Blog

Homeward


Second-Generation Collective Impact

Saphira M. Baker & Kelly King Horne Feb. 16, 2016


View post on Stanford Social Innovation Review blog: 

http://ssir.org/articles/entry/second_generation_collective_impact

 

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.

 

phcvols2Homeward’s Project Homeless Connect (PHC) event is a week away, and we are really looking forward to this opportunity to engage our community in preventing and ending homelessness in Greater Richmond. While we never know what to expect in any given year, we do know that on any given day, 818 members of our community experience homelessness. Through our collaborative and data-driven work, this number is down nearly 30% since the peak of homelessness in 2009, but we know there is still much more work to be done.

We are thrilled by the growing enthusiasm our volunteers have for the event, and want to thank our many repeat volunteers for their regular involvement in our important and urgent work. Each year this event has tremendous impact on participants, service providers, and volunteers, however, we want to help prepare our new and returning volunteers for what to expect next Tuesday.

While most of our collaborative work preventing and ending homelessness is ongoing throughout the year, it is truly amazing the significant impact this one-day event has had on our community since the first PHC in 2007. For individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness, it is an opportunity to overcome many barriers to accessing needed service from over 40 agencies in one place and receive needed medical and dental care, housing and employment connections, haircuts, veterans services, and more. For service providers, it’s an opportunity to meet one another, see how we all connect with this work, and observe how impact amplifies as a result of collaboration. For volunteers, it is an opportunity to break down stereotypes of homelessness and to get to know one or more of our neighbors.

As impactful as this one-day event is, there will be a lot of waiting and a lot of frustration for you as a volunteer and for our guests seeking critical but limited services.

Waiting will happen in lines to be matched with a guest and in waiting areas to receive services. While you might feel like waiting is preventing you from making a difference, know that waiting is a reality that our homeless neighbors face every day and we work to ensure that each PHC guest can be matched with a volunteer as soon as he or she is ready to enter the event. It’s frustrating when services get cut-off, when guests don’t qualify for a service they are looking for, or when lines are just too long to help guests get everything they could potentially benefit from.

While we have no idea how many will show up to access available resources, we know that there will be people in our community in need of shelter tonight and tomorrow and next week, access to mental health or substance abuse services, connections to employment, or assistance with benefits. We also know that not everyone will get everything they need during the event, and this breaks our hearts and encourages us to fight even harder to address homelessness in our community.

Through the new partnerships formed at PHC since 2007 and the support and advocacy of our corporate sponsors and individual volunteers, our community has been able to increase our regional outreach to our neighbors living out of doors, engage more landlords to work with those with long histories of homelessness, and implement a coordinated entry system that prioritizes services for the most vulnerable. Even more exciting, as of today, using the coordination lessons we learned from our guests and service provider partners at PHC, we have functionally ended veteran homelessness. (Link to webpage)

PHC is a focused day of action that rallies all of us to continue this difficult work and to resolve that one day soon in our community, all of our neighbors will have access to stable housing and the services they need to maintain that housing. This is why our collective impact work is ongoing, and why we are so thankful that you will be joining us in this effort on Tuesday and throughout the coming year.

We know that homelessness is a complex issue requiring comprehensive solutions and cross-sector partnerships. The circumstances and challenges facing our neighbors experiencing homelessness can vary considerably, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach for individuals and families to regain housing stability. We also know that homelessness is a crisis, and that we as a crisis response system must be equipped to take prompt action. With much on the line, we continue to collaboratively improve the way we respond to homelessness in a coordinated a systematic way. We are committed to continue this important and urgent work until we get to a place where homelessness is rare, brief, and nonrecurring.

Our success as a system is illustrated through a variety of indicators, but the clearest is the year-over-year reduction in homelessness our region has seen since 2009 (28.9% total across this period). These reductions are not a fluke, and reflect top-tier programs facilitated by our service providers as well as our region’s practice of coming together to collaboratively try new approaches to maximize our resources and meet the needs of those experiencing homelessness. A great example of a transformative system improvement serving an unmet need is the implementation of rapid rehousing in 2009. This work began with an investment from The Community Foundation to pilot a program housing 24 families (28 adults and 46 children). Following this pilot, we have seen only one of these families re-enter or homeless services system to-date. Rapid rehousing has shown us that we can do things differently, and we must if we are serious about targeting our hardest to serve and moving ever closer to ending homelessness.

Again, rapid rehousing is not a magic program in and of itself, but it makes sense among the array of housing options available in our community. We know that not everybody facing a housing crisis requires intensive supports to stabilize in housing. People are resilient, and many individuals and families only need light support to get back on their feet and secure the mainstream resources necessary to be successful in housing. Rapid rehousing may not solve every issue faced by a household experiencing homelessness, but we should not mistake this as evidence that rapid rehousing is not working to end homelessness. Self-sufficiency takes time, but we know stable housing can be the springboard our neighbors need to rebuild their lives. We should be proud that our programs are 93% successful in keeping clients housed for at least a year following program exit, and continue to build bridges with the affordable housing and employment resources needed to further broaden this success.

