United States Interagency Council on Homelessness - No on should experience homelessness. No one should be without a safe, stable place to call home.
 USICH News                                                                     December 14, 2012        

Last Council Meeting of 2012 Focuses on Veterans, the Term Ahead

White House Domestic Policy Council Director shares support of Administration in the Council's work at December meeting


On December 11, members of all Council agencies, the Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, and the Associate Director of the Office of Management and Budget met together to recommit to the goals of Opening Doors and to chart a path forward in the second term of the Obama Administration. Leaders gathered at the Department of Veterans Affairs to discuss what's needed in 2013 and beyond, and also elected Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki as the new Chair of the Council and Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan as Vice Chair.


The Council was pleased to be joined by Cecilia Munoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, who shared remarks with the Council on the term ahead, reaching our goals, and the support of the President in this work:  


"These are ambitious goals and we have real measures of progress. The results we've seen in the last year challenge us to build on these gains in an aggressive way...This is the right work to be doing.  This entire Administration is behind this effort; this work is incredibly important. We've got to get this done."



This meeting was foregrounded by the release on December 10 of the most recent HUD Point-in-Time data. This data from 2012 showed a roughly seven percent decrease in both Veterans homelessness and chronic homelessness in just one year. Since 2009, Veterans homelessness has decreased by 17%. While these numbers are encouraging, the Secretaries and USICH Executive Director Barbara Poppe made clear in the remarks and presentation that we must redouble our efforts if we are to meet the ambitious goals of Opening Doors. Speaking to the Veterans goal specifically Secretary Donovan noted that, "Reducing Veterans homelessness by 17 percent [since 2009] is a phenomenal accomplishment. The only reason it doesn't feel like that is because we set such aggressive goals; but if we didn't set such aggressive goals we wouldn't have gotten to that 17 percent." 


In addition to the discussion about what is needed in the second term for all populations, there was a particular focus this meeting on Veteran homelessness. Dr. Dennis Culhane, whose presentation is summarized below, spoke as the Research Director of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans on the trends in homelessness among Veterans, specific subpopulations to focus intervention on such as Veterans living unsheltered, and how best to reach Veterans who are unsheltered and those not eligible for VA services.


As we look towards 2013, particiapants reaffirmed the urgency with which all Council member agencies need to work. That same urgency and redoubling of efforts must also spur communities across the country, noted Barbara Poppe: "The federal government stand[s] shoulder to shoulder with local communities-supporting their efforts, learning from their practices, and focusing on their success. We cannot solve the problem of homelessness nationally if we don't solve it locally." 


Dr. Dennis Culhane Presents on Veteran Homelessness

NCHV Research Director Presents Trends and What's Needed Moving Forward


At the Council meeting, Dr. Culhane made a presentation describing the progress made toward ending Veterans homelessness. The 2012 PIT count estimates quantify that progress, with a 17 percent reduction in Veteran homelessness since 2009.  Speaking as the Director of Research for the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans situated in VA, he illuminated to the Council the way VA has redesigned programs and systems to more accurately assess and assign interventions to Veterans.


He highlighted that the reduction in Veteran homelessness has not occurred uniformly across the country: some communities have reduced Veterans homelessness by 40 percent or more and are on-track to meet the goal, while others are making slower progress. Accelerated progress across all communities is needed to meet the goal of ending homelessness among Veterans by 2015. There are also specific subpopulations that deserve particular attention: unsheltered Veterans and Veterans who are ineligible for VA benefits.


In addition, he shared critical actions needed to continue this progress and ultimately meet the 2015 goal. Some priority actions include:

  • Increased investments in HUD-VASH and SSVF;
  • Support for local ownership of the goal, effective resource targeting, and adoption of Housing First approaches; and
  • A commitment to increase access to mainstream housing and stabilization services, including for Veterans and family members who not eligible for VA benefits.

Finishing the job of ending Veterans homelessness will require continued investment in housing and health programs with practices that promote the right treatment for the right condition for each Veteran's needs and circumstance. Progress can accelerate with the widespread adoption of evidence-based best practices such as Housing First and Critical Time Intervention, resource targeting based on the needs of each Veteran, and collaboration across to provide increased access to mainstream housing, employment, income, and healthcare resources for Veterans.                                          

Youth Count! 

USICH, HUD, HHS, and ED launched Youth Count!, an interagency initiative to develop promising strategies for counting unaccompanied homeless youth, up to 24-years-old, through innovative implementations of HUD's 2013 Point-in-Time (PIT) count. Youth Count! was developed per a recommendation from the framework for ending youth homelessness.


The goal of this initiative is to learn promising strategies for conducting the following: 1) collaborative PIT counts of unaccompanied homeless youth that engage Continuums of Care (CoC), Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) providers, Local Education Agency (LEA) homeless liaisons, and other local stakeholders; and 2) credible PIT counts that gather reliable data on unaccompanied homeless youth.  


There are nine communities participating in this initiative, but USICH encourages all communities to enhance their efforts to count youth in the 2013 PIT count. USICH has compiled helpful webinars for your viewing, and we encourage you to take a look.  

