Wednesday, February 25, 2009

News Alert: HUD Announces Stimulus Allocations

(source: NAEH)

Today, February 25, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released the figures for each state's allocation of the funds from the economic recovery act. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides $1.5 billion for a Homelessness Prevention Fund for prevention and re-housing activities. Click here to view your community's allocation of these funds.

Visit the Alliance's Prevention and Re-Housing Resources Website for more information on how to best utilize these prevention and re-housing funds.

HUD has put together a Recovery Website with information on the HUD programs that received funding in the economic recovery act. The department has also announced state allocations for several other programs, including the Public Housing Capital Fund, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, and Project Based Rental Assistance program.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hill Update: Congress to Consider FY2009 Appropriations Bill

Congress is set to begin consideration of a fiscal year (FY) 2009 omnibus spending bill to complete the FY2009 appropriations process. The text of this bill was released yesterday, and the bill is likely to pass Congress without amendment. The bill includes the following funding provisions:

- McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants: $1.7 billion, $91 million above 2008, for grants to local communities to provide housing and services for the homeless;
- Section 8 Tenant Based Vouchers: $16.8 billion, $341 million above 2008, to continue providing 1.9 million vouchers and to provide 14,000 new, targeted vouchers for the disabled and homeless veterans during the housing crisis;
- Section 8 Project Based Vouchers: $7.1 billion, $668 million above 2008, to provide affordable housing to 1.3 million low-income families and individuals;
Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Vouchers (HUD-VASH): $75 million for 10,000 housing vouchers for homeless veterans;
- Family Unification Program (FUP): $20 million for incremental rental voucher assistance;
- Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA): $310 million, a $10 million increase from 2008;
- SAMHSA Competitive Homeless Services programs: $75 million total, a $22 million increase above 2008, to provide mental health and substance use services to homeless families, youth, and individuals. Much of this increase is focused for permanent supportive housing. Also included is report language directing SAMHSA to fund the SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) Initiative, which helps eligible homeless individuals access SSI payments more efficiently;
Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY): $105 million, a $1.6 million increase above 2008;
Health Care for the Homeless: $190 million, a $20 million increase above 2008;
Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH): $59.7 million, a $6.4 million increase above 2008;
- Second Chance Act: $25 million, $15 million of which is for state and local demonstration grants and $10 million of which is for nonprofit grants;
- Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act: $10 million, a $3.5 million increase over the 2008 appropriation; HOME Investment Partnership: $1.8 billion, an increase of $121 million from 2008;
- Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program: $26.3 million, a $2.7 million increase over 2008; and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG): $3.9 billion, $34 million above 2008, to fund community and economic development projects in 1,180 localities.

The House may vote on the measure as soon as Wednesday, and the Senate is likely to vote on the bill by the end of this week or early next week. Lawmakers will then begin to shift attention to FY2010 appropriations, as President Obama is planning to release an outline of his proposed FY2010 budget on Thursday, February 26.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

$1.5 Billion Homelessness Prevention and Re-Housing Funding Signed into Law

From NAEH...

Today, President Obama will sign the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, providing nearly $800 billion to stimulate the economy. The legislation includes $1.5 billion for a homelessness prevention fund that will provide assistance to homeless or at-risk individuals and families. The text of the legislative language regarding homelessness prevention can be found here.

Eligible activities are:

short- or medium-term rental assistance,
housing relocation and stabilization services,
housing search assistance,
mediation or outreach to property owners,
credit repair,
security or utility deposits,
utility payments,
rental assistance for a final month at a location,
moving costs assistance,
case management, and
other appropriate activities for homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing of persons who have become homeless.

Grantees must use HMIS or a comparable database. Up to five percent can be used for administrative costs, and funding will be distributed to jurisdictions using the Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) formula. Grantees will have to spend 60 percent of the funds within 2 years of obligation from HUD and 100 percent within 3 years. HUD may reallocate funds from a grantees that do not meet the 2-year requirement to those that do. HUD has 30 days to issue guidelines about the use of funds.

For more information and materials to assist with implementation, please visit the Alliance's Homelessness Prevention and Re-Housing Web Page.

