Posts Tagged ‘Center for Capacity Building’

22nd March
2011
written by Kim Walker

Our own Center for Capacity Building is the on-the-ground arm of the Alliance. They travel from place to place helping communities craft strategies and implement practices to help turn their best intentions into real results. Starting today, the Center will share their notes from the field, offering thoughts on the best methods, tools, and ideas they’re using to end homelessness one place at a time. Stay tuned!

One of the strategies that we’re paying a lot of attention to these days is coordinated or centralized intake. It seems that a lot of the communities that have successfully reduced homelessness, especially among families, have started by reforming their intake systems. The key it seems is not the centralization, but better coordination of resources. That’s one of the reasons we like to describe it as coordinated intake rather than centralized intake.

In a community without a coordinated intake process, a person who needs assistance goes to various programs seeking help, and each program makes a determination about what kinds of assistance the person is eligible for. Most types of assistance are scarce, and so there’s some method for prioritizing, usually first come, first served. Let’s look at an example of permanent supportive housing. A homeless person residing in a shelter might get a list of programs that they are eligible for, including a permanent supportive housing program. The person will apply, and typically be placed on a waiting list. When the person’s name comes up, they move into the supportive housing program. It’s a simple process, but it creates some problems.

First of all, because everybody who is eligible is placed on a waiting list, the waiting lists are very long, which results in people needing those programs the most waiting a very long time. Second, there’s no need-based prioritization, so when a person’s name comes up for a program, there’s no process to ensure that the program is the best fit for the person or that the person needs the program more than other people on the waiting list. Lastly, it’s not an easy system for people to navigate.

A centralized and coordinated intake process can solve a lot of these problems. It simplifies the process for homeless and at-risk people by providing a clear path for accessing assistance. Using an assessment tool as part of the intake process can help people quickly identify the best programs for exiting homelessness quickly. Because people are only signed up for the programs that are best fits for their circumstances, it reduces waiting lists.

Over the next few months, we’ll be rolling out a toolkit on Coordinated Entry that describes how to implement coordinated entry, including an assessment and targeting process. For more information you can email us at thecenter@naeh.org.

15th March
2011
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.

8th February
2011
written by Catherine An

Today, we’re reviewing Kim Walker’s post about the day-long Rapid Re-Housing Clinic because – drumroll! – it’s tomorrow! Our Center for Capacity Building will be hosting the training to educate advocates, providers, and consumers about this excellent strategy to end homelessness.


It’s that time again! It’s T – five weeks (!) until the Alliance’s National Conference on Ending Family Homelessness, set this year in Oakland, Calif.

For you veterans out there, you know that the Alliance strives to make the conference as informative, interesting, and useful as possible, chock full of workshops, meetings, plenary sessions, and group discussions. (Seriously – check out this year’s agenda.)

And we’re not planning on disappointing in February! In fact, the Alliance’s Center for Capacity Building is taking it up a notch and offering a day-long Rapid Re-Housing for Families clinic at the February conference.

Rapid re-housing is a strategy focused on returning people experiencing homelessness to permanent housing as quickly as possible by eliminating their barriers to obtaining and retaining permanent housing. Doing this effectively requires the careful implementation of a number of strategies, including effective housing search and location, landlord engagement, and home-based case management.

Needless to say, it’s not always easy – and that’s where we want to help. Our clinic will review the nuts and bolts of rapid re-housing and include interactive activities and discussions to ensure participants leave with a clear idea of how to make their rapid re-housing program more successful.

We can’t wait to see you there!

5th January
2011
written by naehblog

Today’s post comes to us from Kim Walker.

It’s that time again! It’s T – five weeks (!) until the Alliance’s National Conference on Ending Family Homelessness, set this year in Oakland, Calif.

For you veterans out there, you know that the Alliance strives to make the conference as informative, interesting, and useful as possible, chock full of workshops, meetings, plenary sessions, and group discussions. (Seriously – check out this year’s agenda.)

And we’re not planning on disappointing in February! In fact, the Alliance’s Center for Capacity Building is taking it up a notch and offering a day-long Rapid Re-Housing for Families clinic at the February conference.

Rapid re-housing is a strategy focused on returning people experiencing homelessness to permanent housing as quickly as possible by eliminating their barriers to obtaining and retaining permanent housing. Doing this effectively requires the careful implementation of a number of strategies, including effective housing search and location, landlord engagement, and home-based case management.

Needless to say, it’s not always easy – and that’s where we want to help. Our clinic will review the nuts and bolts of rapid re-housing and include interactive activities and discussions to ensure participants leave with a clear idea of how to make their rapid re-housing program more successful.

We’re capping registration at 100, so be sure you register now! We think that this clinic will be a great way to kick of the conference (it’s slated for Wednesday, Feb. 9 starting at 9:30 a.m.) and really get participants energized for the workshops and sessions to come! And as a note: all clinic participants must be registered for our conference before signing up for the clinic.

If you have any questions about the clinic, feel free to send them to Kim Walker. We can’t wait to see you there!

30th November
2010
written by Catherine An

The Alliance just put out a huge (seriously, it’s hefty) toolkit – what we’re calling the Columbus Model.

So here’s the thing: Columbus, OH is really good at ending homelessness. Really, they’ve done all the right things: focused on prevention, implemented rapid re-housing techniques, encouraged excellent data collecting – all the things that make a program measurably successful. They’re so good, in fact, that we published a community snapshot on their 46 percent decrease in homelessness a few years ago.

And they’re still at it! With laser-focus on performance measurement and performance evaluation of both their community-wide homeless assistance system and their individual programs, Columbus has managed to really focus on improving assistance and reducing homelessness.

