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Homelessness & Housing First Webinar Recap: 1/9

More than 9,040 people registered for the Homelessness and Housing First webinar hosted by NLIHC, the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH), and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) on January 9!

The webinar, “A World without Housing First,” addressed what life was like for people experiencing homelessness and homelessness programs before Housing First was widely adopted and what it would mean if our efforts to defend Housing First are unsuccessful. NAEH CEO Ann Oliva began the webinar by addressing anti-Housing First legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives during the last Congress, noting that the legislation’s sponsor will likely seek new opportunities to move the legislation forward during the next two years. She discussed how the rise in the criminalization of homelessness across the country is tied to the anti-Housing First approach and to the flawed assumption that homelessness is the result of personal failures and bad decisions. “We know that the roots of homelessness are systemic and not personal. The truth is that mandating participation in recovery programs or other types of services does not end a person’s homelessness – housing does. Passing a law that forbids someone from being unsheltered and outdoors does not solve homelessness – housing does,” explained Ann.

Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), the ranking member on the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, thanked advocates for their commitment to ending homelessness and urged attendees to educate their members of Congress about the real solutions to homelessness and the importance of Housing First. “As the homelessness crisis continues to rise in our nation, it is more important than ever that we use our collective power to fight for affordable housing and promote the importance of Housing First policies. The simple truth is that the Housing First approach is a proven, bipartisan, and evidence-based solution to addressing homelessness,” said Ranking Member Waters.

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, thanked attendees for their dedication to addressing the needs of individuals and families experiencing homelessness, noting that their “focus on Housing First is helping to reduce the number of people who are homeless.” Vice Chair Collins addressed the affordable housing crisis and urged advocates to take action. “The shortage of affordable housing is a growing crisis nationwide. No single entity can successfully resolve this challenge. It requires both commitment and collaboration at the federal, state, and local levels. It also requires strong partnerships between housing and service providers. Your engagement with your elected officials is critical to promoting better understanding of effective approaches, like Housing First,” said Vice Chair Collins.

Kelly King Horne, executive director of Homeward in Richmond, Virginia – one of the nation’s most successful homeless service programs – described what homeless services were like before Housing First and what would be lost if anti-Housing First legislation were enacted into law. Kelly shared how her organization embraced Housing First and shifted from a “first-come, first-served” approach to serving the individuals most in need of assistance. “When we adopted Housing First, the biggest impact that we saw was community clarity and accountability. We really began to understand that we could end homelessness. It didn’t mean that we had solved all of the world’s problems, but that more limited and more targeted goal had a huge impact on our community, on all of us, and on the neighbors we were working with to get into housing,” explained Kelly.

Dr. Sam Tsemberis, founder of the Housing First model and CEO of the Pathways Housing First Institute, addressed what homelessness was like before Housing First and explained how the implementation of Housing First has shifted the overall system of homeless services. Dr. Tsemberis described the world before Housing First as a world of homeless services that did not offer a direct exit out of homelessness, especially for people struggling with addiction or mental health problems. He argued that ending homelessness is an achievable and powerful goal. “I don’t want to improve the homeless service system; I want to end homelessness,” said Dr. Tsemberis.

Crissy Canganelli, executive director of Shelter House in Iowa City, shared how her organization shifted from a focus on transitional housing to fully embracing Housing First. She spoke about the paradigm shift that occurred as Shelter House undertook the “hard and necessary work to realign [its] culture, shift from managing homelessness to ending it, build new partnerships, and find new champions.” Crissy emphasized that unsheltered homelessness would increase if the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) were to back away from Housing First.

Donald Whitehead, Jr., executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, addressed the impact of criminalization and anti-Housing First legislation on people experiencing homelessness and reminded listeners about the importance of centering the voices of people with lived experience. Donald ended his remarks by emphasizing the underlying causes and solutions to homelessness: “Homelessness is solvable, it is a structural issue, and we need to address those issues. We need to produce more housing, and we can end homelessness in America.”

