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Conference on Ending Family Homelessness Brings People Across the Nation Together February 16, 2011

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The National Alliance to End Homelessness hosted the National Conference on Ending Family Homelessness this past week. The conference offered people with personal experiences of homelessness, staff from agencies, researchers, decision makers, and 10-Year Plan advisory board members the opportunity to come together and discuss how to help families experiencing homelessness and how to prevent other families from having to experience it at all.

Homelessness is never acceptable and it’s distressing to think of families experiencing it. The good news is that there is local and national attention on the issue! On February 9-11, hundreds of people across the nation – including people from North Carolina and the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness (NCCEH) – gathered in Oakland, California to share best practices on ending homelessness. The conference included many seminars and trainings – some of the topics covered this year were:

  • Updates and training for Rapid Re-Housing,
  • Addressing family homelessness in rural areas,
  • Housing for survivors of domestic violence,
  • Serving young parents,
  • Addressing substance abuse challenges of homeless families,
  • An update on Opening Doors, the federal strategic plan to end homelessness and how it relates to families,
  • and ending homelessness for veterans and their families.

This conference is  important because our nation has seen an increase in family homelessness in recent years due to foreclosures while many families, struggling from month to month to make ends meet during a time of high unemployment and great economic uncertainty, live at imminent risk of homelessness. According to last year’s Point in Time Count in Asheville and Buncombe,  101 adults and children were identified as being part of a family – that means that 1 out every 5 people (or 20%) counted were in a family.

At the conference, community leaders highlighted examples of opportunities that they embraced in their efforts to end homelessness. These included reaching out to landlords to provide affordable housing, connecting families experiencing homelessness with long-term benefits such as SSI or SSDI through SOAR (SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery), and using data collected through HMIS to better evaluate the effectiveness of our efforts to end homelessness and adjust our actions accordingly.

Lastly and importantly, nation-wide success were celebrated at the conference – such as the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing program (HPRP) which focuses on preventing homelessness for households at imminent risk of losing their housing. HPRP has also successfully helped move families back into housing immediately if they do become homeless so that homelessness does not become a way of life for them. In fact, new HEARTH Act legislation builds on the success of HPRP and challenges communities to reach the goal of housing families within 30 days.

The information provided at the conference, as well as local successes, has significant impact for our community and our efforts to end family homelessness. As we learn about nation-wide evidence based practices, we can adopt methods that we may not have tried or adjust our existing efforts as necessary to ensure that no family has to experience homelessness.

If you’re interested in learning more about family homelessness, check out this fact sheet from USICH which explains family homelessness and how Opening Doors is responding.

Visit the National Alliance to End Homelessness’ blog for information on how to view the materials from the conference. (Updated February 25, 2011)

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Data Counts: 2011 Point in Time Count in the news! January 28, 2011

Posted by abhomeless in Data, Social Media.
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Our annual Point in Time Count took place on January 26, 2011 and it was featured on WLOS! Check out the story by clicking the link below!

Asheville. NC :: Absolute Le – Homelessness By The Numbers.

Data Counts! The 2011 Point in Time Count January 25, 2011

Posted by abhomeless in Data.
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You may have heard that 600 individuals experience homelessness on any given night in our community. Have you ever wondered where that figure comes from?

This number reflects an estimate derived from the annual Point in Time Count. This year the count takes place on Wednesday, January 26th. Staff from homeless agencies, volunteers, and people who are experiencing homelessness will work together to count everyone who is homeless or at risk of homelessness on the night of January 26th.

In addition to shelters and other housing programs, the Buncombe County Department of Social Services, Buncombe County Jail, police from Asheville, Montreat, Biltmore Forest, Black Mountain, Woodfin, and Weaverville, the Mission Hospital, the Charles George VA Medical Center, United Way’s 2-1-1, and agencies that provide crisis services to people in our community will help with the count.

Data collected during the count includes demographic information, causes of homelessness, where people are sleeping, and information about chronic homelessness, veteran status, and other subpopulation data. The count will include individuals and families staying outside, in shelters, and in other housing programs for people experiencing homelessness.

This year, the count will take extra care to include unaccompanied children and families, as well as people who are at risk of homelessness, including those experiencing:

  • Imminent Homelessness – An individual or family who is currently housed and is being evicted, asked to leave or needs to leave for another reason and who is expected to lose their housing within a week and lacks the resources to obtain or maintain housing.
  • Precarious Housing – An individual or family who is currently housed and is being evicted, asked to leave, or needs to leave for another reason and may or may not have the resources needed to obtain or maintain housing.

Asheville-Buncombe’s Point in Time Count is part of a national count. The Point in Time Count process will be used as the primary data source for federal agencies to understand homelessness trends and track progress against the goals and objectives contained in Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness. Additionally, the Congressionally-mandated Annual Homeless Assessment Report is prepared using Point in Time and Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) data.

Throughout the year, data is collected by agencies in Asheville-Buncombe using HMIS. Agencies with accurate and valid data in the system will be able to pull their Point in Time Count from HMIS. This is a significant step forward for our community because it means that data in the HMIS system is now sufficient for evaluation and reporting.

We place a lot of importance on data collection and for good reason! The 10-Year Plan depends on accurate, timely data to inform our decisions and help us understand how effective our actions have been. The Point in Time Count is one of several measures (we’ll be looking at these later on) our community uses to evaluate homelessness and evaluate trends that we can respond to.

We’ll be sure to keep you updated on the results of this year’s Point in Time Count!  And remember! Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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