforts can be replicated.

2.5 Shifting Gears: Options for Transitional Housing
The Federal Strategic Plan, the HEARTH Act, and many communities’ ten year plans to end homelessness have been encouraging transitional housing providers to reassess their program models. This workshop will explore the benefits and possibilities of different options for transitional housing resources. The workshop will provide resources for carrying out program changes and examples.

2.7 Early Childhood Home Visiting: New Opportunities
Providing parenting support, child development, and health services to young children experiencing homelessness can improve their health, social, and educational outcomes while also protecting them from some of the most pernicious effects of homelessness. This workshop will examine new opportunities to support families with young children through the Early Childhood Home Visiting Program and the partnerships providers are crafting to improve children’s outcomes.

2.8 Designing Rent Subsidy Programs: Lessons Learned
HPRP has allowed communities to structure rent assistance to meet the needs of individuals and families facing homelessness. This workshop will examine the variety of rental assistance strategies used, including declining rental assistance subsidies and tailoring rental assistance based on individualized assessments. The workshop will also feature discussion about the use of progressive engagement that employs ongoing assessment of household needs to determine the types and levels of rental assistance needed. Creative partnerships to provide rental subsidies to underserved homeless populations, including homeless youth and survivors of violence, will also be explored.

2.9 Services in PSH: Medicaid Makes a Difference
Health care services are paramount in combating homelessness. Presenters will highlight key aspects of the Affordable Care Act and its implementation, examining implications for ending chronic homelessness, such as through models like permanent supportive housing (PSH). Successful models and promising strategies for working with the Medicaid program will be presented.

2.10 First Contact: Creating a Front Door to Your Homelessness System
How do families enter your homelessness system? When families need shelter, is it easy for them to find? Are families that experience homelessness quickly put on the path to re-housing? This workshop will provide examples of coordinated entry into homelessness assistance, which helps families find the most appropriate shelter and sets them on a path to re-housing.

2.11 Serving Homeless Veterans 101
Effectively ending homelessness among veterans will require mastering a wide range of information, including how to marshal mainstream homeless assistance and veteran-specific resources. Additionally, it is critical to understand eligibility requirements for and availability of a variety of programs, and the mechanisms necessary to address the multiple barriers veterans face in achieving and maintaining housing stability. This workshop will cover the existing and emerging resources for assisting our homeless veterans.

2.12 Creating a Yardstick: Developing a Performance Measurement System
This workshop will help communities create or improve upon a performance measurement process and establish outcome standards for individual programs and for their system as a whole. Presenters will discuss how to use data to analyze and make adjustments to a homeless assistance system's performance, especially as it relates to HEARTH Act-related measures.

2.13 Perfecting Rapid Re-Housing: How to Leverage Landlord Relationships
Time and time again, communities that have had experienced success implementing rapid re-housing attest to the importance of developing strong relationships with public and private landlords. This workshop will cover how to develop these relationships and use them to locate and acquire housing as well as help consumers stabilize in permanent housing. Strategies useful to providers working with singles, families, and domestic violence survivors will be discussed.

3.2 Retooling the Crisis Response System
One of the most important strategies included Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness is retooling the crisis response system so that it can better address homelessness and housing problems. In this workshop, audience members will learn about strategies for retooling their crisis response in a way that better prevents and ends homelessness.

3.4 Voluntary Service Models: Serving Families in Their Own Homes
The expansion of rapid re-housing and prevention assistance means that many case managers are now serving families in their own homes as opposed to at a single site. This workshop will examine how providers have made the transition into a voluntary, home-based service model. Presenters will also address how this model can be employed for survivors of violence.

3.5 Prevention: Targeting the Imminently Homeless
Those individuals and families that are the most economically vulnerable have an elevated risk of experiencing homelessness. The Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transitional Housing (HEARTH) Act will require all communities to target prevention resources to households that are below 30 percent of area median income. This workshop will highlight communities that have developed strategies to identify and target prevention resources to people who are imminently homeless.

3.6 Learning Labs: Using Stakeholder Workgroups to Improve Community Interventions of Your Homeless Assistance System
Communities with high-performing homeless assistance systems deliberately create opportunities to obtain and incorporate stakeholder feedback into their overall performance improvement strategy. These opportunities are most often captured through work groups that include community leaders, providers, funders, and consumers. Speakers in this workshop will share how their communities have incorporated workgroups as a strategy to inform and refine their homeless assistance systems.

