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                                                                     February 7, 2013        


The 2013 Point-in-Time Count and Beyond

Unprecedented Federal and local collaboration on display to get most comprehensive count to date 


The Point-in-Time (PIT) count is an opportunity for Continuums of Care (CoCs) and volunteers from all walks of life to work towards the goals set forth in Opening Doors. The unsheltered count done this year provides the best biennial snapshot of where progress is being made and where increased effort is required, both geographically and for different subpopulations. This coordinated data collection event also provides communities with the opportunity to go beyond a count, working with outreach teams, health care, and service providers to make this event an opportunity for those experiencing homelessness to get connected to housing and vital services.


This year's PIT count brought together unprecedented Federal participation from headquarter and field office staff at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Health and Human Services, in addition to USICH staff, in collaboration with local coordinating teams. Participation at the highest levels included  HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki working together to count individuals in Washington DC's PIT count, accompanied by VA Deputy Secretary Scott Gould and staff from HUD and USICH. The count in Washington, DC is just one example of the Federal-local collaboration on display in this year's PIT count.


(Pictured above: VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and Dr. Susan Angell, Executive Director of VA's Homeless Veterans Initiatives, survey a man in DC's Union Station. Photo courtesy Laura Zeilinger.)  


USICH created a page on our website with information on this year's PIT count and links to resources and reports. Throughout February we'll be posting reflections on the blog from USICH staff and partners on PIT counts they participated in across the country. From the bitter cold of Chicago to rooftops and underpasses in Las Vegas, teams conducting PIT counts embody the commitment and collaboration needed to end homelessness in America. We encourage you to read their blogs and to get involved in your community's efforts to end homelessness.


Go to our PIT count page and read the blogs  


Do you have a reflection to share on your community's collaborative efforts in the PIT Count? Share it with us - we may feature your community on our blog. Contact Sarah Weakley to submit your blog idea today.

Executive Director Poppe Reflects on US Conference of Mayors Work on Homelessness, Path Forward

Blog highlights the integral role Mayors and local leaders play in efforts to end homelessness


Mayors are on the front line of homelessness in America. It is their city departments, budgets, hospitals, and residents who experience the effects of homelessness in the most tangible way, whether it is their own lives or whether it affects their livelihood. As I said to the Council in December, we can't solve homelessness nationally unless we solve it locally. We at USICH put an enormous premium on understanding the work being done at the community level and the perspective of Mayors. 


It was my honor, then, to be able to address the US Conference of Mayors' Hunger and Homelessness Task Force, chaired by Mayor Bellamy of Asheville, NC, at the 81st Annual Winter Meeting January 17-19. This group of Mayors plays a particularly important role by informing USCM policies toward homelessness, and provides leadership and urgency to the issues. Their Annual Hunger and Homelessness Survey provides the nation with a clear picture of homelessness in the cities represented on this task force, and adds to the information we all need in order to see and solve the problem.


I was also particularly honored to share with the Mayors the importance of their leadership in ending homelessness, because for fourteen years I worked with community leaders and service providers in Columbus, OH as the Director of the Community Shelter Board. This public-private collaborative to end homelessness was made even stronger because it is aligned with Mayor Michael Coleman's vision to create livable neighborhoods, a vibrant downtown, and a strong local economy. Ending homelessness is and was integral to his goals for the city, and his leadership on this issue made our organization even stronger and better able to serve those in Columbus struggling with homelessness.  


Read the rest of the blog here


News from our Partners

Department of Housing and Urban  Development


HUD Issues Temporary Rent Exception Guidelines for People with Disabilities


As part of Notice PIH 2013-03 (HA) issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on January 22, 2013, Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) will again be allowed - as a reasonable accommodation - to approve exception rents for units leased by people with disabilities in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program of up to 120 percent of the Fair Market Rent (FMR). This policy change is temporary until March 31, 2014 - provided the PHA notifies HUD by e-mail that the PHA is adopting the 120 percent policy.


This is a very positive development for people with disabilities seeking to use a HCV to lease a rental unit in the private market. Fully accessible units and rental units with other special features - such as access to public transportation -sometimes have rents that are higher than units without these features. PHAs are now permitted to grant exception rents up to 120 percent of FMR, when requested by the prospective tenant for a specific unit, provided other HUD requirements are met. Disability advocates should urge their PHAs to adopt these changes immediately.


