Field Notes: Five Keys to High Performance in Homelessness Assistance Systems

written by Kim Walker
April 2, 2014

Hi all! We’re excited to introduce a new blog series that will run through the month of April. With this series, “Keys to High Performance,” we will focus on improving performance and maintaining high performance in homelessness assistance systems. Each week we will cover one of the five keys we’ve developed as a warm-up to the paper and toolkit on the same topic that we will release soon after the series concludes.

Communities that make progress ending homelessness have a performance infrastructure that helps them attain and maintain high performance. Their infrastructure includes the five keys we will be discussing in this series:

  1. Shared community goals and a shared vision for ending homelessness;
  2. Clear outcome measures that define high performance;
  3. A strong governance structure that provides direction and feedback on performance;
  4. Funders that provide resources to high performing programs and promising pilot projects; and
  5. Providers that buy into the goal of ending homelessness and are willing to make changes to their programs to achieve it.

Today we’ll touch on the first topic: shared community goals and a shared vision for ending homelessness.

It benefits communities to develop a vision that defines the end goal of all homelessness assistance work, because communities can then use this vision to draft the outcomes necessary to achieve it. Beyond creating a sense of unity and purpose, a shared vision prevents performance improvement efforts from stirring up distracting controversy and debate: communities don’t have to worry about questions like, “Why are we our measuring performance?” or “What are we measuring?” or “Why are we using these outcomes and performance standards?” With shared community goals and vision, everyone will already be in agreement on the answers to such questions.

If you’d like tips on how to develop a vision, we have some materials that are already ready for you. Check out my previous blog post on a visioning exercise we developed as part of one of our latest community projects. Keep an eye on the Alliance newsletter for our upcoming paper and toolkit covering the topic.