Friday, February 13, 2009

News Alert: Congress Passes Economic Recovery Act

Today, February 13, Congress passed HR 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This legislation totals $787 billion and is designed to stimulate the economy, create jobs, and help strengthen the safety net for Americans, including homeless Americans. The final version of bill contains a number of measures regarding housing and poverty, including:

$1.5 billion for short-term rental assistance, housing relocation, and stabilization services for families who may become homeless due to the economic crisis. Funds will be distributed to states, cities, and local governments through the Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) formula;
$70 million for the Education for Homeless Youth and Children Program;
$100 million for the Emergency Food and Shelter program;
$4 billion for the Public Housing Capital Fund, to assist public housing authorities in rehabilitating and retrofitting public housing units, including increasing the energy efficiency of units and making critical safety repairs;
$2 billion for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program to assist states, local governments, and nonprofits in the purchase and rehabilitation of foreclosed, vacant properties in order to create more affordable housing and reduce neighborhood blight;
$250 million to support a program to upgrade HUD sponsored low-income housing to increase energy efficiency, including new insulation, windows, and furnaces;
$500 million for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Children, and Infants (WIC);
$19.9 billion for additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly Food Stamps, to increase benefit levels by 13.6 percent;
$50 million under the Violence Against Women Prevention and Prosecution Programs for transitional housing assistance grants;
$1 billion for the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG);
$1 billion for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG);
$2 billion for full-year payments to landlords participating in the Section 8 Project-Based program;
$2.25 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program;
$200 million to support direct and guaranteed single family housing loans under the Rural Housing Insurance Fund;
$510 million for Native American Housing Block Grants;
Increase in unemployment benefits for 20 million workers by $25 per week and a continuation of the extended unemployment benefits program (which provides up to 33 weeks of extended benefits) through December 2009;
Creation of a capped, temporary Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF) Contingency Fund through FY 2010 to provide states with relief during this recession;
One-time payments of $250 to Social Security beneficiaries, SSI recipients, and veterans receiving disability compensation and pension benefits from the VA;
Temporary increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for working families with three or more children; and
Extension of the moratorium on all 7 Medicaid regulations.

In the coming days, the Alliance will provide additional information on the implications of these funding measures.

The House passed the bill this afternoon, and the Senate passed it with 60 votes this evening. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation into law by Monday.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

See the faces and stories of homelessness

Click HERE to view a video that will give you insights in to some of the individual faces and stories of homelessness.

Check out our Facebook page and receive email updates

Go to Facebook to meet with other people who also support the Atlanta Children's Shelter. Become a fan and receive updates about upcoming matters where you can make a difference in the lives of homeless families.

Check it out by clicking HERE

Thanks for learning more about ACS Advocacy

Check back here for updates on current proposed legislation and ways that you can help.

We need your help in supporting legislation and funding to:

· Provide affordable housing including Section 8, rent control, Habitat For Humanity, and support tenant/relationship policies.
· Protect abused and battered women and families.
· Encourage a fair and living wage.
· Support affordable health care services, such as SCHIP, for low income families.
. Support free or low cost early child-care for homeless and low income families.
· Support education needs for the poor to help ensure a smoother transition for homeless children to transition in to elementary schools.
· Encourage public support for transportation subsidies for low income families

For more information, go to

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

NAEH: $1.5B for Homelessness Prevention and Re-Housing

Spotlight On...
Senate Advances $1.5 Billion for Homelessness Prevention and Re-Housing

Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an economic recovery package that included $1.5 billion for homelessness prevention and re- housing. The measure will be considered by the full Senate beginning this week. It is likely that this program will be passed into law, and HUD plans to implement it very quickly.

The $1.5 billion in funding is almost identical to a proposal in the economic recovery bill passed by the House of Representatives last month. Funding would be provided through the same formula as HUD's Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG) program, but could only be used for the following eligible activities:

short-term or medium-term rental assistance;
housing relocation and stabilization services;
housing search;
mediation or outreach to property owners;
credit repair;
security or utility deposits;
utility payments;
rental assistance for a final month at a location;
moving cost assistance; and
other appropriate homelessness prevention activities.

