Senators Reed and Collins Introduce Bill to Strengthen the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness

On March 28, Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced bipartisan legislation (S.743)  to strengthen the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (the Council). Created by Congress in 1987, the Council is the only federal level agency specifically tasked with coordinating the federal response to homelessness. Since its creation, the body has grown to include 19 Cabinet secretaries and agency heads.

Unfortunately, the Council was last authorized by Public Law 113-325 and sunsets at the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. The Council would have to close its doors on October 1, 2017 and the Reed-Collins bill would eliminate the sunset date so that this agency can continue to build on its success in helping to prevent and end homelessness across the nation.

“The Council works with government, public housing agencies, homeless service providers, and local partners to better align their resources, efforts, goals, and measures of success. The progress we are making is encouraging, but it is not irreversible and now is not the time to end this effective, evidenced-based program that has helped leverage federal investments and measurably reduced homelessness in America,” said Senator Reed. “In our current budgetary environment…[t]he Council is proof that the government can work and save money in the process”

“As the Chairman of the THUD Appropriations Subcommittee, I will continue working to ensure that homeless programs have the data and the resources to reduce and prevent homelessness,” said Senator Collins.

In 2010 the Council unveiled Opening Doors, a federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, through set goals, best practices, and policy priorities. Since then, HUD has reported a 14 percent decrease in overall homelessness in the nation, including a 47 percent decline in veterans’ homelessness.

NAHRO believes that the Council has been instrumental in bringing down homelessness rates and joins a strong and diverse coalition of non-profit and housing organizations in support of the Reed-Collins bill.

 

 

Report: Homelessness in the U.S. Continues to Decline

Earlier this week, HUD published Part 1 of the 2016 Annual Homeless Assessment (AHAR) Report, providing Congress with local estimates of sheltered and unsheltered persons experiencing homelessness on a single night in January 2016. According to the report, on a single night in 2016, there were 549,928 persons experiencing homelessness – a 14 percent decrease from 2010 and a 3 percent decrease over the past year. This decline was especially prevalent among families with children, Veterans, and individuals with long-term disabling conditions. Despite the downward trend of homelessness nationally, 13 states and the District of Columbia still saw an increase in their share of homelessness between 2015 and 2016.

The AHAR is typically released in two parts: Part 1 provides Point-in-Time (PIT) estimates that offer a “snapshot” of homelessness as reported by Continuums of Care (CoCs) across the U.S.; Part 2 offers in-depth detail on the characteristics of the homeless. The PIT methodology is regarded as a reliable estimate of the general size of the homeless population; however, it is important to note that it does not count every single homeless person, nor does it measure the number of people who are at risk of homelessness.

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NAHRO members have long been on the front lines of preventing and ending homelessness. Read this recent NAHRO white paper to learn about public housing authority (PHA) collaborations and new directions and opportunities for ending homelessness.Case studies include: effectively ending veteran homelessness in Houston, Texas; implementing medical respite to save lives and reduce costs in Fargo, North Dakota.; and using a model for working with the chronically homeless in encampment settings by the City of West Sacramento, Yolo County, California.

HUD-VASH Second Round Funding Announced

Yesterday, HUD and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a second round of HUD-VASH funding. HUD-VASH combines vouchers from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by VA. Since 2008, more than 79,000 vouchers have been awarded. This round of funding provides 108 vouchers and $871,056 worth of funding.

A list of PHAs that have been awarded HUD-VASH vouchers can be found at HUD’s press release here.

Moving On from Supportive Housing Toolkit

Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) has developed a new Moving On Toolkit for supportive housing providers, Continuums of Care, PHAs, state and local government agencies and other organizations that would like to plan, develop, sustain and evaluate Moving On initiatives within their communities. Moving On initiatives provide rental subsidy and transition assistance to tenants who are able and want to move out of supportive housing and into a new apartment. The toolkit outlines the various phases and steps in the Moving On process and offers numerous links and helpful resources, including descriptions of previous or existing Moving On projects and practical tools or templates developed by implementing organizations. According to CSH, the fundamental goal of Moving On is to promote the highest levels of independence and choice for tenants. HUD has previously provided public support for Moving On but current initiatives only exist on a small scale through scattered pilots.

HUD Updates Notice on Prioritizing the Chronically Homeless in Permanent Supportive Housing

On July 25, 2016, HUD published Notice CPD-16-11 entitled, “Notice Prioritizing Persons Experiencing Chronic Homelessness and Other Vulnerable Homeless Persons in Permanent Supportive Housing.” This notice supersedes the previous Notice CPD-14-012, and provides guidance to Continuums of Care (CoC) and recipients of CoC Program funding for permanent supportive housing (PSH) regarding the order in which eligible households should be served in all CoC Program-funded PSH. This Notice reflects the new definition of chronically homeless as amended by the HUD Final Rule on Defining “Chronically Homeless” and updates the orders of priority that were established under the prior Notice.

CoCs that previously adopted the orders of priority established in Notice CPD-14-012 and who received points for having done so in the FY 2015 CoC Program Competition are encouraged to update their written standards to reflect the updates to the orders of priority as established in this updated Notice. CoCs that have not previously adopted the orders of priority established in Notice CPD- 14-012 are also encouraged to incorporate the orders of priority included in this Notice into their written standards.

Access Notice CPD-16-11 here.

Learn more about HUD’s Final Rule on Defining “Chronically Homeless” here (NAHRO login required).