Tailoring Interventions and Assistance for Families

United States Interagency Council on Homelessness - No on should experience homelessness. No one should be without a safe, stable place to call home.
Tailoring Interventions and Assistance for Families

September 18, 2014
family homelessness opening doors 2020
Opening Doors established a national goal to end homelessness among families and children by 2020.

Meeting the Unique Needs of Families
A Message from Laura Green Zeilinger
Families experience homelessness for a number of reasons. Whether as a result of a health or economic crisis or fleeing domestic violence, the experience of homelessness is extremely traumatizing for families generally, and can be especially traumatizing for children. Homelessness disrupts education for children and can lead to extremely poor health and social outcomes in adulthood.  

We know the best thing we can do for families at risk of or experiencing homelessness is ensure their safety, support their ability to obtain permanent housing as quickly as possible, and help them sustain housing stability. Individual families need different levels and types of assistance to achieve housing stability.  Some families may need only short-term assistance and limited supports, while others may require long-term rental assistance, along with intensive and ongoing service supports.

Connecting families to housing interventions and services that are appropriate to their specific needs is a critical piece of an effective homeless crisis response system. It also ensures an efficient use of resources, enabling us to assist as many families as possible.

Tailored Interventions and Assistance for Families - In Depth

In this video, Lindsay Knotts, of USICH, and Todd Shenk, of HUD, discuss the four key strategy areas for Federal, state, and local action to end family homelessness.

Spotlight on Solutions

Ending homelessness among families and children is a priority for the nation and for every community. Millions of extremely low-income households do not have access to affordable housing, putting them at risk of housing instability and the types of crises that can result in homelessness. In 2013, 222,197 people in families - an estimated 70,960 households - were experiencing homelessness on a single night. Although this data represent an eight percent reduction in family homelessness in the first three years of implementation of Opening Doors and demonstrates that our strategies are working, the data also signal the need for much work to be done.  

To highlight what works to end homelessness for families, USICH is hosting a webinar series based around the four strategies in the resource Family Connection: Building Systems to End Family Homelessness. Our most recent webinar focused on the second strategy: tailoring interventions and assistance to the unique needs of families.

Tailoring Interventions and Assistance to the Unique Needs of Families

This component of an effective system of response for ending family homelessness focuses on using a range of resources and program models. To end family homelessness, community systems must be in place to connect families and their children to interventions and assistance that are tailored to the unique needs of everyone in the household. This can be done by providing rapid re-housing assistance to the majority of families experiencing homelessness, increasing access to affordable housing, helping communities target resources to families experiencing homelessness, and directing more service-intensive housing interventions to the highest need households. Below are the housing interventions communities can use to tailor assistance to the specific needs of families.

Rapid Re-housing

Rapid re-housing helps individuals and families quickly exit homelessness to permanent housing. Rapid re-housing assistance is offered without preconditions (such as employment, income, absence of criminal record, or sobriety), and the resources and services provided are typically tailored to the unique needs of the household. The core components of a rapid re-housing program include housing identification services, financial assistance for rent and move-in, and accompanying case management and supportive services. Although a rapid re-housing program has all three core components available, it is not required that a household use them all.


HUD Releases 2014 CoC NOFA
Join our Webinar on Strategies for Continued Success

On September 16, 2014, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released its Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Funds in the FY 2013 - FY 2014 Continuum of Care (CoC) Program Competition (FY 2014 CoC Program Funding Notice).  This NOFA further advances the policy priorities outlined in the combined FY 2013 - FY 2014 CoC Program Competition NOFA, which focus on accelerating progress on the goals of Opening Doors: the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness 

This funding Notice includes a number of new important changes and considerations unique to the FY 2014 funding round.  No CoC application is required for this competition; CoCs will only need to include project applications and rankings. In addition, HUD is setting aside approximately $40 million for a funding bonus to create new dedicated permanent supportive housing to serve people experiencing chronic homelessness. Although all CoCs approved in the FY 2014 CoC Registration process may apply, priority will be given to those CoCs that have a high need in relation to chronic homelessness as described in the funding Notice. 

Through this competition, HUD will award $1.83 billion in funds for FY 2014. The FY 2014 CoC Program Funding Notice carries forward and continues the policy priorities outlined in combined FY 2013-FY 2014 CoC Program Competition NOFA, which are focused on accelerating progress on Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness (http://usich.gov/opening_doors).  

Join our webinar on strategies for continued success in responding to the NOFA on Friday, September 19 at 12:00pm ET to learn more about the results of the FY 2013 competition, the unique aspects of the FY 2014 CoC Program funding competition, the permanent supportive housing bonus to serve people experiencing chronic homelessness, and tips for reallocations and prioritization. 

Space is limited. Register now!

HUD Publishes 2015 Point-in-Time Count Resources

2015 PIT Count resources available
PIT Count Methodology Guide 

HUD has published the PIT Count Methodology Guide to assist communities in conducting their PIT counts. This guide provides Continuums of Care (CoCs) with new minimum PIT count standards and guidance concerning acceptable methodologies and effective PIT count implementation. The guide will be useful in determining a process for collecting high-quality data on the number and characteristics of sheltered and unsheltered homeless people in your community. HUD recommends that CoCs regularly review and refer to this guide to answer questions about PIT count preparation, implementation, and analysis. This guide replaces the Guide to Counting Sheltered Homeless People and the Guide to Counting Unsheltered Homeless People.

