HUD’s Annual Report Shows the Housing First Model is a National Success

HUDNational homelessness has decreased by 10 percent, according to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. The report revealed even greater declines in homelessness among veterans and persons living on the street.

The report states that 578,424 persons were experiencing homelessness on a single January night in 2014, according to the annually conducted point-in-time counts.

“As a nation, we are successfully reducing homelessness in this country, especially for those who have been living on our streets as a way of life,” HUD Secretary Julian Castro.

The overall decrease in homelessness can be largely attributed to the collaborative Housing First approach.

“The federal government, in partnership with states, communities, and the private and not-for-profit sectors, is focused on widespread implementation of what works to end homelessness,” said Laura Green Zeilinger, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. “Continued investment in solutions like permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing using a Housing First approach is critical to the effort of every community to one day ensure homelessness is a rare, brief, and non-recurring experience.”

Since the 2010 launch of the Obama Administration’s Opening Doors campaign, there has been a 33 percent decline in homeless veterans, a 21 percent reduction in chronically homeless, a 15 percent decrease in the number of families with children experiencing homelessness and a 10 percent reduction in overall homelessness.

Despite these promising numbers, more work is still needed across the nation and locally in San Diego.

To learn more about the report, click here.

If you wish to volunteer for San Diego’s 2015 Annual Homeless Count, click here.

Keeping Families Together

CSHThis month, the Child Welfare and Supportive Housing Resource Center sponsored peer-to-peer activities in New York City to highlight and enhance the national demonstration project showcasing the Keeping Families Together supportive housing model.

The idea behind the Keeping Families Together model is simple; keeping families together by providing stable supportive housing improves lives. Launched in 2010, the Keeping Families Together New York City pilot program has helped provide supportive housing to vulnerable families, which in turn has created a safe and healthy environment for children.  Data from the program revealed no new abuse or neglect cases after placement in housing along with improved average school attendance for children.

The peer-to peer activities involved representatives from five programs located in– Broward County, Florida; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; State of Connecticut; Memphis, Tennessee; and San Francisco, California meeting with the three supportive housing providers from the Keeping Families Together pilot- Diversity Works and Fox Point Family Supportive Housing in the Bronx, and Housing+Solutions.

These peer-to-peer activities encouraged and facilitated local implementation of supportive housing with customized care and critical services for this vulnerable population. Learn more at CSH.

CSH to Provide Training and Assistance to Health Centers Serving High Utilizers

csh1CSH will offer webinars beginning next month to introduce a new program to provide training and technical assistance to medical centers and other agencies that serve frequent users of the healthcare system.

CSH is partnering with the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, National Association of Community Health Clinics and others on this project.

CSH is currently involved with several supportive housing pilot programs. These programs target the frequent-user population by placing individuals in supportive housing, which has been shown to reduce healthcare costs. Frequent users are categorized by their extreme utilization of emergency, crisis and urgent care centers and often lack stable housing.

To make this all possible, CSH received its first National Cooperative Agreement grant from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) this summer.

The grant will provide three years of funding to enhance and extend CSH’s relationships with community health centers including Federally Qualified Health Clinics. CSH will provide training and technical assistance that focuses on increasing coordination and collaboration among managed care, behavioral health providers, Medicaid offices and supportive housing to improve care for these frequent users.

Throughout the grant period, CSH will also provide a variety webinars. To register for the first introductory CSH webinar training on November 13, click here.

USICH is Seeking Interns

The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) is currently accepting applications for interns interested in ending homelessness across the nation. There are a variety of positions for all skill sets, including researching, coordinating, writing, and website management. This is a fantastic opportunity for students to gain experience and insight into policy at a federal level. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, so polish up your resume, cover letter and apply today.

Here’s how to apply.

Bills Aiding Homeless Sent to Governor

State PicturenewsletterA pair of bills that would provide new services and protections for homeless people have been approved by both houses of the state Legislature and are on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk awaiting his signature or veto. AB 1733, introduced by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego; Assembly Member Brian Maienschein, R-San Diego; and Assembly Member Sharon Quirk-Silva, D- Fullerton; would establish a fee waiver for homeless people who need to obtain a certified copy of their birth record from the Department of Public Health or a state identification card from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The bill solves a dilemma for many homeless people who need identification to access certain government programs, including those that provide housing, employment and nutrition.

AB 1806, introduced by Assembly Member Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, would extend rights afforded to students in foster care to students experiencing homelessness, as well. Many homeless students were at some point in their past part of the state’s foster care system, and the two cohorts face similar challenges and have similar emotional and legal needs.

HUD Update: FY 2014 CoC NOFA Released, 2015 PIT Tools Offered

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released its annual Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for Fiscal Year 2014. HUD will award $1.83 billion this cycle for Continuum of Care (CoC) program funding. New for this year is a $40 million set-aside in bonus money to create new dedicated permanent supportive housing to serve people experiencing chronic homelessness.

