Posts by Kimberly Ferguson

Connecticut Says It Has Ended Chronic Homelessness for Veterans

NEWINGTON — Earlier this year, advocates counted 41 chronically homeless veterans living on Connecticut’s streets. On Thursday, state and federal officials proclaimed that housing has now been found for all those troubled vets, calling it a landmark in the effort to help veterans.

“We are the first state in the nation to end chronic homelessness among our veterans,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said during a ceremony at a veterans’ housing complex.

The governor said the state’s goal is to bring an end to homelessness for veterans in Connecticut by the end of this year, and to provide housing and support services for all homeless people in the state by the end of 2016.

Despite the progress being made, Malloy and members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation who attended the event Thursday said more needs to be done to help both veterans and others living on the streets.

“This is not a ‘mission accomplished’ moment,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. “We still have a lot of work to do.”

A spokesman for the state Department of Housing said Thursday the state has invested at least $3 million in rental subsidies and special services for Connecticut’s homeless veterans, with the bulk of that money being allocated in the past five years.

Lisa Tepper Bates, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, said state funding has been critical in helping to “fill in the gaps” despite the millions spent by the federal government to deal with homeless veterans.

“In a lot of states,” Bates said, “there is no state investment.”

She said the key is addressing the needs of each individual or family, and having the right type of housing and support services available to fulfill those needs.

U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald also attended Thursday’s celebration and praised Connecticut’s efforts to help homeless veterans.

“The federal government can’t do it by itself,” said McDonald, who has been in charge of the federal agency for barely a year. Cooperation with states and nonprofit organizations is critical, he added.

A “chronically homeless veteran” is defined by state and federal officials as a veteran who has a disability and has been homeless for a year, or three times in a four-year period.

Connecticut’s February survey showed a total of 39 additional veterans who were homeless in addition to the chronically homeless vets who were found living on the streets.

Malloy said ongoing state efforts have placed “nearly 300 veterans previously experiencing chronic homelessness” in permanent housing in recent years.

The survey of Connecticut’s homeless earlier this year found declines in virtually all categories of people and families living on the streets or in homeless shelters. The total number of people living in homeless shelters in February was 3,412, a 4 percent drop from the previous year.

Another 626 people were found to be living on the streets — a decrease of 32 percent from the 2013 survey by the Coalition to End Homelessness.

Thursday’s event dealing with chronic homeless veterans was held on the lawn of Victory Gardens, a veterans’ housing complex next to the U.S. Veteran Affairs medical facility in Newington.

McDonald said progress has been made to reduce the huge backlog in applications by veterans seeking help from the federal veteran’s administration. Revelations about that backlog created an uproar and demands for reform in recent years.

According to McDonald, that backlog in applications peaked in March 2013 at more than 611,000 applications waiting to be processed by the VA. He said that number has been cut by 80 percent, and new claims are now being handled within 125 days.

Blumenthal, who is the ranking Democrat on the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said the reduction in the numbers of veterans in Connecticut waiting for their applications to be processed reflected those national statistics.

Full article found here:

http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-veterans-malloy-0828-20150827-story.html

In Less than a Week, People Experiencing Homelessness Will Be Able to Access Free Birth Certificates

HousingCalifornia

 

In Less than a Week, People Experiencing Homelessness Will Be Able to Access Free Birth Certificates

Implementation of Assembly Bill 1733 (2014) Takes Effect July 1st
On September 29, 2014, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 1733 (Quirk-Silva, Maienschein, Atkins) into law. Under AB 1733, Californians experiencing homelessness, as defined further in the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, are eligible to receive at no cost, a certified record of live birth or a state-issued photo identification card subject to several conditions.Housing California sponsored this legislation and it enjoyed the support of more than 100 organizations around the state that understood how access to identity documents is critical to connecting people with employment and housing opportunities, healthcare, and public assistance programs, among others. Housing California’s leadership on the issue of access to identity documents led to policy director John Bauters being selected to serve on a national expert panel convened by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency (SAMHSA). That panel is currently working to create a sustainable implementation guide for service providers and consumers nationally to help people experiencing homelessness better access and resource identity documents across the country.