NAEH Chief Policy Officer Steve Berg wrapped up the call by sharing how advocates can engage with their members of Congress on Housing First and counter efforts to undermine proven solutions to homelessness. Steve encouraged advocates to educate their Congressional delegation on homelessness solutions and build local alliances to promote Housing First in their communities. He invited advocates to sign their organization on to a statement of values opposing criminalization.

We have uploaded a recording of the call, as well as the presentation slides.

Take Action!

We encourage all advocates to educate your elected officials about the importance of Housing First and the need for robust investments in affordable housing and homelessness resources. Use this advocacy toolkit published by NLIHC. The toolkit includes everything you’ll need to engage your elected officials, including talking points, tips for scheduling in-district meetings and tours of affordable housing developments, social media messages, and more.

Resources Discussed on the Webinar:


Homelessness & Housing First Webinar Recap: 12/12

More than 7,800 people registered for the Homelessness and Housing First webinar hosted by NLIHC, the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH), and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) on December 12!

The webinar, “Threats to Housing First,” began with opening remarks from Sarah Saadian, NLIHC senior vice president of public policy and field organizing. Sarah provided an overview of federal, state, and local efforts to undermine Housing First and other proven solutions to homelessness. She discussed harmful statewide criminalization legislation promoted by the Cicero Institute and the “Housing PLUS Act” (H.R. 6018), introduced by Representative Andy Barr (R-KY), which would undermine HUD’s ability to prioritize evidence-based solutions like Housing First.

Marc Dones, CEO of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA), addressed the importance of Housing First and why it should be preserved. They highlighted that Housing First is the most effective – and cost-effective – approach to rapidly housing people experiencing homelessness and moving them into permanent housing. Marc noted that because King County’s efforts are oriented towards rapidly housing people, legislation that would divert federal homeless assistance funds to non-Housing First programs would defund most of KCRHA’s portfolio.

George Eklund, director of education and advocacy at the Coalition for the Homeless in Louisville, discussed emerging threats to Housing First in Kentucky. He explained how Representative Barr’s efforts to divert federal homeless assistance funds to high-barrier programs would decrease local homeless assistance funding; limit local innovation, self-control, and flexibility; and fundamentally change how local homelessness programs operate in Louisville.

Marqueia Watson, executive director of the Greater Kansas City Coalition to End Homelessness, addressed the criminalization of homelessness in Missouri, calling attention to a Cicero Institute bill passed in the state legislature this year. She discussed local advocacy efforts to fight back against the bill, including her ongoing conversations with state legislators and the Cicero Institute. Marqueia spoke about her participation in the NAEH-led convening of advocacy groups opposing similar harmful legislation in their states.

Shams DaBaron, a homeless advocate in New York City, shared about the impact of criminalization on people experiencing homelessness. Shams emphasized the role of systemic racism in our country’s homelessness crisis and in the criminalization of homelessness. He highlighted the need to incorporate the voices of people with lived experience in developing solutions.

NLIHC’s Sarah Saadian concluded the meeting by outlining opportunities for advocates to engage their members of Congress on the importance of Housing First. She highlighted resources advocates can use to push back against misguided efforts to undermine Housing First and criminalize homelessness.

We have uploaded the presentation slides from the call.

Take Action:

We encourage all advocates to educate your elected officials about the importance of Housing First and the need for robust investments in affordable housing and homelessness resources. Consider using this advocacy toolkit published by NLIHC. The toolkit includes everything you’ll need to engage your elected officials, including talking points, tips for scheduling in-district meetings and tours of affordable housing developments, social media messages, and more.

Resources Discussed on the Webinar:


Homelessness & Housing First Webinar Recap: 9/28

The fourth Homelessness and Housing First webinar – the last in a four-part series hosted by NLIHC, the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH), and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) – took place on September 28.

