The administration’s proposal includes expanding Medicaid to everyone who earns below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Currently, permanent supportive housing projects across the country are constantly trying to find funding to pay for mental health services, substance abuse treatment, primary health care and intensive case management services. Expanded Medicaid insurance coverage will allow supportive housing providers to focus on providing services, rather than chasing after funding.
I think that we need to do everything we can to raise awareness of what I would call the public health emergency of people living on the streets. Their mortality rates are so high. The outcomes from their illnesses are so appalling. If this were any other population, we would have major programs to address health disparities.
“Never has there been a more salient time to discuss the pressing issue of family homelessness,” said Nan Roman. “We’re faced with economic instability, rising unemployment, and an anticipated rise in homelessness. At the same time, we see increased attention to the crisis, both from the mainstream media and from the federal government. Now is the time for a serious conversation about systematic change; now is the time to face our challenges head-on.”
There’s a tidbit from the Alliance’s National Conference on Ending Family Homelessness, going on now in LA. PATH Partners’ Joel John Roberts reports on the event here.
As we gathered in LA, some leaders in the field of permanent supportive housing got some much-deserved press this week. Jennifer Ho, who recently joined the federal Interagency Council on Homelessness, discussed the transformation of services in Minnesota. In an interview with Good Magazine, Roseanne Haggerty says: “Communities willing to work on getting people housed instead of letting the homeless drift between shelters, hospitals and jails can solve homelessness.” Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
And while we’ve been focusing on the federal this week, folks at the local level have been making some major progress: with youth in Worcester, for veterans in Utah, for chronically homeless people in Alaska (great analysis in this piece), with housing in South Dakota.
There’s also been some significant research findings out this week. One finds that despite an increase in public aid programs – TANF and SNAP benefits, for example – for struggling families, many still lack access to assistance they need. Another examines the impact of rising unemployment on NYC’s families and the programs designed to mediate it.
In the blogopshere, the Coalition for the Homeless Central Florida posted a moving piece on their clients’ New Year’s resolutions, while on the Change.org End Homelessness blog, David Henderson talks about homeless service providers working themselves out of business.
Here in DC, business is slowly returning to usual after this week’s snowpocalypse, but I’m still thinking about the impact the snow had on the District’s most vulnerable residents. Reports from NYC and Philly describe a shelter system stressed to the breaking point. Here’s to a weekend that’s safe and warm for all.
Organizations across the country are looking to fill their volunteer rosters for annual Point in Time counts next week. Volunteer in your area and look forward to a more detailed look at counts on this blog next week.
Otherwise, a variety of interesting, important research pieces have come out this week. Here’s a handful of highlights:
Results of a study on youth homelessness in Oregon came out this week. While we’re always glad to see data on youth homelessness, it looks like numbers of youth experiencing homelessness are increasing pretty dramatically, service providers say.
A University of Birmingham professor Jeffrey Michael Clair spent two years interviewing Birmingham’s chronically homeless. His conclusion? “Public policy should be oriented more toward enabling people to work and to secure a dwelling.” Agreed. (Found this one through Inforumusa.)
The Corporation for Supportive Housing’s Richard Cho was featured on the Funders Together blog this week with research from the Frequent Users Forum. Their work shows why permanent supportive housing is a cost-effective solution to chronic homelessness: case management combined with permanent housing for those stuck in the “institutional circuit” reduces time and public money spent in hospitals, jails and shelters.
The Department of Veteran’s Affairs recently reported on the ways they’re shifting medical systems to better serve veterans who are homeless, including integrating health care and other services, like job training and housing. Though many of the 131,000 homeless veterans in the U.S. struggle with addiction or mental illness, researcher Robert Rosenheck emphasizes that “homelessness is clearly a function of two things: low incomes and high rents.”
If you haven’t already, check out this in-depth piece in New York Magazine about Cedar Bridge, a tent city in the woods in New Jersey. And don’t miss the photos!
I’m still seeking – and finding – new places in the homelessness blogosphere. This week, I’ve found the Cleveland Homeless blog has a great mix of news and commentary and the Street Roots blog For those who can’t afford free speech had fantastic coverage of the action on housing in San Francisco. And I’ve still got goosebumps from my first visit to Signs of Life, the exquisitely written blog by Unity of Greater New Orleans.