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Pennsylvania Unveils Five-year Affordable Housing Strategy

first_imgPennsylvania Unveils Five-year Affordable Housing Strategy May 23, 2016 SHARE Email Facebook Twittercenter_img Government That Works,  Human Services,  Press Release Harrisburg, PA – Today, the leaders of the Department of Human Services (DHS), the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA), and the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) released a five-year housing strategy to connect Pennsylvanians to affordable, integrated, and supportive housing.DHS Secretary Ted Dallas was joined by Brian Hudson, executive director & CEO of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin, and DHS’ executive housing director, Ben Laudermilch, at the unveiling event at Shepherd’s Crossing in Mechanicsburg. Shepherd’s Crossing is an inclusive workforce housing community.“Too many Pennsylvanians live in institutions when they could live at home with the right supports. Too many are rent-burdened and too many Pennsylvanians experience or are at risk of homelessness,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “Today is about working together to find ways to make better use of our resources so that we can make affordable housing a reality for more Pennsylvanians.”“Ninety-five percent of Pennsylvanians who need these services want to live in their community, not in an institution or a nursing home. But right now, we can only serve 51 percent of them in the community,” said Secretary Dallas. “Governor Wolf and all of us here today are committed to promoting independence and giving all people, regardless of their age or disability, a voice in choosing where they live. If we are successful, the services we provide will match what our clients want and, because community-based care costs about half of institutional care, we can also save millions of taxpayer dollars.”The strategy outlines the problems with the current state of housing opportunities for individuals with targeted goals and solutions spanning through 2020. The proposal addresses the following populations:• Currently 53,574 Pennsylvanians living in institutions but could live in the community with housing services and supports;• There were 15,421 individuals and families experiencing homelessness or are at-risk of homelessness during 2015; and• In 2015, 46.6% of Pennsylvanians have extremely low incomes and are rent-burdened.“We are thrilled to partner with DHS and DCED to bring light to this critical issue hindering Pennsylvanians throughout the state. We are committed to establishing supportive housing opportunities to the states vulnerable citizens, and maximizing each individuals chance to succeed,” said Brian Hudson.The plan’s goal is to leverage internal and external resources to collaborate with all levels of government and private agencies to make housing resources and services more accessible and available to a wide range of individuals served by state and local government.“This plan marks another great illustration of the implementation of Governor Wolf’s Government that Works initiative and DCED is extremely proud to be at the table for this collaboration,” said Secretary Davin. “It’s a part of our role at DCED to address the needs of Pennsylvania’s communities and through implementation of this plan we can begin to address the need for housing opportunities.”Some of the initial steps announced today include the following:• Using a portion of the “Money Follows the Person” federal grant funds to expand the number of regional housing coordinators across the state from 11 to at least 14. These coordinators work with local housing authorities and stakeholders to help transition individuals to the community;• Enhancing and expanding use of the housing network database operated by PHFA that can be used to match those who need housing with affordable housing throughout Pennsylvania.• Continuing the “Rapid Rehousing” pilot program that is ongoing in Philadelphia to help those who have had recently become homeless and those with have experienced housing instability find permanent housing; and• Expanding the use of Medicaid dollars to help move people to stable housing and maintain housing through housing-related supports.“There is no quick fix to addressing these issues,” said Secretary Dallas. “This is a marathon and not a sprint. Comprehensively addressing housing issues will take more than the steps we are announcing today and will take some time to complete. The strategy we announced today lays out our vision for the next five years and the steps we will have to take to bring this vision closer to reality.”Click here for more information on the housing strategy and to view a video regarding the housing strategylast_img read more

Homelessness Awareness Week encourages activism

first_imgHomelessness Awareness Week is an annual event by the USC Homelessness Action Committee, which features events around campus to provide volunteer opportunities and destigmatize the issue. Daily Trojan file photo.For many USC students, the issue of homelessness in Los Angeles is not something that comes to mind in everyday life. The USC Homelessness Action Committee aimed to change that by hosting USC’s annual Homelessness Awareness Week, which ran from Monday to Wednesday.The event featured four events to educate students about the complex social problem of homelessness and to provide volunteer opportunities for interested students.The committee was first founded last year to raise student awareness about Los Angeles’ Measure H, a tax bill for the largest homelessness funding program in the United States, but expanded its purpose after Measure H’s passage in spring 2017, according to the committee’s president, Cassie Woods, a graduate student studying public administration. The committee is also associated with the USC Initiative to End Homelessness, a program started after Provost Michael Quick classified homelessness as a “wicked problem” that the University had the responsibility to tackle. Held on Monday at the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, the first event of the week was a documentary screening and discussion that focused on stigmas associated with homelessness and how to address them. The documentary, The Invisibles, was made by Dworak-Peck clinical professor of field education Rafael Angulo, and told the stories of four individuals who had experienced homelessness and the hardships they faced. Following the screening, attendees participated in a discussion that featured youth who had experienced homelessness, from the organization Safe Place for Youth, which provides drop-in services, health services, education programs and more for youth experiencing homelessness in the Los Angeles area. “I think it definitely presented well the personal stories of those people and how it is possible to have their lives transformed, once they get housing,” said Forrest Scharmer, a senior majoring in industrial and systems engineering, who attended multiple events during Homelessness Awareness Week. That event was followed the next day by a talk given by Jim Burklo, associate dean of religious life, at the University Religious Center. Burklo spoke about fighting homelessness at a political level, focusing on the issue of what he referred to as Not In My Backyard activists, who, although supportive of helping homeless individuals, don’t want shelters built in their neighborhoods. The talk also featured Brenda Wiewel, director of the USC Initiative to Eliminate Homelessness. “Burklo and [Wiewel] gave very good practical advice for how we can get involved in the political process to help these initiatives like lower-income housing, safe parking, how to make them move forward,” Scharmer said. “I’m definitely going to go to more city council meetings — I’ve heard it before, but they just reinforced it here that it’s really important to go.”The events of the week culminated on Wednesday, when the committee hosted a volunteer fair in Alumni Park during the day, and a guest panel discussion on Measure H in the evening. The volunteer fair featured over 15 nonprofits in the Los Angeles area, giving students the opportunity to get involved in the fight against homelessness with organizations that best suited them. The panel discussion featured three experts working directly to tackle homelessness: Elizabeth Heger, director of family programs at People Assisting The Homeless; Briana Mandel, director of program development and training at Imagine LA; and Kenon Joseph, a regional coordinator for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.They spoke about the impact Measure H has had since its passage in spring this year, analyzing its actual effect on the fight to end homelessness in Los Angeles. With those four events, Woods hopes students can learn about homelessness while also prompting them to take action against it.“I also want to provide them with concrete actionable steps, so if they want to do something, I want to open the doorway for them to find that route,” Woods said.last_img read more