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Reflections on the National Conference on Ending Homeslessness

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the National Alliance to End Homelessness’ annual conference in Washington D.C. The three day conference, focused on ending homelessness, was attended by over 1,500 providers, advocates, funders, and government partners from all across the country. The conference was packed full of workshops and presentation on a range of topics from supportive housing for youth to improving employment outcomes to ending veterans’ homelessness. There was something for everyone and so many new ideas and program models to be explored and discussed. Highlights from the conference include a keynote address from Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a visit to the Capitol to meet with Senator Brown’s staff, and a panel of experts from philanthropy, government, non-profit, and academia.


It would take several pages to outline all the workshops and programs featured at the conference, so I will focus on a few key themes that reemerged throughout the workshops, keynotes addressed, and expert panels.


Targeting –> Throughout the conference there was tremendous consensus about the need for good targeting of resources.  There are a variety of programs and interventions available, but it is a challenge for systems and communities to match the right family or individual with the right intervention. Proper targeting was especially important when discussing the use of homelessness prevention and permanent supportive housing. The effectiveness of prevention is always hard to prove – how can you guarantee that “but for” the assistance the family would have been homeless? We do know, however, that there are some key indicators of risk that make some households more like to experience homelessness including: previous episodes of homelessness, involvement with the child welfare system, and lack of a social support network. Permanent supportive housing is a deep resource including pairing a housing subsidy with ongoing support services, but because of the depth of these resources, it is also one of the most expensive interventions and therefore should be used carefully. Many families can be re-housed with a smaller “dose” of service or housing support and the rich combination of subsidized housing and services should only be utilized for families with the most significant barriers to housing retention. How to properly target this resources was a topic of much conversation at the conference and while there is not exact agreement in how to do this, experts point to multiple episodes of homelessness and severe disabilities as two key indicators of a family who should be targeted for permanent supportive housing.


Dosing –> Dosing, or getting the right amount of intervention to each homeless or at-risk family, was another topic that reverberated throughout the conference. Much like targeting, dosing is about matching the household with the right amount of support/assistance. In a world of scarce resources, getting each family the right amount of financial assistance and supportive services is essential if we are going to try to serve as many families as possible. When the system “over-spends/over-doses” on one family, we limit our ability to serve another. Families need to receive enough assistance so that they are able to be re-housed, but not any more than they need. Dosing is rational in concept but extremely challenging in practice. Many presenters look to the practice of progressive engagement as a way to deliver the right dosage. Salt Lake City is an example of a community that has embraced the practice of progressive engagement as a dosing tool to end family homelessness. Click here to access the presentation from The Road Home in SLC.


Rapid Re-Housing –>  Maintaining rapid re-housing programs, which began in most communities with the stimulus program’s Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP), was a major topic of discussion at the conference. Unlike in years past, there seemed to be a consensus among conference participants that rapid re-housing works for most individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness. With the end of HPRP, communities around the country are struggling with ways to fund and maintain effective re-housing programs. HUD’s new ESG program is one funding sources and, here in Massachusetts, HomeBASE is another source for re-housing dollars. But questions remain about how to house families that won’t be successfully served with rapid re-housing, how to re-house families with limited re-housing resources, and how to successfully maintain housing with limited access to permanent housing subsidies and stabilization services.   Click here to access some presentation materials on rapid re-housing.


Youth –> For the first time, youth homelessness was a major focus of the annual conference. There were workshops on everything from counting homeless youth to creating inclusive shelter and housing programs to permanent supportive housing for youth. Throughout the youth-focused workshops I attended, the idea of collaboration with various state and federal agencies, like the Administration for Children, Youth and Families, was a recurring theme. In addition to the need for collaborations, there was much discussion on meeting the unique needs of homeless and at-risk youth and how challenging that can be if trying to serve youth within an adult-focused system. Click here to access some presentation materials on serving homeless youth.


Overall, the conference was an inspiring gathering of committed and passionate stakeholders from across the country who came together to learn, share, and advance the movement to end homelessness. Click here to access additional presentation materials from the conference.




ECM Announces Parish Enterprise Competition

ECM Announces Parish Enterprise Competition



Episcopal City Mission seeks to support the establishment of self-sustaining social enterprises sponsored by parishes in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. Social enterprises are organizations, whether for-profit, cooperative or non-profit, that use income-generating business strategies to achieve charitable or philanthropic goals or otherwise benefit the community.


Episcopal City Mission wishes to challenge the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts to use the power of the market to advance the cause of the poor.


Who is Eligible?

