Performance Improvement Clinic

31st March
written by Kim Walker

Today’s post comes to us from Alliance Center for Capacity Building Associate Kim Walker.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to work with a group of seven different Chippewa bands located in northern Minnesota on developing ten year plans to end homelessness.

It was remarkable to learn about the struggles that many tribal nations face in defining, preventing, and ending homelessness. Tribal leaders share many of the challenges that rural areas face, like serving people spread over a large land area, finding adequate funding, and providing shelter amid a startling lack of housing infrastructure.

But beyond that, tribal homelessness is still unique.

  • Because tribes are officially considered sovereign nations, funding can become complicated or come with limitations that may prove difficult to overcome (i.e., some funding may be unavailable to tribes unless they are able to become an incorporated non-profit).
  • Additionally, homelessness, or near homelessness, on a reservation looks different than what people might expect. The Wilder Survey, one of the most comprehensive surveys of tribal homelessness, found that many Native Americans living on reservations are doubled up for long periods of time, often moving from one doubled up situation to another as long as that’s sustainable. Street homelessness is less common, meaning homelessness is less visible. Even the term “homeless” can cause confusion on a reservation, as the land itself is often considered a “home” for all tribal members.
  • Tribes may also struggle in gaining attention for this issue from external sources. Although they share common concerns, it can be difficult to build a coalition when reservations have such distinct cultures and are often times far away from each other.

For a community that has long been overlooked my mainstream American culture, it’s disheartening to hear that even with this issue – an issue confronting all Americans – we continue to neglect this important part of our national community.

So what can we do? I think the most important thing is to educate ourselves about these issues – helping end homelessness for one population ultimately means improving our ability to end homelessness for all. A good start is reading the 2006 Wilder Survey on the topic.

15th March
written by Norm Suchar

Today’s post come to us from Norm Suchar, director of the Alliance’s Center for Capacity Building.

A couple months ago, we published a new tool that we’re calling the Homeless System Evaluator. Using the Evaluator, you can put in homelessness data and it will provide you with charts and graphs that help you see what parts of you homeless assistance system are working better than others. It’s a great tool for looking at the big picture.

So how does it work?

Here’s a small example, but if you want to see more, you should check it out on our website.

The chart below combines HMIS data regarding last place of residence for single individuals entering shelter and for those being served with HPRP prevention assistance. (Although I cut out some of the categories so it would fit better on this page.) It shows that a large percentage of the singles are coming from institutional settings, while most of the prevention resources are targeted to people coming from unsubsidized housing they rent. This kind of data can begin a conversation in your community about how resources are utilized, and it’s precisely the kind of thing the Evaluator was designed for.

Have questions? Send the Capacity Building Center an email.

7th October
written by Kim Walker

Today’s guest post is the next – and last! – installment of our Nebraska series from Kim Walker of our Center for Capacity Building. For more about the Center for Capacity Building and the services they offer, check on the Training section of our website.

Believe it or not, our time in Lincoln is at an end!

This last visited was from September 29 – October 1. The bulk of this last visit was a presentation to the larger Lincoln community, particularly targeting those whose work touches homeless individuals and have not been present for our meetings thus far. It’s about rallying community support and understanding that in order to make big change, we have to all be willing to invest in that change.

For our piece, we’ll review the process we’ve gone through with the Lincoln Homeless Coalition, including the data we collected through our survey and data analysis. Then we’ll turn things over to the Coalition members, who will talk in-depth about each of the goals they have for Lincoln’s system and invite the audience to become involved. This is where, if all goes well, we’ll see our hard work turn to into collective action as the larger community takes ownership of the work ahead.

In addition to presenting, we’ll be visiting the Coalition’s Project Homeless Connect event. Like other communities across the country, Lincoln puts on this one-day event that brings together different service providers to give the homeless individuals in the area a temporary one-stop shop to get as many of their needs as possible addressed. Our friend Erin Anderson at Lincoln’s own Journal Star has written about the event.

While we’re wrapping things up, though, we’ll also need to be looking forward. Though this may be our last physical visit to the city, we’ll be discussing how we can help them over the coming months, whether that’s with conference calls, collecting data to check their progress, or connecting them with other communities doing similar work.

As the great Ted Kennedy once said, “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.” We’re ending homelessness one community at a time!

9th September
written by Kim Walker

You may remember that Kim Walker of the Alliance’s Center for Capacity Building is launching a new tool to end homelessness in Nebraska. Today – while she and our colleague Sam are en route to the Lincoln, she shares thoughts for their next trip!

It’s back to Lincoln tomorrow – and this time, my fellow Capacity Building Associate, Samantha Batko, will be joining me! Our mission for the visit is to finalize the plan that Lincoln started the first time around. This will entail doing some refining of the Lincoln Homeless Coalition members’ initial ideas, particularly the five goals they chose as the most important in helping them shift their system in the direction of ending family homelessness. Last time around, there were a lot of different strategies and resources suggested to help Lincoln accomplish their goals, but now it’s time to decide which strategies and resources are the best and most promising ones. Completing a workable timeline is also of the utmost importance with this visit.

Beyond just finishing up the plan – which is no small feat – we also hope to get the group jump-started with implementation. We are hoping to get the ball rolling so by our next visit, Lincoln will be able to report some progress on each of the five goals they’ve selected. While we at the Alliance our big plans of comprehensive and thoughtful planning, what we are really after is successful implementation that gets positive results.

Until next week!

For more information about the Alliance’s Center for Capacity Building – including information about the Center’s new Ending Family Homelessness Tool and Pilot Project – please visit the website.

16th March
written by naehblog

Okay, so this is a little late in coming – the NHC Budget Conference was on Friday, March 12 – but I’m hoping you’ll find this informative nonetheless.

The NHC Budget Forum was, per usual, an extraordinarily well-run event. This year, NHC hosted Raphael Bostic of the Department of Housing and Urban Development as the keynote speaker.

Panelists, covering the different parts of the HUD budget, included Jonathan Horowitz of HUD, Sheila Crowley of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Sarah Wartell of the Center for American Progress, and our own Nan Roman. Her testimony (about 10 minutes) on the proposed McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance programs and other federal homelessness investments right here.

Opening and closing remarks were offered by the new incoming executive director of the NHC, Maureen Friar. Outgoing executive director and innovative leader in the housing and homelessness fields Conrad Egan was recognized by all the panelists, speakers and several invitees at the forum.

Check out the great blogpost (with pictures and video!) about the forum on the NHC Conference blog, Open House. You can also see great pictures on their Flickr account.

If you’re feeling REALLY die-hard, you can check out the Raphael Bostic’s entire PowerPoint presentation on President Obama’s proposed FY2011 HUD budget here (courtesy of NHC.