Archive for December, 2011

30th December
written by Elizabeth Doherty

You can end 2011 on a high note by making a gift to prevent and end homelessness. Here at the Alliance, we are ever thankful for the wonderful supporters and donors who allow our work to continue.  Thank you for your past support.

As many of you know, 2011 was a challenging year for preventing and ending homelessness.  Despite the challenges, progress was made and we need your help to continue our efforts.

Tomorrow, December 31st, is the last day to make a tax deductable gift in 2011. Your donation will contribute to proven solutions that can, and will, bring an end to homelessness in America.

Right now is a great time to donate!

Your kindness has an enormous impact.  Your year-end gift will give hope to the almost 640,000 Americans who are homeless each night.

Thank you.

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29th December
written by Kate Seif

2011 was a tumultuous year, to say the least.  With everything from threats of a government shutdown in April, to major deficit reduction negotiations in August, to the failure of the Super-Committee in November, Congress was certainly able to hold our attention these last twelve months.

With elections and sequestration on the horizon, 2012 may be no different.

As a result, this next year will be challenging but it will also provide numerous opportunities to get involved and impact the legislative process. The Alliance’s advocacy team will be busy throughout the year keeping everyone informed with the latest news and opportunities to get involved, through reaching out to the media, meeting with your Members of Congress, conducting site visits, and more! Here’s a preview of what’s coming up for 2012:

  • Media Awareness Campaign.  Shortly into the new year, the Alliance will be releasing a report, similar to The State of Homelessness in America in 2011, and we want to make sure it has as big a media impact as possible.  On January 12, we will be hosting a webinar to explain why this report matters to your community and how you can use its data to educate local decisionmakers and the public about the problem of homelessness in your community.  For more information on this upcoming event, please click here.
  • Capitol Hill Day. Every year, the Alliance hosts a Capitol Hill Day (CHD) in conjunction with our National Conference on Ending Homelessness in Washington, DC in July.  CHD offers conference participants an excellent opportunity to visit Capitol Hill and meet with their congressional offices (sometimes even the representatives and senators themselves!) in order to educate policymakers on the importance of homelessness programs in their districts. Last year’s CHD was a huge success , so we very much look forward to topping it next year! Information on getting involved will be available next spring.
  • Elections.  Election season is a great time to educate your elected officials (and their potential replacements) and get them to discuss the issue that matter most to us: preventing and ending homelessness in our communities and nationwide.  During the election cycle, it can be just as important to engage local leaders in the issues as it is to engage national leaders.  As the debates heat up and all eyes turn toward November 6 (Election Day!), stay tuned for how you can get involved!
  • Homeless Youth Campaign. As in 2011, the Alliance will be working to secure a funding increase for Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs for fiscal year (FY) 2013. This will involve staying on top of the appropriations process and making calls, scheduling visits, and writing letters throughout the year.
  • McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants Campaign. Compared to many of the programs within the Department of Housing and Urban Development, McKinney-Vento programs fared quite well in the last two appropriations cycles: they received an increase in FY 2011 and stayed flat for FY 2012. While we certainly consider these victories (especially in this fiscal climate), McKinney-Vento programs still need an increase in FY 2013 to fully implement the HEARTH Act.  Securing additional funds this year will be more important than ever as HPRP ends in 2012.

Securing additional funding for programs with the biggest impact on preventing and ending homelessness is particularly important this year with the threat of an across-the-board cut in January 2013.  Given these impending cuts, we must ensure that Congress works to prioritize affordable housing and targeted homeless assistance programs.

It will be more important to engage our Members of Congress this upcoming year than ever before.  We cannot do this alone! We need your help to reach out to your Members to impact this important process.  Please sign up for our advocacy update , check out our website , or email me if you’d like to get involved in any of these campaigns to help us make a difference in the lives of those experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

28th December
written by Darcy Klingle

The Alliance is proud to host the 2012 National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness on February 9 and 10, 2012 in Los Angeles, CA. Though ending family and youth homelessness has always been an Alliance goal, the current and persistent economic and political climate makes the problem particularly salient this year.

