The FYSB Runaway and Homeless Youth Program is Hiring

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The FYSB Runaway and Homeless Youth Program is Hiring

The Family & Youth Services Bureau’s (FYSB) Runaway and Homeless Youth Program is seeking talented and committed individuals to join their team in support of the federal goal to end youth homelessness.
As a Management and Program Analyst in FYSB’s Division of Adolescent Development and Support, you will serve as the primary liaison for the integration of federal databases on homelessness. Candidates should have knowledge of research and evaluation and be able to provide leadership and guidance in the development and implementation of policies and standards applicable to federal and local data systems development, information systems sharing, data integrity and quality assurance activities. The position is in Washington, DC.
The deadline to apply is December 16, 2014.
View the job announcement.

SNAPS In Focus: A Discussion About the Point-In-Time Count

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SNAPS In Focus: A Discussion About the Point-In-Time Count

As you all have probably seen, on October 30, 2014, HUD released the data reported to us by CoCs from the 2014 Point-in-Time count (2014 PIT). In today’s In Focus I want to spend some time talking about that report - how we use it, the limitations of the data, how we can use all our data in meaningful ways, and how we can work together.
Each year the PIT Count Report releases data that communities collect and report to us, without extrapolation by HUD. It is not perfect – especially on newer requirements like the collection of data on unaccompanied youth – but it is the most ambitious and comprehensive count we have of sheltered and unsheltered homelessness, and it provides a lot of information we didn’t have 10 years ago.
The good news is that, nationally, we are continuing to see decreases in key areas like homelessness among veterans and chronic homelessness. This makes sense – as we target our federal resources and as communities become more strategic we hope to see numbers reported at a point in time decrease across all populations.
But that does not mean that every community is seeing decreases. In 2014, about 55% of CoCs reported an overall decrease in homelessness while the other 45% reported an overall increase. Some communities saw mixed results – up in some categories and down in others. The data for each community is posted with the report so that all stakeholders can see the local context.
The PIT report is a great national point of reference because it is easy to understand and has been in place for a long time. Both the PIT and the Housing Inventory Count help us to understand at the local and national levels what our systems look like and help us to benchmark progress – but the PIT is not the only measure that either we at HUD nor local communities use to fully understand the complex dynamic of homelessness and how the systems are functioning. We rely on numerous data sources, including program data from across the federal government, and the American Housing Survey, which captures information about doubled up households and worst-case housing needs. Communities should use their Housing Inventory Counts, HMIS data and other relevant data sets to measure progress and performance.
Now that it is clear what it is, let’s talk about what the 2014 PIT Report is not. The PIT count does not identify who is eligible for HUD’s homeless assistance programs. The PIT only attempts to count persons that are living in unsheltered and certain sheltered situations; it would not be possible for CoCs to count persons that meet all categories of homelessness as defined by HUD even though they may be eligible for certain homeless assistance programs. The PIT report is also not a statement that everything is going according to plan or that we have won the fight against homelessness. It also does not replace the data published by the Department of Education or other agencies - each set of data the federal agencies publish provides unique pieces of the homelessness puzzle.
In response to the release of the data, we saw some groups and individuals not only question the PIT data itself but also imply that the only people eligible for HUD’s homeless assistance are those that were included in the PIT count. Healthy debate on the data is good and pushes communities and HUD to improve methods for data collection and reporting – and we want to keep getting better. One way to do this is to involve homeless youth providers during the planning and implementation of your 2015 PIT count.
However, I would argue that as a community we should collectively regroup and think about how we can do better work together in three main ways:
  • Ensure that local programs know that the PIT results and eligibility for HUD’s programs are not the same. We count in the PIT those persons who are living on the streets and in shelter or transitional housing, but do not attempt to enumerate those who might meet the definition of homelessness in other categories. By erroneously tying the PIT results to program eligibility, we fear that families, youth, and adults will not be referred to emergency programs that could provide life-saving shelter and support. For some relevant examples, please refer to the recent guidance posted about HUD's Homeless Definition as it Relates to Children and Youth.

