Position Title: Community Programs Intern
Position/Job Function: Communications, Management/Administration, Faith-Based Initiatives
Position Description & Qualifications: Homeward is a nonprofit in Richmond that utilizes data, collaborative partnerships and best practices to end homelessness for our most vulnerable neighbors. This is an exciting time for our work, as there is much momentum and progress ending homelessness both locally and nationally. We are looking for an intern to help us coordinate and support community programs that will play a vital role in Richmond’s efforts to end homelessness.
The Coalition Programs Intern will be tasked with supporting and facilitating community meal programs and faith-based organization coordination. Additionally, the Intern will help create and re-house organization of community meal programs.
Centrally located in Richmond, Monroe Park has provided an access point for people to find meals, clothing, and fellowship on the weekend for decades. Compassionate congregations, service groups, and individuals have traveled to Monroe Park to provide these resources. Many have faithfully provided meals and ministry for years.
Monroe Park closed for renovations on Nov. 14. It is no longer as easy or convenient to receive or provide these services on the weekends.
Organizations including Homeward, CARITAS, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church’s Emmaus Ministry are all part of a collaborative network of agencies that provide shelter, housing services, meals, employment, furniture, mental health and substance abuse treatment and connections to other resources to more than 3,500 individuals and families each year. These important community services will continue to be provided during the Monroe Park renovation, and the organizations need your help to ensure that individuals who accessed critical services at the park can be connected with the existing resources they need to return to stability.
On any given day in the Greater Richmond region, 762 men, women, and children experience the crisis of homelessness. When Homeward conducted our January 2016 Point-in-Time count, 70 individuals were sleeping outdoors in Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield. The other individuals and families counted were staying in shelters throughout our region, including at a hypothermia shelter in the City of Richmond, a shelter that is only open when temperatures drop below a certain threshold at night.
Through our collaborative network, more than 10 nonprofit and public-sector service providers convene weekly to help connect our most vulnerable neighbors to permanent housing. Outreach workers from several agencies also regularly go out to encampments to build relationships with folks living outdoors, to make sure their basic needs are met, and to connect them to more stable situations.
On a single day earlier this month, two individuals with a combined history of 11 years of homelessness were connected to permanent housing and a case manager to ensure they remain housed for the foreseeable future. On that same day, nine more individuals started the housing process.
While we celebrate this and other successes each week, our work ending homelessness is ongoing and urgent. Between November and January, when we know the need is the highest, we will be working to increase the number of single adults who return to stable housing. We can end homelessness, and you can help.
We all play a part in ending homelessness and hopelessness for our neighbors. We can all work to make our community spaces more welcoming. Together, we can meet people where they are and help them on their journey. Whether you are a licensed professional working to help someone identify the resources they need to address a mental health disorder, or a compassionate, loving new friend, together we can make sure all folks have a home for the winter and beyond.
Airport Delays, Coordinated Access, and System Improvement
Traveling across the country from Richmond, Virginia to Oakland, California is always a process. Before I would get to my final destination, the National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness, I would need to arrive at the airport at 4:30 a.m., make two connecting flights in Atlanta and then Phoenix, and then finally land in Oakland around 3:30 p.m. PST. By the time I got to Phoenix awaiting my last connecting flight at 2:00 p.m. MST, I was hungry, exhausted, and ready to get on with my day.
Airports are access points in a system where individuals move from point A to point B. As I awaited my flight, I thought about how this is similar to individuals and families accessing a homeless services crisis response system looking to move from homelessness to safe and stable permanent housing. Standardized processes are utilized to facilitate these motions, and both systems depend on the availability and coordination of resources and staff to achieve their goals. To get passengers from Phoenix to Oakland, we needed a functional plane and a prepared flight crew. To return individuals and families from shelter to permanent housing, we need affordable and adequate housing to be available and quality case managers to facilitate the process.
Our updated regional strategic plan, The Road Home, finishes the work we started in 2007. Together we have 4 goals that will help us ensure that homelessness becomes rare, brief, and non-recurring in our community.
These goals are:
• To establish a coordinated entry system that is housing first and easy for our neighbors in crisis to access
• To cultivate strategic partnerships with other sectors to address critical gaps in homeless services and affordable housing
• To use data to improve people’s lives and to sharpen our program offerings
• To increase the support and commitment of regional policy makers for these efforts.
We have had difficult conversations and made significant changes as we have followed our shared path towards ending homelessness. We know we still have hard work to do—harder work, even. Some say that the most difficult part of a 1,000 mile journey is the first step. Well, we’ve all taken that step and have seen the results for the thousands of neighbors who are no longer homeless or who gained the dignity of housing before it was too late.
I say the most difficult part is staying on the road even when it is hard or uncomfortable. As we continue on The Road Home, we must not get distracted by picturesque side lanes or nice quiet parklets where everyone gets along and is comfortable.
To help all Richmonders have stable housing, we will continue on this road together. The Road Home.
Click here to read our updated regional plan, The Road Home.
Position: Diversion Coordinator
Position Type: Full-time, one year position
Reports to: Regional Coalition Manager
Diversion empowers people seeking homeless assistance to find solutions to address their housing crisis. The Diversion Coordinator facilitates the planning and implementation of system-wide diversion that upholds Greater Richmond Continuum of Care’s (GRCoC) guiding principles: transparent, evidence-based & data-driven, strengths-based & client-focused, easily accessible, housing-focused, continually improving, and meeting the needs of all subpopulations experiencing homelessness. This position furthers the operations of the GRCoC coordinated entry and referral processes.
What separates collective impact efforts that spin their wheels from those that continue to gain traction for years to come?
After working on multiple collective initiatives over the years—including efforts to reduce poverty, improve workforce development and early childhood development systems, and end homelessness—as well as regional collaborations, it’s clear that the idea of shared management and collective commitments is attractive to those working to bring about social change. Yet managing one that has true staying power is remarkably challenging.
First incubated at the local United Way in 1998, Homeward—a nonprofit coordinating agency targeting homelessness in Richmond, Virginia became independent in 2006, and the following year, launched a collective action plan to end homelessness in the area in 10 years’ time. As a consultant to social change efforts (Saphira) and the executive director of Homeward (Kelly), we signed up to help recalibrate the initiative during its last three years, 2015-2018. The effort has many features of a collective impact approach: some 30 public and private agencies share a vision; regularly collect and interpret data; accomplish their work through a hub of work groups; and are guided by a backbone organization that has public and private funding sources, and community recognition. Working together, these agencies have contributed to an almost 30 percent drop in homelessness since 2009.