HUD: Maria Bynum (215) 430-6622
Homeward: Kelly King Horne (804) 909-1041
January 26, 2012
HUD, VA OFFICIALS VOLUNTEER DURING RICHMOND'S HOMELESS COUNT
RICHMOND - U.S. Department Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary Jose Riojas and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Deputy Assistant Secretary Mark Johnston joined more than 60 volunteers in Richmond today to count people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
For a single day during the last week in January, providers in virtually every community across the country, including Richmond, collect "Point in Time" (PIT) data on the number and demographics of individuals and families experiencing homelessness. A crucial component of Opening Doors - thefederal plan to end homelessness -the PIT is intended to document trends in homelessness and help local, state and federal partners make effective use of taxpayer resources.
Homeward, the Greater Richmond region's planning and coordinating agency for homeless services conducted the PIT at St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
"Each year Homeward coordinates the PIT survey in Richmond to count how many men, women and families are confronted with homelessness on a single day," said Johnston. "Through these efforts, we, and more importantly, will have the data needed to understand the scope and breadth of homelessness in Richmond."
More than 200 people streamed through the weekly lunch program at the church where Johnston and Riojas served as volunteers helping homeless individuals fill out a 70 question survey. Free health screenings and hair cuts were offered to those who wanted them. The church was the central event site but data was collected in Chesterfield, Henrico and Hanover counties by mobile teams from Homeward, area police and social service agencies.
"As we work to eliminate Veteran homelessness, it's critical that we get an accurate count of Veterans who are on the streets or in shelters; who need our help," said Dr. Susan Angell, director of VA's Homeless Veterans Initiative. "With Assistant Secretary Jose Riojas, participating in this year's count in Richmond, his effort shows VA's commitment to end Veteran homelessness. VA has partnered with many other Federal agencies and community partners to ensure that those Veterans who served their country have a safe place to live and services available to prevent homelessness."
HUD's Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH), is a coordinated effort by HUD, VA, and local housing agencies to provide permanent housing for homeless veterans. Since 2008, HUD-VASH has provided more than 33,000 homeless veterans permanent supportive housing and supportive services. Homeless veterans are referred to the public housing agencies for these vouchers, based upon a variety of factors, most importantly the need for case management services. The HUD-VASH program includes both the rental assistance the voucher provides and the comprehensive case management that Veteran Affairs Medical Centers' staff provides. Veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program rent privately owned housing and generally contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent. VA offers eligible homeless veterans clinical and supportive services through its medical centers across the U.S., Guam and Puerto Rico.
Data gathered from the "Point in Time" counts are used by communities to effectively assess how to use limited resources from HUD, VA and other sources. The data also helps the President measure the nation's progress on Opening Doors - the federal plan to end homelessness. In June of last year, 19 federal agencies and offices that form the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) submitted to the President and Congress the nation's first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness. The full report is titled Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. The plan puts the country on a path to end veterans and chronic homelessness by 2015; and to ending homelessness among children, family, and youth by 2020.
HUD is currently directing more than $2.6 million in homeless funding to 12 providers in the Richmond, Henrico and Hanover counties through the recently announced Continuum of Care grants which awarded $20.9 million to 141 homeless programs in Virginia. These grants provide permanent and transitional housing to homeless persons as well as services including job training, health care, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and child care.
ontinuum of Care grants are awarded competitively to local programs to meet the needs of their homeless clients. These grants fund a wide variety of programs from street outreach and assessment programs to transitional and permanent housing for homeless persons and families.
"Targeting housing resources to our most vulnerable residents helps to break the cycle of homelessness," said Homeward Executive Director Kelly King Horne. "As a coordinated service delivery system, we will continue our efforts to house homeless parents and their children and to connect individuals to the housing, services and employment opportunities they need to become and remain stably housed."
HUD's homeless assistance grants are reducing long-term or chronic homelessness in America. Based on the Department's latest homeless assessment from last January, 636,017 people were homelessness in the United States, a 2.1 percent decline from the previous year, and veteran homelessness fell by nearly 12 percent (or 8,834 people) since January 2010. While number of homeless persons vary locally, the 3000 communities, participating in last years count, are reporting modest declines in homelessness in every category or subpopulation including individuals, families, veterans and those experiencing long-term or chronic homelessness. For more information about the PIT visit www.hud.gov/homelesscount
Homeward plans to issue the preliminary findings from today's survey as soon as possible. It will include updates on veterans, ex-offenders, and children currently experiencing homelessness.
HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov. You can also follow HUD on Twitter at @HUDgov or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HUD. or sign up for news alerts on HUD's News Listserv.
Key Findings of HUD's estimate:
On a single night in January 2011, HUD and its partners found:
- 636,017 people were homeless, a reduction of 2.1 percent (649,917) from January 2010, and 5.3 percent (671,888) since 2007.
- Veteran homelessness fell by nearly 12 percent (or 8,834 persons) since January 2010.
- Homelessness among individuals declined 2 percent (or 13,900) from a year ago and 5.6 percent since 2007. Meanwhile, the number of homeless families fell 2.8 percent from last year and 8 percent since 2007.
- Street homelessness ("the unsheltered homeless population) declined by 13 percent (or 36,786 people) since 2007.
- Persons experiencing long-term or chronic homelessness declined 2.4 percent (or 2,664) from last year and 13.5 percent (or 16,635 persons) since 2007. This steep reduction in chronic homelessness is largely attributed to the sharp growth in the supply of permanent supportive housing units - more than 30,000 beds between 2010 and 2011, and by more than 83,000 since 2007.
- Five states accounted for half of the nation's total homeless population: California (21.4 percent); New York (10 percent); Florida (8.9 percent); Texas (5.8 percent); and Georgia (3.3 percent).
Read HUD's 2011 Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness, including community-level data.