Federal Housing and Homelessness Programs Need Your Support! Deadlines Approaching for Three Congressional Dear Colleague Letters

~NOTE UPDATED DEADLINES~

Three Dear Colleague letters are circulating in Congress supporting programs that are extremely important in developing supportive housing for highly vulnerable people, including people who are long-term homeless and homeless veterans. We need your help TODAY by calling your Representatives and asking them to sign on to letters in support of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants Program, the HUD-VASH program, and the HOME program.

Please call or email today and ask your Member of Congress to sign:

Call or email today! A sample email can be found here.  The script for a call or email is easy:

“The creation of supportive housing is crucial to achieving our community’s goals of ending homelessness. While many programs are needed to make supportive housing a reality, we urge your support for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants Program, the HUD-VASH program for homeless veterans, and the HOME program, which provides critical and locally-controlled gap funding. I urge the Representative to sign the Gwen Moore letter in support of McKinney-Vento funding, the Al Green/Michael Grimm/Mike Michaud letter in support of the HUD-VASH program, and the Marcia Fudge letter in support of HUD’s HOME program.”

If you can further explain your position by describing your organization’s work or with supplementary information about the programs that is even better.

Need help?  Want to report your good work?  Please contact our field mobilizer, Steve Clayton.

Additional Information about Each Letter and Program

Moore Letter on McKinney-Vento Funding
Aside from being HUD’s largest program dedicated to assisting people who are homeless, the McKinney-Vento program’s greatest asset is its flexibility.  By allowing funds to be used for capital to build or rehabilitate buildings, to be used for operating subsidies, or to pay for supportive services, it is the single-most important federal program for the maintenance of supportive housing.  Changes to the program under the HEARTH Act will further improve local performance and delivery of services to homeless people and will also expand the ability of the program to serve people who are at-risk of homelessness.

Congressional support for the McKinney-Vento program has been outstanding, recognizing both the overwhelming need as well as the strong performance of grantees.  It was one of few HUD programs to receive a funding increase in the FY13 Continuing Resolution.  Despite the allocation of $2.033 billion – an increase of $101 million over FY12 (prior to across-the-board cuts mandated by sequestration) — this funding is not sufficient to keep up the momentum of using the program to create new supportive housing units to prevent and end homelessness.  The President’s budget, which was released on April 10 requested $2.381 billion, which would be sufficient to fund all renewals, and includes robust funding for rapid rehousing and a modest amount for new supportive housing.  The contact in Rep Moore’s office is Sean Gard and the deadline is April 17.

Green/Grimm Letter on HUD-VASH Funding
HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers are a key tool to ending veterans homelessness by combining a Section 8 voucher with case management services from the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Over 57,000 HUD-VASH vouchers have been funded since 2008 and we’re seeing real results: the latest HUD report showed a 7.2% drop in veterans homelessness in just one year and 17.2% drop since 2009.  A link to how the vouchers have been distributed is available here.  $75 million will allow a new round of 10,000 HUD-VASH vouchers to come to our communities to help end veterans homelessness.  It should be noted that although the program is split between HUD and the VA, that the Office of Budget Management has determined it to be exempt from the cuts mandated under sequestration. The deadline for this letter is April 17 and the contact in Rep. Green’s office is Harmeet Kaur.

Fudge Letter on HOME Funding
HUD’s HOME program allocates money directly to localities for the purpose of investing in affordable housing creation. This flexible funding stream has many important uses, but perhaps none is more important than when it serves as a financing gap-filler to keep a development alive while other funding sources are pulled together. Each dollar of HOME leverages another $4 of other public and private funds. Since its inception, HOME has leveraged more than $88 billion of other funds for affordable housing.

An estimate by CSH found that HOME funding is used in approximately 80% of supportive housing developments.  HOME was funded at $1.6 billion in FY 11 and $1.825 billion in FY 10 and FY09, before being slashed by Congress to $1 billion. The deadline for this letter is April 16 and the contact in Rep. Fudge’s office is Kyle Williams.

 

As Effects of Sequestration Begin to Impact Communities, HUD Issues 2012 McKinney Renewals

Over the past week the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) notified funding recipients about how they are implementing the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration. Letters were sent to public housing agencies (PHAs), Continuums of Care (CoCs), property owners, community development organizations, and other stakeholders. As the letters make clear, the impact of the cuts will begin to be felt in earnest in the coming weeks and months and the affordable housing field and those who live in federally-assisted housing must prepare accordingly.  The notification letters can be viewed here.