  • All of us in the homeless services world have the same goal – to end homelessness. We don’t have to agree exactly how to get there, and informed debate is important to the development of national and local policies. But we need to work together to identify promising practices and make the case for the resources we need across all agencies and programs.

  • Use the PIT Count Report not to fan the flames about the homeless definition - but to help us get to a more mature discussion about affordable housing and how that would help us end homelessness, especially for families. Just as we look at many different data sources to assess needs, we include many different programs in our strategies to address housing needs. Expanding HUD’s homelessness definition with no new money would adversely impact the systems we fund and important progress being made. However, many of the families in the proposed expanded definition simply need affordable housing. We should be working to ensure that they can access the affordable housing they need without being forced to go through the homelessness system.
So, here is what I ask of you in your programs at the local level.
Please be sure that your programs understand eligibility and do not make decisions based on misinformation that may be out there. We are working to get more guidance out on this to help clarify these issues.
We understand the limitations of PIT data, and we use it in conjunction with other data sets to inform our work. We ask you to do the same. Understand what PIT data can and cannot tell you about homelessness in your community, and use other data sources to complement PIT data.
Use your data to engage in meaningful debate about the issues at the local and national levels. Encourage strategic thinking and innovation. Work with your local Public Housing Authorities, HOME grantees and other housing developers to discuss affordable housing options.
Work together and with us at HUD to get to the goal I know we are ALL aiming towards, which is ending homelessness by serving those who present for assistance in the best way we can.
As always, thank you for your commitment and hard work.
Ann Marie Oliva
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs
Acting Director, Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs

Download this SNAPS In Focus: A Discussion About the Point-In-Time Count
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Updates to the CoC APR

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Updates to the CoC APR

Effective October 1, 2014 the HMIS data collection requirements were revised for projects funded through HUD’s Continuum of Care (CoC) Program, as well as Supportive Housing Program (SHP), Shelter Plus Care (S+C) Program and Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation Single Room Occupancy Program (SRO). As noted in a previous message, beginning on October 1, 2014 recipients were required to collect data on new and active clients, based on the 2014 HMIS Data Standards.
To assist your reporting efforts HUD has:
  1. Updated the CoC APR in e-snaps to reflect some of the changes per the 2014 HMIS Data Standards and to correct some issues that were preventing recipients from submitting their APR. Additionally, HUD has released in e-snaps the APR for FY 2012 New and CoC Planning projects.
  2. Revised the CoC APR Guidebook and HMIS APR Guidebook to reflect these APR changes in e-snaps. HUD is currently working on a CoC Planning APR guidebook. The CoC Planning APR will be a very simple APR, based primarily on the information submitted in the FY 2012 CoC Planning grant application. In addition to providing basic project information (e.g., contact information and grant type), recipients will be required to report on their expenditures and how those funds were used.
  3. Published a brief video on how to access an APR. Earlier this year, HUD launched a new APR access process in e-snaps for CoC Program recipients funded in or after the FY 2012 CoC Competition. This video is intended to address some of the concerns that have been raised with accessing FY 2012 APRs and also provides a reminder on the process that SHP, S+C, and SRO projects must continue to use to access their APRs in e-snaps.
  4. Provided HMIS vendors with updated CoC APR Programming Specifications designed to support the 2014 HMIS Data Standards (new elements and new collection requirements) within the existing APR template. These programming specifications are intended to help HMIS vendors know how to generate APRs for recipients while they are in the process of updating their systems to comply with the 2014 HMIS Data Standards.
  5. Released updated HMIS intake, assessment, and exit forms that recipients can utilize as templates for CoC Program data collection with the new Data Standard Elements. If your community is using HUD templates – check to be sure you are using the updated versions.
Recipients that have previously utilized the APR Generation Tool to produce their APR should note that the tool has not yet been updated to comply with the revisions detailed in the APR Programming Specifications. While HUD is planning on updating the Tool to reflect the changes per the 2014 HMIS Data Standards, HUD expects recipients to participate in an HMIS that is able to generate an APR.
HUD anticipates that in October of 2015, it will update the APR. The APR updates include changes to response categories due to the revisions to the HMIS Data Standards and will also revise or add certain questions to make the APR more compliant with the implementation of the HEARTH Act. More information on the updated APR will be provided prior to October of 2015.
If you have additional questions about the data standards, please submit them through the HUD Exchange Ask a Question (AAQ) portal. On Step 2 of the question submission process, select e-snaps Reporting System in the “My question is related to” dropdown.

