Archive for May, 2012

31st May
written by Amanda Benton

As regular readers of this blog know, we write fairly often about federal homelessness appropriations – what’s happening, how you can get involved, and what various proposals would mean for your daily work on the ground to prevent and end homelessness. But we haven’t written about appropriations (the federal funding process) in several weeks, so you may be wondering: what’s the latest news?

The House and Senate are both busy working on their fiscal year (FY) 2013 funding bills. We have been tracking three particular bills very closely, so read on for more information on each of those funding measures!

HUD. The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved its FY 2013 bill to fund the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The full Senate has yet to vote on the legislation, though it may do so in the coming months. The Senate’s version included $2.146 billion for HUD’s McKinney-Vento programs – not as much as the $2.231 billion requested by the President, but still a $245 million increase over FY 2012!

The House has not yet released its FY 2013 HUD funding bill, though it is expected to do so shortly. (Sign up for our McKinney-Vento Campaign list or our Advocacy Updates for the latest details!)

VA. The Appropriations Committees in both the House and Senate have approved their FY 2013 funding bills for programs within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – including targeted homeless veteran programs. Both bills would provide the Administration’s requested 33 percent increase to $1.35 billion for VA’s homeless veteran programs, including $300 million for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. The full House may vote on this legislation this week.

HHS. Each year, one of the most difficult bills to pass is the one that funds programs like the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA ) programs within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) – largely because it is such a big bill and includes such a huge range of programs. As a result, it’s often one of the latest to be released. So far, neither the House nor the Senate has released its proposal for the FY 2013 HHS funding bills, and no timeline has been announced for doing so. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more!

As you can see, Congress is definitely making progress with these bills, though nothing has been finalized yet. As of now, Congress is not expected to finalize any of its FY 2013 funding bills prior to the start of the fiscal year on October 1. Instead, Congress will likely pass one or more stopgap funding measures (called continuing resolutions) until after the election before finalizing their funding decisions.

So, there is still plenty of time to get involved! Though in most cases, the Appropriations Committees have released their decisions, when the legislation goes to the House or Senate floor, every vote counts! Your Members of Congress need to hear from YOU on the importance of these programs and how they make a difference in the lives of people at risk of or experiencing homelessness. If you would be interested in getting involved in any of our campaigns to provide funding for homelessness programs, please let us know!

Image courtesy of 401K.

30th May
written by Kay Moshier McDivitt

By Nicolas NovaAs Continuum of Cares (CoCs) begin to coordinate the network of homeless service providers in their communities in preparation for the HEARTH Act, many continue to look for ways to engage all providers, particularly those who receive no federal funding. Here at the Center for Capacity Building, we talk to numerous communities and help them improve their performance as a system. We often find that in many communities, some providers have not “come to the table” due to their concern that their participation with the CoC may compromise their organizational missions.

Communities that have successfully engaged all providers, including those who are not federally funded, have one thing in common: their community leaders actively worked to build relationships with those providers.  While it may seem as though there are vast philosophical divides, when folks sit down together to learn about each other’s work and begin to build a relationship, we often find we have a lot more in common.

I believe most of us work to end homelessness because we care. On the deepest level, what we as community leaders and providers strive for is to make sure that folks in our community don’t experience homelessness.

We need to take that first, huge step of taking time to listen to each other, learn from each other, and focus on our shared thoughts and ideas instead of our differences. Even when individual providers continue to have different visions, by shifting the focus to the shared goal of ending homelessness, communities can connect with reluctant providers and bring them to the table.

In the end, it is all about relationships. Recognizing our differences, while focusing on our commonalities, and knowing that when a community works together, everyone benefits, is what matters. It matters for our community, it matters for our organizations, and most of all it matters for those experiencing homelessness.  Being creative in breaking down silos and learning to work as one CoC takes time, it takes energy, and it can be frustrating, but it matters and in the end it is well worth the effort.

Image courtesy of nicolasnova

29th May
written by Jennifer Olney

This year’s National Conference on Ending Homelessness is quickly approaching and so are the deadlines! Make sure to register by 10 a.m. ET tomorrow, May 30th for early registration rates.