CSH remains deeply concerned about the impact these cuts will have on the most vulnerable people, as well as the pressure it puts on our many key partners who are addressing the most complex problems in our communities.  Throughout the recession a massive increase in homelessness was averted thanks to strong government support for housing programs and the affordable housing community working overtime to help people find housing or stay housed.  But now we are now facing the most significant threat to our collective efforts.  We must not stop talking to our elected leaders, the media and anyone else who can influence public policy about why sequestration must be ended and funding restored for programs that help the most vulnerable among us find safe and affordable housing.

On March 13, HUD notified approximately 7,000 McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance grantees that $1.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2012 money was being released to renew their programs.  This funding is not impacted by sequestration because it was obligated in 2012.  Recipients of Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) funding will be the first to feel the impact of sequestration, and HUD notified these grantees to expect a five percent reduction from the FY 2013 level for which they are eligible.  Further, CoCs and recipients of McKinney-Vento CoC Program funding can expect to be impacted by sequestration later this year when the 2013 competition begins.

Letters to PHAs.  HUD’s letter to PHAs estimated that only 94.1% of the funding necessary to meet renewal needs will be available for the Housing Choice Voucher program, resulting in a shortfall for 125,000 program participants.  In addition to holding back any new vouchers that PHAs may have been offering, PHAs have been authorized to take a number of mitigation steps in order to address budget shortfalls.  These steps may include increasing payment standards, revising portability rules, increasing minimum rents, and trying to get those who live in larger units to move to smaller units.  Those looking to create supportive housing opportunities by counting on the allocation of Section 8 vouchers should work very closely with their PHA to make reasonable decisions about what level of support the agencies can give in this environment.  Targeting resources to the most needy in the community is as important as ever.

CSH was disappointed to learn that PHAs were advised that they will have their Section 8 Administrative funds pro-rated at 68.5% of what PHAs are due for their work.  We recognize the importance of our partnerships with PHAs to create supportive housing and the stress this cut places on PHA staff.  We will continue to work with our partners  including  national PHA associations in urging Congress to address these harmful cuts.

HUD also sent letters to owners and others interested in the Section 8 Project Based Rental Assistance Program. The steadiness of this account is an important driver of investor confidence for affordable housing.  HUD’s handling of this account in sequestration seems to be getting very good reviews, but trepidation among the industry continues.  HUD announced that all Section 8 contracts expiring in FY 2013 will be renewed if eligible under current program rules and will receive full twelve month funding. All existing multi-year contracts that expire after FY 2013 and have anniversary dates in the first quarter of FY 2013 (October-December) will receive full twelve month funding, assuring sufficient funding to carry them into the first quarter of FY 2014. All other multi-year Section 8 contracts will receive less than 12-month funding, but will be provided sufficient funding to carry them into the first quarter of FY 2014. There are about 11,000 Section 8 contracts that fall in this last category, and on average, they will receive roughly 8.5 months of funding.

 

CSH in the News – January 2013

Here is a collection of news stories from January that feature CSH and our work.

USA Today, January 6
Ky. Program Targets Jail’s Revolving-Door Offenders,
Stults is now the poster child for an intense new treatment program planned by Metro Corrections and Seven County Services that will target the jail’s 50 top revolving-door offenders, whose chronic struggles with mental illness, substance abuse, homelessness and criminal recidivism rack up millions of dollars in taxpayer costs at jails, courts, police, hospitals and treatment centers. Louisville would be the largest of as many as 14 such voluntary “assertive treatment” programs across Kentucky that state officials plan to begin this spring, pending federal approval to use Medicaid funds to pay for it. The state would pay $1.8 million toward a $6 million effort over the first two years.

Since then, various versions have spread to states such as New York and Michigan, said John Fallon, a program manager for the Chicago-based Corporation for Supportive Housing, a nonprofit that helps set up such programs.