July 1 Start Date for Birth Records/January 1 Start Date for State IDs

Under AB 1733, the State Registrar and Department of Public Health (DPH) were required to begin accepting fee waivers for birth record fees on July 1, 2015. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is required to begin providing fee waivers for state identification cards on January 1, 2016. Housing California works not just to enact important legislation that helps people experiencing homelessness, but partners closely with the state agencies and departments charged with implementation to ensure that the process made available to consumers and service providers is usable and efficient. We would like to thank DPH and DMV for their tremendous partnership — not only for their assistance during the legislative process, but also for soliciting and integrating our feedback during the administrative guideline process.
Birth Record Implementation

Through a letter issued to California’s 58 counties several weeks ago, the State Registrar provided each county recorder/assessor with affidavit forms and instructions for how to issue fee waivers to people experiencing homelessness in compliance with AB 1733. County recorders also received copies of  the federal definitions of homelessness and an FAQ to help guide them in their administration of the birth record fee waiver. Below is a brief overview of the law as it pertains to obtaining a fee waiver for birth records. We will update this posting in the fall when the regulations from DMV for state-issued photo ID become final. In the meantime, following are the key things you need to know.(Please Note: All of the information in this email will be posted next week on theHousing California website.)

1. When does AB 1733 take effect and what does it say?

AB 1733 will take effect on and after July 1, 2015. The full text of AB 1733.

2. Does AB 1733 only apply to birth records?

Yes, AB 1733 is only for issuance of authorized live birth certificates.

3. Can the State Registrar issue fee exempt copies of birth certificates?

No, AB 1733 states only the local registrar or county recorder can issue, without a fee, a certified record of live birth.

4. Who is eligible to request a fee exempt birth certificate pursuant to AB 1733?

A homeless person or a homeless child or youth on behalf of themselves can make a request for a birth certificate, or any person lawfully entitled to request a birth certificate on behalf of a child, if the child has been verified as a homeless person or a homeless child or youth.

5. Who is considered a homeless person or child or youth? How can the county verify an individual as homeless?

View the definition of “homeless person” and “homeless child or youth.” A child or youth refers to a minor under the age of 18 years. A homeless services provider, pursuant to Health and Safety Code (HSC) Section 103577(d)(3), is responsible for making the determination on who is considered homeless. County vital records offices are not responsible for verifying a person’s homeless status. See number 6.

6. What is a “homeless services provider?”

1) A governmental or nonprofit agency receiving federal, state, or county or municipal funding to provide services to a “homeless person” or “homeless child or youth,” or that is otherwise sanctioned to provide those services by a local homeless continuum of care organization.

2) An attorney licensed to practice law in this state.

3) A local educational agency liaison for homeless children and youth designated as such pursuant to Section 11432(g)(1)(J)(ii) of Title 42 of the United States Code, or a school social worker.

4) A human services provider or public social services provider funded by the State of California to provide homeless children or youth services, health services, mental or behavioral health services, substance use disorder services, or public assistance or employment services.

5) A law enforcement officer designated as a liaison to the homeless population by a local police department or sheriff’s department within the state.

This information is included on the affidavit instruction page. No person or entity should verify homelessness unless they are specifically permitted to do so under AB 1733.

7. How does a county recorder verify if a provider is legitimate? Are the counties responsible for verifying this information?

Completed affidavits should be accepted at face value and processed the same as sworn statements, when applicants sign under penalty of perjury. In this case, the requestor and homeless service providers are swearing or affirming as to the knowledge of the facts on the affidavit.

8. Can the providers charge a fee for verifying the status of a homeless person or homeless child or youth?

No. AB 1733 states that providers may not charge a fee for verification of eligibility.

9. If a homeless person was not born in the county of search can counties charge a search fee?

No, counties may assist in searching for the record before the applicant makes a request.

HSC Section 103575 provides that the state or local registrar or county recorder may, without a fee, verify date and place of birth, when the applicant presents sufficient information to identify the birth record. The homeless applicant should then contact the appropriate county to obtain the birth record.

10. Can someone make a request on behalf of another homeless person?

Yes, as long as the person is considered a homeless child or youth. A person (i.e., parent, guardian, legal guardian, grandparent, brother, sister, or government agency) other than the registrant may request a copy of a birth certificate on behalf of a homeless child or youth as long as they are lawfully entitled.

