Posts Tagged ‘HEARTH Act’

1st June
written by Catherine An

While the Alliance is identifies primarily as a policy organization, we do some other things that you may not know about.

In fact, we have this great little department called the Center for Capacity Building. And lately, they’ve been really busy with a project called the  Performance Improvement Clinic (formerly called the HEARTH Academy).

Refresher: In 2008, Congress passed the HEARTH Act which was intended to streamline and modernize the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants. You can find out more about the HEARTH Act on our website.

The Performance Improvement Clinic is designed to prepare communities for the HEARTH Act, which is going to change the way communities both apply for federal funding under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants and they way that money can be applied within communities. Moreover, the HEARTH Act asks communities to change some of the ways they operate and measure the progress of their efforts to end homelessness and meet specific, numerical goals.

The Center for Capacity Building (CAP Team) is traveling to help communities prepare for the new legislation with an arsenal of new tools to help communities evaluate their systems and implement systems change. You can find these tools, including the Homeless System Evaluator Tool, as well as webinars, briefs, and resources on our website.

So far, the CAP Team has been to Mississippi, Iowa, Washington, Connecticut, Missouri, North Carolina, and Texas. This week, our intrepid capacity builders are in California before they hit West Virginia next week.

If you’re interested in the Performance Improvement Clinic or if you’re interested in bringing us to your town, let us know. For more information about the Alliance, check us out outline!

25th May
written by Kim Walker

Today’s post comes to us from Kim Walker, capacity building associate at the Alliance.

The Center for Capacity Building just released our paper on developing a coordinated intake system for homeless families!

We’re so excited because we’ve gotten so many requests for more information on this approach from participants in our HEARTH Academies and other providers across the country. (Need a refresher on what coordinated entry is? Check out this blog post from Norm from a few months back.)

So, what kinds of things do we cover in this paper? Answers to questions like:

  • What are the different types of coordinated entry models?
  • How are other communities doing coordinated entry?
  • What changes will my system have to make in order to adopt coordinated entry?
  • How will I be able to tell if our coordinated entry system is functioning properly?

Not enough coordinated entry content for you?

Lucky for you, we have two webinars on coordinated entry in June.

  • On June 9 at 2 p.m. ET, we’ll host a webinar with Joyce Probst MacAlpine from Dayton/Montgomery County, OH, who just completed a six-month review of their brand new coordinated intake process. You can register for that webinar here.
  • Toward the end of June (date and time TBD), we will highlight the coordinated entry model in Columbus, OH and provide insight into their systems for singles and for families.

Still not enough? No worries – we’ll be rolling out more and more “front door” related materials, including papers and interactive tools, as the summer goes on, including resources on prevention targeting and diversion (which we know are also hot topics out there in the field).

We hope, as with everything else we do, that you find the materials we provide useful to you in your daily work. If you have any questions about anything, please feel free to contact the Center for Capacity Building at

18th April
written by naehblog

After a long and contentious process, Congress has finally passed a budget for fiscal year 2011. HUD’s homeless assistance grants, will receive a $40 million increase, which is a much smaller increase than we were hoping for, but not as bad as some of the worst-case scenarios that were possible. What does that mean for HEARTH Act implementation?

The short answer is that it means new funding for prevention and rapid re-housing programs, but little to implement changes to the Continuum of Care program.

While the overall increase was $40 million, Congress chose to increase funding for the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) by $65 million. The HEARTH Act changes the ESG program to include both the traditional shelter activities, which ESG has always funded, and also the prevention and rapid re-housing activities of HPRP. The $65 million increase will go almost entirely to prevention and rapid re-housing. For most jurisdictions receiving ESG, this will mean an increase of about 35 percent. While it will certainly not replace all of the funding provided by HPRP, it will help sustain some of these programs.

For the Continuum of Care program, things are more complicated. The HEARTH Act combines the Supportive Housing Program, Shelter Plus Care, and Moderate Rehabilitation/Single Room Occupancy programs into a single Continuum of Care program that still funds all of the eligible activities of the previous programs. The amount provided by Congress is enough to fund all renewals, but little will be left for new projects or to implement many of the HEARTH Act’s other changes, and HUD will have to make some hard decisions.

For the first time in many years, the focus will not be on new CoC projects. Instead it will be on setting up ESG to be a regular source of funding for prevention and rapid re-housing, and on deciding whether and how to reallocate CoC resources to higher priority activities.

For more information about the federal budget and it’s impact on homeless assistance programs, please see other blogposts or check out our website.

14th March
written by Steve Berg

Today’s guest post comes to us from Alliance VP of Programs and Policy Steve Berg.

