Posts Tagged ‘Ten Year Plan’

29th October
written by Catherine An

Happy Halloween, everyone! We’ve got tricks and treats for this week’s Friday News Roundup!

A great editorial from the New Sentinel in TN about the Housing First approach (don’t know what Housing First is? Check out our blog archives!). Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett threatened to withdraw $50,000 from the county’s Ten Year Plan unless housing units banned alcohol. But, as the editorial thoughtfully points out, “To demand abstinence or psychological treatment before housing is like having your doctor tell you that you can’t have life-saving heart surgery until after you’ve changed your diet and started exercising.” Stable housing is the foundation – the very first step – to recovery of all kinds for people experiencing chronic homelessness. Kudos to the News Sentinel Editorial Board for recognizing this important fact.

You know who else knows this fact? The good people of Bergen County, NJ. In Bergen County, advocates are embracing the Housing First model to help chronically homeless people find permanent housing. Despite barriers – including, as the writer points out, alcoholism, drug abuse, mental illness, or physical disability (and frequently a combination) – housing is the number one priority for advocates working to end homelessness. And of the 102 homeless people the county has helped house since March 2009, not a single person has ended up back on the street. Hip hip hooray!

A hop, skip, jump away from New Jersey, our friends at Hearth in Boston are working to end elder homelessness – and it’s a good thing, too. According to our demographics brief, elder homelessness will grow by a third in ten years; double by 2050. Between the size of the baby boomer population and the current rate of elder homelessness, we’re looking at an impending crisis. Hearth can’t do it alone – we’ve all got to do our part.

And finally: the illustrious Rosanne Haggerty! The brains behind Common Ground New York and the new 100,000 Homes Campaign (and MacArthur Fellowship recipient!) shares with the Alliance her vision for ending homelessness in this month’s Take Five! interview. Take a minute to check it out!

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.


7th October
written by Kim Walker

Today’s guest post is the next – and last! – installment of our Nebraska series from Kim Walker of our Center for Capacity Building. For more about the Center for Capacity Building and the services they offer, check on the Training section of our website.

Believe it or not, our time in Lincoln is at an end!

This last visited was from September 29 – October 1. The bulk of this last visit was a presentation to the larger Lincoln community, particularly targeting those whose work touches homeless individuals and have not been present for our meetings thus far. It’s about rallying community support and understanding that in order to make big change, we have to all be willing to invest in that change.

For our piece, we’ll review the process we’ve gone through with the Lincoln Homeless Coalition, including the data we collected through our survey and data analysis. Then we’ll turn things over to the Coalition members, who will talk in-depth about each of the goals they have for Lincoln’s system and invite the audience to become involved. This is where, if all goes well, we’ll see our hard work turn to into collective action as the larger community takes ownership of the work ahead.

In addition to presenting, we’ll be visiting the Coalition’s Project Homeless Connect event. Like other communities across the country, Lincoln puts on this one-day event that brings together different service providers to give the homeless individuals in the area a temporary one-stop shop to get as many of their needs as possible addressed. Our friend Erin Anderson at Lincoln’s own Journal Star has written about the event.

While we’re wrapping things up, though, we’ll also need to be looking forward. Though this may be our last physical visit to the city, we’ll be discussing how we can help them over the coming months, whether that’s with conference calls, collecting data to check their progress, or connecting them with other communities doing similar work.

As the great Ted Kennedy once said, “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.” We’re ending homelessness one community at a time!

24th September
written by Catherine An

In truth, it’s been a quiet week on the news front. No big surprise. With 38 days until midterm elections, it seems like voracious news cycle has bigger and juicier fish to fry that handle homelessness and housing.

But we know better.

First up, we got the poverty numbers. Last week, we wrote about the numbers coming out of the Census Bureau showing that the number of people living in poverty went up by 4 million people this year. This week, there were some noteworthy pieces floating around about the reaction to those numbers. The good people at NPR wrote about how the numbers are creating some (much needed) stir about aid programs. An editorial in the Detroit Free Press echoed sentiments that growing poverty numbers indicate a need to extend relief efforts to those most vulnerable. Yet the Washington Post observed that – even in the face of such important news – the numbers got a “muted reaction” on the Hill.

