Category Archives: News

Jane Banks Awarded for Inspiring Leadership!

Our Network’s own Jane Banks, program director of Center for Human Development, received an award from the statewide advocacy group Homes for Families at a ceremony yesterday in Worcester for Inspiring Leadership in her work for homeless families in the Western region.

You can read more about it here in the article that appeared yesterday in the Greenfield Recorder.

On behalf of the Network, we share our pride and appreciation for Jane’s tremendous work over 16 years.  Congratulations, Jane!

Hampden CoC selected to be part of Zero 2016 campaign

Community Solutions has announced the CoCs selected to be part of the Zero 2016 campaign, and the Hampden County CoC is in!  See the press announcement below:

Community Solutions Announces Selection of 67 Communities to Participate in Zero: 2016

National initiative will help communities end chronic and veteran homelessness

November 6, 2014 — Community Solutions announced today that it has selected 67 communities to participate in Zero: 2016, a national campaign to end veteran and chronic homelessness in the next two years. The organization said it would work intensively with these communities to meet the federal goals set by President Obama to end veteran homelessness by Dec. 2015 and chronic homelessness by Dec. 2016. The initiative, made possible by the support of generous sponsors, including The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Deutsche Bank, Got Your 6, The Home Depot Foundation, and JP Morgan Chase, is a rigorous follow-on to the group’s successful 100,000 Homes Campaign, which announced in June that it had helped communities house 105,000 chronically homeless Americans in under four years. (A full list of Zero: 2016 communities can be found at the end of this release.)

Zero: 2016 will formally launch in January of 2015, when the majority of communities participating say they will walk their streets block by block to survey each of their homeless neighbors during the national 2015 Homeless Point-in-Time Count. Communities will use this information to develop by-name files on each person experiencing homelessness on their streets — a strategy designed to help communities connect people to available subsidies and appropriate housing options as quickly as possible.

Participating communities will seek to accelerate their housing efforts through four key areas of work: closing the research-to-practice gap, real-time data and performance management, local systems redesign and local leadership development. Community Solutions will provide hands-on coaching and data tools, and will curate a national peer-to-peer learning network to accelerate innovation across communities.

“Chronic and Veteran homelessness are urgent, solvable problems,” said Beth Sandor, Director of Zero: 2016 for Community Solutions. “These communities represent a potential tipping point. If they can show that getting to zero is possible, we think it will become untenable for other communities not to follow suit. Zero: 2016 is about bringing shared accountability to this work. Participants are making a public commitment to get to zero on time, and they will use that commitment to drive measurable progress.”

This announcement comes on the heels of the 2014 Homeless Point-in-Time Count, released last week by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which showed that homelessness continues to decline across virtually all major categories. According to the report, communities selected to join Zero: 2016 account for a combined 31,669 chronically homeless Americans and 16,218 homeless veterans. Community Solutions estimates an overlap of 9,000-12,000 between these groups.

The 67 communities selected for Zero: 2016 represent 30 different states and the District of Columbia. Among them are 51 communities who also participated in the 100,000 Homes Campaign and 16 new communities. Combined, the group represents the joint, public commitment of 234 housing authorities, local government entities, non-profit organizations and community agencies. Five states (Connecticut, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Utah and West Virginia) were selected to participate as full states.

Zero: 2016 dovetails with other large-scale initiatives helping communities end homelessness, including the 25 Cities Initiative, led by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Mayor’s Challenge to End Homelessness, championed by First Lady Michelle Obama. Many communities selected to join Zero: 2016 are also participating in one or both of these initiatives, and Community Solutions has coordinated extensively with the federal government to ensure that these efforts complement each other well.

Selected Communities:

Communities applied by Continuums of Care (CoCs), the 414 local groups set up to administer HUD funding to end homelessness in each region of the country.

