Follow Up on City Mission Forum

Saturday June 10 at 9 a.m. at the City Mission, NEOCH is partnering with Metanoia, West Side Catholic and City Mission to follow up on the forum that we had back in April.  This meeting is an attempt to set up a task force of religious folks to find solutions with the crisis in homeless families. We regularly have 5 to 10 families in the gym waiting for a bed to open locally.  The forum will be in the main building of City Mission 5310 Carnegie Ave. come into the main entrance (the building on the corner of 55th and Carnegie). We’ll meet from 9 - 10:30.  It is a a little late to call City Mission for more details, but you can call and leave a message for Linda if you want to get on the e-mail list for future meetings 216-431-3510.  

 by Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

How Are We Doing With the 10 Year Plans To End Homelessness?

Terrible, horrible and a total failure is the answer to the question!

10-Year Plans Reach Their Expiration Date

“In 2000, the National Alliance to End Homelessness released A Plan, Not a Dream: How to End Homelessness in Ten Years - a bold, innovative strategy to end homelessness in the United States."

Seattle is one of the few cities that looked back on the "Plan to End Homelessness" that was introduced 10 years ago and evaluating the successes and failures.  Most of the other cities just allowed the deadline pass quietly and without comment.  We decided to look at some of the other cities progress over the last 10 years.  Homelessness has so permeated the American landscape that it may seem that the social conundrum has always been a part of our society. However, homelessness is a thoroughly modern phenomenon. Until the 1980s, there was not widespread homelessness in America. But tonight, "nearly 700,000 people will experience homelessness across the country, despite a $2 billion dollar a year infrastructure designed to deal with the problem.” (endhomlessness.org) This is a dramatic undercount only looking at those using a shelter or who are visible on one night.  Some estimates say that it is twice as large as this or even three times the size of the National Alliance numbers. 

In response to this idea of a ten year plan, 243 counties and states developed their own ten year plan to end homelessness.  Over the past few years many of these plans have expired with little to no improvement, in some situations the issue has even worsened.  Many of these plans will be expiring with in the year with homelessness still plaguing the area.  Here are some of the cities that boldly proclaimed that they would eliminate homelessness or at least a sizable portion of the population with the date that they introduced the plan.  As you can see since no city has actually ended homelessness in America that all these cities have failed.  Listed below are 20 of the cities with the start date of their plan and a link to detailed descriptions of their plan.

  1. Hartford Connecticut June 2005
  2. Memphis, Tennessee August 2002
  3. Knoxville, Tennessee October 2005
  4. Perry, Ohio December 2006
  5. Buffalo, New York April 2007
  6. Dayton, Ohio November 2006
  7. Allegany County, Pennsylvania June 2005
  8. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 2001
  9. Columbus, Ohio July 2002
  10. New York City, New York August 2006
  11. Washington, DC December 2004
  12. Louisville, Kentucky July 2002
  13. Indianapolis, Indiana April 2002
  14. Boise, Idaho November 2007
  15. Springfield, Illinois November2004
  16. Baltimore, Maryland January 2008
  17. Ann Arbor, Michigan September 2004
  18. Detroit, Michigan October 2006
  19. St. Paul, Minnesota September 2005
  20. Madison, Ohio December 2006

Click here to view the rest of the cities and their 10-year plans. These are a database of futility and wasted meetings and a full employment program for consultants.  The federal government did a great deal in the last 10 years to not end homelessness and in fact to help add to the population.  They did not reform the criminal justice system and they did not add any housing resources to the federal budget.  In fact, in much of the last 10 years they have only funded subsidized housing programs at 90% of the need to keep these buildings open and very little for repair.  They sliced off 80% of the money going to serve the emergency of homelessness and instead use those funds for rent and building apartments for those who are currently in housing.  They did not provide a quality basic education that will lead to a job or college.  The federal government did not figure out the housing for the millions of people addicted, mentally ill and other wise disabled individuals.  They did not reform the tax system to provide a minimum income or eliminate the crushing burden of student loans.  So, all these cities decided that they could overcome federal efforts to keep people homeless in America.  They all lost this bet and all the plans have failed so far.  No one is going to lose their job because these plans failed.  No consultant will outed as living in a dream world and have to fold up shop.  No Mayor who signed these plans will be ridiculed.  No social service provider will be criticized for failing at their core mission. Very few in the media will go back and publish commentaries about how we can't trust government because they publish these pie in the sky plans.

