National Coalition of Homeless Veterans
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Local Advocacy Support and Resources

 

 

On this page you will find links to a number of studies, white papers, briefs, data sets, and lists that will help you target who to talk to, what to talk about, and how to talk about it. If you don't see your issue or resource on the page, and you think it should be here, please send an email to opmainstreet@nchv.org with the information! 

 

National Issues with Local Impact

NCHV maintains brief one-page documents on programs of national importance to the movement to end veteran homelessness. These programs reach into almost every community in the country, and all are crucial to our work. If your meeting will touch on a federally funded local program, please consider sharing these one-pagers - and definitely take a look at them yourselves! They are full of good information that law-makers like to have, and can really set the stage for your local discussion. 

Useful Data

Housing Assistance Council's Veterans Data Central

HAC has produced one of the most interesting and in depth looks at veteran population data perhaps ever made available to the public. Veterans Data Central is a simple, easy to use, on-line resource that provides essential information on the social, economic, and housing characteristics of veterans in the United States. You can breakout the information in any number of useful ways to produce meaningful statistics to inform your meetings. Whether you use this resource to inform your Operation Main Street meetings, or just take a look to satisfy your curiosity, NCHV cannot more highly recommend this resource. You can find it by clicking here

2016 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress, Point in Time and Housing Inventory Count

If you are a part of your Continuum of Care, you likely already have access to more up to date numbers than those contained in the 2016 AHAR, but in case you don't have access to the more up-to-date numbers for your area a great fall back resource can be found in the CoC- and state-level Point in Time count information. This resource provides longitudinal data from 2007-2016 for a variety of "types" of homelessness for CoC's and states, including breakouts by chronic, veteran, and sheltered vs. unsheltered status. You can find that resource by clicking here. 2017 numbers would normally be available by now, but the administration is taking much longer than anticipated pulling the more recent report together. 

National Alliance to End Homelessness's State of Homelessness Report

The State of Homelessness in America 2016 is the sixth in a series of reports charting progress in ending homelessness in the United States. It examines trends in homelessness, populations at risk of homelessness, and homelessness assistance in America. The website and report contain tons of useful information in easily accessible format, including share-able maps and graphics. NAEH also publishes excellent resources on topics like unsheltered homelessness


 

Targeting Assistance

The Obama administration popularized an initiative known as the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, which had local elected officials sign a pledge to end veteran homelessness in their communities. Whether your Mayor is or is not a member can be crucial information that influences how you approach him or her about the issue. The National League of Cities has maintained a list of the Mayors and other elected's that are still signatories to the Challenge. Visit the NLC's Mayors Challenge webpage to see the participant directory.

Local Issues and Resources

You are all experts in your local communities. Even so, it is always nice to have some national data or research to help prove your point in these meetings - or even to see best practices ideas from other communities that are experiencing the same road blocks. In this section, we have highlighted a few of most common issue areas that local communities face. 

  • Landlord Engagement

Finding landlords who are willing to rent to the soon-to-be-formerly homeless can be very challenging - even with the reassurance that comes with participating in programs like HUD-VASH. This is a problem nation-wide. Luckily however, there are resources to help you improve your relationships with landlords - many of which include leveraging your local government either formally or informally. You can look at the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness's resource page on this topic, or else delve into the National League of Cities excellent landlord engagement guide.

  • Overcoming NIMBYism

NCHV's most recent Annual Conference was titled "Yes, In My Back Yard" for a reason; oftentimes the philosophy of "Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY)" can throw up road blocks in the creation of affordable housing or service locations. This is a nearly universal issue that most developers, service providers, and housing providers have or will deal with. Luckily, due to how common this is, there are a number of resources to help guide you as you deal with your own local NIMBY groups. Sometimes a better understanding of the morality playing field can prove useful, and sometimes using proper messaging and the media can help tip the scales. But it's always smart to learn from those who have gone before

  • Encampment Evictions

Like much other homelessness criminalization policy, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty has reported an increase of encampment criminalization, with 33% of cities banning camping city-wide and 50% banning in certain public places.  The policies lead to forceful enforcement, with “homeless sweeps” where law enforcement officers, working with city officials, clear out an encampment with little to no notice.

