If you subscribe to our Advocacy Alerts you already know that the House Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee is scheduled to vote on its fiscal year (FY) 2012 funding today and the House Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee is expected to vote on its FY 2012 funding bill tomorrow. These funding bills can have a big impact on homeless programs. Find out how what you can do here.
Also on the policy side, President Obama is planning to release a proposal for job creation tonight.
Finally, the Census Bureau will release poverty data for 2010 on Tuesday, September 13. Our research associate Pete will be on hand to analyze this information in terms on homelessness. If you are on Twitter, make sure to follow the hash tag #povertydata for analysis (if not, tune in to this blog!).
Now to our News Roundup:
- Some states are attempting to balance their budgets by cutting benefits and cash assistance programs for already hard hit families.
- Also from the Times, economists warn we may be headed toward a “double dip” recession.
- Minnesota Public Radio interviews homeless youth about their struggles to find enough food. In this article an outreach worker discusses barriers service providers inadvertently set up for homeless youth that discourage them from seeking assistance.
- A new report by Pew Charitable Trusts finds that nearly one in three Americans who grew up middle-class has become downwardly mobile.
This week, while some communities were still cleaning up after Hurricane Irene, we also paused to reflect on the six year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall in Louisiana.
Those unaffected by Katrina may be surprised to learn that many people who lost their homes as a result of the hurricane are still living in makeshift homes and abandoned buildings. Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont, said this week that coming together to help after disasters “is what being a nation is about.” I couldn’t agree more that as a nation we need to make sure that those still recovering from Katrina, the tornados in Joplin, and other disasters receive the help they need, and that we are prepared for a disaster before it strikes.
The state of our veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were also heavily discussed in the news this week, due to a speech President Obama gave at the American Legion national convention on Tuesday. In this address, the president discussed the federal government’s commitment to better support veterans when they return home, noting “that includes making sure that federal agencies are working together so that every veteran who fought for America has a home in America.” He also pledged to protect programs that assist veterans from budget cuts.
“We cannot, will not, and we must not, balance the budget on the backs of our veterans,” Obama said.
Also of note: NPR launched a series on female veterans transitioning to civilian life this week. In the last couple years, there’s been some discussion of the rise in female veterans experiencing homelessness. In our previous veteran reports, we noted that females veterans can experience high risk of homelessness than their male counterparts as female veterans are more likely to earn less money than males upon returning to veteran life, be single parents with children, and experience severe housing cost burden.
Without question, there are more females serving in the armed forces than there have been in the past and we can – and will – work to meet their specific needs as they transition back into civilian life.
15 years ago, President Clinton signed the welfare reform act changing ADFC to TANF and creating new goals for the program. We blogged about it this week and the week before and there’s been no shortage of commentary from experts and pundits. Through the Alliance lens, TANF plays a critical role in preventing family homelessness. TANF, and other social programs like it, provide the support that the lowest-income families need to stay stably housed. Investing in social programs for the lowest-income Americans is an investment in preventing homelessness before it starts.
In other news:
Our friend Donna Kimura at Affordable Housing Finance wrote an astute piece about supportive housing in the United States, the Washington Post gave some well-deserved credit to northern Virginia’s efforts to end homelessness, and the San Francisco Chronicle reported on a rejected plan to house young people who age out of the foster care system (something we’ve been thinking about lately as well).
A couple more stories of note: In Washington state, Senator Patty Murray – longtime champion of our cause and supercommittee member continued her work responding to the voices of veterans seeking jobs and housing. And in Winston-Salem (NC), homeless people won the right to serve on a council addressing homeless issues. We’ll see how both these stories pan out moving forward.
Photo courtesy of dnhart.
Our Friday news Roundup is broken down today by some of the issue areas the Alliance works on:
- Still not convinced that permanent supportive housing is the solution to chronic homelessness? Check out this story from Cleveland, Ohio and this recently published study from Australia.
- The Reading Eagle out of Pennsylvania took an in-depth look at the rise in family homelessness, and the barriers some families face in finding affordable housing.
- Annie Lowrey suggests one way to help the long-term unemployed is to bring back the Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF). The program expired last September, which this very blog called “a low down dirty shame.”
- This week, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released a report finding that the child poverty rate increased 18% between 2000 and 2009, returning to the level of the early 1990s.
- Monday will be back to school for many students across the country. The Tallahassee Democrat looks into what that means for students who don’t have a place to call home.
Did we miss any important news this week? Tell us in the comments!
There were two interesting stories from National Public Radio (NPR) this week: the first one was about a study that came out of Urban Institute about the role that the Temporary Aid for Needy Families played during the recession (we wrote about it yesterday). We know that it’s mainstream welfare programs like TANF that keep very low-income families from sliding into homelessness – an important fact to think about when considering welfare policies.
The second is an article about housing for minorities.
Interestingly, a study found that African Americans and Latinos live in very different neighborhoods than white or Asian Americans with comparable incomes; in fact, African Americans and Latinos tend to live in poorer neighborhoods than their Asian American and white counterparts. The story goes on to explore the different reasons why and the role of Section 8 Housing Vouchers.
The Washington Post this week published an article about doubling up – noting that [unsurprisingly] the recession has caused an increase in the incidence of relatives to live with each other. Doubling up is an economic indicator of homelessness that we examined last year and revisited again when we published The State of Homelessness in America. Check our interactive map on doubled up for more information.
And finally, there were a couple of articles about veterans in the news. The Associated Press wrote about disability status among exiting troops and how a new exit system has caused some delays for veterans being discharged. While the new process is meant to expedite and streamline the process, it’s currently causing periods of time when a disabled veteran doesn’t know where he’ll end up, when he’ll be discharged, and how much he’ll receive in disability benefits. There was an article in TIME Magazine that discussed unemployment among veterans and how to help young veterans find work post-service.
These questions are important ones for veterans, especially as we know that veterans are at risk of experiencing homelessness when they return from conflict. With the VA’s commitment to end veteran homelessness in five years, we must take particular note of the transition process to ensure that veterans have a smooth and productive shift into civilian life.
In lieu of the usual Friday News Roundup, today we’re celebrating Alliance news of our own. Policy intern Sam Storey leaves his Alliance internship to return to Stanford. Today, he writes about what he learned during his time here.
Alas, after two exhilarating and truly unforgettable months at the Alliance, my internship has sadly come to an end.
As my parting gift, I give you a list of the 10 things I have learned at the Alliance during my short (yet fulfilling) time here:
- Numbers matter. Without knowing the extent of a problem, what demographic is most affected, and where the affected reside, it is nearly impossible to implement effective policy and provide adequate services. That’s why high quality data and research are keys in developing solutions.
- Families play an integral role in protecting children from homelessness, and we must better incorporate them into our efforts to get youth off the streets. Family reunification – in addition to rapid re-housing and other interventions for youth – is how we end youth homelessness for good.
- Youth policy analyst Andre Wade is the best dressed in the office…or at least he is now that I’m gone.
- During these tough economic times, we must work hard to protect our most vulnerable friends and neighbors. We must protect funding for homelessness assistance and prevention programs – especially those programs that have proven to reduce homelessness. Continued advocacy is essential to ensuring that the progress toward ending homelessness continues.
- Assistant to the President Kate Seif is really good at doing crossword puzzles. My crossword puzzles, to be exact.
- Planning a meeting – let alone a conference of almost 1,500 people – is an exhaustive affair that requires organization, innovation, and patience. The staff at the Alliance does this impressive work year after year to plan the National Conference on Ending Homelessness, which I was proud to be a part of this summer.
- The commercial sexual exploitation of youth inexorably intersects with youth homelessness. Service providers and policy advocates can protect victims of sexual exploitation by working to ensure access to the health and housing services they require.
- The solution to homelessness is housing. It’s so simple, it’s remarkable. While homelessness often involves a host of other pressing social issues – mental health, veterans affairs, welfare, poverty – the solution to homelessness couldn’t be simpler. The faster you can house a homeless person, the faster you can end their homelessness.
- Homelessness among LGBTQ youth in America is a serious and problem – and we’re working on learning more about it. So far, we know that one contributing factor is family rejection, which LGBTQ youth tend to face more often than their non-LGBTQ peers. If we ever hope to end LGBTQ youth homelessness, we need to focus on preserving families.
- The homeless assistance community is undoubtedly the most passionate, dedicated, and selfless I have ever met – and I am honored to have been a part of this community and this organization. This summer has been one of the most fulfilling and rewarding of my young life.