A little over a week ago, CBS’ “60 Minutes” focused on children and families experiencing homelessness. The piece received a lot of attention in the week that followed – and rightly so. The piece explored the effect that the recession has had on financially vulnerable families and poverty among children. It specifically featured interviews with children experiencing homelessness and highlighted the problem of families who are forced to live in motels.

I wanted to pass along an update on one of the featured families, the Bravermans. Jacob Braverman, just 14, came home from school one day to find himself locked out of his house. His mom had lost her job, and the bank warned them they had 30 days to leave their home. But just five days later, the police made them vacate the property. Jacob, his mom, and their dog moved in with neighbors across the street. In the episode, Jacob talks about how this experience made him more shy and forced him to mature much more quickly than his peers. He was constantly concerned about the instability he faced and worried what would happen if the neighbors kicked his family out of their home.

Since the episode (filmed in mid-December), the Bravermans have moved into their own apartment in Altamonte Springs, FL. They were able to do so with the help of a Recovery Act program called the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP). HPRP provides communities with resources to offer rental assistance and services to families and individuals so that they can stabilize in housing to end their homelessness – or even prevent homelessness it before it begins.

Unfortunately, the HPRP was designed as a short-term program and funding is starting to run out in many communities. But there is a replacement funding opportunity.

The HEARTH Act, passed by Congress in 2009, improved the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program. Under the HEARTH Act, communities will be able to continue the great interventions that have helped thousands of families just like the Bravermans across the country.

But it only works if Congress adequately funds the Homeless Assistance Grants program in fiscal year 2011. You may haveread it here before; the appropriations process that’s continues to stymie Congress and the country holds funding levels for homeless programs in limbo too. In order to implement this portion of the HEARTH Act, an increase in funding is needed for the homeless assistance grants.

We need you to make sure that you tell your members of Congress that you want to continue to help and house families like the Bravermans. To find out more, visit the website or contact us.

30th November
written by Catherine An

The Alliance just put out a huge (seriously, it’s hefty) toolkit – what we’re calling the Columbus Model.

So here’s the thing: Columbus, OH is really good at ending homelessness. Really, they’ve done all the right things: focused on prevention, implemented rapid re-housing techniques, encouraged excellent data collecting – all the things that make a program measurably successful. They’re so good, in fact, that we published a community snapshot on their 46 percent decrease in homelessness a few years ago.

And they’re still at it! With laser-focus on performance measurement and performance evaluation of both their community-wide homeless assistance system and their individual programs, Columbus has managed to really focus on improving assistance and reducing homelessness.

Lucky for you, we’ve distilled the lessons learned in this community and we’re sharing them with you so that you can implement them in yours! Our four-part profile of the Columbus Model includes:

We’ve also included tools and samples that you can download and adapt for your own community.

Why do you care? You care because next year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is going to get serious about the outcomes laid out in the HEARTH Act (that’s the reauthorization of the McKinney Vento Grants) – and communities everywhere are going to have to shape up to meet those outcomes. One of the great things about the Columbus Model is that it already meets many of the outcomes laid out in the HEARTH Act – Columbus works on reducing the length of stay, preventing loss of housing, encouraging rapid re-housing, housing stability, data collection, performance measurement, and a number of the other goals that will be required upon the implementation of the HEARTH Act.

We hope you find this model helpful – please feel free to peruse the articles and download the supplemental tools and guidelines. For more information abou the model, or to learn more about the Alliance’s Center for Capacity Building, please email us.

2nd November
written by Catherine An

It’s election day, people.

When Congress comes back – whatever the election results – the men and women we elect will be facing appropriations season; they’ll be trying to determine how much money to spend on which programs. Ask any staffer on the Hill and they can tell you it’s always a rigorous and deliberate process – and passing a budget is one of the most important things that Congress does all year.

And that’s not all. We at the Alliance set policy priorities every year that we work toward with Congress and the Administration.

Right this very second, we’re working hard on the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act and – as always – the McKinney-Vento. But this year, we also aim to:

And really, that’s not all. Remember the whole federal plan to end homelessness that the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness released last June? Remember the youth homelessness site visit campaign? Remember how the HEARTH Act is going to kick up at any moment?

The people that we elect today will have the ability to make significant changes in our lives – and for my part, I’m hoping they have the best interests of our communities and our country at heart.