In 2014, we were able to connect 832 children and adults (not including those served by programs for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse) with permanent housing through low-cost rapid rehousing programs. This is substantial, and there remain opportunities to serve even more. For example, in the winter of 2014-215, our region utilized rapid rehousing to move 50 individuals staying in cold weather shelter into permanent housing. Prior to this work, almost all individuals using this shelter exited back into homelessness. We knew we could and needed to do better, and we were able to successfully use rapid rehousing to address this gap in community services.

Rapid rehousing will not end homelessness on its own, though we have seen in Greater Richmond the tremendous impact it can have for families and veterans experiencing homelessness. Our numbers for these populations continue to decline (11.7% reduction in veteran homelessness and 18.5% for family homelessness between 2014 and 2015), and as a community we are rapidly accelerating the pace of change in ending homelessness. From our success comes additional opportunities to find ways to expand this and other successful housing interventions to serve other sub-populations of individuals experiencing homelessness. We must continue to try things differently and get creative in addressing the ongoing challenges of our work, as people’s lives and livelihoods are on the line. To learn more about rapid rehousing click here.

 

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 3, 2015

Homeward Recognizes Homeless Service Providers for Progress in Ending Homelessness in Greater Richmond

Homeward, a collective impact agency working to end homelessness in Greater Richmond, will host its ninth annual Regional Best Practices Conference to Prevent and End Homelessness on Friday, June 5th, 2015 at the Capital One Town Center located on 15000 Capital One Drive, Richmond, VA 23238. The conference will emphasize innovative practices and collaborative partnerships that have fueled year over year reductions in regional homelessness since 2009. The Trends and Innovations Luncheon during the conference will recognize individuals and organizations who are going above and beyond to transition our most vulnerable neighbors into permanent housing.

2015 Award Winners Include:

- Steve Neathery Overcoming Homelessness Award: Jimmy Fenner, HomeAgain

- Randall Hicks Excellence in Homeless Services Award: Georgi Fisher, Virginia Supportive Housing

- Zero: 2016 Leadership Award: Celie Weaver, Virginia Supportive Housing

- Innovation in Homeless Services: Greater Richmond Regional Domestic Violence Hotline

- Community Champion Award: Darcy Oman, The Community Foundation

Norm Suchar, Director of HUD’s Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs, will be keynoting the 2015 conference and will highlight strategic initiatives ending homelessness in communities across the country. Conference themes include building partnerships between workforce development and homeless services, developing standardized processes to more quickly and effectively respond to immediate housing crises, and securing affordable housing resources.

Homeward, a 501(c)3 collective impact nonprofit founded in 1998, works to end homelessness through data collection and trend analysis, building and sustaining collaborative partnerships, and building the capacity of our regional homeless service system to effectively serve clients so that homelessness becomes rare, brief, and non-recurring in our community. To learn more about Homeward visit www.homewardva.org.



PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 3, 2015

Homeward Recognizes Homeless Service Providers for Progress in Ending Homelessness in Greater Richmond

Homeward, a collective impact agency working to end homelessness in Greater Richmond, will host its ninth annual Regional Best Practices Conference to Prevent and End Homelessness on Friday, June 5th, 2015 at the Capital One Town Center located on 15000 Capital One Drive, Richmond, VA 23238. The conference will emphasize innovative practices and collaborative partnerships that have fueled year over year reductions in regional homelessness since 2009. The Trends and Innovations Luncheon during the conference will recognize individuals and organizations who are going above and beyond to transition our most vulnerable neighbors into permanent housing.

2015 Award Winners Include:

- Steve Neathery Overcoming Homelessness Award: Jimmy Fenner, HomeAgain

- Randall Hicks Excellence in Homeless Services Award: Georgi Fisher, Virginia Supportive Housing

- Zero: 2016 Leadership Award: Celie Weaver, Virginia Supportive Housing

- Innovation in Homeless Services: Greater Richmond Regional Domestic Violence Hotline

- Community Champion Award: Darcy Oman, The Community Foundation

Norm Suchar, Director of HUD’s Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs, will be keynoting the 2015 conference and will highlight strategic initiatives ending homelessness in communities across the country. Conference themes include building partnerships between workforce development and homeless services, developing standardized processes to more quickly and effectively respond to immediate housing crises, and securing affordable housing resources.

Homeward, a 501(c)3 collective impact nonprofit founded in 1998, works to end homelessness through data collection and trend analysis, building and sustaining collaborative partnerships, and building the capacity of our regional homeless service system to effectively serve clients so that homelessness becomes rare, brief, and non-recurring in our community. To learn more about Homeward visit www.homewardva.org.



Group at MealWHEN/WHERE:
Thursday, January 29, 2015 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
815 East Grace Street
Richmond, VA 23219

BACKGROUND:
Homeward, the Greater Richmond region’s planning and coordinating agency for homeless services, will conduct the winter 2015 Point-in-Time (PIT) Count of those experiencing homelessness on Thursday, January 29th. Around 300 homeless residents are anticipated at the central event site at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where a small resource fair will provide haircuts, clothing, and other services for participants. Additional data will be collected in Chesterfield, Hanover, and Henrico counties by mobile teams from Homeward, area police, and social service agencies looking for unsheltered individuals.

Subcategories

 

Yes, we can end homelessness

 

 

Donate

Homeward

Contact Us:

1125 Commerce Rd,
Richmond, VA 23224

Tel: (804) 343-2045
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Stay Informed

Facebook Twitter Youtube Linked In

Get Our Newsletter