There was also some buzz at the local level – both good and bad news.

There’s was a flurry of news coming out of Oregon when the state released a report that homelessness among students was on the rise. Education Weekly also hit upon the affect of schools on homeless youth just yesterday, noting that the school system can offer resources and stability that such students don’t get elsewhere.

There’s some buzz in California about homeless youth too. The State Assembly is considering a piece of legislation, AB 12, that would assist youth aging out of foster care with the transition to adulthood. Also in Sacramento, there’s an effort to shift homeless services from government officials to a nonprofit organization. Without the constraints of state bureaucracy, the argument is, people would be able to access services more quickly and efficiently.

And across the country, as always, communities are acknowledging the importance of ending homelessness and moving forward in their own ways. Baltimore, western Massachusetts, and Pasco County, FL are moving forward with plans and initiatives to reduce and end homelessness in their neighborhoods. And two leaders in the field out in Washington reiterated the message we all know to be true: that a plan – with a dash of hope – is what’s necessary to fight and end homelessness.

Happy Friday, all.

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13th July
written by naehblog

So it’s important to note: I’m not an expert.

I tinker on the Alliance social networks, blog, and website – and I’ve learned a ton during my year here – but when it comes to homelessness, housing, policy, and practice – I’m the greenest girl you’ll meet at the Alliance.

Which is why coming to the National Conference on Ending Homelessness – this is my second! – is such a moving experience. For three days out of the year, I’m surrounded by nearly 1300 people from across the country who devote their time, energy, and passion to ending homelessness in the United States.

From the perspective of an outsider, it seems outlandish. It seems impractical and impossible. My own skeptical eyebrows shoot up to my hairline.

But, as I’ve learned – day by day at the Alliance – ending homelessness is no dream.

This year, the Alliance is hosting almost 80 workshops and three plenary sessions over the course of three days featuring experts and practitioners who have learned what ending homelessness looks like. Direct service providers, researchers, elected officials, and community activists from across the country are here in D.C. to tell us exactly how to do it.

Needless to say, it’s been a whirlwind of a first day.

After a morning of usability testing (our own small contribution to the movement!), Alliance president Nan Roman kicked off the opening plenary. She went over the state of the national movement to end homelessness. She covered our triumphs, our accomplishments, and the incredible work of all those assembled who have fundamentally changed the conversation about homelessness.

But what was heaviest on Nan’s mind, it seemed, was the anniversary of the Alliance’s own Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness.

Almost ten years ago – to the day – Nan stood on a very similar podium at the Washington Hilton and unveiled A Plan, Not a Dream: How to End Homelessness in Ten Years . She stressed what we all know today: we can end homelessness – one community at a time. With a concerted effort to implement best practices, utilize data effectively, and build an infrastructure focused on ending homelessness and not just managing it, we can all strive to reach a time when all people in the United States have a place to call home.

The bottom line, she said: homelessness still exists – that’s clear. But the upside is that we’ve made critical, systematic, and deliberate progress. The application of policy, proven strategies, and persistent, hard work [by you all] has reduced homelessness significantly over the past few years and paved the way to end homelessness.

“Ten years ago, the focus was on building a bigger homeless system to accommodate the problem. Today, the focus is on solving a growing problem – on being better and smarter rather than just bigger. It’s a solution, not a band-aid. It’s housing, not shelter. While there is still plenty of skepticism about ending homelessness, I think that today the idea of planning to end homelessness is well accepted, and indeed that we are all pulling together in that direction.”

After Nan, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty dropped by to welcome participants to the nation’s capitol. There’s no question that homelessness is of critical concern in the District – a territory that has a surprisingly high rate of homelessness. It was fitting that Mayor Fenty come to by to address a community of people intent on helping so many of the Mayor’s own vulnerable residents. Here’s hoping that – next time around – he shares a little more about the city’s plan to address the problem.

Then after two workshops (I sat in on “Rapid Re-Housing for Survivors of Domestic Violence” and “Permanent Supportive Housing for Families”), we took a little time to mingle.