It is just a lot of wasted paper pushed by the Bush Administration (thank you noted Abolishionist Phil Mangano) and the National Alliance to End Homelessness that in the end meant nothing.  The only one punished will be the Mom and child in Ann Arbor who has no place to sleep tonight because we refocused our emergency shelter system to be a housing based system.  The guy living in Knoxville who has been unemployed for the six months and has a recent criminal background preventing him from convincing a landlord to rent to him will sit in an overcrowded shelter until he has reached the magic milestone of "long term homeless" or the offensive "chronically homeless" stage at one year of continuously living in a shelter. The 50 year old grandma will suffer because she self medicates to quiet the voices and then cannot function in a congregate living situation.  This grandma will be punished for the failure of these 10 year plans by sleeping alone in an abandoned building.  As always, the only people to suffer are those who are rarely consulted.  If currently homeless people were brought into the process, they would say we have to end homelessness in 10 days and every thing else is just lip service.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

PS: Notice Cleveland does not have a 10 year plan.  NEOCH pushed and pushed and pushed not to go down this misguided path. 

Interesting Stories About Homelessness

Interesting Homeless News May 27th, 2016

The New York Civil Liberties Union and their co-sponsor Picture the Homeless have filed a complaint against the New York Police Department for telling homeless people to “move along” when they haven’t done anything in violation of any law.  Recently the NYPD has been targeting innocent homeless people for standing or sitting in public places, which is not illegal.  In fact, the police officers are breaking more laws than the homeless people in this crusade as they violate the Community Safety Act, which prohibits profiling based on gender, race, and housing status.

The legendary Skid Row of Los Angeles has recently opened a new permanent housing complex for the chronically ill and mentally ill homeless living on Skid Row.  This $40 million complex was developed by the Skid Row Housing trust.  This new complex is run by the LA Department of Health Services’ Housing for Heath division.  This new complex provides healthcare for the 10,000 residents it aims to assist as well as luxuries such as an indoor track and art studio. Skid Row is the largest concentraion of homeless people outside of jails in the United States.

Senior Pastor Klayton Ko, of First Assembly of God in Red Hill, Hawaii has created 21 fiberglass dome structures for the homeless in Hawaii in an attempt to eradicative homelessness in Hawaii.  They have received a total of $200,000 dollars in funds and donations and plan to make more domes when they get the land needed.

San Diego has re-landscaped under their bridges to keep the homeless out.  The city of San Diego has placed jagged rocks under the bridges downtown in order to keep the homeless from sleeping under bridges.  Advocacy groups are up in arms calling for humane treatment of the homeless and the development of micro communities to solve the problem of people sleeping on the streets.

71 long term homeless residents, and their pets, have been moved from their river side encampment to a converted motel.  The Bridges to Housing Pilot project of West Sacramento has taken a great stride forward in the fight against homelessness through this initiative, which included medical checkups for the pets.

The 14th Homeless World Cup has been announced to be held July 10th-16th on George Square in Glasgow, Scotland.  The tournament will host 64 teams representing 64 different countries including one from the United States.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors allocated $100 million dollars to end homelessness in LA and stop the endless cycle of released criminals and hospital patients from ending up on Skid Row.  This is an editorial from the LA Times that argues the City is committed to working toward an end to homelessness and all the problems associated with Skid Row.  Local leaders claim that they won’t blow it again.

Italy keeps in mind “Les Misérables,”as they decide whether or not it is illegal to steal food from a super market if you are homeless.

 

by Abby Bova

The posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Why Did Veterans Affairs Not Run From Transitional Shelters?

We are down to around 250 veterans in Cuyahoga County who are homeless.  This is a huge victory and shows remarkable progress since 2010.  NEOCH has repeatedly said that the figures released every summer from HUD about the homeless population is so far off as to be deceptive and causes harm to the homeless community.  This is not the case with the VA because they are actually reaching out and looking for real homeless people.  The HUD stats rely too much on shelter beds which are decreasing every year.  We have seen cities throughout the United States claiming huge victories in the reduction of veteran's homelessness, and at least in Cleveland this does seem to be real progress and not just paper progress.  There are beds available for veterans and their is a full effort to go out and find people where they live.  I don't agree with this gimmick of "functional zero," but there is no doubt that they have made huge progress in significantly reducing the number of veterans who find themselves homeless.   How did they do it? 