  • Any congregation within the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
  • Other groups within the Diocese may be eligible upon review
  • Teams may partner with other groups, organizations or parishes within the Diocese


What Are the Requirements?

  • There must be 3-6 committed team members with no more than one member of the church staff
  • Each team must have a committed core leadership from the parish
  • The project must be parish-sponsored and vestry approved when final business plan is submitted by October 15th 2012


How Will Winners Be Selected?

  • ECM’s judging panel will have will expertise in various fields of business
  • Each team will be judged on the following criteria:
  1. Strength and commitment of team – Does team have the ability to implement the project
  2. Does project meet a need in the community that advances the cause of the poor
  3. Will the project be sustainable over a period of years
  4. Is the core leadership committed to inviting deeper parish involvement as the project grows

Click here for more information on how to apply.

ACF Announcement: Partnership Opportunities for Supportive Housing

Administration for Children and Families Announcement: Partnership Opportunities for Supportive Housing

Dear  Partners,


We are excited to share with you an exciting opportunity from our federal partners encouraging public-private partnerships to support housing as a platform for improving quality of life.


The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at DHHS has released a Funding Opportunity Announcement to demonstrate the effectiveness of supportive housing models for homeless families.  The initiative includes a public-private partnership component, with four national foundations teaming up to provide support for technical assistance and evaluation.  The aim is to help identify high needs families earlier and provide targeted services that can reduce child welfare system involvement and increase housing stability and employment.


ACF will provide $1 million per year to each of five grantees for five years ($25 million total), and an additional $10 million over the five years will be provided by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Casey Family Programs, and Edna McConnell Clark Foundation combined for technical assistance and evaluation.


Grant recipients will be comprised of partnerships between child welfare agencies and local housing agencies or shelters.  Recipients are encouraged to develop or leverage relationships with key stakeholders, including local philanthropic partners, employment and education programs, substance abuse and mental health providers.  Local and regional foundations who are interested in supporting a local grant application are encouraged to contact their local child welfare agency or housing authority.


HHS has issued a press release found here:


The four national foundations have issued a press release found here:


The ACYF funding announcement can be found here:



Thanks for all you do,



Stewart Sarkozy-Banoczy


Office for International and Philanthropic Innovation (IPI)


Office of Policy Development & Research

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Tel:  202.402.5792     Mobile:  202.731.3770

Welcome Home Massachusetts

CHAPA is kicking off its Welcome Home Massachusetts campaign – a three year campaign with the goal of increasing affordable housing throughout the state.  Please see the enforcement request letter below and have your organization sign on if you share our goals of increasing affordable housing through the Commonwealth.


Welcome Home Massachusetts – Endorse now to be sure your name is included…


January 5, 2012


Dear Affordable Housing Supporter,


Thank you for a terrific response!  In one month, over 200 affordable housing supporters have endorsed Welcome HomeMassachusetts, CHAPA’s three year campaign with the goal of increasing affordable housing throughout the state.  If you have not already done so,  please confirm that we may include you in our list of endorsers by replying to this email.


The Welcome Home Massachusetts campaign has three components:

  • Communications and messaging – a statewide messaging and media initiative to highlight the increasing need for affordable housing;
  • Education and information – the development of new tools, including a website and an online guide, highlighting how to build local support and implement local housing strategies; and
  • Community Support – technical assistance to as many as 15 diverse community based groups across the state to support their outreach efforts.


A more detailed description of the Welcome Home Massachusetts campaign is attached to this email for your review.


You are receiving this email because you were included in the most diverse coalition to come together in support of affordable housing in the state – leaders representing business, civic, faith based, academic, human rights, municipal, elected representatives at the local and state levels and housing interests who joined together in support of affordable housing – in 2010 to defeat the repeal of the state’s affordable housing law.   It is exactly this broad based coalition that will makeWelcome HomeMassachusettssuccessful in achieving its goals.  We welcome your continued support as we move toward a website launch in early 2012.  Once you have responded, you will receive updated communications from the Welcome Home Massachusetts campaign as well as CHAPA’s monthly newsletter “Housing Briefs.”


After reading the attached Welcome HomeMassachusettscampaign proposal, should you have any questions or comments, please contact Carol Marineat or 617-742-0820.


One Family Thanks All Who Attended the Champions for Change Event

One Family, Inc. would like to thank all those who attended the Champions for Change Awards Ceremony and Breakfast last Wednesday. Over 200 community partners, supporters, legislators and friends joined us to honor the Patrick-Murray Administration, State Representative Kevin Honan, and Peabody Properties Inc. for their ongoing commitment to ending family homelessness.