Maybe the most exciting highlight of conferences like this one is the opportunity to put a face to the name (or handle!). As the social network girl at the Alliance, I get to interact with so many people online. I hear stories and requests and comments and critiques and every once in a while, I get to answer a question. But sometimes I feel like the contacts I make online flit through cyberspace and never manifest into real connections (a common fear, I think, of social media aficionados – we talked about in another post.

So it’s always a delight when I get to see and meet the names and pictures I see on our Facebook fan page and dancing across the twittersphere. Which is what I got to do during our post-workshop reception on Monday night.

In case we haven’t already connected, come by and see me sometime!

6th July
written by naehblog

Everyone here at the Alliance is so excited for our conference next week!

So in an effort to get everybody else pepped-up, we thought we’d share ten great things (among hundreds!) that you should look forward to at this year’s conference:

1. The anniversary of the Ten Year Plan
This conference marks the ten-year anniversary of the Alliance’s Ten Year Plan to end homelessness. Our president Nan Roman will discuss what we’ve done so far – and what next steps lie ahead.

2. Secretary Donovan’s keynote
There’s no doubt about it: HUD Sec. Shaun Donovan will discuss the new federal plan to end homelessness and how it can potentially change the whole field of ending homelessness.

3. Capitol Hill Day
Representatives from at least 44 states will be visiting their representatives in Congress to discuss the importance of a federal commitment to end homelessness. Learn more about it here.

4. Secretary Shinseki’s keynote
The VA has committed to ending veteran homelessness in five years and we hope Sec. Shinseki will share their bold new plans with us!

5. Launch of the 100,000 Homes Campaign
Common Ground of New York is committing to housing the hundred thousand most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness. You can find out more here.

6. Tracks
This year’s conference offers several tracks – giving you an opportunity to focus on a specific subject or area. Tracks themes include: domestic violence, HPRP, and HEARTH.

7. Expert Roundtables
Wednesday morning, the conference will offer breakfast roundtables with experts in a variety of fields. A great way to meet a leader in the homelessness field.

8. Advocacy Institute
Find out how to turn information into action. The Alliance will offer a half-day Advocacy Institute on Tuesday.

9. Evening Monument Tours
(If you can stand the heat!)

10. YOU!
The conference is a once-a-year opportunity to meet and mingle with experts, providers, and advocates in the field. We can’t wait to see you!

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24th September
written by naehblog

Almost ten years ago, the Alliance unveiled the Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness, a campaign aimed at engaging communities to look strategically and systemically examine homelessness in their localities. The plan outlined a community-based framework aimed at engaging a wide array of sectors and stakeholders to comprehensively broach and solve this social problem. The Alliance presented this campaign in a report called, A Plan, Not a Dream: How to End Homelessness in Ten Years. Six years into the project, over 200 communities had adopted this plan, initiating 10-year plans at the state, local, and regional levels. The plans developed timeline with tangible benchmarks, addressed different subpopulations of the homeless community, and incorporated data-driven, evidence-based strategies, as presented in the Alliance’s Ten Essentials, a list of best practices and proven techniques.

In response to this tremendous reaction, the Homeless Research Institute (HRI) published an analysis of the existing 10-year plans. A New Vision: What is in Community Plans to End Homelessness? examines the content of local plans and shares information developed by local planners and community officials.

Today, there are over 234* plans to end homelessness, and the Alliance has produced a timeline to track the evolution of these plans. To complement the online tool, Shannon Moriarty – former HRI intern and trusted colleague – produced A Shifting Focus: What’s New in Community Plans to End Homelessness, an update on 10-year plans since 2006.

Please take a moment to check out the tool and the short brief on 10-year plans. We’re hoping it gives you good insight into what’s being done – and an idea of what’s to come.

*We understand that since the publication of A Shifting Focus: What’s New in Community Plans to End Homelessness, even more plans have developed! If you don’t see your plan in the report, feel free to shoot us an email or drop a comment to let us know!

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27th August
written by naehblog

Can homeless assistance be dramatically improved in a time of crisis?

