08/07/2014 - Takeaways from the National Conference on Ending Homelessness

by Jamie Keene, USICH Communications Intern

From July 29 – 31, USICH staff members participated in the National Conference on Ending Homelessness, hosted by the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH). The conference was a great opportunity to connect with and learn from our partners and share best practices through panels, workshops, and convenings. USICH was pleased to have participated in numerous events as well as to listen and learn from so many others—from pre-conference sessions, to workshops, to keynote addresses.

This year’s NAEH National Conference was as energized and productive as ever, culminating in a powerful charge by First Lady Michelle Obama to “redouble our efforts” and “embrace the most effective strategies to end homelessness among our Veterans once and for all.”

As Laura Zeilinger, USICH Executive Director, said in her introduction of HUD Secretary Julián Castro at the conference, “We are at a critical moment, and we are faced with some real challenges—systematic, budgetary, and political. The work we get done in the next two years will determine how far we’ll go…for Veterans and people experiencing chronic homelessness, for our youth and our families, and for everyone. “

To help continue the powerful conversations of this year’s conference, here are links to the presentations, reports, and other materials USICH used during the conference. And please share with us your takeaways from this year’s National Conference on Ending Homelessness by joining the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Laura Zeilinger

In addition to introducing HUD Secretary Julián Castro before his keynote address, Laura participated in preconference sessions on effective alternatives to criminalization and on the role of philanthropy in ending homelessness. She also participated in the workshop, Going to Scale: Utilizing PHA Resources to End Chronic Homelessness, which focused on how to build a systems approach to ending chronic homelessness through engagement with Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) and highlighted the available resources developed by USICH, such as the PHA Guidebook.

View Laura’s presentation from the PHA workshop here. 


Richard Cho, USICH Senior Policy Director

Richard Cho presented at a panel on Developing and Sustaining Permanent Supportive Housing, offering practical insights on site-based, scattered-site, and integrated approaches to creating permanent supportive housing (PSH), and exploring creative ways to finance these models drawing upon Federal, State, local, and private sources.

View Richard’s presentation here.


Matthew Doherty, Director of National Initiatives

Matthew Doherty and the USICH National Initiatives Team hosted an input session on a potential amendment to Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. Attendees joined in roundtable discussions about the impacts of adjusting the Federal timeline for ending chronic homelessness, strategies for retooling the crisis response system, leveraging Medicaid through expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and using data to define goals and drive progress. 

View the National Initiatives Team presentation here.

Matthew also moderated a panel on Providing Affirming and Welcoming Services to Homeless LGBT Youth. The discussion offered an overview of the Framework to End Youth Homelessness and highlighted data regarding youth experiencing homelessness, guidance for organizations seeking to strengthen their capacity in meeting the needs of LGBTQ youth, and information about tools becoming available for organizations.

View Matthew’s presentation here.


Eric Grumdahl, USICH Policy Director

Eric Grumdahl offered remarks at a panel on Innovative Collaboration in Strengthening Models to End Youth Homelessness. He focused on how USICH works to unify efforts across agencies to end youth homelessness by 2020, as well as the role that the USICH Interagency Working Group on Youth Homelessness plays. In particular, Eric highlighted the USICH Framework to End Youth Homelessness, as well as the 2012 Amendment to Opening Doors, which addresses the strategies and supports that should be implemented to improve the educational outcomes for children and youth and steps to assist unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness.

Eric also moderated a panel called This Is What Ending Veteran Homelessness Looks Like, which focused homeless assistance system as Veteran homelessness approaches zero in many communities around the country. Eric’s remarks explored the ongoing need to use data and metrics to drive progress, especially as communities such as Phoenix, Houston, and New Orleans dramatically reduce Veteran homelessness and prove that and end to homelessness is possible and within sight. 


Lindsay Knotts, Management and Policy Analyst

Lindsay Knotts moderated a panel titled Core Components of Rapid Re-Housing: An Introduction. The panel used data to highlight the effectiveness of rapid re-housing and addressed each core component of rapid re-housing including housing identification, rent and move-in assistance, and case management. Lindsay also connected audience members to several USICH resources, including the Core Components guide and Family Connection: Building Systems to End Family Homelessness

View Lindsay’s presentation here.


Peter Nicewicz, Management and Policy Analyst

Peter Nicewicz moderated a panel on Veteran Employment Programs: Evidence-Based Practices, which focused on the particular barriers and difficulties Veterans face in obtaining employment, as well as the unique skills, assets, and characteristics they bring to the workplace. Panelists offered remarks on new program approaches, such as the VA and DOL grants and programs that are focused on Veteran employment.

Each of the panelist presenters’ slideshows can be viewed by clicking here


amy sawyer usich regional coordinatorAmy Sawyer, Regional Coordinator

Amy Sawyer moderated a panel on Improving your Shelter System and Crisis Response. The panel focused on the best practices available for transforming shelters and crisis response networks into efficient systems that incorporate effective outreach, rapid re-housing, and coordinated assessment into their daily operations. The slide deck’s from the panelist’s presentations can be viewed here: 

Session Presentations.


Visit NAEH’s website for more presentations and materials from this year’s conference.

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