Archive for the ‘homelessness’ Category

New From the GAO

August 25, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Education of Homeless Students: Improved Program Oversight Needed. GAO-14-465, July 31.
Highlights –
Podcast –

2. Federal Real Property: GSA Should Better Target Its Use of Swap-Construct Exchanges. GAO-14-586, July 24.
Highlights –

3. Regulatory Impact Analysis: Development of Social Cost of Carbon Estimates. GAO-14-663, July 24.
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Audit of VHA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program

April 2, 2014 Comments off

Audit of VHA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General

At the request of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Subcommittee on Health, we conducted this audit to determine if the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program grantees appropriately expended program funds. In December 2010, VA established the SSVF program to rapidly re-house homeless veteran families and prevent homelessness for those at imminent risk due to a housing crisis. For fiscal years (FYs) 2012 and 2013, the VHA awarded about $60 million and $100 million in SSVF grants, respectively, and has increased awards to nearly $300 million for FY 2014. We found that VHA’s SSVF program has adequate financial controls in place that are working as intended to provide reasonable assurance that funds are appropriately expended by grantees. We determined program staff were reviewing grantee timecards, invoices for temporary financial assistance, subcontractor costs, and conducted annual inspections. However, SSVF program officials can improve controls to ensure only eligible veterans and their family members participate in the program. We found three of five grantees used outdated area median income (AMI) limits to determine eligibility for the program. In addition, four of five grantees did not verify veterans’ discharge status with the required “Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty” (DD 214). This occurred because some grantees were not aware when new AMI limits were published. To avoid delaying program participation, grantees did not always follow up to ensure receipt of the required DD 214 when an interim eligibility document was used. As a result, VHA risks providing SSVF services to ineligible veterans or excluding eligible veterans from the program. We recommended the Under Secretary for Health ensure SSVF program management implements a mechanism to inform grantees when the most current AMI limits are published and ensure grantees comply with eligibility documentation requirements. The Under Secretary for Health concurred with our recommendations and provided an appropriate action plan. We consider the SSVF program actions sufficient and closed the recommendations as completed.

Current Issues in Mental Health in Canada: Homelessness and Access to Housing

March 27, 2014 Comments off

Current Issues in Mental Health in Canada: Homelessness and Access to Housing
Source: Library of Parliament

The relationship between mental health problems and homelessness and access to housing is complex. Individuals with mental health problems or mental illnesses are predisposed to experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness, and poor mental health can be caused, triggered or aggravated by homelessness or housing that does not meet a certain standard of adequacy, affordability and suitability.

In Canada, access to housing for people with mental health problems has evolved over time; from poorhouses and prisons in the 1800s, to psychiatric hospitals by the 1900s, to a process of deinstitutionalization beginning in the 1960s. Since the 1990s, those working in the Canadian mental health care system and advocates in the mental health field have displayed a greater awareness of the critical relationship between mental health and housing, in particular the role housing plays in recovery and well-being.

Because many mental illnesses are undiagnosed, particularly in the homeless population, in this publication the term mental health problem will encompass both poor mental health – such as feelings of loneliness, worthlessness and hopelessness – and mental illnesses – such as schizophrenia or depression.

Relationships Between Housing and Food Insecurity, Frequent Mental Distress, and Insufficient Sleep Among Adults in 12 US States, 2009

March 18, 2014 Comments off

Relationships Between Housing and Food Insecurity, Frequent Mental Distress, and Insufficient Sleep Among Adults in 12 US States, 2009
Source: Preventing Chronic Disease (CDC)

Housing insecurity and food insecurity may be psychological stressors associated with insufficient sleep. Frequent mental distress may mediate the relationships between these variables. The objective of this study was to examine the relationships between housing insecurity and food insecurity, frequent mental distress, and insufficient sleep.

We analyzed data from the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System in 12 states. Housing insecurity and food insecurity were defined as being worried or stressed “sometimes,” “usually,” or “always” during the previous 12 months about having enough money to pay rent or mortgage or to buy nutritious meals.