11. Can county vital records’ staff order a birth certificate on behalf of an applicant?

No, the requestor must be the homeless person or homeless child or youth, or someone lawfully entitled to request on behalf of a homeless child or youth. However, counties may assist in providing information about the process.

12. How may an applicant submit a request for processing?

The best method would be to submit in-person at a local county office and a county official may take a statement sworn under penalty of perjury (HSC Section 103526).

13. Can an applicant order multiple certificates?

A person applying for a certified record of live birth is entitled to only one birth record per application for each eligible person verified as a homeless person or a homeless child or youth.

14. How may a homeless individual obtain notarization for the required sworn statement if he or she cannot afford the notarization fee?

The notarization is a statutory requirement, homeless services providers will need to assist applicants with this requirement. County offices will not be able to assist, unless the applicant makes an in-person request in the same county as they were born. A homeless applicant may appear in-person at a local county and a county official may take a statement sworn under penalty of perjury.

15. Should county offices stamp birth certificates, “For Government Use Only?”

No, typically a homeless person, or homeless child or youth applicant would need to request a certified record of live birth for use in obtaining benefits and identification. Stamping “For Government Use Only” will limit the use of the certificate and will not be beneficial to the requestor or for the purpose of this legislation.

16. Is there a timeframe limit for an applicant to apply for a birth certificate after receiving the verification from the provider?

A timeframe limit is not addressed in the bill and the counties should not enforce one.

17. Is the original signature required for the affidavit?

HSC Section 103526(a)(1) states: “If the State Registrar, local registrar, or county recorder receives a written, faxed, or digitized image of a request for a certified copy of a birth, death, or marriage record pursuant to Section 103525 that is accompanied by a notarized statement sworn under penalty of perjury, or a faxed copy or digitized image of a notarized statement sworn under penalty of perjury, that the requester is an authorized person, as defined in this section, that official may furnish a certified copy to the applicant pursuant to Section 103525.”

18. What are the guidelines for out of state requests?

The guidelines are the same as in California requests, but they must be born in California to benefit from AB 1733.

 

 

 

 

Thank you to everyone who supported AB 1733. We look forward to sharing success stories of individuals whose lives were changed simply from being able to access identification documents. We will also bring you more information as theJanuary 1 roll out of the state ID piece approaches.

John Bauters
Policy Director
Housing California
jbauters@housingca.org

Local Mayors Join to help end Veteran Homelessness

Monterey County mayors join initiative to battle veteran homelessness

By James Herrera, Monterey Herald

Seaside >> Now that Monterey County mayors have committed to ending veteran homelessness by the end of the year, the focus will be on finding jobs, housing and landlords who accept more veterans into their properties, say two local experts.

The mayors of Carmel, Del Rey Oaks, Gonzales, Greenfield, King City, Marina, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Salinas, Sand City, Seaside and Soledad join a growing national coalition of mayors, governors and county officials in the Joining Forces initiative.

Ending veteran homelessness means having no veterans sleeping on the streets and giving every veteran access to permanent housing.

“A lot of progress has been made, but this needs to be done as a community,” said Terry Bare, executive director of the Veterans Transition Center in Marina. “The housing authority, construction, mayors, supervisors — all need to see the big picture.”

The problem of affordable housing has dogged Monterey County for years. In 2014, only 27 percent of homes were considered affordable in the county based on median household income and current home prices. This exacerbates the issue even more for homeless veterans and their families.

“Our challenge in this area in general is we are in a high-rent, low-wage community that has few vacancies,” said Katherine Thoeni, executive officer of the Coalition of Homeless. “As much as we need affordable housing, that takes time, political will, resources and extensive planning.”

Both Bare and Thoeni say an immediate step would be getting more landlords to rent to veterans and their families, despite possible problems with income and credit history. That’s where the Supportive Services for Veteran Families comes in.

The services ensure veterans are able to pay their rent. It keeps the residences in the property filled and decreases the risk of evictions, Thoeni said. It gives the veteran a chance to be a good neighbor and good tenant. And it builds a way for landlords to give back to the people who have sacrificed for the country, explained Thoeni.

Landlords can call the Housing Resource Center at 424-9186 or the Veterans Resource Center at 375-1184 for more information about the program.