San Diego received $15 million in the last competition.
For more information, click  here.

In other HUD nLets Makeews, the department has issued the 2015 Point-in-Time (PIT) Count Methodology Guide. This package of tools provides CoCs with new minimum PIT count standards and guidance concerning acceptable methodologies.  The guide helps CoCs develop and execute a plan for collecting high-quality data on the number and characteristics of sheltered and unsheltered homeless people in their communities. To download the guide, click  here.

Impact of Obama’s Budget Proposal on Homelessness

BudgetEarlier this month, President Obama released his proposed budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, which has significant implications on the availability of funding for homelessness programs under the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Veterans Affairs (VA), and Health and Human Services (HHS).

The President proposed to allocate $2.405 billion to HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grant program, which translates to a 14% increase. Under this program, the emergency services grant (ESG) is expected to receive at least $215 million—a decrease of approximately $250 million from 2014. However, the proposed budget includes an increase in funding for permanent supportive housing in efforts to end chronic homelessness by 2016.

The proposed budget for homelessness programs under the Department of Veterans Affairs is $1.6 billion, which reflects a 12.5% increase over FY 2014.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness has launched several advocacy initiatives to support increasing resources for a number of programs that address homelessness, including HUD’s Mckinney-Vento programs, the VA’s Zero Homelessness Initiative, and efforts to increase funding for HUD.

To support the proposed funding allocation for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Program, please click here.

Homelessness History: A Life Exchanged for Homelessness Assistance

MckinneyToo few people know the history of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act—one of the first significant federal efforts to provide assistance to the homeless. It is an amazing tale wherein a life was put on the line to create momentum for passage of this keystone homelessness legislation.

According to this article, in March of 1987, the Community for Creative Non-Violence and the National Coalition for the Homeless organized the “Great American Sleep-Out”—an event in which homelessness advocates slept outdoors to show support for a homeless assistance bill sponsored by Representative Stewart McKinney. As a strong homelessness advocate, McKinney put his life on the line by participating in the Great American Sleep-Out.

McKinney contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion in 1979 and had been warned of the extreme dangers of sleeping in freezing weather, especially for a person with AIDS, who stands a higher risk of suffering from pneumonia. Two months after McKinney participated in the Great American Sleep-Out, he died of pneumonia. It is assumed that McKinney’s pneumonia was triggered by his decision to stay out in freezing weather for the Great American Sleep-Out. However, homelessness was so important to him that he was willing to take a risk to support this cause.

The Great American Sleep-Out is said to have propelled the passage of the Urgent Relief for the Homeless Act, as it attracted national recognition to the bill.

Click here to read the full story and learn more about the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and homelessness advocate Representative Stewart McKinney.

Rethinking Our Approach Toward Addressing Homelessness

PITCAn article recently published by the Union Tribune draws attention San Diego’s investment of $127.5 million to address homelessness in the region.

It is estimated that there are currently 8,900 homeless individuals in the County of San Diego, which translates to the use of $14,232 on each homeless individual every year.

However, this large investment in homelessness does not produce a significant decline in the number of homeless individuals in the county.

Utah spends about $8,000 on each homeless person, has ended chronic veteran homelessness, and is expected to end homelessness in the state by 2015. It is argued that the Utah’s successful efforts to end homelessness can be traced to its shift to the ‘Housing First’ model for ending homelessness.

The ‘Housing First’ strategy follows an approach in which the most vulnerable, sickest, and chronically homeless individuals are provided permanent housing and support services as a method to end the cycle of homelessness.

Gordon Walker, director of Utah’s department of housing and community development, claims that by following the housing first approach and making homelessness a priority, San Diego also has the potential to reduce the cost of homelessness and achieve more successful outcomes in ending homelessness.

Executive Director of USICH Steps Down

BarbEarlier this month, Barbara Poppe announced her plan to step down from her position as Executive Director of the United States Interagency Council on the Homeless (USICH) on March 7, 2014.

Since October of 2009, Barbara has served as Executive Director of USICH, where she has overseen the development and implementation of a number of programs, including the initiation of Opening Doors—a comprehensive plan for addressing homelessness. Under Barbara’s leadership,

LauraUSICH has contributed to the reduction of homelessness among various groups of homeless—including Veterans, families, and chronically homeless individuals.

USICH recently appointed Laura Zeilinger as the Executive Director of USICH after Barbara’s departure. Laura has been Deputy Director of USICH since 2011 and has focused on implementing the Opening Doors plan.

We thank Barbara Poppe for her leadership in ending homelessness as Executive Director of USICH and congratulate Laura Zeilinger as she assumes this position.