At the Alliance’s Center for Capacity Building, our job is to learn what works best in ending homelessness and share it with our community.
Our latest white paper on prevention targeting is meant to do just that. But I have a secret to share with you about prevention targeting – it’s tricky. Researchers have been looking for the keys to effective prevention targeting for years, and have certainly made progress, but have really struggled to find a key set of factors that differentiate households that become homeless and household that don’t.
Some communities have also made progress on this front – Hennepin County, MN, which is discussed a bit in our brief and who we have other materials on, is one of them – but even they have had to make adjustments and learn from their mistakes.
What it comes down to is this – we still have a lot of learning to do.
We can tell you, though, that is one main strategy that appears very promising, and, like many other strategies we talk about, is a data-based solutions. If you take nothing else away from this blog post, take this: Use the characteristics of your sheltered population as the basis for determining household eligibility for prevention funds. Prevention funds should be used to serve people at the highest risk of becoming homeless, so you should use the information you have on who is already homeless to identify the right households to serve. If you don’t have local data through your HMIS available, which is best, you can use a list of other barriers in the brief as a starting point – but make sure you start collecting data as well!
In general, it looks like helping higher barrier households and households with the most imminent housing crises is the way to go. The most important thing about doing prevention well is that you’re serving the right people –the people that are truly at highest risk.
We’ll of course produce even more materials as we learn more about this very important issue. But we think this brief is a first step in the right direction – we hope you think so as well!
For more information about the Alliance’s Center for Capacity Building, please visit the website.