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07/16/2013 - Ending Family Homelessness: A Message to Continuum of Care & Ten-Year Plan Leaders from Barbara Poppe
Recently, I wrote about the urgency to increase our efforts to end chronic homelessness, suggesting key questions Continuums of Care and Ten Year Plan leaders should ask. Today I want to pose similar questions related to how we address family homelessness. People in families make up nearly 40 percent of the homeless population nationwide. To reach our goal of ending family and child homelessness by the year 2020, we must realign our programs and systems now. As a mother, this quote from Marian Wright Edelman tugs at me: “The future which we hold in trust for our own children will be shaped by our fairness to other people's children.” Shaping better community responses to family homelessness is about shaping our collective future. Thank you for stepping up to the challenge..
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs (SNAPs) launched an effort to clarify their priorities and outline the changes HUD would like Continuums of Care to propose in the forthcoming FY 2013 Notice of Funding Availability competition.
We applaud Mayor Michael A. Nutter for delivering a powerful message about ending homelessness in his final speech as President of the United States Council of Mayors.
06/20/2013 - Ending Chronic Homelessness: A Message to Continuum of Care & Ten-Year Plan Leaders from Barbara Poppe
Not long ago, I sat in the same place that you are sitting, managing the Continuum of Care and leading our community's ten-year plan to end homelessness. You have challenging jobs to do and I know you are balancing many competing issues and priorities. I've been fortunate to visit communities that are making great progress, and to support and work with communities that still struggle. Now I would like to share some reflections on the lessons I've learned from you, my colleagues, in our mission to end homelessness. Thank you for listening and especially for acting.
Today I want to address chronic homelessness, which is the first goal in Opening Doors. We have fewer than 1,000 days to bring the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness to zero; every day and every minute counts. For people living with disabilities and disabling conditions, every day or minute spent on the streets is another day or minute spent struggling to survive. So this message is a call to action. I am reaching out to ask, are we doing everything we can do to end chronic homelessness by 2015? Here are the top-ten questions you and the leaders of your ten-year plan should consider (not likely to be picked up by David Letterman but hopefully useful nonetheless).
By Barbara Poppe, USICH Executive Director
I recently participated in the National Summit on Women Veterans Homelessness in Chicago sponsored by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF). As summit organizers explained, “women represent an important and growing segment of the Veterans’ community, and the post-service challenges facing many of the nation’s 1.8 million female Veterans can be formidable.”
Participants included a representative group of program practitioners, advocates, researchers, policy experts from USICH, HHS, and VA, and female Veterans with firsthand experience of homelessness. We spent a day and a half together exploring what we know about homelessness among female Veterans and interventions that prevent and solve homelessness for this population. IVMF plans to publish a white paper, Recommendations on Prevention and Interventions to End Women Veteran Homelessness, which will be disseminated through federal, state and local networks.
Project-based vouchers are a powerful tool that can be used to create and sustain a homeless response system in any community. Housing Authorities are allowed to convert up to 20 percent of their Housing Choice budget authority into vouchers that are attached to a project. By attaching the voucher to the project, developers can depend on a steady stream of operating subsidy at market rate rents – while serving households who typically have extremely low incomes. This level of subsidy serves as a real incentive for developers to create permanent supportive housing. HUD has given Housing Authorities quite a bit of flexibility in designing local criteria for the award of project-based vouchers. In Houston’s case, we have determined that project-based vouchers are a powerful tool that can be used in the fight to end homelessness. We are leveraging this tool by creating a preference for developers who are serving those experiencing homelessness and providing permanent supportive housing so tenants can be successful in their transition from living on the streets or in their cars to living in a home of their own.
HUD Announces second round of Continuum of Care grants, expanding support for more than 500 agencies across the country
Yesterday HUD announced $72 million in second round Continuum of Care (CoC) grants to over 500 local organizations serving individuals and families experiencing homelessness. The $72 million in grants announced support a wide range of programs including street outreach, client assessment, and direct housing assistance. In March, HUD awarded more than $1.5 billion in a first round of grant funding to renew support for more than 7,000 other local programs. HUD will make a third round of funding to support selected new projects later this year. View a complete list of all the state and local homeless projects awarded funding.
“We know these modest investments in housing and serving our homeless neighbors not only saves money, but saves lives,” said Donovan. “These local programs are on the front lines of the Obama Administration’s efforts to prevent and end homelessness as we know it once and for all.”
We encourage you to take a look at the organizations in your state that received funding. You can access the full list of grants from HUD’s press release here.
Ending Veteran Homelessness by 2015
Following the April 16, 2013 Council meeting, USICH released its newsletter yesterday focused on important programs and policies that we need to accelerate if we are to achieve the goal of ending Veteran homelessness by 2015. Framed by the article "Pushing to the Goal: Three Ways to Accelerate Ending Veteran Homelessness," the supplementary articles focus on these three important areas: faster connections to permanent housing, identifying and meeting the needs of every Veteran, and building stronger bridges to mainstream benefits. Learn about progress toward the 2015 goal, read the newsletter here.
Lastly, The Department of Veterans Affairs recently made a pledge to prioritize disability claims pending over one year for immediate settlement. Read about the announcement in the Washington Post.
The question of how to effectively respond to youth homelessness has long been a preoccupation of mine. My work with homeless youth in Canada began in the 1990s, during my time at Shout Clinic, a community health center for street youth in Toronto. At that time, the problem of youth homelessness was not only becoming much more substantial in cities across the country, it was growing in visibility. As communities scrambled to provide emergency services, such as shelters and day programs, politicians and the news media railed against the scourge of youthful panhandlers. Twenty years have passed, and in many ways things have remained the same.
The longer I am involved with this issue, the more it seems completely unacceptable that we allow young people to languish in emergency shelters, many for years on end. Not only do they experience extreme poverty while exposed to sexual exploitation, addictions and other harms, we may actually be condemning them to a lifelong pattern of poverty, deprivation and potential homelessness. We must ask ourselves: can we do better?