3.7 What Do We Know About Aging and Vulnerability to Homelessness?
Homelessness can take a severe toll on an individual’s health and well-being. This effect can be even greater on elderly people experiencing homelessness. In this workshop, experts will present the state of knowledge about the aging homeless population and implications for policy and practice.

3.8 Meeting People Where They Are: Homeless Individuals with High Service Needs
Some homeless individuals also experience challenging and disabling conditions such as severe mental illness, HIV, or substance abuse problems. This workshop will focus on client-centered approaches – such as assertive community treatment (ACT), harm reduction models, and trauma-informed services – that start with clients’ understanding of their own needs, which will ultimately help people become stably housed and lead the highest quality lives possible.

3.9 Civil Rights and Housing for Homeless Individuals with Disabilities
Interpretations of fair housing regulations and the American with Disabilities Act can compel people with disabilities to view access to community-based housing and supports as a matter of right. This workshop will explore whether laws such as these can help efforts to end chronic homelessness. Presenters will share their knowledge of federal requirements, enforcement priorities, and realistic remedies for communities.

3.10 Public Housing Authorities: Partners in Ending Homelessness
Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) are important partners in the fight to end homelessness due to the diverse resources at their disposal and their experience with housing subsidies and affordable housing markets. This workshop will provide insight into how communities can best collaborate with PHAs to reduce homelessness. Presenters will include staff from PHAs and homeless assistance providers.

3.11 Lessons Learned: Transitional Employment for Families, Singles, and Youth
Unemployment and underemployment can put households at risk of or cause an episode of homelessness. Transitional employment can expand job opportunities for those with the greatest barriers. This workshop will examine partnerships and programs that provide transitional employment services to youth, ex-offenders, and family heads of household.

3.13 Collaborating with Schools to Serve Children and Youth
Homelessness can be extremely disruptive to school attendance and performance. Public schools across the country are increasingly identifying homeless children and unaccompanied homeless youth. This workshop will examine partnerships that homeless service providers have forged with schools in order to better respond to both the housing and educational needs of students. These collaborations help identify youth and families in need of housing assistance, provide safe and developmentally appropriate housing, and help children stay engaged in school.

4.2 How to Navigate Media Relations
It can be challenging to develop and preserve relationships with the media – yet media relations can bring increased public awareness to an organization or issue. In this workshop, presenters will review the interests of each person in the media relations trio – the reporter, the spokesperson, and the press officer – and how those three agents interact with each other.

4.3 Child Welfare's Response to End Youth Homelessness
Child welfare and homelessness have long been intertwined. Many youth enter the child welfare system simply because the family is homeless. Other youth exit child welfare and only to become homeless. This workshop will focus on strategies, programs, and practices – including the Fostering Connections Act, use of Chaffee dollars, and the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) – to decrease the risk of homelessness for youth exiting child welfare, and changing the child welfare systems’ response to homelessness.

4.4 Coming Together: Engaging Faith-Based Providers
One of the primary challenges to preventing and ending homelessness is ensuring that all the key players are participating in community-wide initiatives and planning. Presenters will discuss how to engage faith-based providers, including homelessness providers that typically do not participate in planning efforts.

4.5 Serving Families Outside the Shelter System: Identification, Outreach, and Engagement Strategies
Some families who are homeless, or are at acute risk of homelessness, do not actively seek assistance from homeless service programs. Families may be unaware of programs that are available to help them, have become discouraged by long wait lists for assistance, or fear child welfare involvement if they share their predicament. This workshop will examine how programs are identifying families who may be sleeping outdoors, in cars, abandoned buildings, or moving frequently from one motel to another and connecting them with the supports that help them transition back into stable housing.

4.6 Service Priorities for Homeless Veterans – How Does VASH Fit?
It is estimated that 76,000 Veterans experience homelessness on any given night. Rapid re-housing and permanent supportive housing are vital to end homelessness for our veterans. This workshop will highlight successful models for meeting the needs of homeless veterans and making the Department of Housing and Urban Development – Department of Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH) an element of overall strategies to house vulnerable veterans.

4.7 Transitional Living Programs for Youth: What Works
Transitional Living Programs (TLPs) are critical in providing necessary services for runaway and homeless youth. This workshop will examine how TLPs can improve the housing, economic, and social outcomes of unaccompanied homeless youth. It will explore a variety of TLP models including congregate, scattered-site, and transition-in-place strategies, as well as services that promote positive development, education, and employment. Presenters will discuss strategies to improve program outcomes through enhancing data collection and analysis, expanding housing options, and reducing barriers to TLPs for youth.

