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The New Communities of Opportunity Model of Intervention


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Presentation given by Aurora Zepeda, Institute for Children and Poverty, New York City at a FEANTSA Research Conference on "Rethinking Homelessness Policies", Lisbon, Portugal, 2007

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The New Communities of Opportunity Model of Intervention

  2. 2. National Overview• Homelessness in the United States• Federal Spending for Low Income Housing Assistance
  3. 3. Homelessness in the United States National Homeless Census: • Between 2.3 and 3.5 million people experience homelessness a year Family Homelessness: • 41% of the homeless population are families with children. • They are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. • 1.3 million children experience homelessness a year » 42% of all homeless children are under 6 years old.Sources:
  4. 4. Homeless Families in the United States Some characteristics of adults in homeless families: Female 84% Sex Male 16% Black non Hispanic 43% White non Hispanic 38% Hispanic 15% Race/Ethnicity Other 4% Under 25 yrs 26% Age 25 to 45 yrs 74% Not Married/Single 76% Marital Status Married 23% Less than High School 53% Education High School Diploma Only 21% Attainment More than High School 26% Alcohol Use 18% Alcohol/Drug/ Drug Use 20% Mental Problem Mental Health 36% One 50% Number of Two 27% Times Homeless Three 23% Sources:
  5. 5. 1987-2007 Federal Spending in All Low Income Assistance by Type of Assistance $450,000 $400,000 • The increases for federal spending in $350,000 low income assistance were primarily due toMillions of Constant 2004 Dollars $300,000 increases in spending $250,000 on Medicaid and other income security. $200,000 $150,000 • Federal spending in low income housing $100,000 Medicaid assistance has $50,000 decreased from 14% of all low income $0 Housing assistance (1987) to 9% (2007). 7 88 92 93 04 05 89 90 91 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 06 07 8 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 Fiscal Year Housing Assistance Medicaid Social Services Food and Nutrition Other Income Security Source: National Low Income Housing Coalition. "Changing priorities: The Federal Budget and Housing Assistance 1976-2005", October 2004.
  6. 6. US Dept of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): FY04-FY06Decreased Funding for Low Income Housing Assistance Programs $0 -$30 -$30 -$22 ($100) • HUD’s funding for ($200) -$171 low income housing programs has ($300)Millions of Constant 2006 Dollars -$311) decreased by a total ($400) of 3,297 million ($500) from FY04 to FY06 ($600) ($700) ($800) -$779 ($900) -$928 ($1,000) CDBG Public Housing HOME Section 8 Section 811 HOPWA Homeless Assistance Type of Low Income Housing Program Source: Center on Budget and Policy Projections. " The Effects of the Federal Budget Squeeze on Low Income Housing Assistance" February 2007 For information on each of this low income housing programs visit
  7. 7. New York City Homeless FamilyShelter System Overview
  8. 8. Family Homelessness in New York City • Since 1981 NYC has court mandated right to shelter. The city determines eligibility for emergency housing based on need. • The New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS), is the city agency in charge of homeless services. All families with children apply for shelter services at one centralized intake building. • Families that apply for emergency housing are placed in shelter until eligibility for temporary emergency housing is determined. This process usually takes 10 days. • If the family is found eligible they remain in shelter until they find permanent housing. The average shelter stay is 325 days. Some stay as long as five years.
  9. 9. New York City Family Shelter Average Daily Census Average Daily Family Shelter Census 10000 • Family census has doubled 9000 8963 9109 9021 from FY1998 to FY2007, 8623 increasing by 14% during 8000 7933 the last fiscal year Average Number of Families/Day 7000 6985 6000 5563 • Currently an average of 5000 5029 4508 4802 8,000 families with 4000 children sleep in NYC 3000 shelters each night (15,000 children and 11,000 2000 adults)* 1000 0 FY98 FY99 FY00 FY01 FY02 FY03 FY04 FY05 FY06 FY07 Fiscal YearSource: NYC Mayor’s Management Reports and NYC Department of Homeless Services* Data includes families with no children; They account for only 16% of the homeless families population. The majority, 84% arefamilies with children.