Learn more about Youth Count! and access the webinars


Important Information about the 2013 Point-in-Time Count

This January all of HUD's Continuums of Care (CoCs) are required to conduct a Point-in-Time count of all people experiencing homelessness within their community. CoCs are required to conduct the count during the last ten days of January unless they receive a special waiver from HUD. The results of the PIT count offer the only national data on the total number of people experiencing homelessness throughout the country, including those that do not use homeless assistance programs. The PIT count informs resource planning and policymaking at the federal, state, and local level and is also the primary means of measuring progress against the goals of Opening Doors. The 2013 PIT count will also be the first time communities will measure the number of people experiencing homelessness in the following subpopulations:
  • Sheltered and unsheltered youth both under 18 and 18-24,
  • Female Veterans, and
  • Families experiencing chronic homelessness

CoCs rely on community volunteers to successfully canvass their entire area to identify all persons experiencing homelessness on the night of the count and their characteristics. USICH strongly encourages people to participate in their CoC's PIT count. Visit HUD's Homeless Resource Exchange to learn how to get in touch with the CoC lead in your community about volunteering to participate in the PIT count.


The 2013 PIT count is listed as one of the service opportunities associated with the annual celebration of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Day of Service, which is led by the Corporation for National and Community Service.  HUD encourages communities to use www.serve.gov as a tool for recruiting volunteers both for the PIT count as well as other volunteer needs in the community year-round. Volunteer projects entered through MLKDay.gov will be searchable at that site as well as through Serve.gov. Serve.gov is the online home for volunteer mobilization for the President's Call to Service initiative, United We Serve.

Find your CoC contact to volunteer


Read HUD's data collection guidance on the 2013 PIT and Housing Inventory Count (HIC)


Resources on the HEARTH Act and this Year's CoC Program NOFA

Within the last few weeks USICH has spent time focusing on the implementation of the HEARTH Act as it relates to the recently released Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the FY 2012 Continuum of Care Program. This year is the first competition where HUD's interim rule is in effect, and there are some important changes to the competition that deserve special attention. In November we released a newsletter focusing on the HEARTH Act and this NOFA that we encourage you to take a look at.


On December 10, USICH hosted a webinar on the FY 2012 Continuum of Care NOFA, focusing on how communities can think strategically through their applications this year. Panelists on this webinar included Norm Suchar, Director of the Capacity Building Center at the National Alliance to End Homelessness, and Joyce Probst MacAlpine, Manager of Housing and Homeless Solutions in Montgomery County, Ohio. 


If you were unable to join us for this webinar, or would like to share it with your Continuum of Care at this important time, feel free to access it on our website. 


Access all of HUD's Resources on the CoC NOFA

News from our Partners

Department of Housing and Urban Development


HUD Releases 2012 Point-in-Time Data  

On Monday, December 10, The Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) released the 2012 Point-in-Time count Estimates of Homelessness report. HUD's annual Point-in-Time estimate seeks to measure the scope of homelessness over the course of one night every January. Based on data reported by more than 3,000 cities and counties, last January's estimate reveals a marginal decline in overall homelessness (-0.4%) along with a seven percent drop in homelessness among Veterans and those experiencing long-term or chronic homelessness. 


Secretary Shaun Donovan said, "We continue to see a stable level of homelessness across our country at a time of great stress for those at risk of losing their housing.  We must redouble our efforts to target our resources more effectively to help those at greatest risk.  As our nation's economic recovery takes hold, we will make certain that our homeless Veterans and those living on our streets find stable housing so they can get on their path to recovery."


Read the press release here  


Go to the full report


Department of Veterans Affairs

VA's Press Release on the Decline in Veteran Homelessness in 2012 


The 2012 Point-in-Time data showed a continued decline in Veteran homelessness, with a seven percent reduction in just one year. Since 2009, Veteran homelessness has decreased by 17 percent. "This report continues a trend that clearly indicates we are on the right track in the fight to end homelessness among Veterans.  While this is encouraging news, we have more work to do and will not be satisfied until no Veteran has to sleep on the street," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "The success we have achieved is directly attributable to the hard work by all of our staff, and the federal, state, and community partners who are committed to ending Veteran homelessness."


The press release also noted the increased investment in the SSVF program to $300 million in this year's NOFA. Applications for the program are due on February 1, 2013. 


Read the full press release


Read the SSVF NOFA and learn more


Table of Contents
Council Meeting Focuses on Veterans & Term Ahead
Dr. Dennis Culhane Presetns on Veterans
Youth Count!
The 2013 PIT Count
2012 CoC Program NOFA Resources
News from our Partners
On the USICH Blog

On the USICH Blog  


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Upcoming Events
HUD Webinar: Preparing for Your 2013 HIC and PIT Counts with Special Veteran Program Guidance
Monday, December 17
2:00 pm EST

Learn more 


HUD Webinar: Homeless Programs: Transition Policies and Changes 
Tuesday, December 18
3:30 pm EST 
Learn more 

Homeless Persons' Memorial Day
December 21

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