Nine years ago, the Alliance launched A Plan, Not a Dream: How to End Homelessness in Ten Years which charted a course for ending homelessness in the United States. The central idea, grossly simplified, is this:

As a nation, we do a lot to address homelessness—build shelters, distribute food and blankets and the like. What we don’t do is prevent homelessness or help people exit homelessness.

Since then, the Alliance has been working on changing policies and programs to focus more on prevention and re-housing.

Right now, we spend a lot on shelters and other emergency homelessness programs. And any effort to shift to a more prevention and solution-based approach could divert resources away from these existing shelters and programs. It’s a great idea in theory, but one that will take time and patience and there are people that need shelter tonight, and it’s pretty cruel to take that away, even if there’s a long-term benefit.

So progress has been slow.

And there’s a big barrier to making this change – money.

In the spring, Congress passed an economic stimulus bill that included a $1.5 billion Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP). One and a half billion isn’t a lot compared to the size of the stimulus, but it’s a lot for homeless assistance. And what’s important is that HPRP will fund rental assistance, housing search assistance, and other activities that prevent homelessness or help homeless people quickly move into permanent housing.

Many communities are using HPRP to transform their homeless assistance programs.

For example, here’s an excerpt from Dayton, Ohio’s HPRP plan, “The City, working with Montgomery County, will use these funds to begin the transformation of our system from an emphasis on sheltering to an emphasis on prevention and rapid re-housing.” Michigan is distributing HPRP funds to local nonprofits who can demonstrate …”how these funds will be used to transform your current homeless delivery process to reflect your community’s commitment to end homelessness in 10 years.”

It’s too bad that it took a crisis of this magnitude, but the investment in prevention and re-housing is a very big deal. We will hopefully use this opportunity to transform homeless assistance, putting us on a path to ending homelessness for good.

26th August
written by naehblog

Like so many others today, the Alliance mourns the loss of the esteemed public servant, Senator Ted Kennedy. His leadership, courage, and conviction will undoubtedly ensure his place in our collective memory.

It’s fitting that the Alliance first had the opportunity to host Senator Ted Kennedy ten years ago – the same year that the Alliance introduced the Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness. At our 1999 annual conference – The End of Homelessness: Blueprint for New Millennium – the senator joined Mrs. Tipper Gore in addressing the conference of 500 homeless advocates, providers, and community leaders.

The senator had not always been in the plan. In fact, the Alliance had initially invited a staff member (presumably because we figured that the senator had prior engagements) from the senator’s office to discuss mental illness among the homeless.

And then luck intervened. Another staff member, who noticed the Alliance invitation and conference materials, thought that the conference would be a fitting venue to debut the senator’s new language on mental health. And so, in July 1999, the senator joined the Alliance staff and conference attendees at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Senator Kennedy – the ‘lion of the Senate’ – spent his entire adult life in service to his country. The Alliance joins the nation in honoring the legacy of the great public servant.

13th August
written by naehblog

Okay, I’m a little excited! Yesterday, our friends at The Nation published an editorial we wrote for the “Ten Things” series. You can access the article, “Ten Things You Need to Know to End Homelessness,” on the Nation website but – if you’re feeling lazy – you can just read it below!

Ten Things You Need to Know to End Homelessness

In July 2009, The Nation published a “Ten Things” piece titled “Ten Things You Need to Know to Live on the Streets.” The provocative and thoughtful piece elicited quite a response. We, however, respectfully disagree with the premise of the piece. Before submitting to the idea that there are things you need to know to live on the streets, we suggest that you consider whether living on the streets is necessary at all.

We’re no strangers to the issue of homelessness–rather, we’re quite well-versed in the subject. Homelessness, as we know it, began in the 1980s and has persisted through the decades. Some see it as an inevitable byproduct of a diminishing affordable housing supply, a lack of well-paying jobs, tumult in the economic sector, and both globalization and urbanization. Many see it as an unavoidable social nuisance. Some don’t see it at all. But here, at the National Alliance to End Homelessness, we see it as a problem with a solution.

The causes of homelessness are many and complex–but the solution to homelessness heads toward one straight goal: housing.