  10. 10. FY04-FY06 Monthly Number of Family Applications and Number of Families Found Eligible for Shelter Services • From FY04-FY06 the 4500 number of families found eligible for services hasNumber of Family Applications For Emergency Shelter 4000 remained mostly constant. 3500 • On average, 2,552 families 3000 apply for shelter every month and 885 (35%) of 2500 these family applications are found eligible for 2000 services. 1500 • Families can apply for 1000 services multiple times. On average, 23% of families 500 who apply every month are first- time applicants found 0 eligible for services. Jul-04 Jul-06 Jul-05 Jan-05 Jan-07 Sep-04 Sep-05 Jan-06 Sep-06 Mar-05 May-05 Mar-06 May-06 May-07 Nov-04 Nov-06 Mar-07 Nov-05 • If the underlying issues Total Family Applications Eligible for Emergency Shelter Total Family Applications Completed affecting these families are not addressed, the shelter becomes a revolving door.*The chart represents all family applications. A family can be found ineligible and then be found eligible at a later application.Source:
  11. 11. The Shelter as a Community of OpportunityA Powerful Tool to End Family Homelessness
  12. 12. Shelters and Learning:Education Attainment of Homeless Heads of Household • 52% of homeless heads of household have no high school Some diploma. College/Vocational Trade Education 17% • Lack of education limits homeless heads of household’s potential as well as their ability to promote their childrens No High School educational development. Diploma 52% High School • Shelters can become frontline Diploma/GED Only vehicles to support literacy 31% efforts. • Adult education programs at the N = 405 homeless heads of household residing in New York City shelters shelter can also provide homeless parents with basic tools needed for success at the workplace.
  13. 13. Shelters and Learning: Homeless Children and Education • In New York City over half Educational Setbacks Among Homeless Children : New York City of homeless children change schools at least once a year Perform < Grade Level: 75% resulting in education Reading setbacks.Educational Setbacks Perform < Grade Level: Math 54% • Many homeless children spend over an hour traveling Repeat a Grade 23% to and from school, making it difficult to access after- school programs. Placed in Special Education 13% • Homelessness causes 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% Percent of Homeless Children children profound educational setbacks as well as health and emotional problems Source: Institute For Children and Poverty N= 266
  14. 14. Shelters and Learning: The Shelter And After School Programs Homeless Children Enrroled in After School Programs: Grade • Improvement by Academic Subject After-school programs offered at the shelter can help children make Reading 60%Percent of Students with Grade Improvement significant academic gains in less than six months. Language Arts 58% Success is even greater with ongoing enrollment. Math 56% • Homeless children Science 49% attending after-school programs offered at the shelter have higher school Social Studies 39% attendance rates 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% Academic Subject Source: Institute For Children and Poverty N =266
  15. 15. Shelters and Employment Employment Status of Homeless Heads of Household Educational Attainment by Employment Category In New York City Shelters No High School Diploma High school/GED Some College/Vocational Trade Education 100% 3% 90% 21% 23% 21% Currently Employed No Work History 19% 80% 24% 70% 60% 33% 38% 50% 40% 76% 30% 45% 20% 38% Unemployed with Paid Work History 10% 57% 0%Source: institute for Children and Poverty N= 421 Currently Employed Unemployed- Work History Unemployed- No Work History • The majority (81%) of homeless heads of household are unemployed and a quarter of them have no work history. • 76% of homeless heads of household with no work history have no high school diploma. • Lack of education and limited work experienced are among the top self-reported reasons for unemployment among homeless heads of household
  16. 16. Shelters and EmploymentQualifications Needed for Public Assistance Recipients to Participate in a Typical Job Trainig Program vs. the Typical Homeless Head of HouseholdThe typical job training program requires thatthe candidate: The typical homeless head of household:Be job-ready Has virtually no work experienceHave a high scool diploma Has a tenth grade educationRead at an 8th grade level or better Reads at the 6th grade levelPossess basic skills, such as typing Has few employable job skillsProvide their own daycare Has limited access to daycareHave no substance abuse history Often has a substance abuse historyProvide their own transportation Cannot afford transportation costHave a permanent address Does not have a permanent addressSource: Institute for Children and Poverty Most homeless heads of household lack the basic requirements needed to access job training programs offered to public assistance recipients. Job readiness and job training programs offered at the shelter can target the specific needs of homeless heads of household and give them the tools necessary to access employment opportunities.