Registration Information: Preparing for Your 2015 Housing Inventory Count & Point-in-Time Count Webinar - December 17, 2014 at 3:30 PM EST

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Registration Information: Preparing for Your 2015 Housing Inventory Count & Point-in-Time Count Webinar - December 17, 2014 - 3:30 PM EST

On December 17, 2014, from 3:30 to 4:30 PM EST, HUD will host a webinar on preparing for the 2015 Housing Inventory Count (HIC) and Point-in-Time (PIT) Count. The webinar will cover the 2015 Notice for Housing Inventory Count (HIC) and Point-in-Time (PIT) Data Collection for Continuum of Care (CoC) Program and Emergency Solutions Grant Program. It will highlight new reporting requirements and data collection guidance for the 2015 HIC and PIT Counts. During the presentation, webinar attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions related to the HIC/PIT Notice.
To register for this webinar please select the following link: Register Now.
This webinar will be recorded and made available for future reference.

If you have questions about entering HIC or PIT data that are not covered in this Notice, please submit them at the Ask a Question page on the HUD Exchange. On Step 2, select HDX: Homelessness Data Exchange (Including PIT, HIC, and AHAR) from the My question is related to drop down.

Reminder: NDRC Webinar - Working in Rural Communities (December 15, 2014 at 3 PM EST) and New Webinar Series Resources

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Reminder: NDRC Webinar - Working in Rural Communities (December 15, 2014 at 3 PM EST) and New Webinar Series Resources

This topical webinar is one of many upcoming webinars in the NDRC Webinar Series. This webinar, held on December 15, 2014 at 3:00 PM EST, focuses on disaster recovery/resilience issues unique to working in rural communities including funding resources, community engagement, and rural infrastructure.
Presenters: Lynsey Johnson (HUD)
                    Chris Beck (USDA)
                    Brett Schwartz (NADO)
                    Jen Horton (NACO)
                    Kevin Geiger (Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission) 

Please note you DO NOT need to register to join this webinar. Instructions to access the webinar directly are provided below. However, if you would like to get credit for this webinar, you may use the link to register.

Participation Instructions

To Join via Webex

  1. At least 10 minutes before the start time, log into the webinar
  2. Enter your first name, last name, and e-mail address
  3. Enter the meeting password: NDRC2014
  4. Click “Join Now”
  5. WebEx “Event Manager” software will load; this can take several minutes.
  6. Once the meeting window has opened, to receive a call back, provide your phone number in the box provided
  7. Call the toll-free: (877) 223-6370
  8. When prompted, enter the meeting access code: 747 205 802#

To Join via Teleconference (Audio-only)

  1. Call toll-free: (877) 223-6370
  2. When prompted, enter in the meeting access code: 747 205 802#

Additional Instructions

For additional instructions, such as how to ask a question during the webinar session, please visit the Training Course detail page.

Training Point of Contact

George Martin | 410-547-1825 | or
Vicky Grim | 443-875-8477 |

New Webinar Series Resources

The following information has been posted to the training course detail pages of previously held webinars in the NDRC Webinar Series.
To find out more information about upcoming webinars and access materials from previously held webinars, go to the NDRC Webinar Series News page.

Staying Warm with SOAR

Hi, just a reminder that you're receiving this email because you have expressed an interest in the SOAR project. Don't forget to add to your address book so we'll be sure to land in your inbox!

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SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR)
Staying warm with SOAR !

Winter 2014/2015
In This Issue
COLA Increase
Disability Reviews
SOAR Training

What is SOAR?

SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) is a federal initiative that expedites and improves access to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for individuals experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness and diagnosed with a mental illness and/or co-occurring disorder. These programs, administered by the Social Security Administration, provide income and access to health insurance for individuals that are unable to work due to medical and/or psychiatric  conditions.