Huffington Post, January 6
Your Voice Is Needed to Help Stop the Community Care Facilities Ordinance in Los Angeles, January 6
In brief, the Community Care Facilities Ordinance requires that in a neighborhood zoned for single family homes and duplexes a home can have only one lease. If a home has two or more leases, such as where two families are sharing or where a person with disabilities is living in shared housing, the ordinance would categorize the home as a “boarding house.” Under current law, boarding houses are prohibited in residential zones. Thus, by categorizing all homes with multiple leases as boarding houses, the ordinance would eliminate shared housing in these residential zones. The information included in this article was taken from a letter from Corporation for Supportive Housing to Honorable Council President Wesson.

LA Downtown News, January 14
Downtown Forces Fight Boarding House Law
Under a proposed set of new, carefully worded regulations set to go before the City Council this week, such shared living environments would be outlawed in low-density zones. Landlords could, however, be allowed to operate boarding houses in any zone through a new permitting process. On the surface, the Community Care Facilities Ordinance might seem only to impact neighborhoods with quiet leafy streets, driveways and garages and front yards — in other words, not Downtown. However, a wide array of local stakeholders are banding together to urge the council to defeat the ordinance.

Critics of the proposed regulations say they would put the squeeze on a crucial segment of affordable housing. Doing so, they warn, would send more people to Downtown in pursuit of the area’s abundant social services, further concentrating homelessness in the Central City. One aspect of the law that has perplexed critics is that it targets a problem that is technically already illegal.

Boarding homes are currently outlawed in low-density zones, and many of the nuisances affiliated with overcrowded housing can be addressed under existing laws, said Molly Rysman, director of the Corporation for Supportive Housing Los Angeles. “The houses people have issues with, boarding houses, they’re illegal today,” Rysman said. “It’s not that there aren’t laws on the books. It’s that the city has had trouble enforcing them.”

The Columbus Dispatch, January 16
Former Lancaster Orphanage to Become a Home for the Homeless, January 16
A 19th-century building that sheltered orphans and other homeless children is being renovated into apartments for 16 homeless families. The plans for Rutherford House are very much of the 21st century, however. The homeless tenants chosen to live there will dwell in “permanent supportive housing.” They will receive not only a roof over their heads but also on-site services such as mental-health, substance-abuse, financial or job counseling. An estimated 10,000 supportive-housing units now dot the state. They increasingly are being built not just in Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati but also in smaller cities such as Lancaster, Circleville and Athens, said Sally Luken, the director of the Corporation for Supportive Housing’s Ohio office.

Glendale News-Press, January 18
Glendale Memorial Hospital disperses more than $118,000 to local nonprofits, January 18

The recipients of this year’s grants were the Armenian Relief Society, Ascencia, Glendale’s Commission on the Status of Women, the Corporation for Supportive Housing, the Glendale Assn. for the Retarded, the Glendale Community Free Health Clinic, Glendale Healthy Kids, the Glendale Salvation Army and the YWCA of Glendale.

The money, awarded through the hospital’s Community Grants Program, is provided by Glendale Memorial’s parent company, Dignity Health.

 

 

Bipartisan Policy Center Report Calls for Dramatic Steps to Address Housing Needs

This week the Bipartisan Policy Center released a highly anticipated report to offer recommendations for the future of U.S. housing policy.  The report included several implications for the supportive housing industry by offering new proposals for structuring rental assistance, dramatically increasing the amount of Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and expanding and restructuring our homelessness prevention system.  A theme throughout the report calls on policymakers to understand the required shift in housing policy that will be needed given forthcoming demographic shifts in the United States including the aging of the baby boomer population.  CSH sees significant opportunities to use the BPC’s report to expand the national conversation around service-enriched housing and focusing resources on the most vulnerable among us.

The Commission’s report is clear in expressing concern about the gap of affordable rental housing in the United States, which is only likely to grow.  The report predicts our aging population will downsize into rental housing, increasing rents further out of reach for the lowest-income Americans.  To address this concern the Report boldly calls for federal rental assistance to be made available to all eligible households with incomes at or below 30 percent of area median income (AMI) who apply for such assistance.  A reformed voucher system would have many of the same components that have previously been included in legislative proposals to reform Section 8.  Broadly the reformed rental assistance program would focus on better performance by program administrators, increased flexibility and incentives for efficiency.