Updated PIT Count Model Surveys and Instructions
HUD has posted updated model PIT count surveys on the PIT Survey Tools page. The survey updates reflect feedback from the U.S. Census Bureau and improve the way data is collected. HUD has also published instructions for enumerators on how to best implement the model surveys. While these model surveys remain optional HUD recommends that CoCs carefully review their contents and consider implementing the questions.

2015 PIT Count Poster
HUD has mailed a few complimentary copies of the 2015 PIT Count Poster to each CoC and made the PDF file available for communities to use.

Updated Notice for the 2015 PIT and Housing Inventory Count (HIC)
HUD is finalizing the Notice regarding the PIT and HIC requirements for 2015 and future counts. HUD anticipates making a few changes to the data collection requirements and will publish this information as soon as possible.

Additional PIT Count Resources
To accompany the PIT Count Methodology Guide, HUD will be publishing several tools to assist communities, including PIT count planning tools, sample forms, and an extrapolation tool that may be used for certain demographic data. HUD will publish these on the HUD Exchange website and notify CoCs via the HUD Exchange mailing list as they become available.

Questions about the HIC or PIT counts?
If you have additional questions about HIC or PIT count requirements or related materials and training, please submit them through the HUD Exchange Ask a Question portal. On Step 2, select the HDX Reporting System in the "My question is related to" dropdown.

USICH Welcomes New Policy Director
Jasmine Hayes Will Manage Family, Children and Youth Policy Areas
Jasmine Hayes
USICH is pleased to announce the Jasmine Hayes will join the team as a Policy Director on Monday, September 22.  She will manage USICH policy efforts around ending and preventing homelessness among families, children, and youth, as well as increasing access to employment and education.

Jasmine Hayes has devoted much of her career to the field of child welfare, starting as a case-carrying social worker in Child Protective Services where she worked with youth and families who often struggled with unstable housing, periodic homelessness, unemployment and co-occurring disorders. "I have seen firsthand the impact of homelessness on short- and long-term outcomes for children," said Hayes. "I believe that there are opportunities in child welfare reform to end homelessness among families." 

Since 2004, Jasmine has been with the District of Columbia's public child welfare agency, the Child and Family Services Agency. In her capacity as program administrator for the state-level office, Jasmine has been responsible for both the Policy and Planning units as well as the Quality Improvement division. Overseeing the Resource Development Office, Jasmine was directly responsible for the expansion of prevention programs in collaboration with community-based partners, including development of a transitional housing program for child welfare-involved mothers enrolled in a residential substance abuse treatment program.  Most recently, Jasmine has been part of the core team responsible for implementing a Federal grant supporting the transition of the District of Columbia's public child welfare agency to become trauma-informed.  Jasmine has a Master's of Social Work from the University of Toronto.

Calling Future Change Agents
USICH Internship Opportunities in areas of Policy, Communications, National Initiatives, and Executive Office

USICH is seeking interns to support its work on behalf of the nation's efforts to end homelessness. Assignments may include but are not be limited to:
  • Researching and compiling of information, statistics, studies, etc. on housing related issues;
  • Coordinating activities, meetings, forums and USICH initiatives with Federal, State, local and private stakeholders around the U.S.;
  • Supporting essential administrative assignments related to document and correspondence preparation, answering calls, facilitating webinar and conference calls and responding to general questions of a non-policy nature;
  • Tracking and analyzing appropriations, authorizing and other legislative developments;
  • Data analysis and assessment of resource implications of policy decisions;
  •  Analysis of federal programs, policies, and procedures as they relate to the Federal response to homelessness-related issues;
  • Writing and editing a variety of publications, presentations, technical assistance materials, and other documents related to the work of USICH;
  • Compilation of content for website; website management; and,
  • Special projects, as assigned.
The position with National Initiatives Team may be based elsewhere within the Pacific Time Zone.

 Here's how to apply.

News from Our Partners
Family & Youth Services Bureau within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children & Families
publishes its Report to Congress on the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program for fiscal years 2012 and 2013. The report chronicles the successes of grantees in delivering services, such as housing and shelter, emergency care and counseling, to youth without a safe and stable place to call home.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Veterans Health Administration
(VHA) Homeless Programs, is seeking nominations of qualified candidates to be considered for appointment as a member of the Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans

The Committee provides advice to the Secretaryon the provision of benefits and services to homeless Veterans. Nominations for membership on the Committee must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. EST on September 30, 2014.

The Administration for Children & Families (ACF) Develops New Resource: Building Partnerships to Address Family Homelessness
This promising practice resource focuses on the way Head Start and Early Head Start grantees are effectively using partnerships to serve homeless children and how other service providers can build relationships with their local Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan blogs on OMB's performance results for Priority Goals
OMB Director Shaun Donovan discusses performance results, which show significant progress across the Federal government in delivering results, including the President's recent announcement of a 33 percent decline in veteran homelessness since 2010.