We could learn from the success at the Department of Veterans Affairs for leading the way in reducing the number of people who find themselves homeless.  From what I have seen, here are my observations on why they are successful:

1. Housing opportunities are available to the population with diversity the key to this housing.  They have never turned away from all forms of shelter/housing.  They fund housing vouchers, transitional shelters and emergency beds.  They offer fixed facilities as well as scattered site housing.  They try to serve the unique needs of each person and not forcing people into the cheapest or "best" type of housing as determined by "experts" in the community.  This is in stark contrast to HUD which focuses funding on one type of program and forces all other options to die for lack of funding.  One year, they are big on transitional shelters or supportive services or permanent supportive housing or now "rapid rehousing."  They keep jumping around and no longer allow the local community to make these decisions. 

2. They have worked on all the issues facing veterans and not just shelter or housing. They can help with addiction, mental health issues, physical disabilities or legal struggles.  They have always gathered other resources in the community to help veterans.  There is a group that can help with clothing, furniture, utility connections, student loan debt or forgiveness or identification.  They also try to make it easy for people with transportation assistance.  This is the opposite of the HUD funded programs who have adopted a policy of "YO-YO" or You are On Your Own, and just like a yo-yo the individual is up then down and up again depending on how lucky they are in finding appropriate resources. 

3. They have a strong commitment to finding people where they live and not expecting people to come to the VA.  The VA funds beds in the shelters, they set up tables at drop in centers and soup kitchens.  It is not unusual to find a veteran's representative on Sunday night at the overnight drop in center.  If they hear a vet is sleeping under a tree near the Shoreway, they will come out to interview the guy and see if there is a place for him to live.  They are at the hospitals, jails, libraries looking for veterans in need of help.  HUD funded programs often make it difficult to access for fear of being overwhelmed with individual's angry over the small funding available locally.  The VA throws their doors open to anyone with an honorable discharge and tries as hard as they can to help them. 

4.  They are tapping the expertise of a broad cross section of charitable agencies and not relying on one agency doing everything.  This is a change in the last five years that they asked for help from other groups and are paying those groups for offering help to veterans.  It previously was a closed system and only federal employees offered help to homeless veterans.  Now, nearly every agency in the community has been drafted into helping with some money available to help.  There are health care providers, the court system, shelters, housing providers and other government agencies are all offering assistance to stabilize the population.  There is also the Veteran's Service Commission which can help with the incidentals of setting up a house or a monthly bus pass to get a veteran to work or even car repairs so they do not lose their job.  There is nothing like the Veteran's Service Commission available to other non-veteran homeless people, and they have changed locally as well to be more responsive to homeless veterans.

5. Healthcare was the first step with all the other services built around getting the individual stable including their behavioral health.  The largest public health system in America is the VA healthcare.  It is notoriously slow and full of huge paperwork backlogs.  I have not seen this in Cleveland and from what I hear, the veterans are pretty happy with the healthcare they get locally.  We all need healthcare at some point, and the VA uses this universal service as the gateway to the rest of the network. 

6. There is no wrong answer to the veteran struggling with housing.   They do not force them to fit their problems or disability into one path off the streets. They do not say that they can only help after the veteran has been homeless for one year's time or reserve certain programs for veterans who have been homeless for a long time with a disability.  They are not pitting one veteran's group against another for limited resources.   I do have to say that one problem with the VA is that members of the national guard do not get the same treatment as the five branches of the US military.  This seems unfair since we dramatically changed our use of the National Guard during the previous administration.  We used them in an active combat zone, but did not upgrade the benefits they receive after their retirement.  This is something we need to address in Congress. 

7. They have combined income with their housing assistance. So, they work with people on getting them veteran's benefits, social security disability, or income from a job.   Their case workers realize that housing is critical, but paying for that housing is just as critical.  They have always worked on getting the veteran the benefits that they deserve.  There is nothing comparable in the rest of the homeless system, but we do not work on jobs and disability help like the VA case workers.  They have also had veteran's industries linked to housing programs for those engaged in job activities having a place to live while they build up a work record.  The system is much more developed and robust for veterans than is available in the traditional shelters. 