This change was included as one of several temporary guidelines issued by HUD to "facilitate the ability of PHAs to continue.....the delivery of rental assistance to eligible families." Other policy changes that affect people with disabilities published in Notice PIH 2013-03 include:

  • An option to allow PHAs to use a household's past income, rather than their projected income, to determine annual income and calculate tenant rent;
  • Allowing households to self-certify assets - rather requiring third party verification - if their total assets are less than $5,000;
  • Permitting a more streamlined process for the annual reexamination of income by applying the published cost of living adjustment - but only when 100 percent of the household's income is 'fixed' - defined as: SSI and SSDI payments; Federal, State, local, and private pension plans; or other periodic payments from annuities, insurance policies, retirement funds, disability or death benefits, and other similar types of payments that are of substantially the same amounts from year to year.

Read the full PIH Notice


Department of Health & Human Services


Technical Assistance Opportunity for CoC Providers: SAMHSA's SOAR Program 


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR) Technical Assistance Center is accepting applications from Continuums of Care (CoCs) that have not yet participated in the federally-sponsored SOAR Technical Assistance Program. SAMHSA's SOAR program assists states and localities to expedite access to the Social Security Administration's (SSA) disability programs - Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) - for persons who are homeless or at risk for homelessness and who have a mental illness, a co-occurring substance use disorder or other serious medical condition. Currently, all 50 states participate in the federally-sponsored SOAR technical assistance (TA). CoCs are invited to submit a brief, 3 to 5 page application in response to the Request for Applications (RFA) to participate in the SOAR TA Project by March 15, 2013. A message of interest and intent to file an application is requested, but not required, by February 27.



SAMHSA webinar on Homelessness Prevention and accompanying resources available for viewing


An April 2011 expert panel on homelessness prevention hosted by SAMHSA with USICH participation highlighted pertinent research and specific strategies for preventing homelessness before it becomes a long term crisis for both individuals and public systems. This webinar, conducted on January 24, 2013 included participants from that panel and draw from information gained from that expert panel discussion.This 90-minute webinar offered an opportunity for providers and policymakers to hear about innovative homelessness prevention strategies and guiding principles articulated by the experts involved in the expert panel event. The webinar offered lessons learned from a range of federal initiatives, strategies to prevent homelessness, and insights from the field.    


Following the panel in April 2011, USICH created a fact sheet on the guiding principles and strategies discussed, which can be accessed here as a complement to the webinar. 


Access the webinar


Department of Veterans Affairs


New Women Veterans Health website 


The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced its new site and resource for Women Veterans Health. VA's Women Health Services office (Women's Health) provides programmatic and strategic support to implement positive changes in the provision of care for all women Veterans.

Take a look at the new website and find resources here.


Table of Contents
2013 Point-in-Time Count and Beyond
Reflections on USCM Work on Homelessness
News from our Partners
USICH Hiring

USICH Hiring for Communications and Policy Staff  


USICH is looking to add to its staff as we begin the second term of the Obama Administration, and we are currently seeking two talented individuals in Communications and Policy teams.


USICH is seeking a qualified candidate with a strong background in public affairs and communications among stakeholders in the legislature, Federal agency partners, and national partners to lead USICH Communications as its Director of Communications and External Relations. The Director will serve as a public affairs specialist responsible for planning and implementing communications and media information programs regarding the work of USICH and its initiatives. 


 Go to Director of Communications and External Relations job announcement


USICH is also seeking another integral member of the Communications and Policy Teams, a Management and Program Analyst. This position will support both policy work and communications work across the agency, and work to support a variety of initiatives and projects in the implementation of Opening Doors


Go to Management and Program Analyst job announcement


Upcoming Events
Deadline: AHAR Submissions to HUD
Due Tuesday, February 12


Webinar: Integrating Behavioral Health & Primary Care for People Experiencing Homelessness
Tuesday, February 19 from 1-2 PM (EST)
National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness
Thursday, February 21 - Friday, February 22

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