Our distinguished guest and keynote speaker, Barbara Poppe, Executive Director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness to Massachusetts reinforced the need for public and private partnerships and applauded the Massachusetts effort to better the homelessness response system.


It is the leadership, innovation and advocacy of our honorees and partners that make it possible for us to champion systems change and permanent solutions to family homelessness. We appreciate your attendance and support – the event would not have been such a success without you.   Again, thank you for joining us and we look forward to seeing you at future One Family, Inc. events!

The Boston Globe: Schools Hit by Expense of Transporting Homeless

On October 6th the Boston Globe ran an article about the high cost of transporting homeless children from motels and shelters to school.  School transportation costs are just one of the many challenges faced by local communities in the effort to address family homelessness.    Children experiencing homelessness have the right, under federal law, to attend their school of origin and the home school district and district where their shelter is located are required to split the transportation cost.  Maintaining continuity in education is important for children experiencing the disruption of homelessness, but the cost is causing a major challenge for school districts and communities.  The cost associated with school transportation is one more reason to reduce the length of time families experience homelessness and stay in shelters or motels.  By focusing on diverting families from shelter or rapidly re-housing families in their home communities we can save local communities and school districts scarce resources.


The Boston Globe

Schools Hit By Expense of Transporting Homeless

By Kathy McCabe Globe Staff / October 6, 2011

Costs for transportation

A young girl with a heavy backpack stepped off, waving to her mother, who came to meet the bus. Two other children exited the bus and pushed the glass door to enter the lobby.

Hotels are a regular stop on public school bus routes north of Boston, where hundreds of homeless families are temporarily living because the state’s 2,000 family shelter units are full.

As of Monday, there were 1,437 families living in motels and hotels across Massachusetts, according to the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

More than 300 families are living at hotels in Burlington, Chelmsford, Danvers, Haverhill, Malden, Saugus, Tewksbury, and Woburn, according to state data.

But since August, when a new program started to place homeless families in permanent housing, the number of families living in hotels has dropped by about 20 percent, or by 341 families, including 30 that moved from Danvers hotels.

“It’s a promising trend that we anticipate will continue,’’ said Robert Pulster, associate director of the Department of Housing and Community Development.

Still, the gains are not enough to offset thousands of dollars in new transportation costs faced by local communities.

Click here to read the full article.

New York Times: It Takes a Village

On Friday New York Times Op-Ed columnist Charles Blow wrote an uplifting column on the positive impacts of a supportive housing development owned by Broadway Housing Communities in West Harlem.

From the New York Times

It Takes a Village

Around the corner came a little golden ball of sunshine named Madison, dressed head to toe in pink, hair arranged in Afro puffs, one wrist covered in turquoise beaded bracelets, arms opened wide. She wrapped those arms around a teacher’s legs, hugged them close and looked up with the kind of smile that sets the world right.

Madison is 4 years old. She is happy and thriving. This is her second year of Head Start in the basement of a building that houses the poor and homeless in one of Manhattan’s poorest neighborhoods.

I met Madison and 50 other little rays of hope at the Dorothy Day Apartments on Riverside Drive in West Harlem. The building is the sixth in the neighborhood run by Broadway Housing Communities, and the first to include a day care center serving both the building and the community. This former drug den is not only beautiful, but it also pulses with pride and hope and happiness.

It’s just what I needed to see. Writing about children and the poor and the vulnerable these days, there aren’t very many bright spots — but this is one.

The children are bathed by natural light that floods into the basement through skylights. The floors are covered by beautiful green ceramic tile made to look like slate. The walls are painted a sunrise yellow, lined with thick wooden moldings and covered with well-framed pieces of art — some by the children, some donated. The courtyard, which had been filled with six feet of garbage, is covered with mats and used as an area where wee little legs that barely have kneecaps can be folded into funky shapes for daily yoga.

Above the day care center are six floors of housing for 190 people, more than half of whom are children and all of whom were either homeless or in extreme poverty. Many of the adults are the hardest cases: those recovering from drug addiction, those with chronic diseases like H.I.V. and those with mental disabilities. In fact, most of the adults suffer from some form of disability.

And on the top floor is an art gallery that opens onto a sweeping veranda, lined with flowering plants and with some of the most magnificent Hudson River views in the city.

It is easy to forget that you’re in a low-income housing building. The administrators joked often when I was there about the chic woman who had jumped out of a cab and inquired about rents because she wanted a river view, only to be told to her befuddlement that the building was for the poor. “She was shocked,” they chuckled.