The application process is complex and difficult to navigate. Through effective partnerships, technical assistance and training, the SOAR Initiative aims to increase the amount of applications and approvals for vulnerable individuals. For more information about SOAR visit

Coming - the 2nd annual SOAR conference in June - date to be announced soon!

 SOAR Data
As of the end of October 2014, data has been collated on over 830 SOAR claims, with initial claims processed in an average of 74 days! The State overall approval rate for all claims is 83% and in FY 2014, the approval rate for initial claims was 87%! (national SOAR average around 65%) 

Quick Links 


More questions about SOAR?

If you are new to SOAR within Maryland and want to learn more, contact Marian Bland at
or Caroline Bolas at

Share what you are doing with SOAR!
Email to
share your successes

Congratulations & Kudos!

Congratulations to Montgomery County who recently had their 100th SOAR approval! A big thank you to Rich Schiffauer, the Montgomery County SOAR lead, and all of the SOAR providers for this wonderful achievement! Well-done Montgomery County!

New Certifications

Congratulations to Kathy Craige (Lower Eastern Shores), Gina Meyer (Baltimore County, Bilqis Rock (Baltimore City) and Cornelius Brooks (Carroll County)! These recently certified folks have completed at least five SOAR cases and produced high quality SOAR claims! Also, congratulations too to Jill Eicher (Baltimore City) on successfully obtaining re-certification!

COLA Increase

Beginning January 1st, 2015, individuals currently receiving SSI and SSDI will be eligible for a cost of living adjustment (COLA). SSI beneficiaries will begin receiving $733 per month.  SSDI beneficiaries will receive a 1.7% increase in their monthly income.
For more information, please see
You can also download an updated fact sheet with the new amounts and other changes for 2015 from the National SOAR TA Center

 Continuing Disability Reviews

Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) are reviews that SSA orders and DDS reviews to determine if an individual continues to meet the disability criteria and that the impairments are severe enough to warrant continued receipt of disability benefits. When cases are initially allowed, they are categorized as one of the A man sitting in an office cubicle, looking at a piece of paper.following three groups:
  1. Medical Improvement Expected - as the name suggests, while the person has been deemed disabled, DDS believes that medical improvement may occur. These reviews can occur as quickly as 6 months following an approval
  2. Medical Improvement possible - this review occurs every 3 years and is based on a review that someone's condition may improve, but is still not likely to result in the individual being able to engage in Substantial Gainful Activity
  3. Medical Improvement not Expected - this review occurs every 5-7 years. This is for individuals who are 55+ (advanced age) or has impairments that are viewed as 'permanent' (mental disorders often fall into this range)
DDS will be reviewing if there has been a decrease in the "medical severity" of the symptoms and conditions. DDS will be looking at the current level of impairments compared to the level of impairment when originally awarded benefits. If a claimant is deemed to continue to meet the listings, the benefits will continue uninterrupted. If a medical improvement is found, DDS will assess if this is related to the claimant's ability to work.

SSA sends out this information to the individual. If you receive a SSA 454- this is the CDR paperwork, you can assist the client in filling out the forms to ensure continued receipt of SSI/SSDI and avoid a disruption in benefits!

For more information about CDRs you can download a recording of the recent webinar held by the National SOAR TA team on this very topic!

 SOAR Training in Maryland
A professionally dressed woman sitting at a laptop computer  
Policy Research Associates (PRA), the agency that runs the National SOAR TA center, is currently rolling out online SOAR  training. This online training is an extremely useful resource and provides a great opportunity for trained SOAR providers to refresh their knowledge and skills. However, in Maryland we will continue to offer the in-person SOAR training in order to provide tailored information and in-person assistance. In order to be eligible to submit SOAR applications in Maryland, all providers must have completed the in-person two-day SOAR training, even if they have successfully completed the on-line curriculum. These in person trainings are offered at least quarterly. If you are interested in sending individuals to the SOAR training, please speak to your local SOAR lead or email Caroline Bolas at


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