Of 68,111 respondents, 26.4% reported frequent insufficient sleep, 28.5% reported housing insecurity, 19.3% reported food insecurity, and 10.8% reported frequent mental distress. The prevalence of frequent insufficient sleep was significantly greater among those who reported housing insecurity (37.7% vs 21.6%) or food insecurity (41.1% vs 22.9%) than among those who did not. The prevalence of frequent mental distress was also significantly greater among those reporting housing insecurity (20.1% vs 6.8%) and food insecurity (23.5% vs 7.7%) than those who did not. The association between housing insecurity or food insecurity and frequent insufficient sleep remained significant after adjustment for other sociodemographic variables and frequent mental distress.

Sleep health and mental health are embedded in the social context. Research is needed to assess whether interventions that reduce housing insecurity and food insecurity will also improve sleep health and mental health.

Twenty-one Percent of Veterans in Substance Abuse Treatment Were Homeless

February 14, 2014 Comments off

Twenty-one Percent of Veterans in Substance Abuse Treatment Were Homeless (PDF)
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

U.S. military veterans are a large portion of homeless adults. There is a possibility that the number of homeless veterans may grow as the total number of veterans increases due to recent military conflicts. One challenge faced by many homeless veterans is substance abuse. About 70 percent of homeless veterans have a substance abuse problem.

The Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) is a database of substance abuse treatment admissions. The admissions in TEDS who are veterans represent those who have chosen to seek treatment in community-based, non-Veterans Affairs facilities. In 2011, both veteran status and living arrangements were reported for about 1.3 million admissions aged 21 or older. Of these admissions, 52,427 (3.9 percent) were veterans. About one fifth of veterans in treatment (21.4 percent) were homeless. There was a higher percentage of homelessness among older veterans in treatment than among younger veterans in treatment (24.5 vs. 14.0 percent).

CRS — Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights (updated)

December 27, 2013 Comments off

Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Two years after the 2011 U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, sectarian divisions and the Sunni-led uprising in neighboring Syria have fueled a revival of radical Islamist Sunni Muslim insurgent groups that are attempting to undermine Iraq’s stability. Iraq’s Sunni Arab Muslims increasingly resent the Shiite political domination and perceived discrimination by the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Iraq’s Kurds are embroiled in separate political disputes with the Baghdad government over territorial, political, and economic issues. The rifts delayed some provincial elections during April-June 2013 and coul d affect the timing and viability of national elections for a new parliament and government set for April 30, 2014. Maliki is widely expected to seek to retain his post after that vote.

No Place Like Home: Addressing Poverty and Homelessness in the United States

December 14, 2013 Comments off

No Place Like Home: Addressing Poverty and Homelessness in the United States
Source: Center for American Progress

While owning a home is the cornerstone of the American Dream, growing income inequality, coupled with an affordable housing crisis, makes maintaining stable housing a challenge for millions of Americans. In his book, Making Room: The Economics of Homelessness, Columbia University Professor Brendan O’Flaherty explains, “Although homelessness in the past was a phenomenon of economic depression, much of the rise in the new homelessness has occurred in relatively prosperous times.” Through his research, he shows that around the 1980s, “an increase in inequality and a smaller middle class, made it more difficult for poor people to acquire housing that had been formerly used by the middle class.” In fact, today, almost half of the homeless population in this country work but do not earn enough income to pay for housing.

When examining the availability of low-cost housing over time, the extent to which affordable housing is a barrier today becomes clear. According to the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness, there were 300,000 more low-cost rental units than low-income renter households in 1970—6.5 million units for 6.2 million households. By 1985, there was an affordable housing shortfall of 3.3 million units. By 2011, the affordable housing shortage reached 5.3 million units. Today, only one in four households eligible for rental subsidies actually receives assistance due to overwhelming demand, forcing many families onto lengthy waiting lists.


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