  17. 17. Shelters and Foster CareHomeless parents with a foster care history are twice as more likely to have repeatedincidences of homelessness. They also tend to become homeless at a younger age. Comparison of Homeless Parents: With and Without a Foster Care History Homeless Parents Foster Care History No Foster Care History Physically or Sexually Abused as a Child 41%* 13% Age First Homeless 20 years* 28 years Homeless as a Result of Violence 23%* 15% Homeless More Than Once 47%* 24% Age First Gave Birth 19 years 20 years Have Not Completed High School 59% 54% *Significant at the .05 Level Source: Institute for Children and Poverty N=446With a third of shelter residents having spend a part of their childhood in foster care and somemoving directly from the foster care system to the shelter system, there is a need to prevent theirchildren from doing the same. Using targeted programs, the shelter can help families stay togetherand achieve long term stability.
  18. 18. Shelters and Teen Pregnancy • Almost half of all homeless Age When Homeless Women Became Pregnant With Their First Child mothers became pregnant with their first child before they reach 50% 47% 18 years of age. 45% 40% • Teen pregnancy prevents some 35% homeless mothers from% of Homeless Women 31% 30% completing high school and entering the labor force. 25% 22% 20% • The shelter can offer young 15% mothers an opportunity to 10% complete their education and 5% access job readiness, employment 0% training and parenting skills < 18 yrs 19-21 yrs 22 yrs > workshops. This allows them to Age Became Pregnant develop the necessary skills to Source: Institute for Children and Poverty N=323 make good parenting decisions and manage their own lives.
  19. 19. Shelters and Domestic Violence • Due to scarcity of domestic violence shelters, victims of domestic violence are regularly placed in homeless family shelters. • Domestic violence is now among the top reasons for family homelessness, accounting for approximately 19% of all families that enter shelter. • Between 20 and 50% of all homeless parents have experienced domestic violence at some point of their lives. • The shelter gives us an opportunity to tackle domestic violence in a safe and nurturing environment while giving these families the services they need to address their emotional and physical health.Source: New York City Independent Budget Office: City Spending in Domestic Violence: A Review, June 2007. Available
  20. 20. Shelters and Children’s HealthHealth problems among homeless children: New York CityAmong homeless children: • 20% have asthma • 46% experienced a decline in health with the onset of homelessnessCompared to non-homeless children, homeless children suffer: • Three times as many gastrointestinal disorders • Five times as many diarrhea infections • 50% more ear infections • Twice as many hospitalizationsSource: Institute for Children and PovertyIn New York City almost three quarters of all homeless families rely on emergencyrooms and walk-in clinics for their medical care. Shelters can provide families with theprimary care services they need for staying healthy, through offering on-site medicalservices or by forming partnerships with local health providers and other communityorganizations.
  21. 21. Concluding ThoughtsA National Problem with a Local Solution
  22. 22. A National Problem• There is no national agenda to end family homelessness. – Available federal funding targets the chronically homeless--almost exclusively single adults--leaving local governments with few resources to address family homelessness.• There is a limited supply of low income housing. – Continuous cuts in federal funding for low income housing assistance programs exacerbates the problem and leaves shelters as the only affordable housing option for very low income families.
  23. 23. A Local Solution• Shelter infrastructure should be used as a tool to address the multiplicity of homeless family issues. – Local government can successfully partner with the non-profit and philanthropic sectors to target resources.• Local government and non-profit providers must address family homelessness as a poverty issue, not simply a housing issue.
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