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December 3, 2007

DESPITE CONDEMNATION, HESS HOLDS HIS GROUND

DESPITE CONDEMNATION, HESS HOLDS HIS GROUND

Called reckless by some, a new homeless families' policy is having the

desired effect, testifies the Department of Homeless Services

commissioner. > By Tram Whitehurst

City Limits WEEKLY

October 29, 2007

After only two weeks, the lines have been clearly drawn in a

vigorous debate over the new Department of Homeless Services (DHS)

policy eliminating emergency overnight shelter for homeless families

deemed to have other housing options. Both DHS staff and opponents of

the measure packed a City Council General Welfare Committee hearing last

week to examine the controversial policy change.

In his testimony before the committee, DHS Commissioner Robert Hess

gave a progress report on the new policy and explained how and why it

came to be. Hess argued that it has been successful in limiting the

number of ineligible families who show up at the Prevention Assistance

for Temporary Housing (PATH) facility in the Bronx. Since Oct. 12 when

the policy was implemented, the total number of families seeking “late

arrival placement”—or shelter after 5 p.m.—was 46 percent lower than in

the weeks prior to the change. A total of 16 families previously found

ineligible for shelter persisted in requesting late night placement over

the past two weeks, 11 of which were once again denied shelter, he

said. According to Hess, the policy “is helping to restore order at PATH

and strengthen a system that is dedicated to providing support and

services to homeless families.”

Critics at the hearing were not convinced by Hess’s testimony and

questioned the logic and motivation behind the policy. Expressing a

concern voiced by several speakers, Councilman Bill de Blasio, a

Brooklyn Democrat and chair of the committee, asked Hess: “Why would a

family come back [to PATH] if they had a viable alternative?”

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Advocate says legislation needed to help homeless in rural areas

Advocate says legislation needed to help homeless in rural areas

Daily Mail staff

Thursday October 11, 2007

Advocates for the homeless say proposed federal legislation could help alleviate homelessness in rural West Virginia.

Amy Weintraub, executive director of Covenant House, says the HEARTH Act

is "a beautiful piece of legislation" that would equalize government

assistance for those in urban and rural areas who are homeless or at

risk of becoming homeless.

HEARTH is an acronym for Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing.

The act, now before Congress, would allocate federal dollars to help

people in more rural areas get access to services and get them into

permanent housing, Weintraub said.

Right now, more services are available for the homeless in urban areas while the rural population is struggling.

"Rural homelessness is often hidden," Weintraub said.

Weintraub traveled to Washington, D.C., last week at the invitation of

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., to testify before the Financial

Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity.

Weintraub was also part of a panel discussion regarding reauthorization

of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which sets aside funding

for shelters and housing programs.

Capito said Weintraub's input was valuable for lawmakers because she's

been a longtime advocate for the homeless and has been active on issues

involving education, health care and domestic violence.

Weintraub and Capito said they agree the federal government's definition

of homelessness needs to be expanded so those in rural areas would

qualify for services.

"We are looking at a bill on homelessness to modernize the definition," Capito said.

In West Virginia, there are homeless people who move about as they live with relatives or sleep in cars, Capito said.

"The HUD definition of homelessness excludes many people who we here in

rural West Virginia would identify as homeless," Weintraub said. "That

would include families and individuals living in motels and families

doubling and tripling in trailers, apartments and houses."

Capito said reauthorization and reform of federal homeless programs is a bipartisan issue.

"There are many areas of agreement when you compare the various homeless legislative proposals," Capito said.

She said, for example, several legislative proposals all call for a series of federal grant programs to be consolidated.

That would alleviate the need for HUD to review each applicant project

individually and would cut the time needed for grants to be approved,

Capito said. Consolidation would also increase local control and

flexibility over how money could be spent, she added.

Weintraub said the act also would give communities more flexibility when

it comes to solving homelessness issues in both rural and more

populated settings.

"The HEARTH Act adopts a simple approach to meet needs of rural

communities," Weintraub said. "By aligning HUD's definition of

homelessness with the definition used by other federal agencies, it

ensures that people who are without homes in rural communities are

counted as homeless."

West Virginia's mountainous topography often isolates those in need of

assistance that readily available in urban areas, she said.

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January 30, 2007

HUD Makes $30 Million Available for Capital Repairs

The Housingfinance.com Blog notes: A HUD notice today

broadens eligibility for the $30 million HUD advertised in May as

available for emergency capital repairs to multifamily seniors'

projects.

Categories: HUD

| Policy

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That's Just ...

...mean.

Categories: The Odd Story

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NYC Reopens Section 8 to Nonemergency Applicants

The New York Times: The Bloomberg administration intends to give out 22,000

new federal housing vouchers to help low-income New Yorkers rent

apartments on the private market over the next two years, officials said

yesterday. To do that, officials are temporarily reopening the waiting

list for the program, called Section 8, to nonemergency applicants for

the first time in 12 years.

Twelve thousand of the vouchers will be given out this year and

10,000 next year — more new vouchers than the city has had in years,

officials said. Three thousand will go to New Yorkers on the brink of

homelessness, but officials said that most would go for the first time

in years to ordinary New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet.

Continue reading "NYC Reopens Section 8 to Nonemergency Applicants" »

Categories: Policy

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Out For the Count

The Independent of Massillon Ohio has a nice profile of

Randy Allen, residential director for the Canton Rescue Workers of

America, and staff member Dean Hollaway out on an icy night in Massillon

working on a 24 hour count of street homeless in Stark county.

Categories: Profiles

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January 29, 2007

Developer Wants to Take a Stab at the Problem

The Orlando Sentinel: People seeing a 125-acre, 5,600-bed homeless community

will look at it and say, "Wow, I wouldn't mind living here," urban

developer Michael Arth wrote in a proposal advancing the idea.