National Alliance to End Homelessness hosts webinar: Prepare for the 2015 Point-in-Time Count, Enumerating Unsheltered Youth
On Friday, September 19, at 1:30 pm ET, the Alliance's Homelessness Research Institute will host a webinar on effective strategies for including youth in the upcoming 2015 Point-in-Time (PIT) Count. The webinar, "Prepare for the 2015 Point-in-Time Count: Enumerating Unsheltered Youth," will cover everything from useful planning tactics, guidance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development on conducting reliable unsheltered counts of homeless youth, to PIT count implementation. 

SAMHSA's Homeless and Housing Resource Network (HHRN) presents "Disaster Preparedness" Webinar
On Tuesday, September 23, 2014, at 2 p.m. ET, HHRN will host a technical webinar focusing on providing grantees and other interested parties with information on disaster preparedness for people experiencing homelessness. It will cover coordination and service needs for individuals experiencing homelessness during a disaster. It will also identify the disruption impact and raise awareness of post-disaster medical and behavioral health needs of individuals experiencing homelessness. To register, visit: https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/208345671.

Meeting the Unique Needs of Families
Spotlight on Solutions: Tailored Interventions and Assistance for Families
HUD Releases 2014 CoC NOFA
HUD Publishes 2015 Point-in-Time Count Resources
USICH Welcomes New Policy Director
Calling Future Changemakers
News from Our Partners
Building Systems to End to Homelessness: HUD's FY 2014 Continuum of Care Program Competition
How Our Shelter Began Focusing on Permanent Housing, and Started Ending Homelessness for Our Clients
Serving Young Children Experiencing Homelessness
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Blogs You Might Like

by Sean Whitten and Doreen Eley
by Rick Huber, Patricia Julianelle, and Bonnie White
by Laura Zeilinger

by Debbie Thiele and Katy Miller

By Richard Cho, USICH Senior Policy Director 

In FY 2013, budget cuts through sequestration forced CoCs to make difficult choices regarding the selection of projects.  HUD and USICH called on CoCs to allocate resources towards evidence-informed models that employ a Housing First approach like permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing as much as possible.  CoCs heeded and responded to this call.  As shown in the chart, two-thirds of CoCs reallocated funds to create new permanent supportive housing, rapid re-housing, or both. Although these choices were no doubt difficult to make, investing in what works is always the right thing to do for people experiencing homelessness and for communities.

The FY 2014 Funding Notice asks CoCs to continue investing in what works and to target interventions appropriately to needs.  It calls on CoCs to make the final push to reach our goal of ending chronic homelessness, make greater progress on family homelessness, and build the partnerships needed to reach and engage Veterans and youth experiencing homelessness in services. 

Although the policy priorities and many aspects of this NOFA remain the same as in FY 2013, there are also some changes and new elements. 


By Gwen McQueeny, Northern Virginia Family Service

When I joined the staff of Northern Virginia Family Service (NVSF) as the program manager of the SERVE Shelter in February 2010, I had many things to learn about the 60-bed facility for singles and families located in Manassas, Va., approximately 35 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. Though the beds were filled, it was evident that clients were staying for long periods of time, many up to six months or longer. 


By Liz Osborn, USICH Management & Program Analyst

Homelessness has many faces. People experiencing homelessness can be old or young, male or female, and can come from any ethnic background. But when one thinks of a person experiencing homelessness in this country, few people picture the face of a child. The fact is, nearly one-quarter of all people experiencing homelessness at a point in time are children, and most of them are very young.  In one 2013 Abt Associates study on family homelessness, almost a third of the participating children were two years old or younger, and more than half were under the age of five.
USICH and our partners are dedicated to ending and preventing homelessness for everyone, including for youth and for families with children. In July, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF) released two resources aimed at providing communities with the tools needed to effectively serve young children experiencing homelessness.


201 mayors, 6 governors, and 17 county officials have committed to end homelessness among Veterans in their communities by the end of 2015.

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What Works: 
Family Homelessness

Investing in proven solutions is a key premise of Opening Doors. The commitment to end homelessness compels all of us to focus resources and efforts on solutions that work, while encouraging well-designed innovations for continuous improvement. Here we offer entries from the USICH Solutions Database that provide you with case studies of tools communities are using to end family homelessness. 

Rapid Re-Housing

Coordinated Entry

In Case You Missed It

Family Connection Webinar: Tailored Interventions and Assistance

On September 10, 2014, two community partners, Memphis, TN-based Community Alliance for the Homeless, Inc. and Northern Virginia Family Service, joined USICH and HUD on a webinar to share examples of how they are using a range of resources and program models to better serve families in need of a safe and stable place to call home.

Panelists discussed their most effective strategies for helping to lift families out of homelessness, as well as prevention methods that help avert housing crises.

The webinar, "Family Connection: Tailored Interventions and Assistance," is the second in a series, based around the guidance in the resource, Family Connection: Building Systems to End Homelessness.  


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