Upcoming Webinar: Non-Time-Limited Housing for Youth

United States Interagency Council on Homelessness - No on should experience homelessness. No one should be without a safe, stable place to call home.

Join Us for an Upcoming Webinar!
Non-Time-Limited Housing for Youth
Thursday, August 13, 1:00 - 2:15 PM EST

As communities work to coordinate a comprehensive approach to ending youth homelessness by 2020, creating and financing housing opportunities for youth unable to return to families can be a challenge. Some communities are beginning to find success with housing for youth that does not include traditional time limits or programmatic requirements. Many of these programs also provide trauma-informed services that address the physical, socio-emotional, intellectual, and life skills development of youth on a pathway to independence. 
In addition to leaders from USICH and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, community presenters from Portland, Maine and New York City will highlight two models of non-time-limited housing for youth, detailing how those programs were developed and financed, what the programs offer to youth as well as outcomes and challenges.
  • Kiley Gosselin, Management and Program Analyst, USICH
  • Norman Suchar, Director, Special Needs Assistance Programs, HUD
  • Jon Bradley, Associate Director, Preble Street, Portland, ME
  • Colleen Jackson, Executive Director & CEO, West End Residences, HDFC, Inc., New York, NY

Registration is required to attend this webinar. Once you are registered, you will receive a confirmation email with a URL link and audio instructions (computer or dial-in) for accessing the webinar during the scheduled time of August 13, 1:00 PM, EST.

Advocacy Update: Host Your Members of Congress for Site Visits!

Advocacy Update
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Invite Your Members on Site Visits During the August Recess!
While Members of Congress are currently home in their districts or states for the August recess, now is the perfect time to directly engage them through participating in our August 2015 Site Visit Campaign! Members' schedules quickly fill up during the August recess (which includes the first week of September before they return to DC after Labor Day), so you should engage them through setting up a site visit of your program or an in-district meeting as soon as possible! This is the perfect way to follow up to your congressional meetings if you participated in Capitol Hill Day 2015, and/or to strengthen relationships with your congressional offices.

A timely goal of this campaign is to collectively demonstrate that discretionary spending caps need to be lifted to allow appropriators to robustly fund homeless assistance and affordable housing programs to achieve progress at ending homelessness. The end goals are to ensure that when FY 2016 funding legislation is finalized, the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program receives a $345 million increase to $2.480 billion, including $40 million for homeless youth initiatives, and the Housing Choice Voucher program receives sufficient funding to renew existing vouchers and $512 million to restore 67,000 vouchers that were lost due to sequestration.

In order to make a strong case for raising budget caps and secure these increases, we need your help engaging Members to get them to agree to communicate the message to the Chairs and Ranking Members of  the House and Senate Appropriations Committees that providing the following funding levels in the final FY 2016 funding legislation are high priorities:
  • 1) $2.480 billion for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program in FY 2016, including $40 million for homeless youth initiatives
  • 2) Sufficient funding to renew all existing Housing Choice Vouchers and an additional $512 million to restore the 67,000 vouchers lost to sequestration
Here’s What You Can Do:
Let us know as soon as possible which of the below actions you can commit to doing this August (or the first week of September), and use the below links to materials to help you start taking these actions - NOW is the time to get planning underway!
  1. Host a Member of Congress for a Site Visit this August! Site visits are one of the most effective ways to gain Members' support, and as such this is the most important advocacy action you can take this month.
    • If you plan to host your Member for a site visit, you will need to start planning now! Use this work plan and read this toolkit chapter to assist you with your planning efforts!
    • Let us know if you need any help planning or strategizing!
  2. Schedule meetings with your Members of Congress in their district offices!
    • If your Member does not have time to attend a site visit, or if you are unable to host them, the next best thing you can do is schedule meetings with the Member in their district or state office. Use this checklist and read this toolkit chapter to help you to schedule and prepare for these meetings. 
    • Let us know if you need any help planning or strategizing!
  3. Remember, it is VERY important to communicate the above bold red message during your site visit or meeting!
  4. Let us know how your site visit(s) or meeting(s) went! 
It is particularly important to target Members who sit on the House or Senate Appropriations Committees, and those with other key leadership positions. You can email Julie or Jaime to help you determine who to engage, and don't forget to keep us posted on your efforts! 
More Information:
Since the appropriations process using the current, sequestration level discretionary spending caps has stalled, in part due to Congress’ inability to adequately fund critical programs with such limited resources, it is likely that there will be a budget deal this fall to raise these caps. Members will need to raise overall budget caps in order to make any significant increases to homeless assistance and affordable housing programs. They need to hear that if the caps are raised, additional funding NEEDS to be diverted to these programs to meet the rising need for them and allow communities to continue to make progress in ending homelessness.