  • Arizona:
    • Tucson/Pima County CoC
  • California:
    • Sacramento City & County CoC
    • Richmond/Contra Costa County CoC
    • Watsonville/Santa Cruz City & County CoC
    • Fresno/Madera County CoC
    • Los Angeles City & County CoC
    • San Diego City and County CoC
    • Santa Maria/Santa Barbara County CoC
    • Bakersfield/Kern County CoC
    • Riverside City & County CoC
  • State of Connecticut – Full State:
    • (Includes Hartford CoC, City of Waterbury CoC, Bridgeport/Fairfield/Stratford CoC, Norwalk/Fairfield County CoC, Stamford Greenwich CoC & Connecticut Balance of State CoC)
  • District of Columbia CoC
  • Florida:
    • Big Bend CoC
    • Jacksonville/Duval/Clay/Nassau Counties CoC
    • Miami/Dade County CoC
    • Ft Lauderdale/Broward County CoC
    • Ft Myers/Cape Coral/Lee County CoC
    • West Palm Beach/Palm Beach County CoC
  • Georgia:
    • Columbus-Muscogee/Russell County CoC
  • Hawaii:
    • Honolulu CoC
  • Illinois:
    • Rockford/Winnebago, Boone Counties CoC
    • Waukegan/North Chicago/Lake County CoC
    • Chicago CoC
    • Cook County CoC
  • Kansas:
    • Kansas City/Wyandotte County CoC
    • Wichita/Sedgwick County CoC
  • Kentucky:
    • Louisville/Jefferson County CoC
  • Louisiana:
    • Shreveport/Bossier/Northwest CoC
    • New Orleans/Jefferson Parish CoC
  • Massachusetts:
    • Cape Cod/Islands CoC
    • Springfield/Chicopee/Holyoke/Westfield/Hampden County CoC
  • Maryland:
    • Montgomery County CoC
  • Michigan:
    • Detroit CoC
    • Pontiac/Royal Oak/Oakland County CoC
    • Flint/Genesee County CoC
    • Ann Arbor/Washtenaw County CoC
  • Missouri:
    • Kansas City/Independence/Lee’s Summit/Jackson County CoC
  • Mississippi:
    • Jackson/Rankin, Madison Counties CoC
    • Gulf Port/Gulf Coast Regional CoC
  • North Carolina:
    • Winston Salem/Forsyth County CoC
    • Greensboro/High Point CoC
    • Charlotte/Mecklenberg CoC
  • Nebraska:
    • Omaha/Council Bluffs CoC
  • New Jersey:
    • Bergen County CoC
  • State of New Mexico – Full State:
    • (Includes Albuquerque CoC & New Mexico Balance of State CoC)
  • Ohio:
    • Ohio Balance of State CoC
  • Oklahoma:
    • Tulsa City & County/Broken Arrow CoC
    • Oklahoma City CoC
    • Norman/Cleveland County CoC
  • Pennsylvania:
    • Lancaster City & County CoC
  • State of Rhode Island – Full State:
    • (Rhode Island CoC)
  • South Carolina:
    • Charleston/Low Country CoC
    • Columbia/Midlands CoC
  • Tennessee:
    • Chattanooga/Southeast Tennessee CoC
    • Memphis/Shelby County CoC
    • Nashville/Davidson County CoC
  • Texas:
    • San Antonio/Bexar County CoC
    • Dallas City & County/Irving CoC
    • Fort Worth/Arlington/Tarrant County CoC
  • State of Utah – Full State:
    • (Includes Salt Lake City & County CoC, Provo/Mountainland CoC & Utah Balance of State CoC)
  • Virginia:
    • Richmond/Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover Counties CoC
    • Roanoke City & County/Salem CoC
    • Portsmouth CoC
    • Virginia Balance of State CoC
    • Arlington County CoC
  • Wisconsin:
    • Madison/Dane County CoC
  • State of West Virginia – Full State:
    • (Includes Huntington/Cabell, Wayne Counties CoC, Charleston/Kanawha, Putnam, Boone, Clay Counties CoC & West Virginia Balance of State CoC)

Community Solutions is a national non-profit dedicated to helping communities solve the complex social problems facing their most vulnerable residents. The organization’s work applies design thinking, quality improvement and a host of other cross-sector disciplines to issues like homelessness, unemployment, and public health. Zero: 2016 is a rigorous follow-on to the organization’s successful 100,000 Homes Campaign designed to help a select group of communities end chronic and veteran homelessness in the next two years. The initiative will formally launch in January 2015.

Western Mass missing person, formerly homeless: have you seen him?

Massachusetts State Police continue to search for a missing and endangered man who disappeared this summer. MILTON ELDREDGE, 59, left his residence on Herrick Road in Blandford on June 20 and was last seen around 5:30 p.m. that same day walking on Route 23 in Blandford, several miles from his home. His loved ones reported him missing the next day.

Mr. ELDREDGE has lived a large part of his adult life as a homeless person in and around Northampton. He lived in Blandford with his domestic partner and has a close family member in Ware. A western Massachusetts resident, he also has, at points in his life, spent time in central and eastern Massachusetts. He once lived at a residential rehabilitation facility in Westborough and at one time also lived in Marlborough.

Mr. ELDREDGE is white, about 5’10” tall and 190 lbs., with blonde/gray hair and blue eyes. He wore a pony tail at the time of his disappearance. He has a tattoo of a crescent moon on the outside of his left forearm, near his wrist.