8. They do not rely on fictitious numbers to pretend to be succeeding.  Both HUD and the VA release national reports on their progress and neither are any good.  Both reports are flawed; I would say complete works of fiction.   The difference is that the VA does not rely on these numbers to paper over their successes or failures.  HUD uses these works of fiction to claim success when everything else points to failure.  Cleveland reports a decrease in homelessness over the last year while all other evidence suggests things are bad and getting worse.  Why do we see a smaller number of  homeless people in Cleveland--because we lost 444 beds over the last seven years.  Fewer beds means fewer homeless people to count=smaller numbers of homeless people.  HUD shuts down shelter for lack of funding while the VA will begin shutting down shelters for lack of need.  There are beds available at many of the VA shelters right now, but that does not mean there is not the need.  HUD and the County do not care about the demands or the need, they base decisions on funding and cost savings in the community. 

9. They finally realized that there is a huge amount of distrust for the VA and so they have these alternatives available.  Veterans especially from the Vietnam era do not trust the VA.  They were betrayed by the agency for years especially around the issues of Agent Orange.  There are many vets that I meet who are angry with the VA and say that they will not go there.  I can remember the on the ground nurses in the 1990s recognizing this problem, but it seems that the senior administration are finally hearing this issue.  There are plenty of older men who say, "I will never go to the VA because they did me wrong in the past."   This is why it is so critical to not require that it is not necessary to go to the VA first to get services.  A veteran can start the path back to stability at the shelter, the drop in center or the VA hospital.  It is not mandatory to start with the VA operated programs to find help. 

Congratulations on making so much progress.  Now it is time to teach HUD what they are doing wrong and force Congress to fund homeless services like they fund the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

"Functional Zero" for Homeless Veterans Confuses Public

HOMELESSNESS & “FUNCTIONAL ZERO:” A CRITIQUE

“Functional zero:  At any point in time, the number of people experiencing sheltered or unsheltered homelessness will be no greater than the current monthly housing placement rate for people experiencing homelessness.”

                                                   -- Community Solutions (A national Non-Profit working on building Permanent Supportive Housing with offices in New York, California and DC.)

“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself”

                                                             - - Albert Einstein

For years homeless advocates have argued about the definition of homelessness and how inclusive or limited it should be.  This is not an esoteric exercise, since the answer drives federal resources.

Sadly, some researchers, consultants and advocates convinced Congress years ago to a much more limited definition of homelessness along with focusing resources first on the chronically homeless, with veterans, families and youth all next in line.  This was done of the fallacious argument that once we ended chronic homelessness, we could then devote resources to ending it for the next sub-population.  This did not happen and hundreds of thousands of people experiencing homelessness have remained invisible to our leaders at all levels.

“When people are invisible, you can’t find a solution because you don’t see them”

                                   - Marc Uhry, Fondation Abbe Pierre

Ten year plans to end homelessness are in their second decade or abandoned altogether.

Rather than focus on the systemic and structural systems and policies that have created three decades of mass homelessness – beginning with President Reagan devastating the federal affordable housing budget by 75% in 1980; the continuing dismantling of local, state and federal housing, social services, health and mental health budgets; discharge policies from prisons, jails, hospital and foster care that routinely discharge people to the streets and a minimum wage that keeps people shackled to poverty – we now seek to arrest and define our way out of homelessness

Criminalization of homelessness:   

Despite the admonition by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness [USICH] to communities to move away from trying to “arrest their way out of homelessness,” the number of anti-homeless ordinances in the nation has proliferated.  For example, the Sacramento city has 11 municipal codes that criminalize people experiencing homeless – five for standing, sitting and resting in public places; five for camping in public places and three that criminalize begging or panhandling. 

Prisons and jails have become the housing for people experiencing homelessness, especially people of color and those with mental health issues.

Functional zero: 

Couple this with the newest trend to define our way out of homelessness. 

Community Solutions has created the term “functional zero” which took them three pages of definitional “metrics” to operationalize. What would Einstein say?