While you’re registering for the conference, don’t forget to add your Awards Ceremony ticket for a discounted price! The Awards Ceremony will take place Tuesday, July 17at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and will honor individuals and organizations for their contributions to ending homelessness in our nation.

This is the second year the Awards Ceremony will be in conjunction with the conference, allowing individuals from across the country to help celebrate the awardees and their accomplishments. If you’re going to be in town for the conference, make sure you join us Tuesday night!

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28th May
written by Ian Lisman

The Alliance and its partners have formed the Homeless Veteran’s National Advocacy Working Group. This group is dedicated to ending homelessness among veterans through sensible policy and targeted programs. Among other things, the group is putting on a series of Congressional briefings. The first one was this last Wednesday, May 23. This was a joint briefing for both Houses of Congress and both parties. It was sponsored by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), who also provided opening remarks. Attendees included staffers from the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees and the MilCon-VA and T-HUD Appropriations Subcommittees, as well as non-Congressional staff.

Antonia Fasanelli, chair of the American Bar Association Commission on Homelessness and Poverty, acted as moderator and introduced our panel. She spoke to the need for continued funding of these programs, and introduced Senator Burr.  The Senator spoke to the need to use data-driven resources wisely, but to never forget the human faces of the people that these programs serve. Barbara Poppe with USICH covered a brief overview of veterans homelessness, and progress in the federal government’s five-year plan to end veterans homelessness; and expressed an impassioned plea to keep the plan on track through continued funding and support.

The HUD-VASH program overview was briefed by Vince Kane with VA’s National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans. Vince brings a broad perspective, showing the evidence-based, pragmatic approach to properly targeting the higher-cost, case-management-intensive intervention of VASH.

The SSVF grant was discussed by John Kuhn, National Director of Homeless Evaluation and Supportive Services for Veteran Families. John explained how the SSVF grant represented a new approach to ending veterans homelessness by focusing on prevention, rapid re-housing and expanding VA’s reach to include children and spouses of the veteran.  SSVF provides a whole array of services not traditionally offered by VA. The panel addressed the need for community partnerships, acknowledging that VA can’t end veteran homelessness alone, and its community partners have the relationships with clients and knowledge of the community to help VA leverage its resources.

The final speaker was Eloise Wormley, an SSVF consumer from the Community Council for the Homeless at Friendship Place in Washington, DC.  She gave a moving speech about her experiences and how the program helped her. The difference that being housed made in her life was evident. The pride having her own apartment and being self-sufficient, with a little help from the SSVF grant, was apparent to everyone in attendance.

The takeaway is that these programs work, and as a responsible society, we must continue to fully fund and support these sensible and much-needed interventions. Staffers got a good sense of how these programs operate, why they make sense and their place in the critical mission of ending homelessness among our nation’s heroes.

25th May
written by Ian Lisman

Today’s post comes from Ian Lisman, Program and Policy Analyst on Veterans Homelessness. Ian is also a U.S. Army combat veteran of the first Gulf War.

As Memorial Day weekend approaches, it is nice to have time to spend with family, enjoy a barbeque, and get ready for summer. It is also a time to reflect on the sacrifices the men and women in uniform have made over the years. Wherever you weigh in on the various wars and conflicts our country has been involved in over the years, one thing transcends the political discussion of our nation’s foreign policy outcomes: the dedication of our armed forces.

These service members come from all backgrounds: socioeconomic, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation, and political viewpoint. They take an oath to serve a cause greater than themselves: the Constitution of the United States of America. These service members commit themselves to defend and uphold our laws and values. By doing so, they give up a portion of those very rights they are charged to defend.

The sacrifices are many: separation from families and loved ones; long working hours in harsh environments; the obligation to obey lawful orders they may disagree with on personal, political, or even religious grounds.  And, in keeping with Memorial Day, they may give the ultimate sacrifice, their lives.

Why would someone choose to sacrifice so much, in return for so little? The personal reasons people make the decision to join the military are as varied as the uniqueness of their background. Some join because of family tradition, patriotism, seeking a challenge or adventure, serving a cause greater than themselves, to escape a desperate environment, seeking opportunities, and on and on.