In the Senate proposal, funds could be used to serve people who are at risk of homelessness or who are newly homeless because they are renting a unit that is in foreclosure or because of the recession. Recipients of funding would be required to use a Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) or comparable data system.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Georgia Coalition to End Homelessness - Feb Newsletter

The Connection
a publication of the Georgia Coalition to End Homelessness, Inc.
...keeping you up-to-date on local, state and national homeless issues

From The Desk Of The Executive Director Katheryn Preston

The economic crisis gripping our nation is creating severe financial strain throughout Georgia. As unemployment rises so does the foreclosure rate. More and more families and individuals are losing the places they call home. Georgia's homeless service providers report significant increases in requests for emergency housing. The once accessible resources available to meet the needs are declining as a result of state and local budget cuts. The impact of the economy on foundations, corporations and individuals is equally devastating. While predictions in this rapidly changing environment are perilous, all indications are that things will likely get worse before they get better. Homeless service providers are serving record numbers of people. Philip Mangano, the Executive Director of the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, recently estimated that we are likely to experience a 20% increase in homelessness in 2009 due to the economy. According to the most recent Point-in-Time Studies, more than 75,000 individuals experienced homelessness in Georgia last year. More than 60% of homeless persons were in households with children and most were homeless for the first time. Homelessness is not just a metro problem. Across Georgia, homeless families and individuals are seen in all 159 counties and Georgia stands at a critical crossroads. The safety net in our state, and our nation, is seriously frayed and stretching to the breaking point. We only have a fraction of the resources needed to meet the growing needs of homeless and at risk families and individuals in our state. Our most vulnerable citizens live just a paycheck or a crisis away from homelessness. Despite a drop in home prices, it is still impossible for many Georgians to qualify for this housing. There is no county in Georgia where someone working full-time at the minimum wage can afford an average one bedroom apartment. Home foreclosures have an impact on both homeowners and renters. Approximately 40% of households losing their homes to foreclosures are renters and include persons with Section 8 vouchers. The majority are low income families who lack access to resources for first and last months rent and the security deposit. These families are quickly becoming Georgia's new homeless. Loss of work and rising unemployment are directly impacting homelessness. Georgia's unemployment rate is at a staggering 26 year high at 8.1% and economists recently predicted unemployment could top 9% by 2010. Homeless individuals report that labor jobs are scarcer than ever and strong competition for entry-level jobs put persons in a state of homelessness at a severe disadvantage. As the need for shelter and housing increases, homeless service providers are facing significant budget cuts and loss of revenues. Foundations have less to give, tax credit investors are scaling back their investments in affordable housing, as their profits fall and bank financing for housing development is frozen. Individual giving is declining as donors worry about their own financial health. There is great hope that the Federal government will increase its efforts to address the needs of homeless families and individuals through stimulus programs in the coming year. However, unless the stimulus is targeted to include expanding housing and services for the lowest income families and individuals, it may be too little too late to have a positive impact on homelessness. As the Georgia State Legislature convened. Governor Purdue and some of our legislative leaders are asking for additional budget cuts for FY2009 and FY2010. These cuts will likely impact the health and human service needs of homeless families. We understand that the state's budget is strained as tax revenues fall. However, it is critical that the state also does its share to address the needs of those most in need - homeless and poverty level families and individuals. The Governor has cut 6% of the service programs funded through the Department of Human Services and is warning of another 10% cut for FY2010. These cuts will result in a direct loss of critical services for our most vulnerable citizens. Studies have documented savings of up to $40,000 per person with every investment in supportive housing to chronically homeless individuals. Thus, the proposed funding cuts will most assuredly end up causing millions in increased costs for hospitalizations, detox, emergency room visits, and jails.

Therefore, we issue the following call to action to the community and to our elected officials:

1. To the Community - We ask that you continue to support, or donate to local and statewide homeless service agencies, so we can all meet the rapid increases in need resulting from this crisis.

2. To the Governor and State Legislature - Do not cut essential health, mental health and substance abuse treatment programs for the indigent. Georgia's citizens with mental illness cannot afford further cuts to this inadequately funded system without sending thousands more into a state of homelessness. We recognize that due to falling revenue, significant state budget cuts will be necessary. We say to the Governor and Legislature: Don't balance the state budget on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens, the homeless and at risk families and individuals. We need assurance that those persons impacted by cuts in human service programs do not suffer, we propose that the state create an emergency services safety net to cushion the impact of the cuts.

3. To our Federal Leaders - We ask that any new stimulus legislation include funding that repairs the safety net and creates new supportive housing to meet the growing needs of homeless families and individuals across our nation
4. Finally, to our Neighbors - Now is the time to do whatever you can to help your neighbors who are struggling in this economy to ensure that they do not become tomorrow's homeless.

In closing, after all these years, we know what is needed to end homelessness - community involvement and participation in developing supportive housing, increased jobs, and access to needed health and mental health services. We need investments in programs that work and the political will to make it happen.