Thus far, checks of shelters and other locations with which Mr. ELDREDGE has previously been associated have not turned up any information. All members of the public are asked to keep his description in mind when out and about on daily activities. Workers at homeless shelters, food pantries, and facilities providing medical/psychiatric care are asked to pay special notice to his description. He did not take his medications with him when he disappeared, and had no phone, car, or money.

Anyone with information about MILTON ELDREDGE or anyone who thinks they see him is asked to immediately contact the Massachusetts State Police Barracks in Russell at 413-862-3312.


HUD Report on the 2014 AHAR: Homelessness in U.S. Continues to Decline

U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro today announced HUD’s latest estimate of homelessness in the U.S., noting a continued general decline and specifically among veterans and persons living on the street. HUD’s 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress finds that there were 578,424 persons experiencing homelessness on a single night in 2014. This represents an overall 10 percent reduction and 25 percent drop in the unsheltered population since 2010, the year the Obama Administration launched Opening Doors, the nation’s first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness.

HUD’s annual ‘point-in-time’ estimates seek to measure the scope of homelessness on a single night in January. Based on data reported by state and local planning agencies, last January’s one-night estimate reveals a 33 percent drop in homelessness among veterans, including a 43 percent reduction in unsheltered homelessness among veterans, since 2010 and a 10.5 percent decline since last year. State and local communities also reported a 15 percent decline in the number of families with children experiencing homelessness since 2010, as well as a 53 percent reduction among these families who were found be to unsheltered.

“Even during challenging economic times, it’s clear that we’re changing the trajectory of homelessness in this country, especially when it comes to finding housing solutions for those who have been living on our streets as a way of life,” said Castro. “There is still a tremendous amount of work ahead of us but the strategy is working to end homelessness as we’ve come to know it.”

“The federal government, in partnership with states, communities, and the private and not-for-profit sectors, is focused on widespread implementation of what works to end homelessness,” said Laura Green Zeilinger, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. “Continued investments in solutions like permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing using a Housing First approach is critical to the effort of every community to one day ensure homelessness is a rare, brief, and non-recurring experience.”

During one night in late January of 2014, volunteers across the nation conducted a count of their local sheltered and unsheltered homeless populations. These one-night ‘snapshot’ counts are then reported to HUD as part of state and local grant applications. While the data reported to HUD does not directly determine the level of a community’s grant funding, these estimates, as well as full-year counts, are crucial in understanding the scope of homelessness and measuring progress in reducing it.

The Obama Administration’s strategic plan to end homelessness is called Opening Doors – a roadmap for joint action by the 19 federal member agencies of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness along with local and state partners in the public and private sectors. The Plan puts the country on a path to end homelessness among veterans by 2015; chronic homelessness by 2016; and to ending homelessness among children, family, and youth by 2020. The Plan presents strategies building upon the lesson that mainstream housing, health, education, and human service programs must be fully engaged and coordinated to prevent and end homelessness.

The decline in veteran homelessness is largely attributed to the close collaboration between HUD and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on a joint program called HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH). Since 2008, more than 59,000 rental vouchers have been awarded and approximately 45,000 formerly homeless veterans are currently in homes of their own because of HUD-VASH.

Long-term or chronic homelessness among individuals is declining quite substantially since 2010. This decline is partially attributable to a concerted effort to make available more permanent supportive housing opportunities for people with disabling health conditions who otherwise continually remain in shelters or on the streets. Research demonstrates that for persons experiencing chronic homelessness, providing permanent housing coupled with appropriate supportive services without treatment preconditions, is the most effective solution for ending homelessness. This ‘housing first’ approach also saves the taxpayer considerable money by interrupting a costly cycle of emergency room and hospital, detox, and even jail visits.

Many communities are also making a special effort to identify youth experiencing homelessness on the night of their counts. Great strides have been made connecting young people to youth service providers, with particularly strong efforts focused on youth experiencing homelessness who are unsheltered. In addition, communities are finding creative ways to identify and engage these unsheltered youth, through efforts like youth-targeted events to more intentional use of social media outlets.

Key Findings

On a single night in January 2014, state and local planning agencies reported:

  • 578,424 people were homeless representing an overall 10 percent reduction from January 2010. Most homeless persons (401,051 or 70 percent) were located in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs while 177,373 persons were unsheltered.
  • Veteran homelessness fell by 33 percent (or 24,837 persons) since January 2010. On a single night in January 2013, 49,993 veterans were homeless.
  • Chronic or long-term homelessness among individuals declined by 21 percent (or 22,937 persons) since 2010.
  • The number of families with children experiencing homelessness declined 15 percent (or 11,833 households) since 2010. The number of unsheltered families fell 53 percent during that same time period.
  • The number of unaccompanied homeless youth and children was relatively unchanged overall, at 45,205. There was a 3 percent decrease in those who were unsheltered.