As always, people from across the country will gather at the conference to share successes and challenges, learn about the latest homelessness research, and understand upcoming changes in policies and practices.

This year’s workshops include content on:

- Implementing rapid re-housing (and maintaining those programs as HPRP funding expires),

- Coordinating with larger “mainstream” anti-poverty programs to multiply impacts, especially by providing help with employment,

- Strengthening families and promoting reunification to end homelessness for youth,

- Preventing homelessness for families and youth, including targeting for the maximum impact,

- Getting the most out of the HEARTH Act,

- Housing families and youth with the most severe challenges, including chronic homelessness.

In addition to the workshops, the Alliance will offer a number of opportunities to enhance and augment the conference experience:

A Meet and Mingle reception with cash bar, and light fare, will be held at the conference hotel on Thursday, Feb. 9. This event will give attendees an opportunity to meet others in the field and relax after a long day of workshops.

Moreover, attendees may purchase tickets to attend an exciting tour of Los Angeles on the evening of Thursday, Feb. 9. The tour will feature stories on LA’s past, present, and future including Frank Gerhy’s dazzling Walt Disney Concert Hall, a ride on the iconic Angel’s Flight funicular, movie locations including Spider-man, Batman (currently being filmed), and Transformers, a trip through the nation’s largest historic district, and a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the city from rooftop. This will is a great opportunity for attendees to explore the city and learn more about Los Angeles’ history.

On both Thursday and Friday, plenary sessions will allow attendees to enjoy an informative and entertaining keynote address before lunch is served. More information about keynote speakers will be posted on the event website as they’re available.

And finally, throughout the duration of the conference, organizations and companies from across the country will be exhibiting at the hotel, giving attendees the opportunity to learn about their programs and products.

There is an array of exciting opportunities and educational events that will be taking place in Los Angeles, California this February which you will not want to miss! We look forward to seeing you, hearing from you, and learning about what is happening in your community this February! Learn more about the conference and register online today!

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27th December
written by Elizabeth Doherty

As the Development Coordinator for the Alliance, I often respond to the question, “If I donate, where does my money go?”

Today I would like to share the answer to that question with you.  Here at the National Alliance

to End Homelessness, we work hard to ensure that the majority of contributions go directly to support our programs to prevent and end homelessness.  Last year, our expenses totaled $2,896, 410.  Ten percent of that number, or $287,629, was spent on administration and fundraising while 90 percent, or $2,608,781, was spent on programming.

What does the Alliance consider programming and how is that 90 percent broken down?  Our programs fall into the following categories:

  • Capacity Building (48%)
  • Research and Education (35.6%)
  • Advocacy (6%)
  • Lobbying (0.4%)

As these numbers demonstrate, you can be confident that a donation to the Alliance is well spent.  For an independent review of work you can also visit Charity Navigator and the American Institute of Philanthropy; both nonprofit watch dogs who have given the Alliance their highest rating score.

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26th December
written by naehblog

Today’s guest post comes to us from

Homeless veterans face the same hardships as the rest of the homeless population, but veterans also face unique challenges related to their history of service.  Increased collaborative efforts from the Department of Veterans Affairs and community providers have improved the rates of homelessness among our veterans in recent years.  However, many more homeless and at-risk veterans still urgently need assistance.

On any given night, over 75,000 military veterans sleep in homeless shelters or on the streets, and about 136,000 veterans use homeless shelters or other services during the course of a year.  Nearly nine in ten of these homeless veterans left their military service with an honorable discharge, and nearly that many have a high school diploma or GED.

In fact, veterans on average are more likely to have an education than non-veterans.  As a result, veterans in general do better financially; about ten percent of the American population lives below the poverty line, but only about five percent of veterans live in poverty.  Unfortunately, impoverished veterans seem more likely than impoverished civilians to slide into homelessness.  Of adults in poverty, about five percent become homeless at some point; veterans in poverty become homeless at about double that rate.