The webinar, “How to Address Unsheltered Homelessness,” began with opening remarks from Ann Oliva, CEO of NAEH. Debbie Thiele, managing director for the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) in the Western U.S., and Marcella Maguire, director for health systems integration at CSH, discussed addressing unsheltered homelessness as a public health issue and provided attendees with examples of how to better connect housing with services.

Jeff Olivet, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), provided an overview of USICH’s seven principles for addressing encampments.

Dr. Bambie Hayes-Brown, president and CEO of Georgia ACT, discussed emerging threats to Housing First in Georgia and explained how advocates have pushed back against harmful legislation. Attendees then heard from Marcella Middleton, executive director of A Way Home America, who overviewed how criminalizing homelessness harms youth experiencing homelessness and discussed A Way Home America’s New Deal to End Youth Homelessness.

Sarah Saadian, NLIHC senior vice president for public policy and field organizing, outlined opportunities for advocates to engage their members of Congress on the importance of Housing First and the need for robust investments in affordable housing and homelessness resources.

We have uploaded a recording of the call, as well as the presentation slides.

Take Action:

Resources Discussed on the Webinar:

Homelessness & Housing First Webinar Recap: 9/12

More than 6,300 people registered for the third Homelessness and Housing First webinar hosted by NLIHC, the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH), and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) on September 12. Thank you to all who attended!

The webinar, “Long-Term Solutions and Successful Strategies,” began with opening remarks from Peggy Bailey, vice president for housing policy at CBPP. Peggy and NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel provided an overview of long-term solutions to end homelessness and discussed immediate legislative and administrative opportunities to advance these priorities.

Lisa Glow, CEO of the Central Arizona Shelter Services, discussed emerging threats in Arizona, calling attention to a Cicero Institute bill introduced in the state legislature this year. She discussed the importance of building relationships with lawmakers across the aisle and educating elected officials on the importance of Housing First.

Mindy Woods, a leader with the Resident Action Project, discussed the impact of harmful legislation on people with lived experience of homelessness. Mindy emphasized the need to educate the public and elected officials about homelessness and to incorporate the voices of people with lived experience in developing solutions.

Kathryn Monet, CEO of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, and John Meier, manager of the support services for veteran families program at the West Central Texas Council of Governments, discussed how Housing First has been used to end veteran homelessness.

We have uploaded a recording of the call, as well as the presentation slides.

Take Action:

We encourage all advocates to educate your elected officials about the importance of Housing First and the need for robust investments in affordable housing and homelessness resources. You can take action by:

  • Participating in a Virtual Capitol Hill Day hosted by NAEH today (Wednesday, September 14). Contact Jerry Jones at [email protected] for more details.
  • Using a new advocacy toolkit published by NLIHC. The toolkit includes everything you’ll need to engage your elected officials, including talking points, tips for scheduling in-district meetings and tours of affordable housing developments, social media messages, and more.

Upcoming Webinar:

Register for the final webinar, “How to Address Unsheltered Homelessness,” taking place on Wednesday, September 28, from 2:30 to 4 pm ET. Register at: https://bit.ly/3vIbn5o 

Resources discussed on the call:


Homelessness & Housing First Webinar Recap: 8/29

More than 5,500 people registered for the Homelessness and Housing First webinar hosted by NLIHC, the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH), and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) on August 29! Thank you to all who attended!

The webinar, “Homelessness is a Housing Problem,” began with a presentation by Gregg Colburn, a professor at the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments. Professor Colburn shared research he conducted with data journalist Clayton Aldern that found that housing market conditions – not mental illness, drug use, poverty, weather, generosity of public assistance, or low income mobility – explain why some communities have higher rates of homelessness than others.
 
Ana Rausch and Jessica Preheim of the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County shared how Houston has used Housing First to successfully house 25,000 people experiencing homelessness.
 
Dora Leong Gallo of A Community of Friends provided an overview of Housing First and explained how the strategy is fundamental to ending homelessness for people with disabilities and substance use disorders.
 
