United States Interagency Council on Homelessness - No on should experience homelessness. No one should be without a safe, stable place to call home.
HEARTH Act in Focus     
November 21, 2012
What the HEARTH Act Means for Your Community 

The HEARTH Act in Focus as Continuum of Care Program NOFA Application Period Begins


As providers and stakeholders across the country, we are all aware that the HEARTH Act enacted by Congress in 2009 is, in many ways, a game changer. It gave the federal government the charge to create the first federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, setting forth the vision that no one in this country should be without a safe and stable place to call home. This strong statement by the federal government foregrounds the work of implementing the HEARTH Act in communities across the country. Perhaps most importantly, HEARTH moves governments and local stakeholders from a focus on individual program outcomes to a focus on how all programs work as a system to achieve results for an entire community.  Implementation of the HEARTH Act is critically important to all of the goals in Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, especially Objective 10: to re-tool the homeless crisis response system to more effectively prevent homelessness and rapidly return people who experience homelessness back into stable housing.




HUD's recently released Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the Continuum of Care program is a further indication of just how serious the federal government is about reaching the goals in Opening Doors. The Continuum of Care has always been a competitive grants program; and this NOFA essentially highlights the word "competitive" for Continuums this year. The NOFA makes it clear that communities cannot assume funding of all renewals and must therefore prioritize carefully. Because of the tight fiscal environment at all levels of government, all investments in ending homelessness must be smart investments.  We cannot afford "business as usual" programming and practices if they are not getting the results needed to meet the goals in Opening Doors. The next step is taking a tough but necessary look at what's working and what could be modified for greater results in your community. 


In this newsletter, you will hear from some of our nation's experts on what the HEARTH Act means to local communities and what key opportunities must be explored to maximize efforts to end homelessness. We will also highlight the importance of data and performance management to achieve the outcomes HEARTH requires. 


The HEARTH Act has certainly created many questions for communities across the country. Most importantly, however, it has created an opportunity to help change the conversation...  

Read more on the HEARTH Act from USICH  


Important Things to Know About this CoC Program NOFA 

This year's CoC Program NOFA has some changes: some items to note as you develop your application 


We have created a quick list of some important changes and items to note in the recently released NOFA for HUD's CoC Program, as applicants are working on improving their system to achieve better results. This list covers:

  • The Interim Rule;
  • CoC prioritization of projects;
  • Renewals under the Supportive Housing and Shelter Plus Care Programs;
  • Reallocation eligibility and procedures;
  • Who to contact for CoC program changes; and
  • New incentives for Permanent Supportive Housing to help end chronic homelessness. 
Access the detailed list 


Experts Hear from Communities and Highlight Important Elements of HEARTH Act

Recent legislative changes have been made to the HEARTH (Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing) Act with the implementation of the Interim Rule and the changes to the Continuum of Care Program. In order to understand the impact of these changes, USICH spoke with Norm Suchar, Director of Center for Capacity Building at National Alliance to End Homelessness, and Michelle Budzek, President of Partnership Center, Ltd., about what they heard from communities regarding the changes and what they believe the ways these changes can help us best reach the goals of Opening Doors. Suchar and Budzek both see tremendous opportunities afforded by the changes made to the HEARTH Act. They spoke to USICH about rapid rehousing, CoC grant renewals, coordinated assessment, and more.


Read our discussion with these experts 


Data Drives Performance: The Performance Improvement Calculator

A new tool for providers, community stakeholders helps model current outcomes, see potential of system changes


One of the focus areas of this year's CoC competition is

a movement from analyzing the performance of individual programs to looking at the entire crisis response system in a community. A tool for communities to access for this analysis and systems planning was released not long ago, the Performance Improvement Calculator. Created by Focus Strategies and the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the Performance Improvement Calculator makes it possible to use the data communities collect through HMIS and their Annual Performance Reports to model their current system-wide outcomes and system possibilities for improvement with repurposing or reallocation of resources. USICH spoke with Katharine Gale and Megan Kurteff-Schatz of Focus Strategies about the tool, its alignment with HEARTH Act performance measures, and the value of this tool for communities at this critical time during the annual CoC applications.  


Read more about the Performance Improvement Calculator


HEARTH Act Resources from HUD

Although there is much focus currently on the Continuum of Care program, the HEARTH Act also signaled a change in HUD's formula grant program (the Emergency Solutions Grant), Homeless definitions, and more. Below are past HUD webinars we believe give a strong overview of some of key changes brought by the HEARTH Act. 


For up to date information on HEARTH, access the HEARTH page on HUD's Homelessness Resource Exchange


New Framework for Ending Youth Homelessness

The 2012 Amendment to Opening Doors was developed amendment cover to specifically address what strategies should be implemented to improve the educational outcomes for children and youth, and the steps that need to be taken to advance the goal of ending youth homelessness 

by 2020. This week, we updated the USICH website with the new framework, explaining how to approach the problem of youth homelessness in a more coordinated and effective way across different disciplines that work with this population. The framework calls on agencies and systems at all levels to work together to get to better youth outcomes in stable housing, permanent connections, education and employment, and well-being. To reach these outcomes, the framework has two prongs: improving data quality and collection on youth experiencing homelessness and building capacity for service delivery.


Check out the new youth framework here


Table of Contents
HEARTH Act and Your Community
Important Things About this NOFA
Experts on the HEARTH Act
Data Drives Performance
HEARTH Resources from HUD
New Youth Framework for Ending Youth Homelessness
On the blog
On the USICH Blog
USICH's Adrienne Breidenstine and Jennifer Ho spent time last week in Indianapolis at the National Runaway and Homeless Youth Grantee conference with over 550 youth service providers discussing how we'll work together to end youth homelessness by 2020. In her blog, Adrienne discusses the key elements of the youth framework and also shares important information on how USICH and HHS are working together for the 2013 PIT Count to be more inclusive of youth. She introduces the Youth Count! initiative, and encourages all providers to "get in touch with your geeky side" to get better data in this year's PIT count. 

Upcoming Events
National League of Cities: Congress of Cities and Exposition
Wednesday, November 28 - Saturday, December 1
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LGBT Leaders 2012: International LGBT Leadership Conference


Thursday, November 29 - Sunday, December 2

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National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day


Friday, December 21

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