Why are poor veterans so much more vulnerable to homelessness than poor civilians? At least part of the answer may be linked to social isolation.  Ninety-six percent of homeless veterans arrive at homeless shelters alone; twenty percent of the general homeless population usually arrives at shelters with at least one family member.  This apparent lack of social support networks among poor veterans may be related to the same factors as the high divorce rate among military members, and it may make some veterans more vulnerable to homelessness once they become impoverished.

Along with this social isolation, many homeless veterans struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and/or other mental health issues linked to their experiences in combat and their difficulties since.  Improved access to counseling and other mental health treatment is an urgent need of homeless veterans.  Other urgent needs include medical care, safe and stable housing, and employment assistance.  Access to these services can prevent homelessness for veterans before it begins, and help veterans into a better situation if they do experience homelessness.

The VA is increasing its efforts and making great progress, but community programs are a very effective way to help homeless veterans, especially if programs involve other veterans as sources of support, encouragement, camaraderie, and assistance.  These programs draw from the strengths of military culture; close bonds, teamwork, leadership, and individual strength combined with peer support is a powerful recipe for recovery and stability.

We don’t have to stop there; all of us can lend a hand to our nation’s service men and women.  How can you help America’s homeless heroes?

Learn about the issues facing homeless veterans in general, especially veterans in your neighborhood.  Find organizations in your area serving homeless veterans; the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans has a searchable database, and the Department of Veterans Affairs website offers a listing of national organizations such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army.  Volunteer with one of these organizations; your skills, time, and compassion can make a difference!

For more information about homelessness among veterans and their families, please check out our website. is a community website designed to connect military families with a system of current and relevant resources. The website empowers military families while improving quality of life through community, guidance, and support.

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22nd December
written by Amanda Benton

All year, we’ve been talking on this blog about congressional appropriations. In April, Congress passed its fiscal year (FY) 2011 appropriations bill, more than five months into the fiscal year. FY 2012 officially started on October 1, and Congress finalized FY 2012 funding for several departments, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in November. But what about the other government agencies?

Last weekend, Congress passed legislation to finalize all remaining FY 2012 appropriations bills. This included funding for programs within the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, Education, and Veterans Affairs (VA), among many others. The bill includes:
• $115 million for Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs;
• $75 million for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) homeless services programs;
• $65 million for the Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) program;
• $137 million for Health Care for the Homeless Centers;
• $65 million for the Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) program; and
• $38 million for the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP), a slight increase over FY 2011.

When we look at both this bill and the one passed in November, we can see that funding for most targeted homeless assistance programs was held flat compared to FY 2011, despite deep cuts to many other federal programs. One notable exception to this was the joint HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, which actually received increased resources in FY 2012.

All of this tells us that funding for targeted homeless assistance programs was generally protected or even expanded, even while funding for many other programs was sizably reduced. This is due, in very large part, to the efforts of our partners across the country to ensure that Congress understands the importance and effectiveness of homeless assistance programs in communities. As 2011 and winds to a close and we look toward further efforts in 2012, the Alliance is confident that by working together with our partners, we can continue to advance ending homelessness as a federal priority.

20th December
written by Elizabeth Doherty

With all the worthwhile causes to support this year, I would like to offer five compelling reasons why a donation to the National Alliance to End Homelessness is a smart and meaningful charitable investment.

  • We have a proven track record.
    Prior to the recession, homelessness was decreasing. From 2005 – 2009, chronic homelessness declined by 35 percent and overall homelessness declined by 15 percent. Unfortunately, the impact of the recession sidelined our progress. With your support, we can get back on track, reducing homelessness nationwide.

  • We are good stewards of your gift.
    The Alliance works hard to ensure that your donation goes directly to help end homelessness.  Last year, 90 percent of all contributions supported our programs to prevent and end homelessness in the United States.

For these and many other reasons, donate today to end homelessness.

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19th December
written by Sam Strike

Graph taken from the NPR unemployment poll available at the link below.

National Public Radio (NPR) and The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released the results of a study of long-term unemployment in America.  The study surveyed a nationally representative, random sample of working age adults about their employment.  The study included both the long-term unemployed and the long-term underemployed.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of people who have been unemployed long-term (defined as: for more than one year) have a “not too confident” to “not at all confident” outlook on being able to find a job that will let them get by.  While the study was generally balanced age-wise, the majority of the long-term unemployed were also employed only briefly, two years of less, at their last job before being laid off, possibly the result of “first in, first out” personnel policies.  The majority of those surveyed also reported that their last job paid less than $30,000.

When asked what they think would be helpful if provided by the government, most people said that job training, job placement, and extended health insurance coverage would be “very” or “extremely helpful.”  Unemployment benefits and relocation assistance were also seen as helpful, but less so.  Most of the respondents had never received, and even more were not currently receiving unemployment benefits, anyway.

Most respondents said that systemic problems such as the global economy and outsourcing are at fault for their unemployment, more so than bad luck or lack of skill on their part.  Most also say that discrimination has not been a factor in their failure to find a job.  However, a significant portion of those who responded said that it was a minor or even a major reason why they are still unemployed.  The most common complaint regarding discrimination was age discrimination, followed by race, gender, and others.

A significant portion, though not most, of the respondents said that they had at some point in the past two years: had to borrow money from family or friends, moved in with family or friends in order to save money, postponed getting married or having a child for financial reasons, had their utilities turned off, sold personal belongings to help pay the bills, or taken money out of their savings or retirement account.

When people who have been unemployed for long periods of time eventually run out of their savings, or their family becomes unable to help them out, they become homeless.  It is important to ensure that these people who are in danger of becoming homeless are prevented from becoming homeless in the first place.  The key here is the same thing that will end homelessness completely: Housing First.  It is important to also cover the under- and unemployed with health insurance; more than half of those surveyed here did not have any kind of coverage, including Medicaid.  But safe, stable, and affordable housing should be our end goal.  The long-term unemployed will have a little more breathing room if they don’t have to worry about spending a huge chunk of what little income they can muster on their housing, and those who are now homeless will be able to have a home.

You can find the full study here.

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16th December
written by Sam Strike

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released the 2011 Point-In-Time (PIT) counts, actually showing a small decrease, 2.1 percent, in the number of people experiencing homelessness on that night as compared to the year before.  The accompany veterans supplement to the PIT report showed a 12 percent decrease in homelessness among veterans.  The Alliance distributed a press release in response to these findings yesterday, lauding the federal investment in preventing and ending homelessness but projecting potential increases once the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) expires in 2012.

And in the news recently:

  • A study released this week by the National Center on Family Homelessness reports a 38 percent increase in the number of children experiencing homelessness since 2007, meaning approximately 1 in 45 children is experiencing homelessness.
  • Similarly, the U.S. Conference of Mayors released a survey of 29 major cities yesterday suggesting that hunger and homelessness were on the rise over the last year.
  • The Associated Press reported that nearly half of all American were classified as “poor” or “low income” in the latest census.
  • The Alliance, joining the week of homelessness news, released three statements this week: one on the potential impact of sequestration on federal homeless assistance programs, one in response to the PIT counts, and one congratulating Alliance president Nan Roman after she was selected to serve on the Bipartisan Policy Center Housing Commission.

For last week’s News Roundup Poll, we asked you if you thought that private enterprise should be given more of a role in creating affordable housing, or if public housing agencies should be responsible.

There was a pretty balanced division of opinions, with approximately equal parts voting for private and public.  A small number of people chose to not vote for either, but selected an unspecified third option.  This is understandable, given the complexity of the situation and the need for both public and private efforts, but we’d still like to hear about it in the comments!