The Commission also recognizes the shortage of hard units and endorses the expansion of Low Income Housing Tax Credits to achieve the goal of adding thousands of new units.  Tax credits are allocated to states and then competitively awarded based on goals established at the state level.  The credits bring private investment to low income housing and have been widely credited with improving efficiency within the affordable housing market.  The report notes that a 50-percent increase in the allocated credit would support the preservation and construction of 350,000 to 400,000 additional affordable rental housing units over a ten-year period.  The Commission suggests an additional $2 billion to cover gaps between the amount of equity tax credits can raise and the actual cost of affordable housing developments.

Building on the success of rapid rehousing initiatives, the report recommends dedicating supplemental funding in the amount of $3 billion to the HOME program to deliver one-time, emergency assistance to households with incomes between 30 and 80 percent of AMI.

The Commission also calls on better interagency coordination across the government to achieve goals such as combating homelessness, meeting the housing needs of veterans, promoting healthy homes, and transit-oriented development.

CSH’s Deborah Thiele Appointed to Seattle Housing Authority Board of Commissioners

Debbie Thiele

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has appointed CSH’s Deborah Canavan Thiele to the Seattle Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. The seven-member board oversees the agency’s policy direction and activities.  The appointments were confirmed by the Seattle City Council on January 14, 2013.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with these appointments to our Board,” said Andrew Lofton, Executive Director of Seattle Housing Authority.

 

read the entire press release

CSH in the News – November

Here is a collection of news stories from November that feature CSH and our work.

LA Downtown News – November 6
A New Housing Model at the New Genesis
Jonathan Hunter, a managing director with CSH, arranges financing for supportive housing projects nationwide, said the practice of mixing units for the formerly homeless with traditional affordable apartments has been happening in cities such as New York and San Francisco for at least 15 years.

Inside Indiana Business – November 9
Homeless Vet Housing Moves Forward
Partners across public and private sectors joined the greater Indianapolis community today to break ground on the city’s first supportive housing facility for homeless veterans. Lincoln Apartments, to be located at 530 Holmes Ave., will provide housing and services to 75 formerly homeless veterans in Indianapolis.

“After CSH showed us the tools available to us as developers and financing agents, we were anxious to get to work and get our veterans off the streets and into facilities they could get the help they need,” said Mark McDaniel, President and CEO of GLCF

NJ.com – New Jersey – November 14
N.J. Supreme Court Should Affirm Aspects of Mount Laurel Doctrine: Opinion
An opinion piece co-authored by CSH’s Alison Recca-Ryan about the New Jersey Supreme Court hearing its most important fair-housing case in decades. Its decision will have a powerful impact on housing for people with special needs. It is critical that the court affirm key aspects of the Mount Laurel doctrine, which requires each New Jersey town to allow its fair share of housing for people with low and moderate incomes, including people with special needs.

The Riverdale Press – New York – November 15
Vets Get Room to Grow in Kingsbridge Heights
The Jericho Project’s Kingsbridge Terrace, a new 76-unit facility for veterans built catty-corner to the James J. Peter’s Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center in the Bronx, NY, opened this week. The six-story facility, a $20 million building paid for with a mix of public and private financing included CSH, the city’s Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, low-income housing tax credits, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who directed $750,000 to make the building energy efficient, New York Acquisition Loan Fund, and Jericho Project Veterans Fund.

San Diego Gay and Lesbian News – November 16
California Housing for Homeless Program Names Toni Atkins as Legislator of the Year
CSH selected Assembly Majority Floor Leader Toni Atkins as as a 2012 Champion at the CSH Supportive Housing Quality Awards in California in recognition of her continuing leadership in the arena of reducing homelessness and increasing the availability of affordable housing.

NBC 10, WJAR – Rhode Island – November 16
Veterans Invited to Take Survey to Assess Health Needs
In an effort to understand how best to serve the veteran population, CSH along with the Gateway Healthcare and the Institute for Labor Studies & Research and launching VOICE, Veterans Outreach through an Independent Collaborative for the development of Essential resources.