Basically, a community can still have 10,000 homeless people, for example, but if  that community can say the number of people entering homelessness is equal to the number exiting- they have reached “functional zero” --- forget the  10,000 languishing on the streets and in shelters. 

This term is harmful and counter-productive to addressing the myriad of reasons why people become homeless and is dismissive of the systemic reasons why people become homeless.

In no other walk of life do we use the term “functional zero”- to end hunger; ending domestic violence; ending gun violence?  Ending discrimination?  In no other walk of life do we address a crisis by redefining it and settling on homeostasis as the new reality.

It is harmful because when politicians and community members hear “zero”- they hear we have ended homelessness – not what Community Solutions has defined it to mean.   Then when it is time to allocate scarce public resources it would not be unreasonable for the public and/or elected officials to argue we don’t need as many resources for homelessness because we have solved it!  Yet we know nothing could be further from the truth.

We have entered into a new era of becoming more sophisticated about managing homelessness – creating a new way to define status quo – however we rapidly move the same number of people entering homelessness as who exit.

Salt Lake City, Houston, New Orleans and Phoenix:    These four cities have become the poster cities for “functional zero” in ending homelessness – which make great headlines and sound bites.  But, look at the numbers and what they really meant was ending veteran homelessness …. Oopps …. Not really … chronic (long term) veteran homelessness…. And they haven’t even done that.

Take a hard look at the numbers and trends that each of these four cities report to HUD annually [Source: Homeless Point in Time Count and Housing Inventory Count, 2012, 2013 and 2014]. [ NEOCH has posted the full graph in our Information Blog here. ]

Trends in the four “functional zero” cities:  2012 – 2014:

  • Total number of homeless veterans in the four cities in 2014 was 1,392;
  • Salt Lake City: the number of homeless veterans increased from 247 [2013] to 275 [2014];
  • Total number of homeless people in 2014 was 15,357
  •  The number of total homeless people increased in Salt Lake City from 2,123 [2013] to 2,150 [2014] and in Phoenix from 5,889 [2013] to 5,918 [2014];
  • The total number of Permanent Supportive Housing Units (PSH) in the Four cities in 2014 was 8,831 or 57.5% of the total number of homeless people;
  • The total number of PSH units in New Orleans decreased from 2,670 [2013] to 2,464 [2014].

Clearly none of these cities can legitimately claim they have ended veteran homelessness, yet they have been successful at creating the new urban myth that if we just do what these cities have done we can end homelessness as well. 

USICH:  Federal agencies that belong to USICH have recently moved away from using the “functional zero” terminology and adopted the new “operational definition of ending homelessness” contained in USICH’s recently released amended federal homelessness plan Opening Doors:

An end to homelessness means that every community will have a systematic response in place that ensures homelessness is prevented whenever possible or is otherwise a rare, brief, and non-recurring experience.

This “new” definition of ending homelessness essentially is a retooled “functional zero” definition dressed in new terms.  Of course we want a rapid and systematic response to preventing homelessness.  However, the new paradigm fails to address how we get to that point in the first place.  What about the people who are currently experiencing homelessness?

Tragically for people experiencing homelessness, USICH has opted to size the definition of ending homelessness, based on limited existing federal resources rather than right size the resources to fit the homeless crisis in this nation.

Zero means zero:

While SRCEH supports a “rapid-same-day” response to homelessness, we refuse to abdicate to arresting and defining our way out of homelessness.  Yet, a new report by HUD, Family Options Study, has shown that the rapid rehousing approach is not nearly as effective as a housing voucher strategy.

SRCEH remains committed to galvanizing the political and community will that “zero” truly means ending and preventing homelessness in our community. 

No definitional gimmicks...No smoke...No mirrors.

As a community we first must stop criminalizing people experiencing homelessness and focus on  creating enough affordable housing, social services, health and mental health care and living wage jobs and income that we end and prevent homelessness.

We can end and prevent homelessness if we are intentional about moving beyond sound-bite jargon and squarely address the homeless crisis as a social justice issue and support housing and health care as basic human rights.