There will likely be a continuing resolution (CR), or stopgap funding measure, that will fund the government at current levels past the end of the fiscal year on September 30th again this year until final budget decisions are made. So advocates have a long way to go from now through November or December to secure the $2.480 billion for McKinney, including $40 million for homeless youth initiatives, and sufficient funding to renew existing Housing Choice Vouchers and restore the 67,000 vouchers lost due to sequestration.

Securing these funding levels would be HUGE wins for communities! They would allow us to make progress toward ending homelessness for families, youth, and people with disabilities in order to reach the goal of ending chronic homelessness by the end of 2017 and build resources that will be needed to end family and youth homelessness by 2020. It is therefore key that Members have impactful experiences during their site visits and meetings that inspire them to relay our priorities to their colleagues on the Appropriations Committees early and often over the coming months! So please start planning your site visits and meetings today!
Access the toolkit »

SNAPS In Focus: Increasing Housing Placements of Homeless Veterans

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U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HUD Exchange Mailing List

SNAPS In Focus: Increasing Housing Placements of Homeless Veterans

For the last few years, you have heard me talk about Housing First as a best practice approach for permanent housing and a key strategy for meeting the goals of Opening Doors. In 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) made Housing First the official policy of the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. A community-wide Housing First approach can ensure that veterans experiencing homelessness move into permanent housing as quickly as possible and receive the right level of supportive services, regardless of their substance use or criminal history, poor credit, or other challenges.

Assisting veterans to find units to rent with these subsidies is particularly difficult in tight housing markets, where there is little access to affordable housing, employment opportunities, and other essential supports. Engaging landlords, property managers, developers, and real estate professionals is essential. Having a diverse and large number of housing partners is key to the success of HUD-VASH and other programs using Housing First approaches, especially when affordable housing options are limited. These partnerships reduce delays in housing placement, decrease time spent homeless, and increase housing choice for veterans. Landlords can also benefit through more stable rental income, reduced vacancy rates due to quick connections with renters as soon as units become available, and access to staff who can address any issues.

One successful strategy for developing housing partners is finding real estate professionals to be your champions and partners in this effort. For example, the Atlanta Real Estate Collaborative (AREC) is a group of private individuals with extensive real estate experience who have united to share their professional expertise in housing to improve local efforts to end homelessness in Atlanta. Their Open Doors initiative is centered on two key elements: landlord engagement and using technology to increase housing placement. Open Doors develops relationships with property owners and managers to expand the inventory of available units for persons experiencing homelessness. Open Doors also partnered with key technology partners to build a live feed of information showing daily updates of unit availability, allowing service providers to spend less time gathering information and more time identifying housing options for individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

Continuums of Care (CoCs), homeless service providers, and philanthropic organizations can play a critical role in improving utilization of HUD-VASH by helping reduce the administrative burden on Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) that administer these vouchers. Specifically, CoCs and homeless service providers can assist PHAs with applications and briefings, housing navigation, and inspections. PHAs can also get help with these costs by requesting Extraordinary Administrative Fees (EAF) as discussed in a letter from HUD to PHAs highlighting strategies to improve HUD-VASH voucher utilization. Philanthropy can also play a role by funding activities such as creating a rent mitigation fund that landlords can draw upon to reduce risk or by helping fund the cost of a landlord recruitment campaign.

Communities across the country are making tremendous progress, demonstrating that achieving this goal is very possible. We know the strategies that work – however implementing these strategies may look very different in different places. To help communities reach this goal, CoCs may request technical assistance through Vets@Home. Many communities are already receiving technical assistance related to ending veteran homelessness through other HUD or VA initiatives. Vets@Home is not a new initiative; instead it is intended to expand upon the efforts already happening and support more communities with reaching this goal.

HUD, USICH, and the VA are working on developing additional tools and resources to help communities increase housing placements of homeless veterans. Below is a list of resources currently available (including those referenced in this message):
As always, thank you for your commitment and hard work.
Ann Oliva
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs