Archive for February 9th, 2010
While yet another snowpocalypse hits DC, most of the Alliance staff has escaped to LA for our Annual Conference on Ending Family Homelessness. It starts unofficially today with an opportunity to give input into the federal government’s plan to end homelessness. (As we’ve mentioned before, it’s a pretty awesome opportunity.)
Representatives from the U.S. Intergency Council on Homelessness and HUD are soliciting recommendations, and as required in the HEARTH Act, the plan should be finalized by May of this year.
Here are some of the key points from our official recommendations. Do you have anything to add?
- Deploy 60,000 units of permanent supportive housing, targeted to veterans experiencing chronic homelessness (30,000 already in the pipeline);
- Provide prevention and rapid rehousing services to 250,000 veterans per year;
- Equip publicly funded programs that serve families who are vulnerable to homelessness (e.g. TANF and child welfare) so they have the capacity (and responsibility) to respond, and resolve, their clients’ housing crises;
- Increase the supply of affordable housing to families with very low incomes through expanding permanent, short- and medium-term rental assistance; and
- Expand federal investment in youth housing services and infrastructure to serve an additional 50,000 homeless and street-dependent youth annually;
- Offer Congress and the Administration clear data on the incidence of youth homelessness, research on the extent of long-term homelessness among homeless youth populations, and identification of interventions targeted to specific typologies of homeless youth; and
And this is a big one:
- Ensure the federal plan is outcome-focused and sets measurable goals.
This is what ending homelessness looks like.
A complete version of the Alliance’s recommendations are available here.
Last week’s budget recommendations included a pleasant surprise for permanent supportive housing advocates: 10,000 new homeless and special needs vouchers specifically focused on building collaboration between federal agencies. It’s a welcome sign that the Obama administration is willing to invest in real, practical solutions to homelessness.
Permanent supportive housing is a proven solution to chronic homelessness; it’s a paradigm shift we’ve been working on here at the Alliance for years, so it’s really exciting to hear the federal government speaking our language:
Stable housing is the foundation upon which all else in a family’s or individual’s life is built–absent a safe, affordable place to live, it is next to impossible to achieve good health, positive educational outcomes, or reach one’s full economic potential.
Here’s what’s special about this initiative:
- Targeting mainstream supports to homeless people: The program could be a catalyst for learning how to target programs like Medicaid and substance abuse treatment to homeless individuals. Since these systems are frequently used by chronically homeless individuals and permanent supportive housing cuts down on use of services, it just makes sense for these agencies to figure out how best to work together.
- A “silo-busting” alignment of resources: The program represents a move toward interagency collaboration. Take a child whose family is in shelter: not only would the program provide her family with a housing voucher, but it would also connect them with income support such as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), funded by the Department of Health and Human Services. What’s more, homeless liaisons from the Department of Education might help identify the family before they became homeless and work to keep them housed.
As we blog, Congress is making its way through the budget and appropriations process (or at least, they would be if the District wasn’t paralyzed by snow…). We think the initiative has enormous potential, so we’ll keep you informed as the program makes it’s way toward the final federal budget.