This week, the Examiner reported that Washington, DC is falling far behind its goals of creating more affordable housing. The Huffington Post found that the working poor in Texas are increasingly unable to afford the rising costs of housing. The Center for American Progress examined the racial disparity of children in the foster care system as a result of targeting poor families. And more than a few homelessness and housing organization rung their hands over the debt ceiling deal.
On top of all that, Washingtonians were greated by this graph on the front page of the Washington Post this morning as they walked to work, like I did:
There are some weeks when gathering the news for this roundup can be a discouraging task. This was one of those weeks.
To counter my glum feelings, I have to remind myself that all is not lost, and we still can make a difference in light of economic depression and uncertainty. Here at the Alliance, we tried to make sense of what impact the debt deal and looming state and local budget cuts would have on homelessness. We asked our advocates across the country to set up meetings and site visits with their Members of Congress while they are on recess.
After endless debate and a handful of failed negotiations, it seems that Congress and the Administration have finally come to terms on a debt ceiling deal. That hasn’t stopped pundits and politicos alike from speculating about the impact of the deal. This morning, Bloomberg News announced that “Debt Ceiling Agreement Leaves U.S. States Preparing for More Aid Reduction.” Noted economist Jared Bernstein also blogged about the deal this morning, specifically mentioning that programs aimed to protect poor and low-income families may feel the brunt of the deal.
There have been a handful of articles about the weather and homeless people as of late, no doubt due to the heat wave that hit the eastern seaboard last week. We specifically took note of the piece by Sam Lehman in the Washington Post over the weekend.
Veterans have been in the news lately and we caught wind of a McClatchy News article on injured veterans and the programs that are dedicated to help them assimilate back into society. While everyone agrees that assisting injured veterans in a priority, some wonder if – given the current budget climate – even these programs will face the ax. The McClatchy News article offers some inches to that line of thought as well.
Thoughts, insights, or additions to this Monday News Roundup? Please let us know!
Today, the Alliance staff has been buzzing about an article in this morning’s USA Today which stated, “More than 10,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are homeless or in programs aimed at keeping them off the streets, a number that has doubled three times since 2006, according to figures released by the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
Veterans returning home after service face a number of challenges these days. A scarcity of jobs (as a result of the struggling economy) and a pronounced lack of affordable housing options are two challenges that threaten housing stability. Together, these two challenges can lead to an increased risk of homelessness.
Luckily, there are some things being done by the federal government to help veterans experiencing or at risk of homelessness. If you receive our newsletter, you noticed the spotlight article today was about the HUD-VASH program, a joint initiative of HUD and the VA specifically intended to provide rental assistance to veterans experiencing housing instability. Earlier this month, the two departments announced $46.2 million to supply permanent housing and cast management for 6,790 homeless veterans through the HUD-VASH program.
Just today, the VA announced the list of communities receiving funds from the Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program – a new VA program that provides supportive service to very low income veterans and their families.
Programs like these are critical to ensure that returning veterans have the opportunity to pursue healthy, meaningful lives after their service.
To find out more about veterans homelessness, please visit the Alliance website.
This week, we saw a little news about homelessness data. Erin Meyer of the Chicago Tribune wrote about LGBTQ youth homelessness in Chicago – echoing the concern around the issue that’s arisen in the last few months. In this article Nan Roman, president of the Alliance, notes the dearth of data around the population which is necessary in order to fully understand the situation and take substantive action. Similarly, in a story about unsheltered homeless people, Jennifer Lin of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes about the number of people experiencing homelessness on the street and what the city is doing to address the situation.
Yesterday, Marcia Davis at the Washington Post wrote about a guide released by the Department of Labor to help direct service providers serve veteran women experiencing homelessness. The guide, focused on trauma-informed care, noted that veteran women are at high risk of homelessness than their male counterparts, a notion we reiterated on the blog yesterday.
The state of Massachusetts is considering a new program to integrate supportive services and affordable housing for disabled, elderly, and homeless families, according to the Boston Globe. The bill would create 1,000 units of supportive housing for the hardest to serve homeless people. L
Great steps are also being taken by our neighbors to the north, says The Globe and Mail. The city of Vancouver unveiled their plan to end street homelessness by 2015 this week.