SNAPS In Focus: Strategies for Ending Veteran Homelessness in 2015

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SNAPS In Focus: Strategies for Ending Veteran Homelessness in 2015

Five years ago, President Obama made a commitment to all veterans through the release of Opening Doors that we would end homelessness among veterans by the end of this year. Along with our partners at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Labor (DOL), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Defense (DoD), the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), and other agencies, HUD is “all in” to make sure we meet this ambitious—but achievable—goal. We have also partnered with Community Solutions through their Zero: 2016 initiative to provide technical assistance to 75 communities that have committed to ending veteran homelessness by 2015 and chronic homelessness by 2016.

We’ve already seen several communities who have ended homelessness for veterans or are extremely close to it. In January, the City of New Orleans announced that they had effectively ended homelessness among veterans. Phoenix and Salt Lake City have ended chronic homelessness among veterans and are on a path to end homelessness for all veterans by the end of this year. Several other cities are close to being able to announce that they too have met this goal. And across the country, mayors and other leaders have signed on to the “Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness,” an initiative launched in June 2014 by First Lady Michelle Obama. Since June, 570 leaders, including 432 mayors, 7 governors, and 131 county officials, have committed to the challenge. It’s remarkable to see the results possible when communities rally around shared goals.

Since 2010, homelessness among veterans has decreased 33 percent, and the number of veterans who are homeless on any given night fell to under 50,000 in 2014. You should all take a moment and congratulate yourselves and the people around you that are working hard every day to make this happen. Because of you, thousands of veterans now have a place to call home.

But there is still a lot of work left to do. Over the coming weeks, I will be releasing a series of In Focus messages related to veteran homelessness and effective strategies that have been key for those communities finding success.

Before we begin with the “how,” let’s talk about what we mean when we say “end” veteran homelessness. It does not mean that no veteran will experience a housing crisis again. With changing economic realities, the lack of affordable housing, unpredictable life events, and unsafe or unwelcoming family environments veterans may experience housing instability and even homelessness. Our homeless systems are successful when they are capable of ensuring (and can measure) that when a veteran cannot avoid the street or shelter, our systems ensure that experience is rare, brief, and doesn’t occur again by providing a path to permanent housing– and no veteran is ever forced to live on the street. USICH has published criteria by which your community can measure whether that infrastructure is in place, along with a list of questions your community can ask itself to assess whether your community has achieved the goal of ending veteran homelessness.

It’s also important to be clear about the “who” when we talk about ending homelessness among veterans. The Administration’s goal is to end homelessness for all Veterans, not just those with honorable discharges or those who served in a particular combat theater, e.g., Iraq or Afghanistan. The goal also includes Reserve and Guard members who have established veteran status with VA following discharge from periods of active duty. If they served for our country then we need to be sure to serve them. 

Continuums of Care (CoCs) just submitted their 2015 Point-in-Time (PIT) and Housing Inventory Count (HIC) data to HUD, which means that you have the data available to tell you how many veterans are experiencing homelessness in your community as of the PIT Count in January. Now is the time to have the leadership from the CoC, Public Housing Agency (PHA), and VA sit down at a table and come up with a plan for the next seven months.

Using all data sources—including the FY 2015 PIT, HMIS, and HOMES—we need to do the following:
  • Figure out how many housing placements need to happen each month in order to get to zero by the end of the year and what additional resources are needed in order to make that happen.
  • Establish a process for ensuring that those veterans that are not eligible for VA housing and services are prioritized for CoC Program-funded assistance.
  • Monitor progress frequently and bring in your community leadership to get the resources and partnerships essential to getting to zero.
To support communities as they progress towards the goal, the federal partners have identified ten strategies that increase leadership, collaboration, and coordination among programs serving veterans experiencing homelessness, and promote rapid access to permanent housing for all veterans. These strategies include getting your Mayor to sign up for the Mayor’s Challenge (if they have not already done so), identifying each veteran by name, conducting coordinated outreach and engagement efforts, and increasing connections to employment. In addition, you should also ask landlords to rent to veterans receiving assistance through HUD-VASH, SSVF, or CoC-funded programs. Joining Forces, a nationwide initiative founded by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden to rally Americans around service members and veterans, has published a fact sheet on partnering with private landlords to end veteran homelessness.