In return for their service, veterans ask for very little:  a job and education, respect, dignity. One thing service members should not have to worry about when they return from their service in an uncaring, ungrateful nation that forgets the sacrifices we have made. Ensuring that no veteran is homeless has got to be a part of the nation’s response.  As our nation’s first President, George Washington, noted: “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.”

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24th May
written by naehblog

Iain De Jong

Today’s blog was written by Iain De Jong, President & CEO of OrgCode Consulting.

Over almost a decade, attendance at the National Conference on Ending Homelessness put on by the National Alliance to End Homelessness in Washington, DC each year has changed my experience in working in homeless programs and services for the better. In this guest blog for the Alliance, I thought I’d tell you all the reasons why you should go…

Why You Should Go to the Summer Alliance Conference on Ending Homelessness

You Are Not Alone – meet other people that do the same thing you do day in and day out. Realizing you are not alone is a good feeling and it can be empowering.

Smart People – I don’t know how they do it, but the Alliance does an amazing job attracting really smart people and speakers year after year.

Realizing You Are Part of A Movement Bigger Than Yourself – maybe where you live people cock their head sideways and think you have completely lost it when you speak of ending homelessness. The people at the conference? They get it.

Agenda is Content Richhave you seen the agenda for the conference? You won’t find that much amazing content at any other homeless conferences.

DC Is a Great Place for a Conference – with all of the museums, great nightlife, and other sights to see, you’ll find your time pre- and post- conference well spent…and perhaps at the end of each conference day too.

Who Should Go

Smart People – come share your brilliance with others and participate in discussions that are defining effective practices.

Newbies – if you are new to the field you won’t get an introduction like this one anywhere else. Deciding which sessions to attend will be the hardest part for you.

Seasoned Vets – stay fresh by opening yourself up to learning, and stay relevant by sharing your experience with people newer to the field. Open your mind to other ways of thinking about and practicing techniques that end homelessness.

Board Members – one of the best ways to find out if your organization is moving in the direction aligned with the greatest likelihood of success in service delivery can be found by attending the conference.

Elected Officials – learn the difference between which services in your community are best aligned with evidence and which ones could be improved where taxpayer dollars are concerned.

Frontline Staff – not only do you get to catch your breath from day to day service delivery, you’ll learn how to be better at your job.

Executive Directors – if knowledge is power, then the conference provides you the knowledge to lead a powerful organization committed to ending homelessness.

Policy Wonks – the bigger picture questions get their time and attention at the conference, working towards amending and shaping policy in the present and future.

Researcher Types – because where else will you find this many people that may open their organizations to have you do research with them? Plus there are sessions about sharing new research too.

Bureaucrats of All Stripes – if ever you have wondered if all you do behind the scenes to make public investment in services to end homelessness is worth it, you will find the answers at the conference.

Advocates – if you want to influence decision-makers, get the best ammunition to do so and chat with like-minded people to advance a unified position to impact change.

Past and Current Clients – every year there are some folks with lived experience that attend the conference and provide an important perspective in the workshops.

Is It Worth The Time & Money?

Renewal is Priceless – sometimes we need to go slower to go faster and the Alliance conferences sets up an environment for that to occur effectively.

Investing in Future Improvement – time and money spent at the conference now can save your organization, branch of government, foundation, etc. money in the future.

If They Put All This in a Book it Would be a Zillion Dollars – okay, so a zillion may be a stretch, but I don’t know how you quantify the value of not just the conference sessions but the networking, keynotes and pre-conference opportunities.

The Cost of Doing Nothing? – to me, not learning how to improve practice is again to investing the same time and money over and over again and expecting different results.

Are the Presenters Any Good?

World Leaders – one of the strengths about the Alliance Conference is that they attract the best and brightest speakers who are leaders in what they do.

Share and Post Presentations – almost all of the presenters make their materials available on the Alliance website after the conference, and a lot of them pass out materials during their sessions. Save room in your luggage to take a whack of paper back with you.

Dynamic – because the speakers are super-passionate about what they do, chances are you will be moved and anything but bored.

Pragmatic – one of the great things about the presenters is that you will actually gain very practical things that you can take back to your community and apply, rather than the learning just being conceptual or theoretical.

Evaluated – at the end of the conference you’ll have the chance to provide input on which speakers were the best and who should be invited back again.

Is It Different than Other Conferences on Homelessness?