On the state level, money from Proposition 41 is available for new or rehabilitated housing for veterans.
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The measure authorized the state to provide local governments, nonprofit organizations and private developers with financial assistance, such as low-interest loans, so that they may construct, renovate and acquire affordable multi-family housing for low-income veterans and their families.

Bare said applications are being submitted to the state to build housing in Marina in the Patton Park area next to Martinez Hall. The area currently has old Army buildings that need to be torn down to make room for veterans and their families.

“Even if we get to functional zero on homeless veterans, we still have people coming back from conflicts, or losing jobs — it doesn’t just stop in 2015,” Bare said. “But the focus will be on preventing vet homelessness as a nation.”

Seaside Mayor Ralph Rubio, chair of the Monterey County Mayors Association, said in a prepared statement that “through the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, we will partner with our fellow cities, County offices, our local Continuum of Care, veterans groups and other non-profits to do what we can, when we can, to put an end to veteran homelessness in this county.”

Over the past three years, the Obama administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Veterans Administration have partnered with states and communities across the country to achieve a 24 percent decrease in homelessness among veterans.

“The bottom line for me is that we have faith enough to send them out to fight, as a country we should have the faith and confidence that they can be good tenants and neighbors,” Thoeni said.

James Herrera can be reached at 726-4344.

James Herrera

James Herrera is a reporter for the Monterey Herald. Reach the author at jherrera@montereyherald.com or follow James on Twitter: @jamerra1.

http://www.montereyherald.com/veterans/20150409/monterey-county-mayors-join-initiative-to-battle-veteran-homelessness

Pope Francis builds public showers and a barbershop for the homeless of Rome

Pope Francis is offering the homeless population of Vatican City a shower and haircut.

On Friday the Pope’s grand renovation of the St Peter’s Square public bathrooms was unveiled, and it included the addition of a barber shop. Read More…

Vatican Museums Welcome 150 Roofless Romans as VIP Guests

Vatican-MuseumsRecently, NPQ addressed the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s hostile treatment of homeless individuals seeking shelter in the church’s doorways with a system that dumped water on them in increments throughout the evening. Thankfully, such actions do not reflect the views and treatment of homeless people by church officials in other communities. Read More…

California’s Housing Costs Endanger Growth, Analyst Says

California’s high housing costs threaten the state’s economy as workers increasingly struggle to afford a roof over their heads, the state Legislative Analyst’s Office said in a report released Tuesday.

“The state’s high housing costs make California a less attractive place to call home, making it more difficult for companies to hire and retain qualified employees, likely preventing the state’s economy from meeting its full potential,” Chas Alamo and Brian Uhler, senior fiscal and policy analysts with the office, said in the study. Read More…

Housed People Are Not Homeless

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Free tax return preparation for Veterans, military members and their families

Earlier this week, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) started accepting electronically filed tax returns as well as paper returns. The IRS reminds taxpayers that filing electronically is the most accurate and safest way to file a tax return, as well as the fastest way to get a refund.

The following links to free tax preparation services will ensure current and former members of the military and their families have access to free tax preparation and electronic filing services to keep more of their hard earned money. Read More

“Housing first” approach works for homeless, study says

imrsA new Canadian study lends backing for a commonsense approach to moving people off the street that has been used in the District and other U.S. cities since the 1990s: Ensure that the homeless receive permanent shelter first, and their chances of achieving stability will increase. Known as the “housing first” approach, the program offers social support as well. But it emphasizes finding secure shelter in the community first, in contrast to homeless programs that insist on preconditions such as sobriety or psychiatric care and moving through transitional housing. Read More

Volunteers scour the county for homeless census

Struggling to take notes in the dark, Charles McCall stepped carefully around the sleeping, blanket-wrapped body in Salinas’ Central Park. It was just after 6 a.m. on Wednesday and McCall, who also goes by “Dred,” served as guide and census-taker in Monterey County’s biannual homeless count. McCall, 60 and a former U.S. Marine, said he’d been there. But with support from staff at the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs, he said, he hasn’t been homeless for more than a year. “They helped me when I was down and out. … When no one else believed in me,” he said. “Or I didn’t think that anybody believed.” Read More…