Keys to High Performance: A Strong Governance Structure

written by Kim Walker
April 23, 2014

This series, “Keys to High Performance,” focuses on improving performance and maintaining high performance in homelessness assistance systems. This blog series is as a warm-up to a paper and toolkit that the Alliance’s Center for Capacity Building will release on the same topic.


As I noted in our first blog post in this series, 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.

Today we’ll focus on number three on this list: a strong governance structure. The governance structure consists of the entity or set of entities that manage the homelessness assistance system and are responsible for duties that include making funding decisions for the system and ranking programs for the annual Continuum of Care (CoC) application.

A supportive, effective governance entity monitors and evaluates performance, defines and incentivizes high performance, and takes action to reduce poor performance. In CoCs with good governance structures, paid staff fill the key roles that require the most responsibility, such as CoC application coordinators and system planners. This ensures that CoCs will prioritize system issues and that dedicated staff will be accountable for completing essential tasks.

Effective governance entities also support high performing providers with continued funding and prioritization on the CoC application. In addition to rewarding these high performing providers, good governance entities also have established and transparent processes to reallocate funds away from providers who have not improved or have had consistently performed poorly.

Governance is the glue that holds all of the essential elements of a high performing system together.