Another practice that‎ has been critical to the success of community efforts to end homelessness is the creation and use of by-name lists of veterans, which enable communities to coordinate and track their housing placement efforts. This requires sharing and cross-referencing information between VA and CoC datasets. To support these efforts, HUD and the VA created  Best Practices: Sharing Information to End Veteran Homelessness, which seeks to provide guidance for local homeless veteran service providers to improve information sharing across programs and systems, strengthen the targeting of resources based on a shared prioritization system, and create more efficient systems for ending veteran homelessness within their communities.

There's no question the goal is in reach, and we are laser-focused on it. The goal of ending veteran homelessness in America is not just about hitting a number, but about communities putting a system in place that can house every veteran experiencing homelessness today and ensure homelessness among veterans is rare, brief, and non-recurring in the future. What we learn from ending homelessness for veterans will prepare us to end homelessness for all other populations in the coming years. We have a big job in front of us but I am confident that we can get there.

Ann Marie Oliva
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs

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NHSDC Save the Date and Call for Session Proposals!

NHSDC Save the Date and Call for Session Proposals!
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Save the Date and Call for Session Proposals!

The National Human Services Data Consortium (NHSDC) will be holding its Fall Conference on October 22-23, 2015, in Miami, FL. That's right, the NHSDC is taking your talents to (or pretty close to) South Beach!

Hotel Information
Hilton Miami Downtown
1601 Biscayne Blvd Miami, Florida 33132
The hotel rate is $169/night (not including tax and fees)
You can book your room using our group rate here: Online Hotel Reservations.

Call for Session Proposals
The NHSDC provides information, assistance, peer education, and lifelong learning to its membership and other interested parties in the articulation, planning, implementation, and continuous operation of technology initiatives to collect, aggregate, analyze, and present information regarding the provision of human services.
The theme for our Fall Conference is: "Connecting the Dots: Leveraging Information Technology to Improve Service Delivery" 
  • Learn how other communities are using technology and data analysis to improve service delivery
  • Network and share ideas with other human services providers who understand what you do
  • Return to your community with the tools to implement needed change
Our conferences highlight the good work that you and your community are doing to leverage data in the fight to end homelessness. All communities employ different strategies and creative means to tackle the social services issues.

Please read the Call for Proposals and submit your proposal for a conference session to the Online Proposal Link.

Pre-Conference Institute & CoC Tour
As we have done in the past, we will provide a Pre-Conference Institute in Miami. Make sure to look out for registration announcements for this special conference addition. Please note this is typically held the day before the regularly scheduled conference. There is a separate fee associated with attending the institute. We will also provide a tour to highlight innovative programs and services in the Miami area.
We look forward to seeing you in October!

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Our mailing address is:
National Human Services Data Consortium
1111 - 9th Street
Ste 245
Des Moines, IA 50314

Alliance Online News: Disabled People Living on SSI Cannot Afford Housing Anywhere in U.S.

