10/04/2012 - What We’re Talking About: The Week at USICH - October 1-4

The Reentry Newsletter 

Yesterday, USICH released its newsletter focused on reentry of individuals from jails and prisons. The newsletter covers the challenges of reentry housing and provides the resources to make a difference. Also, it highlights work being done on the federal and local level to successfully address reentry.

The issue of reentry is urgent. Annually, approximately 730,000 Federal and state prisoners return to communities and over 9 million pass through local jails.  For people held in state and federal prisons, the path to stability can be long and challenging. Beyond the employment barriers and stigma related to a criminal conviction, many do not have a stable home or a family support system when released.  These individuals are far more likely to become homeless in the days and weeks after release. Residing in shelters rather than a more stable environment has shown to increase the risk of re-incarceration. There is also a subset of individuals in the nation's prisons and jails that cycle between the criminal justice system and homelessness that incur high costs to themselves and public systems.   

The good news is there are solutions, especially for those with high-needs upon reentry who are at a severe risk of homelessness. Permanent supportive housing using a Housing First approach is a cost-effective solution for those experiencing or at most risk of chronic homelessness.  Comprehensive reentry planning is key to ensure that individuals released are connected to housing, health, and mainstream resources. Collaboration and coordination is pivotal to the success of the reentry plan and assisting individuals in navigating the many public and nonprofit support systems. Our newsletter covered the work being done at the federal level with the Department of Justice’s Federal Interagency Reentry Council and also highlighted the work of The Fortune Society, one of the nation’s most well-established and successful comprehensive reentry programs.

Read the full reentry newsletter here.

Read more information on Reentry Planning

HUD Releases PIT Guidance

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Homelessness Resource Exchange released its guidance for the Point-in-Time (PIT) Count of people experiencing homelessness. All Continuums of Care (CoCs) are required to conduct a PIT count of sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness during the last ten days in January 2013. CoCs will submit their PIT data via HUD‟s Homelessness Data Exchange (HDX) in Spring 2013.

HUD has outlined some of the major changes to this year’s PIT and Housing Inventory Counts in the beginning of the guidance documents. One of the most notable changes this year is a new focus to ensure a more accurate count of youth experiencing homelessness – both those who are part of a family and those who are unaccompanied—in order to best move forward with the new youth strategy. This, along with more accurate counts of specific subpopulations, is a critical step in ensuring that resources are deployed most effectively in communities across the country.

As CoCs begin to organize and plan these activities, staff should review this guidance and use it as a reference to ensure that they are capturing all of the required information.

Click here to access the PIT guidance.

On October 16, HUD will be putting on a webinar on the PIT Count. Stay tuned for a registration link to be published in the coming week.

Other news this week:

In the Seattle Times this week, Bill Block, stepping down as the Project Director for the King County Committee to End Homelessness, writes an op-ed on the achievements of the committee and what is needed in the future. In his words, “We know what to do for those who are homeless or on the edge of homelessness. We also know how to keep them from falling off the edge. We need to do both.

Read his article

And in Portland, Maine, the local homelessness task force laid out their recommendations to move the needle on homelessness in their community: an expansion of Housing First, implementing centralized and coordinated intake, and case management for all those who access assistance. Read the article to learn more about their work, and their cost study  showing the impacts of homelessness for Portland.

New web design for USICH toolkits

USICH toolkits have undergone a makeover. Check out the new web design for our toolkits that help local communities begin or enhance their efforts to prevent and end homelessness.

Find our toolkits here.

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