There are no security guards. There is no commotion. There are no signs of institutional living like names above doors. There isn’t even so much as a crayon mark on any of the walls. This is an oasis of civility and tranquility and culture inhabited — and to some degree, self-policed — by people whom the world would rob of those dignities.

Click here to read the entire op-ed.

Worcester Telegram: Housing Authority Gets Tough with Tenants

The Worcester Telegram and Gazette recently ran an article on a Worcester Housing Authority proposal to break the intergenerational dependence on subsidized housing through work or school requirements.

September 23, 2011

WORCESTER —  The Worcester Housing Authority is seeking to launch an innovative program aimed at weaning away families that, for generations, have been dependent on the government to provide a roof over their heads.

The program may draw some controversy because, if implemented, it will eventually require all able-bodied residents younger than 50 to go to work or to attend school full time to continue to receive housing benefits.

About 80 percent of those living in the 6,000 or so units operated by the WHA are unemployed.

“Our current public housing system is a well-intentioned failure and it’s time to change it,” said WHA Executive Director Raymond V. Mariano, who’s been working on formulating the program over the past year. “Public housing was designed as a temporary stop. Instead, it has promoted a reliance on public assistance and it is now common to see second, third, and even fourth generations of the same families living in our public housing.”

Besides getting longtime residents out of public housing, it is hoped the program will free up much needed units. About 11,000 households are looking for WHA housing and the lists for some housing programs are closed because of the huge demand.

The proposed program would have to be approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which provides the bulk of funding to the WHA.

WHA officials said the program will contain a number of elements to help residents break their reliance on public assistance for housing.

Residents, for example, will be provided with resources and tools to help improve their educational, occupational, financial and health needs.

The program also contains a component designed to provide residents with necessary life skills that are lacking among some of them.

Officials said the so-called “Life 101” will teach them how to resolve conflicts and be good neighbors; help them to build healthy relationships and assist them with financial, parenting and housekeeping matters.

“We want to make residents self-sufficient and to motivate them to move out of public housing,” said Mr. Mariano, whose family lived for many years in the Great Brook Valley public housing complex. “Many of the kids living in our buildings have no ideas about what they would like to do with their lives. They have no dreams and we have to change that.”

Click here to read the entire article.

What do you think?  Is this the right way to promote self-sufficiency?

Secretary MA Dept of Veterans Services Presented on Efforts to End Homelessness

Secretary Coleman Nee of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services (DVS)presented to a group of homeless service providers and advocates at last week’s CHAPA Homelessness Committee Meeting.  Secretary Nee gave a comprehensive overview of the available resources within the Dept of Veterans Services and the department’s efforts to prevent and end veterans homelessness with a Housing First approach.  Click here to access Secretary Nee’s presentation.

One program highlighted in the Secretary’s presentation with the S.A.V.E. Program.   The S.A.V.E. program is part of The Patrick-Murray Administration’s  suicide prevention initiative and The Department of Veterans’ Services outreach initiatives.  Its purpose is to:

  • Prevent suicide within the Veterans’ community
  • Refer veterans and their families to mental health services
  • Outreach to veterans wherever they are located
The S.A.V.E. program is designed to be completely mobile and was created to reach out to veterans, where ever they may exist.  The S.A.V.E. program will:
  • Screen veterans for mental health issues
  • Assess veterans’ suicide risk
  • Provide case management
  • Refer veterans to agencies that provide mental health services and other non-mental health related services (like housing and job training to prevent or end homelessness)
  • Help veterans navigate the bureaucracy of the health care system as it relates to them
The S.A.V.E. program delivers vital services to veterans to help prevent suicide and homelessness, including:
What do you think?  Have you seen an increase in homeless veterans in your programs?  Are the needs of female veterans in your community being met?  What about the families of veterans?  The DVS offers so many resources for veterans and their families.  If you have a veteran in your programs be sure they are linked up to the resources provided by DVS.




Kip Tiernan Memorial Service Saturday Sept. 10th at 11 AM

Best known for founding Rosie’s Place, Kip Tiernan was at the center of the fight for economic and social justice for nearly three decades. Kip advocated, protested and lobbied for affordable and accessible housing, health care and education as well as jobs, civil rights and peace.   Kip passed away earlier this summer at the age of 85.

There will be a memorial service for Kip on Saturday, September 10th at 11 AM. The service will take place at the Old South Church, 645 Boylston Street in Boston.

Click here for information on parking and directions to the Old South Church.