These sweeps often lead to homeless individuals losing some of their few possessions, especially those of value.  In Honolulu, 57% of homeless individuals reported a loss of identification, 40% reported loss of tents, and 21% reported a loss of medicine.  These losses can cause individuals to be further entrenched in homelessness, as identification is often required when applying for jobs and government benefits.  Furthermore, the loss of medication and tents can endanger the welfare of homeless individuals.

Indianapolis has instituted a more balanced policy to protect those living in encampments.  Before executing an eviction, the city must provide adequate housing alternatives.  Furthermore, the city must provide 15 days’ notice before beginning the eviction, offer to store personal belongings, and make all aware of housing options. If you would like to read more, and work towards a solution in your community, click here for a National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) report, and here for a resource from the Seattle University School of Law.

  • Housing Discrimination

Housing discrimination pertains to the policies that bar people from receiving housing assistance.  Under federal law, people can barred from housing assistance for only a few certain reasons: for example, those with a record of manufacturing methamphetamine in public housing, and those on a life-time sex offender registry.  However, Public Housing Authorities and local governments are free to institute other policies.  Some municipalities bar those with criminal records from housing assistance.

Due to other anti-homeless laws, many homeless people may have already built a criminal record.  Barring them from housing assistance only exacerbates and adds to the population of chronically homeless people in the area.

If you would like to read more, and work towards a solution in your community, click here for a National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) report.

  • Affordable Housing

We all know that affordable housing is as important as it is hard to locate, and there are no fast or easy solutions to a lack of it in a community. But, there are resources that exist to help bolster your arguments during your local advocacy meetings. One such resource is the National Low Income Housing Coalition's annual Out of Reach report, which documents the gap between renters' wages and the cost of rental housing. The 2017 report can be accessed here, and here you can find an interactive webpage that allows you to search your areas data.

  • Food Sharing

Food sharing programs are food banks, soup kitchens, or other programs designed to distribute food to the homeless.  6% of the cities studied by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty have outlawed these practices in public places.

Criminalizing food sharing in public spaces causes more harm than any perceived good.  Not only does it deny homeless individuals a meal, and complicate outreach programs, but it also opens service providers and philanthropy to potential legal liability.

If you would like to read more, and work towards a solution in your community, click here for a National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) report, and here for an excellent report on this issue by the National Coalition for the Homeless.

  • Living in Vehicles

Many homeless people find shelter in their cars after getting evicted.  Over the past 10 years, National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty has reported an increase in the criminalization of living in a vehicle by 143%, with the current rate at 39% of the cities they studied.

The criminalization of living in a vehicle takes away any lawful means of shelter.  Those punished for living in their vehicles may suffer financial consequences that further entrench them in homelessness.  Furthermore, the criminalization of living in a vehicle could cause an increase in encampments, or other street homelessness – merely diffusing the issue rather than addressing it.

If you would like to read more, and work towards a solution in your community, click here for a National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) report, and here for an older piece of academic literature from the University of Miami Law Review that contains a still-relevant section on this issue.

  • Opioid Use and Homelessness

"The issue of opioid abuse has risen to a level of national crisis as the number of people abusing prescription drugs and heroin has dramatically risen, and the rate of opioid-related overdose deaths has tripled since 2000. While the epidemic is notable for affecting people from any race, gender, socioeconomic status, or other identifier, its effects are felt in unique and notably harmful ways by people who are experiencing homelessness." This is from the National Alliance to End Homelessness's report on opioid use and homelessness, which can be found here. This is another instance of a pervasive, nation-wide problem with few easy solutions; but having a report to back up your arguments may prove to change some minds. 

  • Panhandling Laws

The most common place to panhandle is outside a business, where people passing by are regularly accessible.  27% of cities have prohibited it city wide, and 61% have banned it in certain public spaces. Cities with a ban in certain public spaces can often be as damaging as a city-wide ban
Various lawsuits have successfully struck down panhandling laws in certain municipalities.

If you would like to read more, and work towards a solution in your community, click here for a National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) report.

 


1730 M Street NW, Suite 705  |  Washington, DC  |  20036  |  t-f. 1.800.VET.HELP  |  v. 202.546.1969  |  f. 202.546.2063  |  info@nchv.org