And if that isn’t enough, let me remind of you of the situation at hand with a few flashback statistics (courtesy of the Center for Housing Research):

  • With only one in three poor renters benefiting from federal housing assistance, by 2006, some 16.8 million renter households (46 percent of all renters) were paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing.
  • According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s 2010 Out of Reach report, a full-time minimum wage earner could not affordably rent a typical one-bedroom apartment in any county in the country (except some parts of Puerto Rico). The report estimates that the national “housing wage” – the hourly wage that a full-time worker must earn in order to afford the rent for a standard quality unit – is $18.44, or roughly 2.5 times higher than the current minimum hourly wage.
  • In 2008, the percentage of people living with severe housing cost burden – paying more than 50 percent of their monthly income in rent – shot up by one-third to 16 percent. According to the State of the Nation’s Housing authored by the Center on Joint Housing Studies at Harvard University, a record 18.6 million households faced severe housing cost burdens this year – an increase of 4.7 million since 2001.

Look, you don’t need us to tell you that the situation out there isn’t rosy. Isn’t there some hubbub about the rent being too high in New York?

For many, it’s not a joke – it’s for real. Countless Americans are struggling to stay stably housed and support themselves and their families while precariously straddling their financial cliff. Together, with the support of Congress and the Administration, we can make that tightrope walk just a bit easier. With a focus on housing and services, we can prevent and end homelessness in this country.

So make sure you get out there and vote today.

20th October
written by Catherine An

So after tipping my hat to the 100,000 Homes Campaign for featuring our interactive tools and maps on their (awesome!) blog, I did a little tooling around to remind myself of other really useful tools on our very own website!

The Alliance has, for almost 30 years, lead the campaign to end homelessness in the United States. And over the decades, we’ve accumulated the data, best practices, and effective strategies necessary to end homelessness.

And we’re hoping to share them with you!

After checking out our most visited pages and most popular tools, we’ve compiled a list of ten things – links, pages, reports – you need in order to end homelessness in your community (read: really great tools and info). And, just for good measure, I’ve tossed in a couple not-so-popular but ever-so-useful links as well.

    1. The About Homelessness section.
      This section gives you a broad snapshot of homelessness at the national level and includes sections and information on different demographics, the cost of homelessness, and maps produced by the Homelessness Research Institute(HRI).


    1. The Interactive Tools and Solutions section.
      HRI produces a number of charts, tools, and maps to help you better understand homelessness. Some of the more recent tools illustrate the number of doubled-up households in the United States, HPRP spending per household in the cities we’re tracking, and reductions in point-in-time counts necessary to meet the goals outlined in the federal strategic plan to end homelessness.


    1. The (new!) HPRP Youth Profile series
      If you feel like youth homelessness has broken the media barrier, I’d agree with you. Youth homelessness is getting noticed as, as ending youth homelessness is one of our 2010 Policy Priorities, we’ve had our eyes out. This series highlights how some communities are effectively using federal HPRP dollars to service this vulnerable population.


    1. Our Issues Sections.
      So you’re feeling ready to go a little deeper? We go over the major topics we study at the Alliance. You’ll get an overview of chronic, family, veterans, and youth homelessness. We also go over rural homelessness, domestic violence, mental and physical health, and re-entry issues.


    1. Check out the Solutions.
      Don’t forget: we don’t just study homelessness – we’re about ending it. In this section, we show you how. We go over the best practices and effective policies necessary to end all types of homelessness. Among then is the Alliance-championed Ten Year Plan, as well as the [also Alliance-championed] Housing First principle. We also include information about prevention and rapid re-housing, including the President’s stimulus-funded, Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program.


    1. The new Training section
      Our capacity building team has really been making waves! They’re working on serious, on the ground issues with local communities to help them implement the best methods to end homelessness in their communities. They’ve also launched a great  Performance Improvement Clinic (formerly called the HEARTH Academy), helping people prepare for the changes that’ll take effect next year. If you’re a provider, this is the section for you!


    1. Local Progress
      Here we post on-the-ground examples of real, live plans put into practice. And, as you can imagine, those plans yielded some quantifiable results! We’ve posted snapshots from San Francisco, New York City, Denver, Chicago, Columbus, and other communities. Is your community among these snapshots??


    1. The 2011 National Conference on Ending Family Homelessness website
      It’s new and improved and waiting for you! Registration has opened and we’ve already received applications – are you one of them? This year’s conference is in sunny Oakland, California and we can’t wait to see you there!


    1. The Policy Updates.
      A chart organizing the major pieces of federal legislation about homelessness! Information about the implementation of the HEARTH Act and McKinney-Vento appropriations are kept up-to-date there – and you can find more information about other policies as well.


  1. And one more for good measure: the homepage.
    Find out about the latest policy updates, reports, documents, campaigns, events, and news. And what’s most important (read to me?) This is where you can connect with us.I know you’re already here (on the blog) but are you connecting with us on Facebook and Twitter? If you aren’t, you should! Our social networks are a great way to connect with us online, meet our experts and advocates, and learn (up-to-the-minute) what’s happening in our office and the field of homelessness. We talk with our friends, trade notes, links, and resources, and chat about emerging issues and upcoming innovations.


