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Homelessness 101: What is the National Alliance to End Homelessness doing to meet its ten year goal?

Adopting A Housing First Approach: Housing Flow Chart
Adopting A Housing First Approach: Housing Flow Chart
Accompaniment to presentation by Michelle Flynn, Associate Executive Director of the Raod Home (UT)

The National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) announced A Plan, Not A Dream: How to End Homelessness in Ten Years in 2000. This ten-year plan pinpoints data usage for outcome planning, prevention programs, and rapidly re-housing individuals and families. Additionally, the plan calls for new infrastructure built by increasing incomes, expanding affordable housing, and helping individuals and families access needed services. This paradigm shift from maintenance to prevention necessitates involvement at the community level.

"These plans are a critical component of efforts to prevent, reduce, and end homelessness nationwide"

To learn from an existing model, the Des Moines Homelessness Examiner joined National Alliance to End Homelessness activists today for "Adopting a Housing First Approach: Using HPRP and TANF to Re-House Families in Salt Lake City." The webinar was hosted by Sharon McDonald of the NAEH with Aisha Williams, and guest speakers, Michelle Flynn and Sara Brenna.

Sharon McDonald, Senior Policy Analyst for NAEH provided a brief overview of the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund Program. $5 billion must be used by September 30, 2010. Approximately $ 4 billion remains. The program provides reimbursement to states of up to 80 percent of increased spending in:

  • Short term, non-recurrent benefits (e.g. up to four months of rental assistance, security deposit)
  • Subsidized employment
  • Cash assistance (due to increased number of families served or increased benefit levels)

"Many states are using less than 10% of their allotted service funding... it's sad..." Sharon McDonald

Currently, the state of Iowa is not represented in the National Alliance to End Homelessness' US map as having communities with an identified plan. If your community has a completed plan that is not listed, please email a .PDF of the plan to

Michelle Flynn, Associate Executive Director of the Road Home represented the largest homeless shelter in the state of Utah. Local providers consolidated funds to secure $ 4,774,787 over a two-year period to provide direct financial assistance to homeless families. Utah began with a pilot program first. Measured success made furthering the project highly desirable, improving access to funds and promoting efforts to generate support from community organizations.

Q: What happens when families are not eligible for the TANF program, requiring more targeted assistance?

Flynn: Because we have so many families coming through and we're not a large community, some families that are generationally homeless are targeted when they come into the shelter. They are moved into a more intensive case management model. We also utilize a transitional housing element. We remove some of their housing barriers before trying to transition them to a more traditional housing model... Some families will move out with a small amount of assistance...

Q: Have you institutionalized an appeal process?

Flynn: There is an in house process to deal with appeals, yet the question rarely comes up since our focus is to continue the conversation, even when families do not qualify for the first preference, which is TANF funded services.

Q: If you provide rental assistance up front, how do you provide case management after the families move out?

Flynn: Case managers build a relationship with families before families are re-housed. Assistance is month-to-month. If families continue to need cash assistance, they know they will have to be in communication with the case managers. Case managers do check with landlords to see that rent is being paid. We can also help with furniture and basic needs to assist the family with moving. There are some families to choose not to engage.

Sarah Brenna, Case Manager for the Utah State Department of Workforce Services was unable to address the webinar for the first hour due to technical difficulties. She is commended for persisting and appreciated since the topic of homelessness is an important conversation.

Ms. Brenna made a key point that TANF resources are not the only funding option for service providers to assist homeless familes. In Utah for example, non-traditional sources have also been aggressively pursued- such as non-profits, community and faith-based organizations, and local and state govornments.

For more information, contact Sharon McDonald, Senior Policy Analyst, National Alliance to End Homelessness.

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Questions and answers in this article are not all-inclusive. Slides and audio from the webinar will be available soon at the NAEH website ( The Des Moines Homeless Examiner  would like to thank Ms. Sharon McDonald of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, for permission to use the Housing Flow Chart featured in this article.

Related Resources

A Shifting Focus: What's New in Community Plans to End Homelessness

Nan Roman, President and CEO of NAEH on National Public Radio - "Some Stimulus Money Preventing Homelessness"


  • DMACC Student 4 years ago

    hi my name is britnany. im doing a project for class and we have to come up with an idea that will make des moines a better place to live by 2020. my group is doing a homeless shelter that mainly focuses on getting people off the streets and into life. i can't really find any info on the homeless situation in des moines iowa can anyone help me? thanks!!!!! my email is thanks so much!

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