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

January 29, 2014

President Lauds Collaborations to End Homelessness  


Mayors Prove that Ending
Chronic Homelessness Among Veterans is Possible


State of the Union
In last night's State of the Union address, President Obama highlighted the incredible collaborations happening across all levels of government to end homelessness. 


"Across the country, we're partnering with mayors, governors and State legislatures on issues from homelessness to marriage equality," he said.


Last week at a White House reception for more than 300 mayors, the President spoke specifically about the critical role mayors play in the lives of Americans, holding up the achievements of Mayor Ralph Becker of Salt Lake City and Mayor Greg Stanton of Phoenix, Arizona and their communities as proof that progress can be made despite challenges.  


"Everyday mayors are proving that you don't have to wait for the gridlock to clear in Congress in order to make things happen," the President said.  "Mayor Greg Stanton in Phoenix and Mayor Ralph Becker in Salt Lake City, Utah have ended chronic homelessness among Veterans."




At Mayors' Conference, Leaders Focus on Ending Homelessness

By Laura Zeilinger, USICH Deputy Director 


As we often say, if we are going to reach our goals nationally, we must act locally. The opportunity to have conversations with mayors from cities throughout the country last week, at the US Conference of Mayors 82nd Annual Winter Meeting, was an inspiring reminder of the tremendous leadership behind local efforts and actions to end homelessness. Having worked for a mayor, I have huge appreciation for the scores of issues that demand mayors' attention all day, every day. Last week, mayors were talking about homelessness. 


They raised the issue not just in conversations with USICH, but in the Community Development and Housing Committee with HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, in the Task Force on Veterans with VA Assistant Secretary Tommy Sowers, and of course at the Hunger and Homelessness Task Force meeting. The Hunger and Homeless Task Force not only plays an important role in informing the US Conference of Mayors' priorities on homelessness, but it is also a place where mayors raise local challenges and share innovative solutions. 


As evidenced by the robust dialogue and strategizing that happened during the meeting, it was clear that many mayors see themselves as on the "front lines" in efforts to end homelessness across this country. In my work at the Council, I continue to hear from communities that one of the most important factors to driving progress is a strong and visible mayor who is willing to champion the issue of ending homelessness by setting concrete goals and driving accountability for results.




What Communities Should Know about the $600 Million SSVF Funding Opportunity

Earlier this month, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced up to $600 million in new funds available for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. The Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) includes up to $300 million in FY 2014 funds and $300 million in FY 2015 funds.


SSVF has been critical to progress on ending Veteran homelessness. The program funds community-based organizations which provide an array of supportive services to assist very low-income Veteran families experiencing or at-risk of homelessness, with the goal of accessing and maintaining permanent housing.


USICH encourages Veteran programs that serve very low-income Veterans who have not previously received SSVF funding to apply, as well as current grantees. Here is our summary of this year's funding opportunity, including a break-down of the Priority levels, guiding questions in completing the application, and considerations for HUD Continuums of Care in providing letters of endorsements for program applicants. 



On January 16, 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services posted in the Federal Register their Final Rule for Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS). The rule will be effective March 17, 2014. 


HCBS refers to services that States can cover under Medicaid to help people with disabilities achieve independence and recovery in and around their homes in the community-services like case management, personal care and habilitation (assistance with gaining socialization and independent living skills). 


USICH identifies HCBS as one of the most promising ways that States can use Medicaid to cover many of the services delivered in permanent supportive housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness.




New Services-Funding 
Tool for CoCs
Although HUD's Continuum of Care (CoC) Program is the largest targeted Federal program for homelessness assistance, it is still a limited resource. To end homelessness, we must make sure that we are using resources like the CoC Program as strategically as possible, especially in a time of budget constraints.

Services in the CoC Program: Assessing Value and Finding Funding Alternatives is a tool that can help CoCs make strategic decisions regarding the use of CoC Program funds for supportive services. Services in the CoC Program can help CoCs determine which types of eligible supportive services are most likely to have mainstream HHS-funded programs as an alternative source, making it possible to free up CoC Program funding to create more permanent housing.


Spotlight on Solutions:
Funders Collaboratives

Non-profit and public agencies that are dedicated to ending homelessness often struggle with finding sources of funding. In addition, they often seek out funding from several different organizations, both private and public, in order to fund all of their projects.


An effective solution to this problem is to create a funders collaborative. A funders collaborative is in partnership with State, local, and philanthropic funders and streamlines access to funding sources and creates common goals to help all of its members prioritize and maximize their funds. Successful funders collaboratives have three main elements:

  • They are composed of only funders to allow for realistic policy and funding assessments
  • They create shared goals so that all funders remain unified when allocating resources, and are often aligned with State and local plans to prevent and end homelessness
  • They pool resources and create joint-applications or a shared agreement within the collaborative

Funders collaboratives have been used effectively in several cities, including Seattle, Denver, Boston, and Los Angeles. Examples of successful funders collaboratives can be found on United Way of Los Angeles' blog and in USICH's PHA Guidebook. To view more information on how funders collaboratives can help prevent and end homelessness, visit the funders collaborative solutions database page.


Explore our solutions database for more solutions to prevent and end homelessness.  


Table of Contents
At Mayors' Conference, Leaders Focus on Ending Homelessness
New Funds to End Veteran Homelessness
Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services
New Services-Funding Tool for CoCs
Spotlight on Solutions: Funders Collaboratives
Proving It's Possible: How Phoenix Ended Chronic Veteran Homelessness
Finding Hope, a Home, and a Future
What Does the End of Chronic Veteran Homelessness Mean for Cities?
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By Mayor Greg Stanton of Phoenix, Arizona

Just more than two years ago, one hundred plus volunteers huddled in the dark of night to prepare to count and engage every
Veteran experiencing chronic homelessness on the streets of Phoenix. Their task was the first step toward an ambitious but worthwhile goal: place every Veteran experiencing chronic homelessness in our community in permanent housing.


Through our counts, we knew 222 Veterans were sleeping on Phoenix streets for an average of eight years. Yes, eight years. And today, each one is under a roof he or she can call his own.

By Mayor Ralph Becker of Salt Lake City, Utah


I'm always amazed to see what can happen when communities and resources come together.

With an infusion of funding for permanent supportive housing from HUD and the VA, and a promise from VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to provide Veterans and their families with "hope, a home and a future," our community was ready to take on chronic homelessness among Veterans in Salt Lake City.


Last fall, through tremendous community outreach efforts, 100 Veterans who were chronically homeless were identified in the Salt Lake Valley. These Veterans were living on the streets or in shelters. Many were suffering from physical disability, mental illness, post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse disorders and a lack of social infrastructure. Our community - including the VA in Salt Lake City, local housing authorities and service providers - determined to house these 100 Veterans in 100 days.


By Elisha Harig-Blaine, Principal Associate for Housing for the National League of Cities

Last month, Phoenix made the historic announcement that all of their chronically homeless veterans were off the streets. This amazing milestone is the result of collaboration between all parts of the community and the use of data to drive decisions and allocate resources. The accomplishment has sparked a national conversation about whether or not a city can end homelessness.



2014 National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness
Sponsored by the National Alliance to End Homelessness
New Orleans, LA


March 12-14, 2014
Housing First Partners Conference
Chicago, IL 

March 27-28, 2014

CSH Eastern Regional Supportive Housing Conference
Philadelphia, PA

U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
1275 First Street NE, Ste. 227 Washington DC, 20002                                                
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