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2021 Iowa/Nebraska Virtual Peer-to-Peer Homelessness Symposium
By: Andrew Burgin-Anton
[Virtual presenters at 2021 Iowa/Nebraska Peer to Peer Homeless Symposium]
Virtual presenters at 2021 Iowa/Nebraska Peer to Peer Homeless Symposium

On April 28 and 29, Iowa and Nebraska Field Policy and Management staff hosted the 2021 Iowa/Nebraska Virtual Peer-to-Peer Homelessness Symposium. The two-day event provided more than 300 attendees the opportunity to enhance existing skills and discover emerging topics in homelessness.

Because April 28th was National Superhero Day, the symposium began with a homelessness superheroes montage developed by the planning committee. The video featured 571 homeless service providers from 48 organizations across Iowa and Nebraska and reinforces that we are not alone in our homelessness efforts.

Welcome comments by Region VII's Deputy Regional Administrator Bruce Ladd preceded the day's opening sessions. Staff from the National Health Care for the Homeless Council and the Eastern Iowa Health Center began by highlighting striking health disparities between sheltered and unsheltered populations. They also conveyed the importance of homelessness and healthcare partnerships, offered best practices, and communicated the next steps in homelessness and healthcare collaboration.

Next, a panel comprised of staff from Iowa Legal Aid, Nebraska Legal Aid, the Polk County Continuum of Care, and the Polk County Housing Trust Fund discussed eviction moratorium laws, landlord and tenant eviction rights, and eviction proceedings. Regarding evictions, they identified statistical disparities associated with color, national origin, sex, familial status, and disability, most of the criteria for discrimination in the Fair Housing Act.

Day two began with staff from the National Institute for Medical Respite Care discussing Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). They indicated more than 50% of adults experiencing homelessness have previously sustained a TBI. They also discussed indicators and impacts of TBIs and concluded by offering the next steps for integrating TBI screening into local housing programs.

The last session centered around emergency preparedness and long-term program sustainability. Staff from Central Iowa Shelter and Services and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln - Center on Children, Families, and the Law discussed emergency preparedness, program sustainability planning, and best practices.

Since 2011 the Iowa and Nebraska Peer to Peer Homelessness Symposium has welcomed 1,720 attendees, 383 presenters and offered 209 sessions.