Bob Erlenbusch, Executive Director,

Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness [SRCEH]

July 2015

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Cognitive Dissidence At Alliance Conference

I did not attend the National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference, but could not help but be overwhelmed with Tweets from the Conference.  I have only attended one NAEH conference and did not find it very helpful because of the cognitive dissidence between the national group and what is happening in the field with real homeless people.  The government response to homelessness is championed as "progressive and based on science" while I find that they are responsive to a problem as it looked 20 years ago and then it takes another five years to pivot to respond to current issues.  Researchers with a business interest in steering cities toward their way of thinking gave us PowerPoint presentations on putting resources into their method of solving homelessness.   Then when I got home, I looked around and saw that the majority of homeless people who need help are not disabled, have not been homeless for a long period of time and just don't have enough money to afford rent.   Then the big social service providers are talking about chasing the dollars and outcomes and have lost sight of the humanity and reason that they were in existence.   The decisions made at these conferences seem to just transfer limited resources from one fragile population to another population declared the flavor of the month (youth or veterans or disabled, etc.).

Here are some examples of what I mean from the flow of tweets this week...

Secretary Castro pledges his commitment to HUD's work to end homelessness at the conference

Has a HUD Secretary ever said to a crowd, "I pledge that I will not be working to end homelessness?" or "Things are so bad in Washington that we will see an increase in homelessness over the next five years?"  Or "We hope that we can keep treading water and we hope that the number of people who die while sleeping on the streets will be kept to a minimum."

. at said investing in makes moral & fiscal sense. He's said this before.

That is a true statement, and no one can disagree that brand new beautiful apartments will not help a community.  What about the increase in family homelessnessss (who do not qualify for PSH) and what about the emergency services that are cut because we are slicing the pie even thinner?  80% of our money locally now goes to PSH, but we do not have 80% more money then we had five years ago. In fact, we have about 20% fewer dollars then we have five years ago. I find it interesting that Rich Trickel at the City Mission was talking about the huge numbers he is seeing while national advocates were proclaiming victories about lower veteran's homelessness and reducing long term homelessness.

66 women and children requested shelter yesterday - unfortunately there was no room. Overwhelmed by :

  Struggling to reconcile pronouncements of ending with the crushing numbers of families. ’taddup

We have these pronouncements (expressed in tweets) about requiring change in the system in order to solve homelessness:

: we must create systems change around now, or we could be back here in 10 years.

The promise of rapid re-housing to end must be linked to increasing family incomes to sustain housing over time.

We often increase homelessness by inviting people into the system when they really needed diversion from the system.

In Cleveland, we have 22 families sleeping in a church basement nearly every night because we do not have enough space in our shelters.  It does not seem that system change, rapid rehousing or diverting people has done much to change this dynamic locally.  We have dramatically changed the system with "coordinated intake" and yet we have the largest number of families in our community that I have ever seen.  We have rapid re-housing for families which does a great job in keeping the amount of time a person spends in shelter down, but it does nothing to reduce the numbers.  There are five people waiting for help for every person we can offer a bed to in our community.   And Cuyahoga County has set up a diversion program which "diverts" between 20 to 30% of the population.  This only puts off the inevitable.  We are not solving their issues, but delaying them asking for a bed. 

. Great partnering with you on Combating Criminalization of Homelessness at ! Resource to share:

I am glad this was mentioned at the conference because this is a huge issue in America where cities are hiding homeless people by making it illegal to be visible.  But just because there is a discussion does not mean we are doing anything about it.  When is the federal government going to get tough on these cities and say, "Look, we give you millions to solve homelessness.  If you don't stop passing laws and repeal all the laws you have passed directed at homeless people, we are going to convert all your homeless money into housing vouchers.  And another thing, stop having police arrest homeless people for disorderly conduct, because a city that does not provide housing is by definition a conduct that is disorderly.  It does not help to ticket or jail a guy sleeping outside, so stop it."

We CAN end youth homelessness by 2020.

Diversion is not a "NO" it's a "how can we help you from becoming homeless". Best for client, best for homeless system.

Ending Family Homelessness does not require more shelters. One of my Fav Slides from

Ending homelessness is not anti shelter if shelter is doing what it's supposed 2 be doing as a process not a destination

Nan Roman : We don't just believe we can end , we know we can end homelessness, & we know how to do it.