Scale – the conference is HUGE.

Top-Shelf Organization – the conference tends to be impeccably well organized.

Best Pollination of Ideas – this conference shares ideas that transcend city, county, state and even country boundaries.

Main Currents of Thought and Practice – the material discussed and presented is in tune with the most current thoughts on ending homelessness and practices to achieve results.

Who Can I Expect to Meet?

Kindred Spirits – meet people who share your passion for ending homelessness and want to network with you regardless of where you are from to share ideas and practices. Do yourself a favor and make an effort to share a table at plenary sessions with people that you don’t normally work with.

Alliance Staff they are the crème de la crème when it comes to subject matter expertise, facilitating networking, advancing good ideas, understanding policy, practicing advocacy and putting together a phenomenal conference.

USICH Folksthere is a very positive relationship between the National Alliance to End Homelessness and the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, so you can expect many of the pivotal leaders from the USICH to be in attendance at the conference.

Giants in the Field – from the leading researchers (folks like Dennis Culhane) to national movements focusing on ending homelessness (the amazing Community Solutions) to pioneers of practices that are proven to end homelessness (Sam Tsemberis has been known to be in attendance) to seasoned practitioners that have made a lasting difference in their community, this conference attracts them all.

Technical Advisors that Know Their Stuff – I’ve been to conferences where TA folks are trying to set their targets on new business, and it can feel a bit icky. The TA people that attend the Alliance conferences tend to do so because they have knowledge and strategies to share from their time helping other communities and organizations in the field.

What Are the Telltale Signs Someone Has Been to An Alliance Conference?

Improved Advocacy – expect to have new data and strategies for advocating with the right people to advance the agenda of ending homelessness.

Smarter – you’ll have way more information than before you went to the conference.

Inspired – feeling part of a bigger movement and connected to people who share their passion for ending homelessness, you’ll feel inspired to do even better when you return home.

Improved Critical Analysis – it has been my experience that attendees of the conference are better able to review their own programs relative to the new information and examples they become privy to at the conference.

Renewed – there is a certain amount of renewal that comes from a few days away from the day to day grind.

Iain De Jong is the President & CEO of OrgCode Consulting and a long-time conference presenter at National Alliance Conferences. He will be making at least two presentations at the conference, and looking forward to learning much more from the other presenters and attendees. You can learn more about Iain at or or follow him on Twitter @orgcode 

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23rd May
written by Kim Walker

At the Alliance, we’re always looking for ways to help people learn more about best practices as quickly as possible.  We know that the more good information you have at your disposal, the more likely it is that you’ll be able you are to get results in your communities when it comes to adopting strategies that really work. However, we also realize that, as providers in the field, you don’t always have the time or energy to read through long reports or other documents to get to the good stuff. Rapid re-housing is a great and very important strategy, and though we already have in-depth guides, online trainings, webinars, and PowerPoints to teach you about it, we also wanted to provide you with something short, sweet, and to the point. That’s why we’ve begun developing and releasing our Rapid Re-housing Training Modules, which are 10-15 minute narrated PowerPoints on the most important elements of a successful rapid re-housing program: a housing barriers assessment process, housing location and developing landlord relationships, subsidies, voluntary service provision, and outcome measurement. We introduced the first of these modules on housing barriers assessment last week (narrated by yours truly), and will be releasing the next four over the coming weeks. Included with the slides are some interactive activities we’ve used when doing in-person rapid re-housing trainings, for those of you who learn best by doing. The modules are great for people that are new to rapid re-housing who want to begin to understand the basic concepts, as well as those who would like to brush up on specific topics. As usual, let us know how you feel about these new modules, and if you’d like to see more on other topics!

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22nd May
written by Andre Wade

On June 14 at 2 p.m. ET the Alliance is holding a webinar on using family intervention to reunify and connect homeless youth with their parents. Family intervention is a strategy used to link unaccompanied runaway and homeless youth, regardless of age, to their family or a caring adult. It provides an avenue for families in crisis to work on core issues that led to a youth leaving the home, identify extended family members who they’d like to be a part of the process, and learn to identify resources that can mitigate future crises.