Arth gets points for enlightened self-interest. He came up with an

imaginative solution to a growing problem of homelessness, which is an

unwelcome addition to the image he has created for DeLand's Garden

District of restored homes where crack houses once flourished.

. . . The only problem is a large body of evidence that suggests it

won't work, and the absence of workable funding from either public or

private sectors.

Arth downplays the $100 million-plus cost of the project as minimal

in the light of what we spend today in public and private funds on law

enforcement, treatment, rehabilitation, feeding, housing and even

burying the homeless. He says the construction would be "a one-time

cost of $17,500 per village resident," although there is no detailed

discussion of what rising construction costs would do during the 10-year

build-out period envisioned or how the operational costs would be

covered.

County officials and leaders of the Homeless Coalition, which has

made what most consider good progress in trying to provide shelter,

treatment and coordination among health and welfare agencies, have

greeted Arth's proposal with polite skepticism.

After all, compared with Daytona Beach police Chief Mike Chitwood's

widely applauded suggestion to give the homeless a bus ticket and send

them home, this looks pretty good, especially when you consider studies

have shown about 60 percent of the homeless in Volusia identify it as

home.

. . .A number of the more than 2,500 homeless on Volusia's streets at

any given time aren't seeking the shelter, showers, care and

camaraderie envisioned by a community just for them. . .

Categories: Innovation

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New Study Highlights Successful Teen Outreach

A new study from Ohio State of a program in Albuquerque shows that homeless teens benefit from a more comprehensive approach to outreach.

In the treatment as usual, youth who stopped by the

drop-in center were offered food, a place to rest and the opportunity to

meet with case managers who helped connect them with counseling and

other services that they needed. This is the standard treatment for

homeless youth around the country, Slesnick said.

The CRA program offered a more comprehensive treatment involving 12

individual therapy sessions and four HIV education/skills practice

sessions.

The therapy sessions were adapted for teens who lived on the streets,

Slesnick said. The first goal was to stabilize their situation, and

help them address the basic needs of food, shelter and safety.

The sessions then focused on goals that the youth themselves saw as

most important in their lives. The counselor helped them address coping,

skills development, and the steps needed to achieve their goals.

“The youth then had to apply these skills in the real world, maintain

those skills, and see how they could improve their own situation,”

Slesnick said.

Continue reading "New Study Highlights Successful Teen Outreach" »

Categories: Research

| Youth

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Panama

The New York Times profiles "Long Island’s Best Known Homeless Person"

Categories: Profiles

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January 18, 2007

State Neglect Results in Mass Evictions

From The Portland Tribune (Oregon) we find a story maddening in the details.

A real estate developer buys a large apartment complex, begins to

renovate the units which are affordable housing, a community of a low

income tenants are evicted.

Rose City Village apartments — a mammoth 18-building

complex that was home to hundreds of low-income Latino and Southeast

Asian immigrant families — had become a ghost town practically

overnight.

Research by the Portland Tribune found that most of the inhabitants

had left to avoid months of dislocation due to renovation by new

ownership, as well as rents that were swelling by $200 to $300 a month.

Neighbors and residents told of families and friends being scattered

around the city, of tenants crying as they packed their bags to go.

. . . “It feels wrong,” she wrote in an e-mail to the Portland

Tribune, recalling the day she asked the property manager what was

happening. “On the way to the office we passed a Spanish-speaking family

having a garage sale on their front lawn. In another apartment we could

hear a large group singing hymns in Vietnamese and holding a small

church service. … Our next-door neighbors are refugees from Laos and

have lived in their small apartment for 10 years.”

An investigation reveals that the development had originally been

subsidized by the state and local government back in the early 90's.

That created a set of responibilities to maintain affordable housing,

give tenants ample notice of changes and to give the city an option to

buy the units under certain conditions.

Another person who took note of the project was Micky Ryan, a crusading

lawyer for the Oregon Law Center, which advocates for low-income people.

She began amassing documents in order to figure out what happened and

who was responsible.

She found evidence that the complex was not, as city officials

initially thought, merely private property whose owners could do with it

as they wished. Rather, documents and interviews show, in 1991 the

apartment complex was funded with state low-income-housing tax credits

of at least $2.3 million.

The Portland Development Commission, meanwhile, provided a $1 million

rehabilitation loan as well as $7 million in bond financing.

The original owner bought the property for about $4 million in 1989.

In May 2003, he sold it to Steve Rose, a Portland developer, and a

limited-liability corporation called Dylan/Bristol, for $11 million. In

June 2006, Rose sold it to Brenneke of Guardian Management LLC, which

was partners with a California investment company, for $16.5 million.

Continue reading "State Neglect Results in Mass Evictions" »

Categories: Evictions

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Donate Give|10

You can be an advocate for real change by making a financial contribution to NPACH.

Consider joining our Give|10 Campaign—just

10 dollars will help support our efforts to make federal policy more

inclusive of the needs of families and children as well as assist our

ongoing research, education, and technical assistance projects that seek

long-term solutions to homelessness.

Why Give|10?

Because contributions from individuals allow us to speak freely and

honestly about the direction of homelessness policy. NPACH is unique in

its grassroots approach and global view, connecting community-based

organizations, schools, and the public to national policy through our

advocacy and education initiatives. As such, our style of advocacy does

not often match the current structure, interests and priorities of many

traditional sources of funding for homelessness and housing groups.

Read more about the Give|10 Campaign Recent Entries

· DESPITE CONDEMNATION, HESS HOLDS HIS GROUND

· Advocate says legislation needed to help homeless in rural areas

· HUD Makes $30 Million Available for Capital Repairs

· That's Just ...

· NYC Reopens Section 8 to Nonemergency Applicants

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