Excellent. Now prove it.  Stop the flow of homeless people coming from jails.  Stop pitting one population such as veterans against other populations such as the unemployed for limited dollars. Start counting youth who couch surf among the homeless population.  Start using the Dept. of Education definition of homelessness.  Stop using bogus counts as proof of anything except that we can get volunteers to do anything we ask.  Stop complicating our job at the local level with campaigns that do not in fact "end homelessness."  A goal of 100,000 homes was reached earlier this year and at least in Cleveland we still have the same number showing up at shelter and the similar numbers of abandoned and vacant housing. The reason: 560 new housing units of PSH do not shut down one shelter bed locally.  If you want to close down shelters build 5,600 housing units locally.  Everything else only replaces units that are taken off line because they have reached their natural lifespan.  How about ending homelessness for everyone in a timely manner not one group at a time?  This only makes other non-preferential groups homeless for longer and longer periods of time.   By the way, if we keep championing reductions of 2% or 4% in a year for one group, we lose sight of the real goal.  We will never get to the point of declaring victory by championing these small decreases in one population. 

: is the epitome of a dedicated & effective public servant. Her commitment to ending is absolute

Honoring for her amazing work at @usichomelessness. THANK YOU, BARB!

B. Poppe: the goal is a world in which family homelessness is a rare and brief occurrence and no family is w/out shelter

I like Barb Poppe and Nan and all the gang, but what is the big picture here?  Is the United States better off for homeless people than it was 40 years ago?   When I started 18 years ago there were 6,000 people in Cleveland experiencing homelessness and about 3,500 using the shelters.  Now there are 22,000 people and 9,000 people using the shelters every year.  NEOCH was created because of the rise in family homelessness, but no where near the numbers we are seeing over the last three years.  We have displaced so many people, incomes are stagnant and there are way fewer entry level jobs that can support a family then there were 30 years ago.  We have millions more people receiving a disability check, but they cannot afford the rent.  So, I am not sure it is time to pat anyone on the back for contributing much to homelessness. At this time, I see nothing going on to address family homelessness in America.  I see things getting worse for families with cuts to food stamps, unemployment compensation, and housing programs.  No one should be celebrating.

Bottom line most of our Veterans do not need Transitional Housing programs to succeed. "Housing First" just works better.

Very few families need Transitional Housing to solve their homelessness in SLC.

This is why social service types should not become involved in collecting statistics. These graphs do not show this conclusion.  The transitional programs are not sitting empty in our community.  They may not be serving our highest need population or they may take too long to help, but none of the data shows which program a veteran or family may need.  Here is the way to look at this issue.  Cuyahoga County has 1.35 million people and 230,000 living in poverty.  We have about 350 transitional beds in our community.  No one can say that there are not 350 people of the 230,000 living below the poverty level in our community who "need" two years of case management support to get back on their feet.  These sweeping generalizations that are based on nothing but opinion undermine confidence in these speakers.  It may be too expensive or too long to provide help, but there is a need for housing units in our community and we should have a diversity of beds. The vet sleeping near the Willard Park garage would have a different opinion about his need for a transitional shelter bed then most of the speakers at the NAEH conference.

Nan Roman of "Be honest about limitations. Don't fear data. Use data strategically".

Nan Roman: is a symptom of larger economic forces. Our work is only beginning.

Nan Roman: (Point in Time) PITCount estimates aren't just a count of beds. Beds went up while family homelessness went down

Is this a job creation program for homeless social services for the next 50 years or do we want to end homelessness?  Every advocate I talk to says family homelessness is going up (Cleveland, Atlanta, New York, Washington DC, Minnesota) and yet many at the national level are saying there is a decrease. By the way, if you do not have guaranteed access to shelter how can any count be trusted?  If you say to a family that there is not space in the shelter so go stay with your Mom, in their mind they are still homeless, but by HUD standards they are not.   Counting homeless people is a flawed exercise that is not based on any science.  It is not real data that has any usefulness for community planning or developing an emergency response to homelessness.  We have seen 45 years of increases, how can we be at the beginning?   It diminishes the work of the Housing NOW march and the McKinney Vento legislation and the Runaway youth effort and all the other work that has been done to say we are at the beginning.   But if we are looking at "larger economic forces" then why was there no discussion on an increase in disability payments or giving the nation a pay increase with improvements in minimum wage?  Why no discussion about debt specifically student loan debt that moves people to bankruptcy and homelessness? What about sanctioning cities for making it illegal to be homeless?  Why not forcing cities to provide housing to every one of its citizens?  Why not designing mandatory mentoring programs with city employees who get compensated for keeping people out of homelessness?  How about outlawing any discharge to a shelter?  There are so many big picture items that would actually have an impact on ending homelessness that no one is talking about.  Instead we focus on managing the crisis and counting the number of people we help out of the river after their family has dissolved and they have nearly drowned.  Pushing paper better in our community will not end homelessness.

Fascinating juxtaposition of talks: lamenting in-the-box thinking, and current speaker is celebrating bureaucracy.

Not spending one more dollar on case management and just investing in assertive engagement in Multnomah County? Horrible idea.

Heartfelt gratitude and respect for and working to end homelessness against all odds & sneers.

Every Rescue Mission must have a long term housing strategy

Your county can afford to keep in hospital for 3k a day but can't afford rent for 1k a month? -Mitchell Katz

Can't think of 1 thing in 312 days on the road ending homelessness last year supporting abandoning case mgmt 4 assertive engagement

Phoenix, AZ reached functionally zero chronically homeless. This is attainable in Erie County, NY too.

So many different strategies and so many different theories.  By the way, since the VA crisis of fake data started in Phoenix did anyone question their data on long term homeless?  Just reading the stream of tweets from the National Alliance conference is depressing and makes me want to raise the white flag  to surrender to those who say we have lost the war on poverty.  Most people in America believe that we will always have homeless people and listening to these "national experts" in New Orleans makes it seem more likely.  I got into this with the desire and feeling that America could end homelessness quickly if we just had the political will.  If you listen to these "national experts" you may be inspired that you can help a percentage of the population, but not in ending homelessness in America. If there are a million homeless people in America why set a goal for building 100,000 homes?  It makes no sense.

We are so far off course in how we address real people's problems.  We are so misguided in how we approach addiction, mental health, forgiveness, and housing from the national level.  Most of what gets said is to justify poor decisions and a lack of resources.   We seem to be developing an entire science for justifying homelessness in America.  There is no inspiration or immediacy from the group. The further we get away from the generation who won a world war, placed a man on the moon and ended an intractable war in Vietnam, the less confidence we seem to have that we can accomplish big goals. We now set goals for managing a problem instead of setting goals for quickly ending a problem.  We know how to end homelessness and it is not through data, diversion, counts or thinking small.   We need more affordable housing, more income for the population, enforcement of civil rights, and universal access to health care including behavioral health. If we focused on these four areas there would not be homelessness.  Civil rights include the right to a quality education for every student and the right to live inside in a safe environment.

 "Ending vet. homelessness isn't just something we should strive to achieve, it’s something we can do."

"The fact that right now our country has more than 58,000 homeless veterans...is a stain on the soul of this nation." -

: If we end homelessness for our veterans, we'll show we can finish the job for everyone experiencing homelessness

"As a nation, we've reduced veteran homelessness by 24% over three years & under this Administration." -

The First Lady, Michelle Obama, graciously attended the conference and spoke to the group. She said that we had reduced veteran's homelessness by 24%.  After the scandal that cost the VA Secretary his job, can we trust any of the figures that they are giving us?  But even if we do accept the stats, we only have until 2015 to house the other 75% to meet the President's goal--the glass is three fourths empty.  From the twitter feed, it seems that she focused her thoughts on ending veteran's homelessness in America.  I do not understand this concept.  We did not set a goal of ending polio among seniors.  We focused on eradicating polio for all.  We do not try to immunize all African American kids--we went after all kids.  We did not set up a highway system in Republican states or try to provide equal access to voting or government for one minority group.  The goal was not to eliminate child labor in the North or set up a social security safety net for disable seniors.  We do not solve problems in America piecemeal.  When did this work where we take on a huge issue in our society and address it with one population at a time.  If we do in fact end veteran's homelessness in 2015 and we have been working on the problem for 45 years, can we set a goal of 2275 for an end to family homelessness next?  

Maybe it was just getting a flood of 140 characters of information instead of hearing complete speeches, but it was a depressing week with NAEH14.  We are far away from ending homelessness in America.

Brian Davis

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