4.8 Preventing Recidivism and Homelessness: Housing Strategies for Ex-Offenders
One of the challenges communities face is preventing homelessness for ex-offenders and reintegrating them into their communities. It is estimated that four in ten offenders return to prison within three years of their release. Presenters in this workshop will highlight evidence-informed programs offering reentry and diversionary services. Special consideration will be given to coordination between corrections systems and homeless systems of care.

4.9 What’s New in Homelessness Research
Building effective, evidence-based homeless assistance systems requires an understanding of new findings regarding the characteristics and experiences of people encountering homelessness, and the effectiveness of traditional and new interventions. In this workshop, researchers will present recent research that can be used to inform policy and practice.

4.11 Using Diversion to Reduce Homelessness
Diversion is one of many strategies a community can use to reduce homelessness. This workshop will profile communities that have successfully implemented diversion techniques, including securing temporary housing outside the shelter system and service provision outside of shelter, to close the "front door" into homelessness. How diversion fits with other prevention and rapid re-housing strategies will also be discussed.

4.12 Strategies for Working with Undocumented Families and Individuals
Identifying and providing homeless assistance to undocumented families and individuals is complicated by real and perceived legal and cultural barriers. This workshop will provide an overview of the legal restrictions and options available to programs serving undocumented people experiencing homelessness. This workshop will also feature presenters who will describe promising practices and program models for serving this important subpopulation.

5.3 Using Data to Spur Systems Change
What are the best ways to plan and coordinate client services using the abundant data captured with your HMIS? In communities across the nation, HMIS is being linked with mainstream human service management information systems to leverage the power of their data. Presenters will discuss the benefits and challenges of integrating HMIS with mainstream systems and examine how to overcome barriers to systems integration.

5.4 Local Research on Homelessness
Researchers across the country are conducting community-level research that informs local policy and decisions. Presenters will describe research they have conducted, share methodologies used in their research, and discuss how local research can inform decisions that affect homelessness.

5.5 Accommodating All Families: Addressing Substance Abuse
Communities must have interventions in place to end homelessness for all families, including families that have parents who struggle with an addiction or substance abuse problem. This workshop will explore the continuum of service interventions needed to help such families achieve housing stability and improve their health and functioning. Models that support recovery, promote positive family outcomes, and safely serve families with parents that are still using or abusing substances will also be explored.

5.6 Performance Improvement: Strategies from Communities that Have Reduced Homelessness
The HEARTH Act requires communities to measure and improve their performance on key indicators that directly impact overall homelessness. Several communities have already developed strategies to measure and improve their performances in reducing homelessness. Presenters from some of these communities will describe their approaches to performance improvement.

5.7 Collaborating with Law Enforcement – Promising Strategies for Working with the Police
Individuals living on the streets or in homeless encampments may interact frequently with the police yet be outside a community’s homeless and social service system. This workshop will examine effective local partnerships that have been crafted with police departments to help identify, engage, and house vulnerable people experiencing homelessness.

5.8 All About Benefits: Maximizing Income for Homeless Households
For employed and unemployed homeless households alike, benefits are crucial to remaining stable in permanent housing. The majority of individuals and households, however, remain unaware of these benefits. Presenters will provide tips and strategies on getting consumers the benefits they are eligible for as quickly as possible.

5.9 Creating Successful Exits from Permanent Supportive Housing
Permanent supportive housing (PSH) is crucial for serving chronically homeless households and households with intensive service needs, but may not be the final housing destination for all of them. This workshop will cover how homeless assistance systems can identify eligible candidates who wish to move out of PSH and support them in their next steps.

5.10 Understanding Rural and Tribal Homelessness
Rural and tribal areas face unique challenges in ending homelessness. Their ways of overcoming issues like inadequate emergency shelter and serving people located in remote service areas can provide lessons for all communities, regardless of their size. Representatives from these areas will identify and discuss their specific issues and share lessons learned in this workshop.

5.12 Funding Strategies for Programs Serving Homeless Youth
Unfortunately, many of the federally funded programs for youth provide relatively small grants leading programs that specifically serve homeless youth to cobble together a variety of funding sources to provide all the necessary services and housing options. This workshop will look at possible federal, state, and local funding sources accessible to programs in order to better house and serve homeless youth, including HPRP, McKinney-Vento, private donations, faith-based partnerships, and the Fostering Connections Act.