Sarah Owsley of Empower Missouri spoke about harmful legislation recently enacted in her state that criminalizes homelessness, undermines Housing First, and redirects funding that would have been used to address long-term housing needs to instead create encampments.
 
Bonnie Harper of Partners Behavioral Health Management and Michele Knapp of Diakonos/Fifth Street Ministries shared best practices identified during their recent roundtable discussion with elected officials, health experts, and the faith-based community on the importance of Housing First.
 
Steve Berg of NAEH also joined the call to share how advocates can take action to advance the bold policies and anti-racist reforms needed to ensure all people have safe, stable, affordable, and accessible places to call home.
 
We have uploaded a recording of the call, as well as the presentation slides.

Take Action:

Advocates can participate in a Virtual Capitol Hill Day hosted by NAEH on Wednesday, September 14! Use this opportunity to speak with your members of Congress about the importance of Housing First and the need for robust investments in affordable housing and homelessness resources. If you have any questions or would like help setting up virtual meetings, please reach out to Jerry Jones at [email protected].

You can also use a new advocacy toolkit published by NLIHC. The toolkit includes everything you’ll need to engage your elected officials, including talking points, tips for scheduling in-district meetings and tours of affordable housing developments, social media messages, and more.

Upcoming Webinars:

  • Monday, September 12 - “Long-Term Solutions and Successful Strategies”
  • Wednesday, September 28 - “How to Address Unsheltered Homelessness”

Each webinar in the four-part series will take place from 2:30 to 4:00 pm ET. Register for the new series at: https://bit.ly/3vIbn5o

Resources discussed on the call:


Homelessness & Housing First Webinar Recap: 8/15 

Thank you to the over 4500 people who registered for the first Homelessness and Housing First webinar hosted by NLIHC, the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH), and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) on August 15!

The webinar, “Emerging Threats Facing People Experiencing Homelessness,” began with remarks from NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel, NAEH CEO Ann Oliva, and CBPP Vice President for Housing Policy Peggy Bailey. Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum, president and CEO of the St. Joseph Center in Los Angeles, California, provided an overview of Housing First and explained how its guiding insight – that prioritizing access to permanent, stable, accessible, and affordable housing is a prerequisite for effective psychiatric and substance use treatment and for improving quality of life – is fundamental to ending homelessness. Eric Tars, legal director of the National Homelessness Law Center, discussed emerging threats to Housing First, and Donald Whitehead, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, spoke about the impact of these threats on people experiencing homelessness. NLIHC Senior Vice President of Policy and Field Organizing Sarah Saadian, NAEH Vice President for Programs and Policy Steve Berg, and CBPP Manager of Government Affairs Alex Berger also joined the call to share how advocates can take action to advance the bold policies and anti-racist reforms needed to ensure all people have safe, stable, affordable, and accessible places to call home. We have uploaded a recording of the call, as well as the presentation slides.

We encourage all advocates to participate in a Virtual Capitol Hill Day hosted by NAEH on Wednesday, September 14! Advocates can use this opportunity to speak with their members of Congress about the importance of Housing First and the need for robust investments in affordable housing and homelessness resources. If you have any questions or would like help setting up virtual meetings, please reach out to Jerry Jones at [email protected].

You can also use a new advocacy toolkit published by NLIHC. The toolkit includes everything you’ll need to engage your elected officials, including talking points, tips for scheduling in-district meetings and tours of affordable housing developments, social media messages, and more.

Upcoming Webinars:

  • Monday, August 29 - “Homelessness is a Housing Problem”
  • Monday, September 12 - “Long-Term Solutions and Successful Strategies”
  • Wednesday, September 28 - “How to Address Unsheltered Homelessness”

Each webinar in the four-part series will take place from 2:30 to 4:00 pm ET. Register for the series at: https://bit.ly/3vIbn5o

Resources discussed on the 8/15 call: