Archive for June, 2012
Every summer, the Alliance gets a big boost of help – our summer interns! They’re here to help with the conference, assist the policy team, and generally make the Alliance offices an even livelier place. Today, we introduce our summer crew and provide a little information on why they’re here, what they’re doing, and their thoughts on their summer home! They hail from all over the country and have already made big contributions. We look forward to working with them this summer, and we hope you get a chance to meet and interact with them throughout the summer and at the National Conference on Ending Homelessness. And without further ado….
Christian Brandt, Federal Policy Intern
My name is Christian Brandt, and I’m from the illustriously un-illustrious town of Moscow, Idaho and just graduated from Dartmouth College in June with a Bachelor’s in Anthropology. I am currently working at the Alliance as a Federal Policy Intern doing various things for various people on the Program and Policy team. I wanted to intern at the Alliance because of its emphasis on policy and research, a duo that I haven’t really combined in my previous experiences with homelessness and housing. I hope to greatly expand my knowledge of legislation and policy regarding those two issues (got a leg up with the Research Council Meeting; talk about Baptism of Fire! Check out my recap blog next week.), and to hone my research skills in both areas. DC has been great so far (especially the concerts in the sculpture garden!). Except for the humidity – that I could do without! And the heat. Too. Much.
Nichole Friday, Meetings & Events Intern
My name is Nichole Friday, a rising senior at Louisiana State University down in the good ole bayou. I am the Meetings & Events Intern here at the Alliance and I am working with D’Arcy on the National Conference on Ending Homelessness that will be taking place in July. In particular, I will be working closely with the volunteers as well as the scholarship recipients. I hope to learn more about the meetings and events side of a nonprofit organization while I work at the Alliance this summer. I also hope to learn more about policy and other issues that surround the homelessness problems we are experiencing in the US. I am from the Washington, DC area and continue to expand my love for the city the older I get (being a new 21-year-old sure helps to expand my options!) and look forward to what the rest of the summer has in store for me here!
Amanda Jensen, Federal Policy Intern
My name is Amanda Jensen and I hail from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (the steel/Christmas city). I am a rising senior at American University, and hope to graduate by December. I am a federal policy intern at the Alliance and while here, I hope to generally gain experience working in a nonprofit through the internship experience. More specifically, I am interested in expanding my knowledge on legislation vital to ending homelessness and I also hope to see the impact of the Alliance’s policy work on federal legislation through my time here. The best thing about DC would have to be the endless opportunities to acquire free food, and the worst part is undoubtedly the constantly out-of-service Metro escalators. I was just not meant to walk that much.
Tessa Knight, West Point Fellow
My name is Tessa Knight and I’m from Boise, Idaho. I am second-year cadet (sophomore) attending the United States Military Academy at West Point. I applied for this academic trip with the intent of learning as much as I can about the situation of homelessness, an issue that really speaks to me as a national priority. As one who has never participated in either government/nongovernment organizations, I seek to understand and define my future role in the system. Working with the Alliance fits with how I think I personally might “change the world,” for I always go back to the basics: feeding the hungry, taking care of the poor, housing the homeless, etc. While I’m at the Alliance, I hope to undertake a lot of research and perhaps create some sort of synopsis on the effectiveness of certain veterans’ programs for the future use of the Alliance. As far as being in Washington DC, well, there are a lot of cool things to do, but people really need to smile more. In Boise, everybody smiles! If you’re in DC reading this, please work on that.
Eduardo SanFilippo, Youth Policy Fellow
Hola, me llamo Ed, and I’m this summer’s Youth Policy Fellow. I was born in California but spent nearly my entire childhood in the Canadian Prairies. I returned to CA for my undergrad at San Diego State University (Aztec for Life!) and completed degrees in Religious Studies and Political Science. In the fall, I’ll be starting my last year of law school at the University of Pittsburgh, where my focus is on how the structure of law/legal structures can be used to advance social change. I promise this is a lot more exciting (and fulfilling) than it sounds. I’m excited to work with the Alliance because I was homeless for a short time and view this as a terrific opportunity to give back and help those still struggling. My big projects for the summer focus on LGBTQ and rural youth and I look forward to contributing to the wellbeing of these populations. I previously did homeless outreach with the Hot Metal Faith Community in Pittsburgh and I’m sure I’ll find similar organizations here. DC is my favorite American city so I’m excited to actually spend some time here and see the sites. The humidity leaves a lot to be desired (especially for a kid from Canada) but that’s a fairly nominal complaint. I hope to spend the summer working and checking out the whole region on my bike.
Maulin Shah, Federal Advocacy Intern
Hi! My name is Maulin Shah, and I’m this summer’s Federal Advocacy Intern at the Alliance working on Capitol Hill Day. While originally from Nashville, TN, I’m currently a rising junior at Birmingham Southern College studying Math and Chemistry. The opportunity to work at the Alliance appealed to me for several reasons: the most prominent being that it gave me an opportunity to ground myself in the context of what homelessness is. Sometimes it becomes hard to fathom that you can deal with issues like homelessness when confronted with the somewhat overwhelming size and scope of those issues. Working at the Alliance gives me a chance to try and begin to understand the structural aspects of the issue which in turn changes it from being an impossible series of numbers to a focused set of strategies. By working here, I’m not trying to just put one issue in context, but rather I hope to gain a greater understanding for the process by which you assess and create when addressing problems of seemingly insurmountable scope. I can’t say getting to try and do so in DC isn’t a really big perk, though. Thus far, my favorite part about the city is the food trucks. The only thing that could make them better is if there were any 24-hour ones. If you know of any please feel free to contact me.
Originally only in the wonky DC-based policy blogs, but increasingly also in the mainstream media, the phrase “fiscal cliff” has been appearing. It describes a number of simultaneous events scheduled for the beginning of 2013 that together would disrupt the federal budget, cutting federal spending and raising taxes in an unprecedented and clumsy manner. What does it mean, in general and for homelessness in particular? This blog will attempt to answer that question.
To start, with the way things usually go in the mainstream media, you can virtually count on the phrase “fiscal cliff” soon being abbreviated by writers, so I’ll get that over with by coining the word “FisCliff” right here. FisCliff consists of at least the following, all happening around the beginning of next year:
- Domestic and military spending for nonexempt discretionary programs is cut across the board under the “sequestration” provision of the Budget Control Act;
- Emergency unemployment insurance for long-term unemployed people expires;
- The “Bush tax cuts” (since extended under President Obama) expire;
- The Alternative Minimum Tax is applied to households with lower incomes than those who must pay it currently;
- Monthly payroll taxes go back up to their usual levels;
- Miscellaneous other tax breaks worth $65 billion per year expire;
- Temporary increases in Medicare payments to doctors expire; and
- The limit on the federal debt is reached again, as it was last summer, requiring another expansion.
All of this adds up to $483 billion in revenue increases and spending cuts in one year. This is big-time deficit reduction, but done in a way that’s not necessarily very intelligent. The most relevant example is that sequestration cuts high-priority, extremely effective programs (like homelessness programs!) by exactly the same percentage as lower-priority, inefficient programs.
Probably the biggest single negative impact on homelessness, however, is likely to be the impact on a fragile economy. Economists largely agree that raising taxes and reducing spending that much in one year would make joblessness substantially worse – people would have less money to spend, so businesses would have fewer customers and would lay people off. High unemployment over the past several years has sent millions of people to shelters. More unemployment means more bad news for homeless assistance systems.
As noted before, spending cuts under sequestration would negatively impact homelessness programs. The exact impact is still unclear because Congress has not yet passed final fiscal year 2013 spending levels, but we believe a likely estimate is that about 150,000 people would be homeless instead of housed, just from the impact on the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) and the Continuum of Care (CoC) programs. The large antipoverty entitlement programs like SSI, TANF, and SNAP are exempt, as are all VA programs for veterans – there is still an open question, to be resolved by the White House, whether the HUD rent vouchers under the HUD-VASH program are exempt. Otherwise, all HUD programs are subject to the across-the-board cuts of sequestration.
One thing to remember about FisCliff is that the word “cliff” probably implies a suddenness of impact that will not be evident. Tax cuts and spending increases would go into effect over time. HUD’s Homeless Assistance programs are one example. Reductions in ESG would take place when contracts for 2013 are signed, which occurs in different places over the course of the year. For the CoC programs, the impact would not be felt until the 2013 awards are distributed in early 2014.
In other words, if Congress meets after the election, in a so-called “lame duck session,” and can’t pass a reasonable alternative to FisCliff by January 1, they should keep working!
And what will a “reasonable alternative” look like? For those concerned about homelessness and similar issues, key criteria are:
- First, do no harm to the economy, particularly employment at the low end of the job market. With HPRP running out, the fight to end homelessness will get a lot harder if joblessness gets worse.
- Protect the poorest Americans. So far, the biggest antipoverty programs are exempt from sequestration, with the notable and unfortunate exception of HUD housing programs.
- Resist further cuts to non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending. This is actually the focus of a new national “coalition of coalitions” that had its first meeting last week – for more information click here. This coalition is circulating an organizational sign-on letter, and the Alliance encourages you to join by next Friday, June 22.
- Prioritize what works. Across-the-board cuts almost always represent bad, lazy policymaking. Congress has the ability to figure out which programs really work, and it is irresponsible to act otherwise.
As you can see, FisCliff would greatly harm our efforts to end homelessness, so we must educate Congress on these impacts. As a result, advocates from across the country will educate their Members of Congress about these very issues during Capitol Hill Day 2012, held in conjunction with the Alliance’s annual National Conference on Ending Homelessness in July in Washington, DC. For more information or to get involved in Capitol Hill Day, contact Kate Seif.
The following was originally posted by The Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness. We have reprinted it here with their permission. You can find the original blog here. Katharine Gale is a frequent trainer at the Alliance’s Performance Improvement Clinics.
Three Key Things with Katharine Gale
Key steps for making the transformation to a housing crisis resolution system.
Commit to using local data for change. Use information from HMIS and from grant and program budgets to understand system performance and cost. We need to learn what outcomes we are buying with our current mix of funding and programs and ask how we can more closely match our collective resources to the unmet need. While our efforts would certainly benefit from increased funding, the greatest resources our communities are likely to be able to direct to the problem soon are the ones we already have. Making sure that the data we have to work with is of high quality so we can trust it to inform our decision-making is everyone’s responsibility. (It also better positions us to expand our resource base in the future as more funders ask us to demonstrate return on their investment.)
Expand the range of reality-based housing solutions. Look at the lives of our clients, what their realistic housing options are and where they go when they leave us. Most of the people our system works with do not escape being low-income through our efforts, even when we invest significantly in them at the expense of others we do not serve. Most can, however, regain housing with our help, even if deep subsidies are in short supply. We can rehouse more people, and continue to assist them with other resources, or connect them to other services (if they want them) that support further progress, by focusing our rehousing efforts on the right next step that resolves this housing crisis, instead of the forever solution. We shouldn’t stop advocating for long-term affordability, but we must also recognize that it is not reality now for many people who are just like the households we serve, but who have housing.
Work as a system with shared responsibility. Everyone should be clear (clients, providers and funders) about how people can access help from the programs that make up our system. If we currently distribute most of our support based on luck or persistence, we need to fix that; if there are people who no program will take we need to fix that. In setting up a coordinated front door, our responsibility is not just to make sure that agencies get the clients they will serve, it’s to get clients the support they need. Knowing who gets in and who goes unserved will help us refine programs and services to better meet the combined need. The importance of working more collaboratively to increase impact applies to funders as much as to programs. As one director I know puts it “we need to fix our relationships for the sake of our clients.”
Katharine Gale is an independent consultant from Berkeley, California with 20 years experience in the fields of homelessness and special needs housing. She provides services to public and non-profit agencies including community-wide planning, new program development, data analysis, research and evaluation. Ms. Gale helped design and delivers the Alliance’s Performance Improvement Clinics. In 2011, she co-founded Focus Strategies, a joint venture dedicated to helping communities use local homeless data to prepare for HEARTH and make effective system change. Prior to consulting, she worked for seven years as a manager and Deputy Director for Alameda County Housing and Community Development Department.
The following are remarks from the Alliance’s President and CEO, Nan Roman, regarding the U.S. Department of of Health and Human Services’ new framework to advance the goal of ending youth homelessness by 2020, as announced at a live webcast of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness meeting.
The National Alliance to End Homelessness applauds the commitment of Chairman Sebelius and the members of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) to end youth homelessness by 2020. For far too long the plight of unaccompanied children and young adults has gone unaddressed. Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness brought much needed attention to this particularly vulnerable population. The USICH Proposed Framework for Ending Youth Homelessness is an important next step in laying out what the Federal government will do to achieve this goal.
The Alliance concurs with the major focus areas in the Framework: sizing the population; identifying the key segments of the population; identifying solutions for each segment; and going to scale with the solutions for each segment. We also support the outcomes of housing, connection, wellbeing, and education/employment.
Earlier this year the Alliance made a preliminary effort, using existing data, to estimate the size and segments of the population and examined this information for implications to policy and practice. Based on this framework as well as the USICH Framework presented today, the Alliance offers the following thoughts for the future.
Improving Data. The Alliance concurs that better data is essential to size and address the problem to scale. Further, the experiences of both HUD and VA clearly indicate that setting numerical goals for ending homelessness, and driving performance toward these goals, works. Without solid data there is no baseline and progress cannot be measured. For all of these reasons, the need for better data is critical. The Alliance recommends:
- Merging RHYMIS and HMIS in 2012 and beginning to create the tools by which the increasing volume of youth data can be analyzed.
- Requiring youth providers and local Continuums of Care to include youth in the HUD mandated point in time counts in 2013. Any inclusion of youth will be an improvement.
- Prioritizing research and evaluation of different intervention models for different subpopulations of youth to better inform resource allocation and targeting.
Serving High Need Youth. Approximately 40,000 youth have higher levels of physical and mental health problems and rates of substance use, as well as longer or more frequent episodes of homelessness. These youth may spend long periods on the streets because they cannot or do not access programs that lack either the ability or the inclination to address their need for treatment. While on the street, they face a host of challenges, including violence, drugs, and the risk of sexual exploitation. HHS and HUD should incentivize youth-targeted programs to serve the most vulnerable youth by providing bonus points in the competitive granting process to programs that target “street youth” with a diagnosed/diagnosable mental health, substance abuse, physical and/or developmental disorder; and that clearly define the outcomes they will achieve. Evaluation of these efforts, and practice collaboratives to share best practices are also recommended in order to advance successful approaches.
Mainstream Resources. Reunification with family remains the most practical and promising solution for a vast majority of homeless youth, particularly those under 18. Additionally, the reason that families break apart is often poverty and eviction rather than conflict. The homelessness system is not sized to address these needs. As Opening Doors points out, mainstream programs such as child welfare, TANF, juvenile justice, and housing must assume much of this responsibility. The education system has a critical role both in identifying risk and improving outcomes. Ending youth homelessness will require a clear plan for how mainstream programs will assume responsibility for these vulnerable youth. HHS should encourage state child welfare agencies to include these minors as a targeted population in state plans, with goals for reducing homelessness. HHS could also provide guidance as to how child welfare agencies can work collaboratively with RHYA programs to better serve homeless youth. The Administration could set goals for other mainstream programs including affordable housing, TANF, juvenile and criminal justice, and mental health and substance abuse treatment to strengthen families and both prevent youth from becoming homeless and facilitate youth returning to their families.
Once again, thank you to Chairman Sebelius and the members of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, as well as the HHS Administration on Children, Youth and Families, for the commitment to end youth homelessness. The Alliance looks forward to being a partner with the Administration on these efforts.
Today, June 12, at 1:30 p.m. ET, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USHICH) meeting, chaired by Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, will be streamed live online. Today’s meeting will feature a presentation by the U.S. Department of of Health and Human Services (HHS that will announce a new framework to advance the goal of ending youth homelessness by 2020.
The Alliance’s own Nan Roman will be on a panel of experts who will participate in a discussion immediately following the presentation of the new framework. The other experts on the panel will be Dana Scott, State Coordinator for Homeless Education for the Colorado Department of Education and Vice President of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth; and Bob Mecum, Executive Director of Lighthouse Youth Services.
Check back here at the Alliance’s blog this afternoon to read more about the presentation and the Alliance’s response.
Leaders and innovators in supportive housing convened in Chicago last week for a multi-faceted look at integrating housing and health care. The Leadership Forum, sponsored by the Corporation for Supportive Housing, was also the occasion for the release of a “business case” for states to tap Medicaid to pay for key services in permanent supportive housing. The presenters at the day-long conference and the paper on the business case speak to recent innovations with health care and supportive housing — demonstrating what’s possible under the Affordable Care Act, and what’s actually happening in communities where state government and homeless providers are proactive.
Two stand-out ACA provisions enable homeless advocates to persuade state policymakers that supportive housing is a worthwhile Medicaid investment.
- First, the “health home” benefit can be a good vehicle for funding care management and service coordination, services that make supportive housing viable as a strategy to end chronic homelessness. As the Forum audience heard, a Medicaid health home is a unique concept that has to be understood in a health policy context. But once that context is understood, it is easier to bring relevant data and analysis to Medicaid decision-makers. The business case illustrates that if Medicaid pays appropriately for care management via this new benefit, states can expand their service capacity in supportive housing. That’s because Medicaid allows the state to access federal funding to pay a portion of what the state would otherwise have to pay all by itself for a given number of supportive housing units.
- Second, when Medicaid expands in 2014, states will have new responsibilities to care for very vulnerable people who currently lack coverage and tend to incur very high public costs, especially in hospital emergency rooms. They tend to have severe behavioral and physical health conditions, often co-occurring. And they tend to have unstable housing histories. This is not news to homeless advocates. However, the expanded Medicaid role creates an opportunity to talk to state decision-makers about the value of Housing First for clinical outcomes and managing health care costs.
This is all promising for systems of care addressing chronic homelessness. Safety net systems may always be somewhat fragmented financially, but in any case they need to be integrated and high-performing for the vulnerable people who rely on them. Of course, more needs to be done to finish the job of ending chronic homelessness, and Medicaid in supportive housing is not the answer by itself. As the business case also points out, new strategies should also consider “new processes and/or technologies to identify high-cost, chronically ill clients who could most benefit from supportive housing.” Those who are now experiencing chronic homelessness should be a priority.
The Medicaid proposition for ending chronic homelessness requires advocates to be active in statewide arenas – with Medicaid administrators, of course; but also with their partners – such as mental health directors, hospital systems, and even managed care organizations that deliver on Medicaid contracts. Advocating statewide is the theme of an Alliance pre-conference session on July 16, immediately preceding the start of the National Conference on Ending Homelessness. “Opening Medicaid Doors: State Strategies to Support Homeless Assistance for Vulnerable Populations” is co-sponsored by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. The half-day program will examine several key facets of how to make Medicaid a stronger partner in programs that house and stabilize people who have been chronically homeless. Space is limited and pre-registration is highly recommended. RSVP at email@example.com.
Image courtesy of donbuciak.
Best Practices and Policies for LGBTQ Youth Experiencing Homelessness
Many recommended best policies and practices have been developed for housing and serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. How many check marks would your organization earn for implementing the following policies and practices to increase LGBTQ youth’s potential for increased success?
- Create a welcoming environment where non-discrimination and non-harassment policies are implemented and communicated to all youth, families, and community partners;
- Place youth in safe and appropriate shelter and housing programs based upon both their gender identity and an individualized assessment;
- Make cultural competency training available and mandatory for all employees to ensure that a welcoming and inclusive environment is created;
- Deliver family intervention services that increase family acceptance of their child’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity to decrease youth’s risky behavior;
- Partner with LGBT and/or transgender specific organizations in your community to better provide services and referrals to youth and their families, and participate in coalitions to make other programs aware of services for LGBT youth;
- Improve targeting and outreach for LGBT youth by tailoring street outreach efforts to locales where transgender youth congregate;
- Collect and manage confidential information during the intake process to inform programmatic and policy responses, and to ensure that staff do not violate a youth’s privacy;
- Provide or make available supportive healthcare services that meet the unique health needs of transgender youth to improve their access to proper health care.
Many policies and practices that are effective for preventing and ending youth homelessness, such as targeting and outreach, family intervention services, housing, and supportive services, are the same for LGBTQ youth. Specific adjustments related to a youth’s sexual orientation and gender identity, however, are necessary to address the challenges these youth face and to ensure that homeless LGBTQ youth have a real, meaningful opportunity to leave homelessness behind.
Today, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) approved its funding bill for fiscal year (FY) 2013. The legislation provides funding for HUD programs, including McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, CDBG, HOME, and many other homeless and housing programs. As you may have already seen from our most recent Advocacy Update, out of the legislation comes some good news and some not-so-great news.
The bill includes increased or level funding for a variety of key programs, including increases for CDBG, HOME, Public Housing, and new money for HUD-VASH vouchers. Further details can be found in the House’s press release here. These funding levels are great news for HUD programs under a very difficult budget environment and will have an important impact in meeting the housing needs of many low-income individuals and families.
The legislation also includes $2 billion for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants, which is actually an increase of nearly $100 million over the FY 2012 level. This would ordinarily be fantastic, but by the Alliance’s estimates, due to the increasing cost of renewals, $2 billion actually wouldn’t be enough to funding all CoC renewals and maintain the existing level of Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) activities (rapid re-housing and prevention activities under the HEARTH Act). As a result, we anticipate that this funding level would result in more than 25,000 people being homeless instead of housed. In the current economic climate, this would of course be devastating.
So what can we do? We can advocate for change! The good news is that this legislation is not yet finalized, and we have an opportunity to make an impact. There are many instances along the way when this bill can be altered, but the best opportunity is right around the corner! The full House Appropriations Committee will review the legislation and have the first opportunity to make changes as soon as next week.
This means that your representatives need to hear from you NOW! We need YOUR help to send a strong message to Congress that HUD’s McKinney-Vento programs need $2.23 billion to cover all CoC renewals, fund ESG activities to begin to balance the loss of HPRP, and make further progress toward HEARTH Act implementation.
Call your representatives’ offices TODAY (congressional switchboard: 202-224-3121), and ask others to call, too! Mention that you are happy to see increases to key affordable housing programs, but are disappointed that the bill would make more than 25,000 people homeless rather than housed. Urge them to support the $2.23 billion funding level requested by the Administration for McKinney. If you have questions about reaching out to your representatives’ offices, let me know!
The bottom line is that we can make an impact, but we need YOUR help! This is a crucial opportunity to ensure congress understands the importance and effectiveness of HUD’s McKinney-Vento programs in our communities. Please take a moment to reach out and help us ensure that all families, children, veterans, and individuals experiencing homelessness have a place to call home.
There are a lot of changes that are happening or about to happen as a result of the HEARTH Act, and we’ll be spending a lot of time at the conference explaining the changes and their implications. Here’s a rundown of the planned content related to implementation of the HEARTH Act.
There are a few workshops where you can expect to learn about specific aspects of the HEARTH Act. Before the conference begins, there’s a pre-conference session where you can ask HUD officials questions about the HEARTH Act and HUD programs (it’s not on the published agenda yet, but it will be soon). There are also conference sessions providing an overview of how the HEARTH Act changes and HUD programs fit together (1.13), rural homelessness (3.13), the new ESG program (4.13), the new CoC program (5.12), and Continuum of Care leadership (6.10).
We also have several workshops about using the changes made by the HEARTH Act to improve homeless assistance, including sessions on coordinated assessment (2.6), overseeing homeless assistance (2.7), retooling programs (3.7), measuring and improving community-wide outcomes (4.7), and reallocating resources (5.7). We’ve put together a one page HEARTH Act Conference Track.
As with all of our conferences, the main goal is to share ideas about how to best prevent and end homelessness. The HEARTH Act provides a lot of new tools to help do that, and so you’ll hear HEARTH Act changes discussed throughout.
Monday, July 16, 2012
Pre-Conference Session – 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
[Session with HUD officials to discuss the HEARTH Act and HUD Homeless Assistance Programs: title and description forthcoming]
Workshops I – 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
1.13 [Overview of the HEARTH Act and Changes to HUD Programs: title and description forthcoming]
Workshops II – 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
2.6 Coordinated Assessment
2.7 Getting the Most Out of Your System: Overseeing Homeless Assistance
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Workshops III – 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
3.7 Retooling Your Transitional Housing Program
3.13 Beyond the City Limits: Ending Homelessness in Rural and Tribal Areas
Workshops IV – 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
4.7 Measuring and Improving System Outcomes
4.13 Implementing the HEARTH Act: The New Emergency Solutions Grant Program
Workshops V – 2:45 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.
5.7 Shifting Gears: Community Planning to Re-Allocate Resources to Support New Strategies
5.12 Implementing the HEARTH Act: The New Continuum of Care Program
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Workshops VI – 9:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
6.10 Effective Continuum of Care Leadership: Examples and Strategies
Today we bring you another voice of a Performance Improvement Clinic (an intensive one-and-a-half day clinic that helps communities prepare for changes made by the HEARTH Act ) trainer, Iain De Jong. We ask Iain the question: Why should my community conduct a Performance Improvement Clinic?
The plural of “anecdote” is not – and never has been – “data.” Each community has a narrative to pull together on the great work that they are doing to end homelessness. But we need to move beyond samples sizes of one, good stories and intuition to prove to policy makers, funders and the general public that what we do makes a difference. In an era of limited resources, we also need to be sure that we are investing our precious time and money into those interventions that improve the system as a whole, not just a particular project.
While the HEARTH era expects communities to work as systems rather than a collection of projects, making the shift to do so has greater benefits than just meeting requirements of HEARTH. It makes good sense and it is in the best interests of the people we serve. A Performance Improvement Clinic provides the right forum to assist communities in taking increased strides towards a system-based approach to service delivery. This type of thinking helps ensure that the right person gets to the right organization for the right type of intervention at the right time. It leverages the strengths across the entire community.
With increased attention paid to data and performance in the delivery of human services, both “data” and “performance” are dirty words to some. Some well-intentioned people have overly complicated both rather than making them easily understood and useful in operations and decision-making from the frontline level right on up to management. We need to reclaim “data” and “performance” as a reflection of our efforts and hard work. We need to make them meaningful to everyone in an organization and across the entire community. And we need to know how to make the right decisions from the information to better serve homeless people by helping them access and maintain housing.
Simply put, what gets measured gets done. A community that conducts a Performance Improvement Clinic can count on having the tools in place to more easily understand and improve performance in an ongoing and sustainable way, making the best possible choices and investments for the people within their community, and explaining to one and all – including the end users of services – why performance matters.
Iain De Jong is the President & CEO of OrgCode Consulting and a long-time conference presenter at National Alliance Conferences. He will be making at least two presentations at the conference, and looking forward to learning much more from the other presenters and attendees. You can learn more about Iain at www.orgcode.com or www.facebook.com/orgcode or follow him on Twitter @orgcode.
If your community would like to learn more about the Performance Improvement Clinic, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.