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Archive for March, 2011

Meet NCH’s Spring Interns – 2011

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy

Each semester NCH welcomes some of the brightest up and coming homeless advocates to join our team as interns.  Our interns are critical contributors to NCH’s research, reporting and advocacy.  We’re extremely proud of our interns who continue to do great work in the homeless and anti-poverty community, like Shaun Donovan, who today heads up the US Department of Housing and Urban Development! Help us welcome our Spring 2011 crew:

Elan

Elan is a junior at George Mason University majoring in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. She is also pursing  minors in legal studies and sociology. After graduation, Elan hopes to attend law school and fight for the rights of underrepresented people. She became interested in NCH when she did research on the criminalization of homelessness and learned about NCH’s advocacy work. When she has free time, Elan likes to volunteer at assistant living centers, explore DC cultural and dining centers, and watch romantic comedies. Currently, Elan is updating the fact sheets on homeless youth and homelessness in the LGBTQ community.

Samantha is a senior at George Washington University majoring in government studies and International Studies. She is also pursing a minor in French. After graduation, Samantha hopes to join the Peace Corps and serve others in West Africa. Samantha is an Alternative Spring Break Leader and is currently working on pulling together details for the homelessness Memorial Day project.

 

Allison is a junior at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas studying Urban Studies with a religion minor. She is studying at American University for as semester as part of the Transforming Communities program. Looking forward, Allison hopes to earn a Master’s of Divinity degree after college and advocate for the homeless. In her spare time Allison enjoys volunteering at community centers as well as modern and jazz dancing. Currently Allison is working on updating NCH manuals and researching the processes surrounding the enumeration of the homeless.

Gaberiel

Gaberiel is a senior at Hope College in Holland, MI studying Psychology and Political Science. She is in DC as part of her college’s DC Honors Semester Program. After graduation, Gaberiel hopes to participate in the Teach for America Program before she attends graduate school.  As a person who experienced a brief run in with homelessness with her mother growing up, advocating on behalf of the homeless is a very important part of her life. Gaberiel hopes that homeless children and teens know that they are not alone and that there are people out there that care about them and their families. She also hopes that everyone has access to opportunities to better themselves through education.  In her free time, Gaberiel likes to read books, spend time with friends, listen to music, and keep up on fashion trends. Currently she is working on the 2010 Criminalization of Homelessness Report.

Brendan

Brendan is the new Policy Fellow for NCH and we are very happy to have him! He graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in History and a J.D. He currently serves as the Presidential Management Fellow for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He looks forward to working on behalf of vulnerable populations through research, analysis, and advocacy that helps to reduce (and ultimately eliminate) homelessness in our society. When he is not in the office, Brendan enjoys exploring D.C.’s many restaurants and museums, reading at DuPont Circle, and obsessively following his beloved Los Angeles Lakers.

Brian

We also welcome, Brian, our new Bill Emerson Congressional Hunger Fellow. He graduated from Morehouse College in 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology with a minor in Criminal Justice. Brian became interested in NCH through his previous work with homelessness advocacy organizations.  In college, he spent a year and a half volunteering at the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, where he witnesses first hand the discrepancies between the resources needed and those allocated to them by the government.  In his free time, Brian likes reading and taking his dog to the park.

Did you spend some time with us as an intern or volunteer?  If so, we’d love to hear from you! Let us know about your experience!

Living My Uncle’s Story

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Speakers' Bureau

The following was written by a recent college student participant of NCH’s Homeless Challenge program, as a reflection on the experience:

“When I entered the world of the homeless all I had were the clothes on my back, a sleeping bag, and the preconceptions and stereotypes I had created throughout my 21 years of existence. Having grown up with an uncle who struggled with homelessness for a length measured in years, I thought I knew it all. But you can’t truly understand what it’s like through a story.

Forty-eight hours may not seem like a long time now, but those two days held a week’s worth of activities and a lifetime’s worth of change. We walked many miles, mostly because when we weren’t walking, we were cold. When we got tired of walking, we watched businessmen walk past us. We became invisible. We got used to being invisible, we took advantage of being invisible, and then we got sick of being invisible. We appreciated the small things. Celebrations were often but short lived, like smiles. We befriended pigeons, squirrels, and other homeless people, the only things not scared of us. We experienced the homeless community. We made friends. We saw the city.

We scoured the trash. We searched for caring eyes, but instead found averted eyes. We went crazy. And we became sane. We found the meaning to life, the importance of friendship, the power of money, and the makeup of happiness. We transformed.

When we finished the challenge, we had the opportunity to hear the Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau. My uncle and two other wonderful speakers stood at the front of the room, taking turns sharing their stories to a room full of transfixed students. Hearing my uncle turn back the pages of his life, recounting his struggles and tragedies, my mind was reeling with empathy and understanding. I have lived my story for 21 years.

But for the past two days, I lived his.”

Update on HEARTH and FY2011 Budget

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Policy Advocacy

From Ann Marie Oliva, Director, Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (via the CPD homeless listserv)

In September of last year, HUD held two national conferences to begin the process of familiarizing communities with the policy and performance requirements that will govern the new HEARTH Act programs.  In the plenary session, we briefly discussed the connection between the roll-out of the new programs authorized under HEARTH and the appropriation levels HUD  may receive in this and the coming years.  As you are probably seeing in the news, the budget situation has changed since September – which has an impact on the high-priority items we are working on in SNAPS, including the HEARTH regulations and the 2011 competition.

Fiscal Year 2011 has thus far proven to be a challenging year, and we at HUD know and understand that the uncertainty about the 2011 budget has been a matter of great concern to our grantees and stakeholders.  We also know that you were expecting to see, in the near term, the new regulations for the Emergency Solutions Grants, Continuum of Care, and Rural Housing Stability programs.  I want to take a moment to update all of you on the budget and how it has affected our plans to implement HEARTH.  Let me summarize for you where we stand on these critical items:

FY2011 Budget:

  • As is the case in all federal agencies, we are awaiting a final FY2011 appropriation from Congress and have been operating under Continuing Resolutions, the most recent of which expires March 18.  Because we do not know the final funding level for FY2011, ESG formula funds (which are usually released along with other formula programs early in the year) have not been released.
  • There are several possible scenarios regarding the budget amount for 2011, and HUD is working to ensure that we have viable options for each scenario that minimizes the adverse impact – if there is one – on CoCs and grantees.  Developing planning options for whatever scenario becomes reality is our priority at present.  This includes how and when we will conduct the 2011 Continuum of Care competition and what elements of HEARTH can be included in the competition.
  • Last week’s House-passed appropriation (H.R.1 — a full-year Continuing Resolution) held HUD’s targeted homeless programs steady at the 2010 funding level.  At that level, HUD projects that ESG and competitive renewals can be funded.  However, the HEARTH Act could not be fully funded.   We commit to providing you with as much information as possible once it becomes clear what the funding level will be.

HEARTH Regulations:

  • We continue to move the regulations through the clearance process, which includes review and approval by several different offices within HUD and with Office of Management and Budget.  Until the new regulations are released and effective, grantees must continue to use the current regulations. This includes the definition of homelessness.
  • HUD is in the final stages of clearance for the new definition of homelessness, which will include changes made in response to the public comments that we received last summer.  HUD plans to provide training on the new definition and will clearly state when the new definition will be effective.
  • As stated above, the 2011 appropriation level will determine, to a large extent, what provisions of HEARTH can be implemented in 2011 and what the process will be for implementation of the regulations.  For example, although HEARTH allows for increased administrative dollars for projects and planning funds for CoCs, those provisions can only be implemented if there are sufficient funds to cover those costs.  Consequently, only when the 2011 budget is finalized will HUD be able to communicate its plans for this year’s funding.

Although the current situation is challenging for all of us, HUD is focused on providing communities with the resources needed to successfully implement HEARTH within the limits of the final appropriation for FY2011.  In the coming months, we will be launching a comprehensive self-assessment tool for CoCs to use to help identify where strategic planning efforts should focus at the community level.  We will also be launching other technical assistance tools and resources over the rest of the year.

HUD will continue to keep you informed of our progress and of the impact of the FY2011 budget process.  I encourage all CoCs to continue conducting strategic planning conversations, because these conversations will be critical for the successful local implementation of both HEARTH and the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.

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