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Joint Statement from Federal Partners Identifies Opportunities to Advance Employment and Economic Opportunity for Homeless Jobseekers

Watch Our Webinar – Access to Economic Opportunity Helps End Homelessness: New Opportunities in the 2019 CoC Program NOFA

Today, the U.S. Department of Housing (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a joint statement identifying opportunities for the public workforce and homeless service systems to work together to advance employment and economic opportunity for people experiencing homelessness. The statement from the Departments is in response to HUD’s Fiscal Year 2019 Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the homeless service system (the Continuum of Care Program), which identifies employment as a key strategy for ending homelessness and a top priority for communities.

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At Heartland Alliance, we believe that all people experiencing homelessness who want to work should be able to achieve employment and the income needed for long-term housing stability. Through the work of our National Center on Employment & Homelessness, we’ve advocated for the homeless service system to increase incentives for communities to prioritize connecting people experiencing homelessness to employment, training, and education opportunities.

“Through its stated policy priorities, HUD urges that CoCs and CoC-funded projects prioritize training and employment opportunities for people experiencing homelessness.

This is a strong and welcomed signal from HUD that they are seeking to fund community-wide commitments to promote income and employment as a part of preventing and ending homelessness.

No single public system can support pathways to employment and income for homeless jobseekers alone. Today’s joint statement by HUD and DOL reflects important and necessary federal cross-agency collaboration which can be a model for local communities nationwide.”

Melissa Young, Director, National Initiatives

That’s why we were excited to see that this year, HUD added a new employment-related policy priority to the 2019 Continuum of Care Program NOFA. HUD will award points to communities whose funding applications demonstrate strategies to increase access to employment, training, education, and earned income for people experiencing homelessness. We also applaud HUD and DOL for working together to share ideas for how communities can partner across systems to do this work effectively.

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Launching the Pathways Forward Challenge: Advancing Employment, Equity, and an End to Homelessness

Housing and income are inextricably linked.

Numerous studies find that increased income is a strong predictor of a person exiting homelessness and research tells us that individuals experiencing homelessness consistently rank paid employment alongside healthcare and housing as a primary need. When parents of families experiencing homelessness are asked to name one thing that would most help get their family back on its feet, the most common answer is employment. Over and over again, we find that those experiencing homelessness want to work and often are working already, but are not earning enough to keep a roof over their heads. So despite the fact that people experiencing homelessness want to, need to, and can work, far too few people experiencing homelessness are being connected to employment opportunities and income supports.

That is why, earlier this year, with the support of the Melville Charitable Trust and the Oak Foundation, Heartland Alliance introduced the Pathways Forward Challenge (PWFC) – a call to communities across the nation to create more effective and equitable pathways to employment for people experiencing homelessness through bold systems change and collaboration. Homelessness persists, in part, because public systems fail to connect all homeless jobseekers to equitable pathways to employment and the income necessary for long-term housing stability, and we hope the begin to change the system through our Pathways Forward Challenge.

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What Continuum of Care System Performance Data Tell Us—& What We Still Need to Know—About Advancing Economic Opportunity for Homeless Jobseekers

By Caitlin C. Schnur, Policy Associate, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

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In late April, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released the 2016 Continuum of Care (CoC) system performance data. As a part of an effort to understand how CoCs operate as a system to prevent and end homelessness within their jurisdictions, CoCs are required to collect and report on a variety of performance measures including employment and income growth for adults staying in and exiting the homeless service system. The data set from HUD is packed full of important information that can help stakeholders understand how to better end homelessness in their communities. Here are some of our initial takeaways from the 2016 data, with a specific focus on Measure #4, employment and income growth of people experiencing homelessness.

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New Report: Systems Work Better Together

By Caitlin C. Schnur, Policy Associate, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

Partners II

“On the workforce side, it’s terrifying when someone’s housing is unstable—how are they going to maintain their job search or keep their job? At the same time, for homeless services providers to really end homelessness, they need to help people meet their economic as well as housing goals. Both systems need each other.” –Nancy Phillips, Heartland Human Care Services, Inc., Chicago, IL

Employment success and housing stability go hand in hand. Although the public workforce and homelessness service systems both serve people experiencing homelessness and jobseekers experiencing housing instability, they don’t often work together. Systems collaboration is necessary to ensure clients can access stable housing, employment, and economic opportunities.

Our new report provides background about the structures, responsibilities, and funding of the workforce and homelessness service systems. Grounded in existing policy frameworks, our report gives actionable steps that stakeholders can take to enhance collaboration between their systems—and provides community-level examples where these ideas are underway.

Here are four takeaways:

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#PathwaysForward: A National Convening Focused on Elevating & Advancing Employment to Prevent & End Homelessness

By Carrie Felton, Graduate Intern, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

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ImageThink graphic recorders captured and beautifully illustrated ideas generated at the convening.

The event, Preventing & Ending Homelessness Through Employment: Lessons Learned & Pathways Forward (#PathwaysForward), was sponsored by Heartland Alliance’s National Center on Employment & Homelessness (NCEH), the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), and Funders Together to End Homelessness (FTEH) with support from the Melville Charitable Trust and Oak Foundation.

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