Local homeless initiative coordinator accepts position with U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness

From the press release from the City of Asheville:

ASHEVILLE – Amy Sawyer, the homeless initiative coordinator for Asheville and Buncombe County, has accepted a position with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). As a regional coordinator with the USICH, Sawyer will assist cities and states throughout the United States to implement “Opening Doors,” the federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. The goal of the program is to end homelessness among veterans in five years and end all types of homelessness in ten years. Coordinating the activities of 19 federal agencies, USICH uses the systems change model in its approach to end homelessness.

“This is a great opportunity for Amy,” said City of Asheville Planning and Development Director Judy Daniel. “The work she facilitated here made Asheville and Buncombe County a national model for ending chronic homelessness. We are proud her expertise will now be applied at the national level.” City of Asheville community development staff will provide continued support of the initiative until her successor is identified.

Serving as the coordinator for the Homeless Initiative since 2006, Sawyer has coordinated the work that has positively impacted City Council and County Commission strategic goals of ending homelessness. In that time, the Homeless Initiative’s model of building partnerships, combined with a commitment to data collection and strategies based on analysis and best practices has reduced the incidence of chronic homelessness in Asheville and Buncombe County by 70% since 2006, as evidenced by the annual Point in Time Count conducted nationally each year in January.

Key to this success has been the work of the Chronic Homeless Subcommittee which focuses resources on housing formerly chronically homeless persons. Over 90% of formerly homeless households assisted by the activities of this sub-committee have retained housing for more than a year. Two member agencies of this sub-committee, Homeward Bound and the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville, were one of only fourteen programs in the nation recognized in 2010 by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development with a national “Doorknocker Award.” The award highlighted the member agencies’ innovative use of federal HOME funds which couples tenant-based rental assistance, supportive services and priority access to vacant apartments in public housing for people experiencing homelessness.

This release can be found at http://www.ashevillenc.gov/NewsandEvents/CityNews/tabid/662/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/27123/Homeless-Initiative-Coordinator-accepts-prestigious-new-post.aspx.

The Homeless Initiative project is based on the community’s Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness, a coordinated and collaborative effort among a diverse group of agencies and individuals in Asheville and Buncombe County to end chronic homelessness and prevent all homelessness A primary goal of the Plan is to implement “Housing First,” which addresses the housing need of someone experiencing homelessness first and foremost, and from that stable base provide needed support that addresses conditions that will enable the household to maintain their housing and connect to the larger community. More information about the Homeless Initiative is available at http://www.ashevillenc.gov/Departments/CommunityDevelopment/CurrentInitiatives/HomelessInitiative.aspx.

City Council and Buncombe County Commissioners appoint and work with the Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee of Asheville and Buncombe County, which offers oversight to the 10-Year Plan implementation process and the Homeless Coalition, a homeless provider network in order to make a meaningful impact on the community’s response to housing crisis.


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