The Jewish Journal
Homes for Homeless
CSH Director Molly Rysman is quoted in an article about attorney Jerry Neuman, the co-chairman of Home for Good, a Los Angeles based collaborative which brings together business, government and charitable organizations to end chronic homelessness (people homeless for more than a year) and to get all military veterans off the street in Los Angeles by 2016

Associated Press – National – November 25
Plight of Homeless Made Worse By Superstorm Sandy
CSH Director Alison Recca-Ryan talks about the impact of Superstorm Sandy on New Jersey’s long-term homeless population. She is quoted saying, “If you lost your home at the Jersey Shore, most people don’t end up in the shelters. They have families, they have friends. Those who are the most vulnerable are the ones who do end up at the shelter. Those are the people who we have to worry about,” Recca-Ryan said. “They may have been holding on by a thread and now they lost their ability to get to their job, they lost their homes, their credit may have been damaged. Now that New Jersey has all these newly homeless, the long-term homeless are now competing for housing.”

CSH Publishes New Paper on Ending Family Homelessness.

Ending Family Homelessness: National Trends and Local System Responses provides information on national trends that are suggesting significant changes in the country’s approach to ending family homelessness and offers guidance to communities for responding to these changes by realigning existing resources to establish strategically designed system responses. The paper was prepared for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and presented at the Washington Families Fund Systems Initiative Strategy Convening.

In part one of the paper, the National Alliance to End Homelessness analyzes national research on the characteristics and typologies of homeless families, related federal policy direction, and the components of a coordinated system that emphasizes rapid re-housing. In part two, CSH provides a framework for determining the right balance of local system interventions and examines potential changes to the use of existing resources, primarily those currently used for transitional housing.

System responses that emphasize rapid re-housing must clearly differentiate the desired outcomes for resources dedicated to housing stability from those dedicated to income progression and other elements of family self-sufficiency. Converting transitional housing resources to create a more balanced system response requires analysis and decision-making at both the system and project levels to ensure the right mix of interventions. CSH lays out the critical elements of this analysis and the steps required for local systems to move forward.

read Ending Family Homelessness: National Trends and Local System Responses

Ending Family Homelessness: National Trends and Local Systems Responses

This white paperwas prepared by CSH and the National Alliance to End Homelessness for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It provides information on national trends that are suggesting significant changes in the country’s approach to ending family homelessness and offers guidance to Western Washington communities for responding to these changes by realigning existing resources to establish strategically designed system responses.

Making Supportive Housing the Winner after Election Day

CSH does not waver in our conviction that supportive housing is a solution to ending homelessness that will continue to have bipartisan appeal and support.  Consider the recent success of a reentry program that provided housing and supportive services in Oklahoma, or the launch of a Central Referral System (CRS) – a web-based tool where persons experiencing homelessness can apply for supportive housing  in Illinois, or CSH’s innovative work to combine data analysis with intensive community feedback to develop a visual representation of the existing homelessness response system in Colorado.

As the Administration re-shapes itself for its second term and as new Senators and Representatives come to Washington, we will continue to demonstrate supportive housing’s cost effectiveness through rigorous research and demonstrations, continue giving policymakers the opportunity to see supportive housing’s impact on lives first-hand through site visits, and continue developing innovative policy proposals to use supportive housing to solve many complex problems that communities face.

CSH also looks forward to 2013 to work with the new Congress, the Administration, and our state and local partners on important innovations in supportive housing as a solution to ending homelessness.  These include: more deeply engaging with Public Housing Agencies as a partner in creating supportive housing, ensuring that supportive housing is understood and used as a critical component of criminal justice reform efforts around the country, protecting the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and New Markets Tax Credit as Washington contemplates tax reform, and maximizing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act to increase the federal government’s role in paying for crucial supportive services to keep people out of emergency systems of care and out of homelessness.  We congratulate those advocates who participated in our pre-election advocacy campaign to raise the issue of homelessness in federal, state and local campaigns.  But the truth is that we have no time to rest before we turn our attention to some very significant policy decisions that are ahead of us.

Congress will reconvene in the coming weeks to decide whether or not to act on “sequestration” a budgetary maneuver required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 that, if not overturned, could result in a large across-the-board cut to housing and health care programs and result in the loss of housing assistance and supportive services for many thousands of homeless or at-risk families and individuals.  Just as importantly, we all have to take on the arduous task of meeting with newly elected policymakers at all levels of government to educate them about how supportive housing is a successful and cost-effective solution to ending homelessness.  Please look forward to upcoming advocacy alerts from CSH and our partners as there is much work to be done in the coming weeks and months.

Use these sample talking points when reaching out to your Member of Congress.