Ending Homelessness Today — Center for Capacity Building
An Update from Kim on Nebraska!
August 24, 2010
Today’s post is a follow up from Kimberly Walker, a Capacity Building Associate here at the Alliance.
Well, I’m happy to report that things in Lincoln went very well! Our first day there, Iain and I spent the morning meeting the members of the Lincoln Homeless Coalition (all wonderful, engaged people!) and listening to a presentation about their homeless system. We had a diverse group that included providers, a representative from the state, a liaison from the public school system, and the administrator of the HPRP grant. Iain and I spent that first afternoon presenting our findings to the group. A lot of our recommendations centered on how the Coalition could shift their system toward an approach focused on rapid re-housing.
Our second day was all about facilitation. We split our group into two and, after a brief recap of what we had discussed the day before, put them to work on deciding on and prioritizing goals for their system based on the gaps we had identified the day before. From their original list of thirty, Coalition members selected the five that were most important to them. After the goals had been selected, each group engaged in an exercise in which they connected each goal to potential strategies, resources, timelines, and evaluation methods.
Our next visit, in a little less than three weeks, will focus on fine-tuning the beginnings of the plan the group developed. Next time around, I hope to be able to report on the quality of the local cuisine as well…this time I only made it to Outback steakhouse .... Read More »
Building Capacity to End Homelessness
August 23, 2010
Today's blog comes from Norm Suchar, the recently promoted Director of the Center for Capacity Building. Read on to hear about what the Center is up to!
There’s a lot happening in the homelessness assistance world these days, and we at the Alliance are working on big things to help communities implement the HEARTH Act and end homelessness.
The Center for Capacity Building is the Alliance’s training, technical assistance, and consulting arm. Over the years, we’ve worked on a lot of interesting projects, including the Rural Homelessness Initiative of Southeast and Central Ohio, which as the name implies is a homelessness planning and implementation project in a 17 county region in Ohio, and Shifting Gears, an initiative to help homelessness assistance providers transition to a housing first approach. More recently, we’ve been working with communities in the DC metro area to implement strategies that reduce family homelessness, holding trainings on rapid re-housing and creating and piloting a new Ending Family Homelessness Tool.
The Center’s mission is to bring together three areas of the homelessness assistance field: what we aspire to, what we know, and what we practice.
Over the past decade, the aspiration to end homelessness has taken hold. Over 300 communities have plans to end homelessness, and now the federal government has an ambitious plan to prevent and end homelessness.
At the same time what we know about solving homelessness through prevention and rapid re-housing has increased... Read More »
A New Capacity Center Tool
August 17, 2010
Today's post comes from Kimberly Walker, a Capacity Building Associate here at the Alliance.
Hello all! Kim here. As part of the Center for Capacity Building, my job is to help communities improve their homeless systems. As part of that mission, I’m working on the Center’s new Ending Family Homelessness Tool and Pilot Project (or the EFHT/PP). I’ve been told this may be of interest to our blog readers, so I thought I’d give you a synopsis of what exactly it is.
This tool turns what the Alliance staff has learned over the years about best practices in ending homelessness, what we’ve learned from the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP), and the new Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act requirements into a measuring stick for communities. The EFHT will hopefully encourage communities to use these standards to judge where their system is now and where it needs to be in order for them to end family homelessness.
The tool has several different parts (some that are finished, some that are still being developed/considered):
1) A set of three surveys regarding what communities think about their homeless system
2) A data collection worksheet
3) A resource list
4) A planning document
5) A check-in document (after a plan has been made), and
6) A community forum
As a final product, we hope to create a completely web-based version of these documents that communiti... Read More »
Examining the Federal Plan: Objective 10 – Crisis Response Systems
July 01, 2010
And we’re back!
The Alliance is examining all ten goals of Opening Doors, the federal strategic plan to end homelessness. You may remember that we took a closer look at Goal 8 – Ending Youth Homelessness a bit back.
As the Alliance’s new media intern, I’m really excited to be writing this series, because every time I examine one of these goals, I get to learn about a new aspect of homelessness and solutions to homelessness (and really, that’s what the Alliance is all about).
This week we’ll be looking at Objective 10: “Transform homeless services to crisis response systems that prevent homelessness and rapidly return people who experience homelessness to stable housing.”
To learn more about this objective, I talked to Norm Suchar, our new (!) Director of the Center for Capacity Building (formerly senior policy analyst at the Alliance).
The first thing I tried to wrap my head around was what this objective meant, and why it was part of the federal plan.
Right now, the “crisis response system” in place is shelters. When someone encounters an event that creates a situation where they can no longer afford housing, the first response is to put them in a shelter.
This shelter system, however, is not effective if we are to eradicate homelessness. The crisis response system for homelessness needs to be transformed, so that when someone enters a crisis situation and that person’s housing needs are addressed, we turn to... Read More »
A Peek Inside Fairfax, VA
June 01, 2010
Last week there was a blog post in the Washington Post about Fairfax County, VA and the great work they’re doing using HPRP funds to prevent homelessness. To date, over 600 people have evaded homelessness in Fairfax.The success in Fairfax County prompted some curiosity and excitement about the work being done there. As a member of the Capacity Building Center at the Alliance, I’ve worked in Fairfax County to support their community leaders’ efforts to achieve this great success. For the last 18 months, the Alliance has worked to help the County transform their homeless assistance system into a Housing First/Rapid Re-housing model that focuses on housing-oriented strategies. Fairfax County covers 395 square miles and has a population of over one million residents. With an Annual Median Income (AMI) of over $100,000, you might think that homelessness wouldn’t be a huge issue for the county – but high rental prices and low vacancy rates make the house-hunt hard for low-income families.At the last point-in-time count, conducted on January 27, 2010, there were 1,544 people experiencing homelessness. Luckily, the County’s taking action. In 2007, the County approved the proposed Ten Year Plan to end homelessness; an implementation plan was completed in March 2008. The plan called for the creation of the Office to Prevent and End Homelessness and has since formed a Governing Board responsible for overseeing the progress towards the goal of ending homelessness by the end of 2018. Ten task groups of dedicated stakeholder... Read More »
the view from: Los Angeles, California
July 14, 2009
The Alliance is probably best known as a federal policy shop, but that’s not all we do here. Nope – we’re a multi-talented organization!
While I may be partial to my native Homelessness Research Institute, we also have a department called the Center for Capacity Building. That’s our field team – the great folks who go out into the field and work directly with communities and local officials to help turn great policy into effective programs and best practices.
Just last week, the Director of the Center for Capacity Building – our own Damien Heath – flew to sunny L.A. to provide technical support to some service providers in southern California. Hosted by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Damien gave a couple workshops on rapid re-housing.
The idea behind rapid re-housing is fairly simple, and it’s borne out of the Housing First model. Basically, we recommend that people experiencing homelessness be housed as quickly as possible – the principle being that providing housing first (get it? Housing First?), and then providing other services as needed, is the best way to reduce and end homelessness in the long run. (For a more comprehensive analysis on Housing First and rapid re-housing, you can always visit our website.
FYI: That’s not how we approach homelessness in America today. Our homeless systems today are focused on managing homelessness through shelters and soup kitchens – not ending homelessness through strategic, systematic means like permanent housing and... Read More »