6.1 How to Maximize the Impact of Social Media
Social media is an increasingly popular way to advance the mission of your organization but due to the evolving nature of social media, it can be difficult to decide where to begin. This workshop will review how to evaluate which social network platforms are right for your organization. Presenters will also discuss the basics of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media networks.

6.2 Making the Case: Effective Advocacy Strategies for Youth Providers
In order to end youth homelessness, advocates must convince Congress and other elected officials to make the issue a priority. Presenters will review the role of advocacy in increasing resources to end youth homelessness. Additionally, this workshop will cover ways to become an effective advocate for policies addressing youth homelessness. Participants will learn tips for maximizing the effectiveness of key advocacy strategies, such as conducting congressional meetings and involving youth in advocacy efforts.

6.3 Preventing Homelessness among Veterans
In 2010, with the release of the Federal Strategic Plan, the federal government set the goal to end veteran homelessness in five years. This workshop will discuss the collaborative work being conducted by the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development as they work to implement this ambitious goal.

6.4 Governance Strategies for Improving Community-Wide Outcomes
One of the keys to implementing plans to prevent and end homelessness is effective oversight and governance that promotes accountability and ensures that new initiatives are carried out. This workshop will describe several models of governance and some of the key management strategies that promote successful implementation. It is intended for individuals who are responsible for coordinating or managing community-wide homelessness strategies.

6.5 Effective Strategies for Outreach to the Street and Abandoned Buildings
The most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness are often only minimally engaged in their communities’ homeless programs. This workshop will examine effective strategies for street and abandoned buildings outreach, with a focus on engaging chronically homeless and unsheltered people. Presenters will discuss successes and challenges they have experienced while assisting chronically homeless and unsheltered people into permanent housing.

6.6 Working with Local Social Services to Meet the Needs of Families
The community as a whole plays a part in helping families prevent homelessness, aiding families experiencing homelessness and to supporting families transitioning out of homelessness. This workshop will help providers to educate and advocate for consumers who must engage with mainstream services such as TANF, job development services, and child care.

6.7 Advanced Re-Housing Strategies
While rapid re-housing is new in most communities, there are providers that have much longer experience in employing this strategy. Presenters will go beyond the basics of re-housing and describe more advanced and comprehensive re-housing efforts. This workshop is for providers who already have a basic grasp of rapid re-housing techniques and will include plenty of discussion and exchange of ideas with participants.

6.8 Improving the Response to Youth In and Out of the Juvenile Justice System
Many homeless youths have been involved with the juvenile justice system, or are at risk of involvement. Presenters will profile strategies to de-criminalize behavior of youth living on the street, engage youth to promote safety and stability, and identify mentors within and outside of the juvenile justice system. They will also cover methods of helping youth with records navigate systems in order to get housing, employment, legal, and service needs met.

6.9 Working with Employers to Increase Job Opportunities
Employment is one of the key components needed for consumers to move from, or avoid homelessness. This workshop will examine strategies and opportunities to engage employers in hiring and promoting consumers.

6.10 Targeting for Success: Serving Homeless Families with the Highest Needs
This workshop will examine program and practice models to provide housing and strengthen family stability when parents are struggling with chronic homelessness, mental illness, substance use, or physical challenges such as a disability or HIV/AIDS. Short-term, intensive intervention models such as Critical Time Intervention for families, and longer-term intensive services connected with model such as permanent supportive housing will be explored.

6.11 Serving Older and Disabled Homeless People
How do age and disability shape care planning and service coordination for people experiencing homelessness? Presenters will share models and approaches to meeting their needs, including strategies employed within mainstream aging services.

6.12 Creating a Local Housing Trust Fund
Housing trust funds are established by local or state governments to provide a flexible resource for affordable housing using ongoing, dedicated sources of public revenue. As other forms of funding shrink, a dedicated local housing trust fund can help communities address unmet needs. This workshop will examine how communities have designed, campaigned for, and ultimately implemented local housing trust funds.

6.13 A Different Perspective: International Models for Ending Youth Homelessness
Youth is an area in which there are a host of unanswered policy and practice questions and a wide range of mainstream players. Youth homelessness is not unique to the U.S., however, and other nations including Australia and Canada have put far more emphasis on solving the unique problems of this population. This workshop, moderated by Alliance President Nan Roman, will consist of brief presentations followed by a moderated discussion with panelists and an active question and answer session with the audience. The workshop will highlight varying models of what communities outside of the U.S. are doing to address and end youth homelessness.