Here are ten steps you need to know about–and to take–to end homelessness:

  • Plan. It’s simple: our problem is homelessness, and this complex, multifaceted problem requires a thoughtful, carefully concerted plan of attack. The most successful plans are built with the input and support of community leaders, elected officials, lawmakers, business leaders, service providers and residents.

  • Collect and examine the data. You can’t know what you’re doing until you know what you’re dealing with. Most communities already have a way to count the number of homeless people in the area; some communities also collect information on how people become homeless, how long they stay homeless, how homeless people interact with agencies of care (it’s called HMIS). Examine these data and learn the characteristics specific to their homeless populations–good data will inform which strategies are enacted, how much those strategies will cost, and how the plans can be implemented and carried out.

  • Strengthen emergency prevention. As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Most communities have in place an emergency homelessness-prevention program–usually including rent, mortgage, and utility assistance; case management; landlord or lender intervention; and other programs that pull people back from the brink of homelessness. By expanding, strengthening and improving access to these emergency prevention services, communities can curtail homelessness when people come precariously close to the edge.

  • Systems prevention. Similarly, we also have a set of systems that help the low- and extremely low-income households. Most people and families who fall into homelessness were already engaged in programs that provide low-income people care and assistance (as most families and people who fall into homelessness are low-income to begin with). Others who fall into homelessness are “graduates” of various state institutions: foster care, incarceration, mental health facilities. If we can strengthen the existing assistance programs and create effective transition programs for those exiting state institutions, we can ensure that those most at risk of experiencing homelessness are kept from it.

  • No-strings outreach. A key component of ending homelessness is reaching out to people who live on the street and encouraging them to embrace housing. But it’s often no easy task. Those who live on the street often suffer from mental illness and substance abuse. Persuading this population to accept housing requires an availability of “low-demand” housing–that is, housing that doesn’t mandate participation in treatment programs. While this “no-strings” approach may seem controversial, housing minimizes the ill-effects of street living (including both mental and physical distress), and stable housing creates a sense of safety and security that encourages participation in recovery treatments. While this step may seem distasteful to many, low-demand housing does encourage those needing help to seek it out.

  • Shorten homelessness. Shelter living is not the answer to homelessness, but it is an existing tool that can assist people temporarily. One of our goals is to shorten shelter stays as much as possible and move people quickly into housing. Strategies to shorten homelessness include incentivizing quick placement in permanent housing and holding shelters and similar service providers accountable for their past and present clients.

  • Rapid re-housing. One of the hardest parts of a housing-focused strategy is finding affordable housing that low-income or very low-income families can access. As affordable housing becomes a rarer and rarer commodity, fewer and fewer landlords see cause to rent to people with lower incomes, little savings, credit problems or spotty rental history. But there have been success stories–even in the most difficult areas (like LA and NY). What success requires is an investment from community leaders and a talented group of dedicated personnel to forge relationships with stakeholders, meet with prospective landholders and lay out the case for housing everyone.

  • Services. Once households are successfully re-housed, families and individuals should have rapid access to services: therapy, medical support, family assistance and other, similar services. These services can help families stabilize, promote individual and family well-being, and encourage self-sufficiency. Luckily, these services already exist through mainstream government programs–including TANF, SSI, Medicaid – and many others. The key is to link housing services with these existing social services.

  • Permanent Housing. Permanent housing comes in two forms: affordable housing and supportive housing. Most people–especially families–need only the former. Some homeless people–especially the chronically homeless – require supportive services along with permanent housing. While housing challenges will persist for those with low and extremely low-income until the supply of affordable housing increases substantially, local communities and neighborhoods are making concerted efforts to spur the development of affordable housing and to encourage state and local participation in securing affordable housing for the homeless.

  • Income. The last step to achieving self-sufficiency. As with services, there are government programs that can assist the formerly homeless, especially those with disabilities. Many formerly homeless people can benefit from longer-term, career-based employment services as well as cash-assistance programs. The faster that people can access those kinds of programs, the shorter their route to permanent stability.

As always, we want to know what you think! Anything you think we left out?