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USICH Blog | Media Center | United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH)

05/18/2012 - Hollywood Joins the Fight against Veteran Homelessness

As coordinator of the 100,000 Homes Campaign, Community Solutions is proud to be partnering with USICH, VA and HUD to lead the national housing pillar of the ambitious new Got Your 6 Campaign. Last week, in a show of support for veterans and military families, representatives from nearly every major Hollywood production studio, broadcast and cable network, talent agency, and guild in the entertainment industry announced the launch of the Got Your 6™, a new effort to support veterans and foster opportunities for them to contribute their unique skills and abilities in communities across the country.  Got Your Six aims to support and empower veterans around six pillars of reintegration, each led by a different group of top-tier non-profits and government agencies.

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05/17/2012 - New Veterans Resource and Referral Center in DC:  Greater than the Sum of its Parts

On May 9th, I had the pleasure of attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Washington, DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s new Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC)  in Northeast DC.  The CRRC offers a wide range of health care and social services to Veterans experiencing homelessness and those at-risk of homelessness.  Services include a Primary Care Clinic, a complete kitchen, laundry and shower facilities, food pantry, a play room for children, and education and employment resources. The CRRC will be open 24/7 providing resources to Veterans from the District of Columbia, Southern Maryland, and Northern Virginia, though not all services will be available 24/7. 

Dr. Clarence Cross, a chaplain at DC’s VAMC, captured the hope and intent for the CRRC best in the invocation when he said that it “will be greater than the sum of all its’ parts:” it is a place where Veterans and their families can access services whether they are in need of one service or many, and help them find or maintain safe and stable housing.    

 

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05/15/2012 - New Mexico: Steps to Make a Plan Come to Life

The New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness recently held its first statewide conference in Albuquerque on ending homelessness in their state. I had the honor of delivering a keynote to stakeholders from across the state at the conference and was joined by leaders such as Linda Couch from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (on the right in this photo). The energy, enthusiasm, and true passion for the cause of ending homelessness among service providers, advocates, and government officials was inspirational. 

The challenge for this group now is figuring out how to harness that energy and deploy it in a careful and coordinated way to move from planning to action. This challenge is not unique to New Mexico nor is the major elements of their strategy to end homelessness very different from other states. However, the specific activities to support the strategy will need to be tailored to the population of individuals and families experiencing homelessness specifically in New Mexico. Using Opening Doors as a guide, New Mexico can create a framework for state- level efforts that can be replicated and adapted by the diverse communities throughout the state.  

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05/10/2012 - Transitioning to stability: VA provides incentive for Transition in Place model

Transitional housing for people who are experiencing a housing crisis has taken many shapes in communities over the last 20+ years.  In its traditional form, transitional housing is time limited housing (from 

two weeks to two years) that includes various levels of assistance to help the individual or family transition into permanent housing.  It is often delivered in single household units or in smaller congregate settings with intensive services that are generally mandatory for the tenant/client to stay in the housing.  It is an expensive intervention but can represent a significant part of the crisis response portfolio, including those units targeted at Veterans, victims of domestic violence, and youth.

However, as communities look to resolve rather than manage homelessness, they are retooling their resources to include models that have housing stability as its focus.  A model the VA and USICH are encouraging is a Transition in Place Model. 

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05/09/2012 - Local United Ways Playing a Leading Role

Imagine the possibilities if every local United Way across the country was engaged in solutions to end homelessness. What would progress look like if the business leaders and volunteers that support United Ways were pushing for real systems change and investing to create community impact to prevent homelessness?

I imagine there would be more high profile champions working with elected officials, providers and advocates to develop and implement local strategic plans to end homelessness that are aligned with Opening Doors. These champions would elevate the community engagement to increase resources directed toward solving homelessness.

I imagine that there'd be fewer projects stopped by NIMBY as business leaders would be joining forces with permanent supportive housing developers. They would help make the case to elected officials that supportive housing is a cost-effective solution to street homelessness and encourage land use approvals despite neighborhood objections. 

I imagine that shelters would be better coordinated and able to be organized around a central access point: a result of United Way investment and volunteer support to create the most efficient approach by applying business technology and practices. The result would be shorter lengths of stay and more exits to housing.

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05/08/2012 - Ending Veteran Homelessness in Ohio: VISN 10 Summit on Homelessness and Employment Opportunities for Veterans

We’ve made notable progress towards the goal of ending Veteran homelessness by 2015. Last year, we saw a 12 percent decrease nationally in homelessness among Veterans. This progress has helped put us on the path toward ending homelessness among Veterans by 2015. Despite this progress, over 67,000 Veterans experienced homelessness on a single night in January 2011.

Now more than ever, we need a greater sense of urgency. However, communities are increasingly being asked to do more with less. To meet this challenge we must coordinate our efforts and act strategically in order to accelerate our progress and make our limited resources go farther.

Reviewing progress and maximizing efforts to end Veteran homelessness was the purpose of VA’s VISN 10 Veterans Homeless Summit that I participated in on May 1 in Columbus, Ohio. The Veterans Integrated Service Network 10 serves veterans in Ohio, Northern Kentucky, and Southeastern Indiana. I presented at the Summit on Opening Doors and specific strategies for increasing economic security for Veterans.

 

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05/02/2012 - Trauma-Informed Care for Women Experiencing Homelessness and their Children

Today, USICH highlights the issue of trauma-informed care, particularly from the angle of trauma-sensitive programming. While it is absolutely critical to understand the impact of traumatic events past and present on an individual's ability to rebuild, it is equally important to think about how an organization structures and operates its programs to take trauma sensitivity into consideration. How are staff expectations set and how does professional development occur? What are the program rules, why do they exist, and how are they enforced? How do programs build trust with families when it might be perfectly natural for a family not to trust the program right away? 

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04/30/2012 - Reflections on the 2012 Point-in-Time Count in New Orleans

I’ve participated in the annual Point-in-Time counts in a number of different cities over the past decade.  The Point-in-Time count is one way we collectively can understand the scope and breadth of homelessness across the country and to measure our progress toward ending it. To kick off our new blog at USICH.gov, I thought I would reflect on a truly unique count that I did this January in New Orleans.

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04/30/2012 - Rural and Frontier Homelessness center stage at expert panel

Rural homelessness is a topic that gets very little widespread coverage in the media, which may signal to the general public that homelessness is an urban problem. This is not the case. Rural and frontier homelessness is a pressing problem though it is one that looks different from urban homelessness. SAMHSA recently brought together expert practitioners and researchers to share their thoughts and best practices in serving individuals and families experiencing homelessness in rural areas. This is what I heard.

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04/30/2012 - Housing First: a movement goes mainstream

Last month, over 600 practitioners, policymakers, advocates, and consumers gathered together in New Orleans at an event called the ‘Housing First Partners Conference.’  The 2 ½ day event was the first national conference focused exclusively on the Housing First approach of providing people experiencing chronic homelessness with affordable rental housing linked to services immediately and without treatment preconditions.  Let not the significance of this event be missed.  It marks the moment of Housing First’s acceptance and establishment as the central approach for helping vulnerable men and women experiencing chronic homelessness permanently exit homelessness and regain health, hope, and dignity. As this movement goes mainstream, I leave the Housing First movement with three pieces of advice to retain the spirit of ingenuity that led to its birth.

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