A number of strategies fall under family intervention, such as family reunification, family connecting, family finding, and even aftercare services.  Family intervention should be made available to all unaccompanied runaway or homeless youth, including:

  • Youth over the age of 18,
  • Youth that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ),
  • Youth who access street outreach, basic center, transitional living and other housing programs,
  • Youth who are in need of a caring adult in their life, and
  • Youth who have the desire to be reunited or connected with their family when it is safe to do so.

There are several evidenced-based family intervention models available for providers looking to implement this strategy. The Support to Reunite, Involve, and Value Each Other (STRIVE) model will specifically be discussed during the webinar. Other models include:

To learn more about family intervention, sign up for our webinar on June 14!

21st May
written by Sam Batko

This coming July, the Alliance’s National Conference on Ending Homelessness to be held in Washington, DC, will feature a variety of workshops that are designed to help domestic violence service providers find ways to better meet the housing needs of survivors in their programs as well as help homeless service provides better provide safety and services to survivors in their housing programs.

To kick off the conference, the Alliance is hosting a pre-conference session that is intended for homeless service providers who are interested in more effectively addressing the needs of survivors in their housing programs.  The session will address increasing safety for survivors, best practices for case managers, and developing successful partnerships that benefit survivors.  Speakers in the session will be from domestic violence programs that successfully implement a variety of housing models and are experts in adapting those housing models to survivors.  While preregistration for this session is not required, we are asking that interested persons email their intent to attend this preconference session to Samantha Batko at so that we can track anticipated attendance.

Additionally, throughout the conference, participants will find content on better serving survivors in a number of sessions, including, but not limited to those focusing on:

  • Successful partnerships between domestic violence serving agencies, homelessness assistance programs, and employment programs,
  • Overarching strategies for ending family homelessness and rapid re-housing for survivors,
  • Research on homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing,
  • Development of and implementation of a coordinated entry system,
  • Landlord engagement and rental assistance stratagies,
  • Using a voluntary services model, and
  • Partnering with public housing authorities to end homelessness.

These workshops and other content of survivors of domestic violence are strategically placed throughout the conference to allow attendees to attend as many sessions on survivors as possible.  This will truly be a conference not to be missed for anyone working to end homelessness for survivors of domestic violence in their community.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The early registration rate for the conference is only available online until  10am EST on Wednesday, May 30, 2012.  Or, you may mail in your registration form postmarked by Wednesday, May 30, 2012.

Image courtesy of  NoVa Hokie.

18th May
written by Sam Batko

On Thursday, May 17, the Alliance hosted a Congressional Briefing, “Rapid Re-Housing: Ending Family Homelessness.”  The briefing was sponsored by Senator Patty Murray, and provided a glimpse into how a couple of communities are using rapid re-housing to revolutionize how they are responding to family homelessness as well as the critical important role that federal funding plays in continuing the success of these programs.

In addition to the Alliance’s own Nan Roman, the speakers included:

  • Matt Minkevitch, Executive Director of The Road Home in Salt Lake City, UT, who discussed how they have used rapid re-housing to prevent an increase in family homelessness during the recession by helping over 1,000 families move out of shelter and back into their housing using both TANF and HPRP funds;
  • Nan Stoops, Executive Director of the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in Seattle, WA , who shared the important benefits they have seen for both survivors and their families as well as to providers through the work they have been doing with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to provide grants and technical assistance to providers that help survivors get rapidly re-housed or safely stay in their own housing; and
  • Kelly Thompson, from Humility of Mary Shelter, Inc. in Davenport, IA, which has just begun to implement a rapid re-housing model with a grant from the Supportive Services for Veterans Families Program and has already seen the impact it has had on both the families it has served and their own capacity to serve families they were not able to before.

The panel also included the voice of a father who experienced homelessness with his family after unexpectedly losing his job.  He detailed the challenges he, his wife, and his children faced while trying to navigate homelessness and the dramatic difference that rapid re-housing provided in the lives of himself and his family.  His daughter has returned to school and he happily reported that he is going to take it easy on her, despite her getting a “93 on an English test.”

This briefing highlighted what we know to be true across the country: rapid re-housing is working to end homelessness for families, it is helping them get their lives back on track and helping providers serve more families in need, but HPRP funding is disappearing, and without federal support, the great progress made by these programs is in danger.