Campaign for NY/NY Housing

The National Center supports the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing urging New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to fund 35,000 supportive housing units across New York State over the next ten years.

Homelessness in New York State has doubled in the last decade, with roughly 67,000 men, women, and children staying in shelters at any given time. Countless others live on the street, in cars, or doubled-up. Supportive housing is a viable solution to this rising problem and has been proven through a large body of research to be a cost-effective and successful way to end homelessness for individuals and families, particularly for those with complex needs and disabilities. Pairing affordable housing with on-site services, supportive housing has also been shown to reduce the use of costly resources such as shelters, hospitals, psychiatric centers, and correctional institutions.

There is a significant shortage of supportive housing units in New York State, and in New York City in particular. In fact, four out of every five people eligible for supportive housing in New York City get turned away because of lack of available units.

It is time for New York State to take action and use this important opportunity to set a national example. The New York-New Jersey Regional Network of the National Homelessness Social Work Initiative sent a letter of support to Governor Andrew Cuomo advocating for the creation of the needed agreements to fund these units. We urge other individuals and organizations to join us in supporting this important and necessary step towards ending homelessness in New York State.

Learn More About the Campaign:

Call the Governor’s Office: 1) Dial 518-474-1041; 2)  Press “1” to leave a message; 3) Leave this or a similar message: “I urge Governor Cuomo to get the housing MOU done now. He made this promise more than a year ago. Over 80,000 people are homeless across the state. Every day that passes without an MOU is another day that people live in the streets and in shelters. We need the Governor to fulfill his promise and get the MOU signed now.”

Send a Letter to the Governor’s Office:
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224


Like this post?
Check out this one written by Kelsey Whittington, graduate assistant for the National Center for Excellence in Homeless Services.

Want more info?
Visit our website to learn more about us and our National Homelessness Social Work Initiative. And, join our mailing list to receive our newsletter.

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Employment Supports for People Experiencing Homelessness

Chronic unemployment or sudden job loss can lead to homelessness. For individuals able to work, regaining a steady job can make it easier to exit homelessness and can support long term housing stability and financial security. However, homeless people often face many obstacles when searching for and maintaining employment. Many have limited skills, education, and experience, and opportunities for jobs that pay a living wage can be limited. The lack of a car or access to public transportation is an additional barrier. However, research has shown that the homeless, both those who are chronically and acutely homeless, are willing and able to work if given the opportunity. Gary Shaheen and John Rio present a thoughtful argument for the role of employment in preventing and ending homelessness.


Multiple models have been developed to provide employment services to people experiencing homelessness. Several of these models stress the importance of job training in the employment process. For example, the Coalition for the Homeless in New York City has a First Step Job Training Program that provides homeless and low-income women with training, social support, education, and work experience to overcome obstacles to employment. This program offers classes that teach employment skills and an understanding of the labor market and workplace.

Supported Employment is an evidence-based practice that stresses the importance of obtaining employment through a rapid job search as soon as the participant feels ready. Unlike many traditional models, supported employment does not provide lengthy pre-employment assessment, training, and counseling. Rather, evidence suggests that rapid access to jobs is more effective than providing extensive job-readiness training. The most common model of supported employment, the Individualized Placement Support (IPS) model, helps individuals gain rapid entry into the job market, with a job at or above minimum wage, while providing supportive services. These services typically include one-on-one job coaching, on-the-job training and credentialing, mental health treatment, and ongoing reassessment to identify and address emerging barriers. The National Coalition of Homeless Veterans successfully uses an IPS supported employment model for the veterans they serve.

WorkFirst is an employment model that draws on IPS principles and is designed to operate parallel to housing first efforts. It prioritizes employment as a strategy for promoting self-sufficiency and long-term housing stability. The WorkFirst model, like supported employment, stresses the importance of rapid access to a job. This model’s philosophy is that “any job is a good job” and that the best way to prepare an individual for work is to have them work, and as quickly as possible. Clients develop work skills and competencies on the job rather than in job-readiness trainings. If one is not able to find employment right away, WorkFirst provides additional services to address factors that impede employment, such as education or training, but these are brief in nature to allow the job search to quickly recommence. A WorkFirst Demonstration Project at the Pine Street Inn in Boston is a great example of how effective this method can be.

In addition to these formal models, communities across the country are developing innovative ways to increase employment opportunities for people experiencing homelessness. For example, the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless in Albany, NY started the Ambassador program, a year-long training program that connects homeless individuals to work in the community while also helping them pursue life goals and gain important skills. The program partners with local theaters and parks to provide homeless people with a job, often their first job, which helps them get a second job in the future and builds their resumes. The There’s A Better Way program in Albuquerque similarly provides access to jobs beautifying the city, such as landscaping and cleaning up litter.