Alliance Online News
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Report:  Disabled People Living on SSI Cannot Afford Housing Anywhere in U.S.
People living with disabilities who rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for their living expenses can no longer afford housing at fair market rates in America, according to “Priced Out 2014,” a report produced by the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Housing Task Force. The report, released Monday, June 8, presents findings from a study comparing monthly SSI payments of disabled, non-elderly Americans to the fair market rents for studio and one-bedroom apartments. Researchers found that, on average, people with disabilities must devote 104 percent of their income to rent a one-bedroom apartment at the fair market rate. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) considers rent affordable when it is 30 percent of a household’s income.
Read the report »
Survey: Americans Skeptical about Housing Crisis Recovery, Federal Government’s Role
Seven years after a national housing crisis, Americans remain pessimistic in their views on the housing market, with 61 percent believing we are still in the midst of the crisis, according responses to a nationwide survey presented in the report “2015 How Housing Matters.” Released by the MacArthur Foundation today, June 9, the report reveals that 80 percent of Americans agree that housing affordability in American is a problem, but disagree on the role that the federal government should play in addressing the problem, with 53 percent of Americans responding that the issue is not the federal government’s responsibility. Nevertheless, 50 percent agree that elected federal officials should treat the issue as a priority.
Read the report »
alliance events
Webinar: Identifying Housing and Supportive Services for Veterans and Their Families
Thursday, Jun 18, 1 to 2 p.m. EDT
On Thursday, Jun 18, at 1 p.m. EDT, the Alliance will host a webinar covering steps two and four of the Alliance's "Five Steps for Ending Veteran Homelessness" resource. Presenters from the Alliance and UNITY of Greater New Orleans will discuss strategies for recruiting landlords, identifying housing stock and supportive services, and matching veterans with them to ensure that they are successfully and permanently housed.
alliance events
Webinar: Tailoring Rapid Re-Housing for Single Adults
Tuesday, Jun 23, 2 to 3:30 p.m. EDT
On Tuesday, June 23, the Alliance will host a webinar about funding and tailoring rapid re-housing interventions to serve single adults. Rapid re-housing is a strategy designed to help most people who become homeless exit homelessness quickly through the provision of assistance identifying housing, temporary financial assistance, and case management and other services.
Conference Reminder: Cancellation Deadlines Approaching
Should you need to cancel your registration for the Alliance’s 2015 National Conference on Ending Homelessness, please note that the Alliance will charge a $25 cancellation fee for cancellations received in writing by Tuesday, June 16, and will charge a $100 processing fee in addition to the $25 cancellation fee for cancellations received after that date. After Monday, July 6, no refunds for cancellations will be granted. To learn more about the cancellation policy, please visit the cancellations page of the conference website.
More information »
from the blog
Ending Homelessness Today
the official blog of the national alliance to end homelessness
3 Major Takeaways from the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans' Annual Conference
by naehblog
Recently, the National Coalition for Homelessness held its annual conference here in Washington, DC.
Homeless assistance practitioners, policymakers, and advocates from around the country gathered to learn about what’s working to end veteran homelessness. The contributions of numerous officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) were also featured, including a keynote from Secretary McDonald (or Bob, as he urged the audience to call him). In his remarks he touted the efforts of successful communities from New Orleans to Houston and beyond and spoke of VA’s efforts to cut through bureaucracy to get the job done.
Beyond VA’s presence, there were some major takeaways from the conference that are definitely worth sharing:
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Here's What Houston and San Francisco Can Teach Us About Ending Family Homelessness
by Sharon McDonald
Just yesterday the mayor of Houston Annise Parker announced that her city had ended veteran homelessness. The announcement is getting a fair bit of attention in the press and online (and deservedly so), but here’s one thing those stories aren’t telling you.
Over the last two years, Houston has also reduced the number of families experiencing homelessness on a given night by 39 percent. Houston leaders attribute this progress to their investment in rapid re-housing. If they’re right, the city has more dramatic declines in its future, because they recently tripled their rapid re-housing capacity.
comments » | Like Here's What Houston and San Francisco Can Teach Us About Ending Family Homelessness on Facebook Google Plus One Button share on Twitter
The State of Homelessness in America: Trends in the Homeless Assistance System
by Liza Doran
On any given day, hundreds of thousands of Americans experience homelessness and interact with the homeless assistance system. Fortunately, many of them will become housed. Though the end point—housing—is the most important part, the process of accessing housing can vary greatly from person to person.
The homeless assistance system offers a variety of interventions: emergency shelter, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, and rapid re-housing. While some of these interventions (emergency shelter and transitional housing) are designed to be temporary, others (permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing) are long-term solutions to homelessness.
comments » | Like The State of Homelessness in America: Trends in the Homeless Assistance System on Facebook Google Plus One Button share on Twitter
homelessness in the media