2nd September
written by Catherine An

Today, we continue the meet-the-staff series with Norm Suchar, the new director of the Alliance’s Center for Capacity Building. We’ve written about the Center for the blog before – now take some time to learn about the new director!

For more information about the Center for Capacity Building – including the new  Performance Improvement Clinic (formerly called the HEARTH Academy) – check out the Alliance website!

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23rd August
written by Norm Suchar

Today’s blog comes from Norm Suchar, the recently promoted Director of the Center for Capacity Building. Read on to hear about what the Center is up to!

There’s a lot happening in the homelessness assistance world these days, and we at the Alliance are working on big things to help communities implement the HEARTH Act and end homelessness.

The Center for Capacity Building is the Alliance’s training, technical assistance, and consulting arm. Over the years, we’ve worked on a lot of interesting projects, including the Rural Homelessness Initiative of Southeast and Central Ohio, which as the name implies is a homelessness planning and implementation project in a 17 county region in Ohio, and Shifting Gears, an initiative to help homelessness assistance providers transition to a housing first approach. More recently, we’ve been working with communities in the DC metro area to implement strategies that reduce family homelessness, holding trainings on rapid re-housing and creating and piloting a new Ending Family Homelessness Tool.

The Center’s mission is to bring together three areas of the homelessness assistance field: what we aspire to, what we know, and what we practice.

Over the past decade, the aspiration to end homelessness has taken hold. Over 300 communities have plans to end homelessness, and now the federal government has an ambitious plan to prevent and end homelessness.

At the same time what we know about solving homelessness through prevention and rapid re-housing has increased a lot. Different strategies have been evaluated, and the data we have on the size, characteristics, and outcomes of the homelessness population is ever increasing.

And now the practice of homelessness will be changing at a faster rate as well with the implementation of the HEARTH Act and growing federal and local government and private philanthropy support for implementing strategies that end homelessness.

Over the next year, the Center is going roll out a series of products and trainings to help communities meet the promise of the HEARTH Act by assessing their existing homelessness assistance system and making it a coordinated, data driven, and housing focused system. It’s an exciting time.

17th August
written by Marisa Seitz

Today’s post comes from Kimberly Walker, a Capacity Building Associate here at the Alliance.

Kim WalkerHello all! Kim here. As part of the Center for Capacity Building, my job is to help communities improve their homeless systems. As part of that mission, I’m working on the Center’s new Ending Family Homelessness Tool and Pilot Project (or the EFHT/PP). I’ve been told this may be of interest to our blog readers, so I thought I’d give you a synopsis of what exactly it is.

The Tool

This tool turns what the Alliance staff has learned over the years about best practices in ending homelessness, what we’ve learned from the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP), and the new Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act requirements into a measuring stick for communities. The EFHT will hopefully encourage communities to use these standards to judge where their system is now and where it needs to be in order for them to end family homelessness.

The tool has several different parts (some that are finished, some that are still being developed/considered):

1) A set of three surveys regarding what communities think about their homeless system

2) A data collection worksheet

3) A resource list

4) A planning document

5) A check-in document (after a plan has been made), and

6) A community forum

As a final product, we hope to create a completely web-based version of these documents that communities can use to analyze their data and create an action plan without Alliance intervention. Communities wanting technical assistance, like Lincoln, NE, will have the option of working with us more closely. Speaking of Lincoln…

The Pilot Project

Iain DeJong of OrgCode Consulting, Inc. and I will first be piloting this project with Lincoln, NE. This week is the first of a total of three visits we’ll be paying them. In preparation for it, homeless providers, staff, and consumers are taking our surveys, and Iain and I have been reviewing the data they’ve sent to us about homelessness in Lincoln. On Day 1 of this initial visit we’ll be getting to know Lincoln’s key stakeholders and presenting our findings (based on our analysis of the aforementioned data and surveys). On our second day there, we’ll present the group with a document to help them prioritize which problems to solve, think through next steps, and decide which resources to use in their search for solutions. By the end of our two-day stay, we hope to have the beginnings of a plan that will get our friends in Nebraska confident that they will be able to change their system for the better.

The Trip

I’m Nebraska bound on Wednesday evening – wish me luck! I’m excited to A) have the chance to be working with a community on an issue I’m passionate about, B) put what we’ve done with the tool so far to the test, and C) cross Nebraska off my “States I’ve Never Been To” list. I’ll be reporting back once I return…until then!