These are just a few examples of employment services and supports for people experiencing  homelessness. To learn more about these and other models, click here for a quick overview or here for a closer look at how employment can prevent homelessness and promote health.

Blog Post Author: Kelsey Whittington, graduate assistant for the National Center for Excellence in Homeless Services.

Like this post?
Check out this one written by Dr. Emmy Tiderington from Rutgers University.

Want more info?
Visit our website to learn more about us and our National Homelessness Social Work Initiative. And, join our mailing list to receive our newsletter.

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Year 2 Updates: The National Homelessness Social Work Initiative

The National Center just completed Year 2 of the National Homelessness Social Work Initiative (NHSWI). We are now a consortium of 19 partner schools of social work across the U.S., with six partners serving as Regional Hub Leaders. We are excited to announce that (as of January) leadership of the National Center has transitioned to the University of Texas at Austin, where center director Heather Larkin is now a faculty member. As a key partner, the University at Albany will serve as national collaborator in support of ongoing activities, coordination, and partnership development.

As we kick-off Year 3, we want to share some of our major Year 2 accomplishments. Below are brief summaries, with links to pertinent resources for additional information.

Regional Hub Leadership

Six regional hub leader schools play a critical role in advancing regional efforts to inform policymaking, support university-agency partnerships, and apply knowledge for practice and curriculum development. Each hub leader’s plan is unique to regional needs and includes goals specific to that school’s expertise. To learn more about the regional hub leaders, read these blog posts: California State University, Long Beach; Hunter College; Indiana University; the University of Maryland; the University of Southern California; and the University of Texas at Austin.

New York-New Jersey Regional Network

To increase the collaboration and coordination of the schools in our NY-NJ Regional Network, we created a formal leadership team to facilitate the development of goals and implementation plans. Elizabeth Bowen (University at Buffalo) took on the lead role of facilitating the regional network, with support from Dan Herman (Hunter College) and Amanda Aykanian (University at Albany). A current priority is developing plans to advocate for adequate funding for housing and evidence-based services for homeless populations in New York State. This network serves as a model for other regions.

Supporting Curriculum Integration

In the fall, we worked in partnership with CSWE’s Learning Academy to develop the free, online learning series, “Homelessness in Social Work Education”. Educators can use the series for their own professional development and also incorporate the series or individual modules into course syllabi. Module topics include: Housing First; Mental Health First Aid; Continuum of Care; Critical Time Intervention; Trauma and Adversity; and Trauma-Informed Care.

Veterans Workgroup

We formed a workgroup consisting of faculty from partner schools and representatives from the VA to explore opportunities for infusing veteran homelessness content and successful VA practice models into social work education and expanding field placements for students with dual interests in homelessness and veterans. Specific strategies are still in early development.

SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery Workgroup

Our collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) Technical Assistance Center has presented new and unique ways to provide students with training that will benefit them in their internships and when they seek employment after graduation. To facilitate this work, we formed a SOAR workgroup to bring together partner schools interested in developing pilot initiatives at their schools. To learn more about these pilot projects, read this blog post.

Research Workgroup

The research workgroup includes National Center staff, faculty contacts from partner schools (including the national co-leads of the Grand Challenge to End Homelessness), and representatives from the VA’s National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans. Initial goals of the group include: 1) finding out what homelessness research is in progress in the social work community; 2) identifying social work faculty interested in homelessness research; and 3) linking researchers with similar interests. In the fall, the group pilot tested a faculty survey about current and recent homelessness research projects, with broader administration planned for 2017.

Dissemination Activities

We continue to feature National Center and partner school accomplishments at social work conferences, including the SSWR Annual Conference and the CSWE Annual Program Meeting. We also published an invited article in Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Sciences’ special issue titled, “Ending Homelessness: A Grand Challenge for Transforming Practice and Policy”. The manuscript – “Responding to the Grand Challenge to End Homelessness: The National Homelessness Social Work Initiative” – was co-authored by National Center staff and partner school faculty contacts. In addition to these formal dissemination strategies, we continue to use our social media accounts (Facebook and Twitter) and newsletter to share blog posts, connect with schools of social work, and disseminate information to interested stakeholders.

Like this post?
Check out this one to learn more about the University of Texas at Austin.

Want more info?
Visit our website to learn more about us and our National Homelessness Social Work Initiative. And, join our mailing list to receive our newsletter.

On social media?
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.