Lucky for you, we’ve distilled the lessons learned in this community and we’re sharing them with you so that you can implement them in yours! Our four-part profile of the Columbus Model includes:

We’ve also included tools and samples that you can download and adapt for your own community.

Why do you care? You care because next year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is going to get serious about the outcomes laid out in the HEARTH Act (that’s the reauthorization of the McKinney Vento Grants) – and communities everywhere are going to have to shape up to meet those outcomes. One of the great things about the Columbus Model is that it already meets many of the outcomes laid out in the HEARTH Act – Columbus works on reducing the length of stay, preventing loss of housing, encouraging rapid re-housing, housing stability, data collection, performance measurement, and a number of the other goals that will be required upon the implementation of the HEARTH Act.

We hope you find this model helpful – please feel free to peruse the articles and download the supplemental tools and guidelines. For more information abou the model, or to learn more about the Alliance’s Center for Capacity Building, please email us.

7th October
2010
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!

1st October
2010
written by Anna Blasco

I am going to start off with the good news first because I know the East coast has had a rough week! We at the Alliance got a little recognition today for our work helping the The Lincoln Homeless Coalition revamp the way they serve homeless families.  Which, faithful reader, you already know all about from this blog. So kudos to our CAP team! (Want the CAP team in your community? Check out the website.)

Working at the Alliance may make me biased but I was convinced even more this week about the importance of homelessness research. In order to effectively solve a problem, we must first fully understand it. And the research can  be hard to swallow –  like this report from Toronto – which indicates that homeless youth, particularly  lesbian and bisexual women and young people of color, are overwhelmingly victims of crime. Why on earth would anyone victimize a homeless kid?

But with every cloud comes a silver lining. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) has urged members of the Senate to designate these kind of violent attacks against people experiencing homelessness as hate crimes. This act, the “Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act,” would lead to stiffer penalties for perpetrators and mandate the collection of data on this problem – which hopefully will lead to better solutions. All this because of reports that violent attacks of this nature have been on the rise here in the United States. See how important data can be??

Speaking of research, despite overwhelming evidence and countless case studies, some people are still apprehensive about Housing First programs. Nashville has struggled with this, as well as New Orleans, this time against units that would provide permanent supportive housing. Admittedly, it’s not a popular strategy, especially for community members. But it’s one that has repeatedly demonstrated success – and it’s the best strategy we know to effectively end homelessness. And really, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Finally, the Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF) expired yesterday. The New York Times profiled a community in Tennessee that expects to be hit hard by this loss, and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities rounded up how some states will feel the burn. This is disappointing news, but now is not the time to throw in the towel!

We know that our supporters are committed to ending homelessness – roadblocks or no roadblocks! You can still make an impact – call your senators and speak to the housing staffer. Tell them their boss should commit to restoring TANF ECF and capitalizing the Trust Fund this year. Let us know in the comments how it goes! (Find you Senators’ phone number through the congressional switchboard: 202-224-3121.)

Happy Friday!

9th September
2010
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!
Kim

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.

2nd September
2010
written by Catherine An

Today, we continue the meet-the-staff series with Norm Suchar, the new director of the Alliance’s Center for Capacity Building. We’ve written about the Center for the blog before – now take some time to learn about the new director!

For more information about the Center for Capacity Building – including the new  Performance Improvement Clinic (formerly called the HEARTH Academy) – check out the Alliance website!

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25th August
2010
written by naehblog

Today’s blog post comes Stephanie Wege, a Capacity Building intern this summer at the Alliance, talking about her work in the Center for Capacity Building.

Interning at the Alliance this summer has been a wonderful experience. I’ve learned about the Center for Capacity Building and the tools that it has to offer communities near and far. The Center for Capacity Building not only provides leadership in instruction, but also encourages and fosters collaboration nationwide. Working with them has enabled me to understand the complexity of homelessness.

This summer I have gained insight into the function of technical assistance and training projects. They provide a valuable link between legislation and the activities of homeless service providers. As I’ve learned from various survey assessments that I’ve conducted this summer, providers are often confused by the language of the legislation, inhibiting their ability to enact necessary changes. However, even if the language is clear in some instances, many homelessness assistance systems are not endowed with the staff and finances necessary to permit required changes. There is an overwhelming need, according to the HPRP Implementation Survey, for tools that will help communities to overcome these barriers.

In light of assessments like these, the Capacity Building team has put into action tools that will hasten the implementation of HPRP measures. I assisted the Center for Capacity Building in formulating an Ending Homelessness 101 Web-based training to outline essential steps to ending homelessness as a resource for communities.

The Capacity Building team is also launching a training series that will inform communities about HEARTH features and stimulate integration of HEARTH principles into system design and data management.

Another important element of the Center for Capacity Building’s work that I’ve been able to experience is education — namely peer-to-peer learning. Each homelessness assistance system is unique and has its own story. Communities across the nation can benefit from these shared stories and strategies. One example is the rural case study highlighting the experiences in West Virginia that I was able to help with this summer. Once in circulation, this presentation will enable other rural communities to find common ground and expertise needed to move forward.

As I mentioned above, the Center for Capacity Building provides online training resources on various topics related to ending homelessness with both audio and text components. Recently, the CAP team undertook a survey assessment to evaluate the viability of the online trainings. In an effort to improve the quality, content, and effectiveness of our online trainings, we have designed a survey to elicit feedback from users in regard to the trainings’ design, applicability, and future topics. If you have consulted our online training resources, we would appreciate your feedback via this survey and will use it to further improve our online training resources.

As my internship comes to a close, I am grateful to have been exposed to such a wealth of material and practices, and I know that as I continue forward I will be able to take my experiences here and apply them in future. Thank you again to everyone at the Alliance!

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