Ali Ryder

Nov 212011

PART SEVEN: Objective-Based Home Visits Successful housing programs require case managers/housing support workers to visit their clients in their homes. You can’t have a successful housing program by having clients only come to your office. You can’t do it over the phone or by text message or email. Home visits are absolutely critical. A common mistake that case managers make is to show up at a client’s home and say, “How are you today?” This type of open-ended question takes the conversation and purpose of the visit off the rails from the start. Yes, I want case managers to care about the welfare of their clients. Yes, I believe in conventional niceties in society. But I have very specific reasons for wanting Objective-Based Home Visits to be structured differently. During the weekly case review meeting (as discussed in an earlier blog in this series) I want each case manager to identify the three objectives that they have for their next home visit. Each of these three objectives must be related to goals and anticipated outcomes identified in the individualized service plan. Some of these objectives may also be related to facilitating change with the client that is being supported. The objectives selected week to week will be directly related to the amount of time that the case manager and client have set aside for the meeting, as well as where the client is at in their service plan journey. A conversation when a case manager shows up to conduct a [...]

Nov 182011

PART SIX: Using Data to Drive Program Improvements Data. I know it is a four-letter word. It makes policy wonks salivate lustfully and makes many front-line practitioners run for the hills (or the bottle). Truth is, data doesn’t have to be scary or cumbersome or a nuisance. Done right, data is the ace up your sleeve to make your program transition from good to great. As a starting point, know that there are resources out there that can help you if you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with data. The National Alliance to End Homelessness has a range of nifty resources. I especially like What Gets Measured Gets Done. Data and performance measurement is also a subject matter I get asked to speak about a lot. So, if you want to check out some of that – littered with “Iain-isms” – feel free. Plus there are a few previous blogs (not part of this current series) where I have talked about performance measurement, data and organizing information in the context of functioning like a system instead of a collection of projects. This one in particular is short and the feedback we’ve received suggests it is my most entertaining blog entry (fire alarms, vibrating bed, strobe lights, knocks on the door in the middle of the night – how can you go wrong?). A couple of other articles may be a useful read if you are unfamiliar with some of the core concepts of data and performance management, or want to better [...]

Nov 162011

PART FIVE: Helping Landlords Help You There should be a range of housing options for clients of your housing program to consider. In the best of circumstances this will include everything from permanent supportive housing to private market housing (with or without vouchers or rent supplements) and public/social housing. It will hopefully include a wide variety of units from multi-unit residential buildings to suites in the secondary market like basement suites or rented houses. It may also include the likes of well-maintained and managed rooming houses or boarding homes. And I could go on with the diverse types of housing. The key is to have a range of options that clients can CHOOSE from. Choice is fundamental to housing program success. If your organization does housing placements instead of offering housing choices, you are missing an important part of program success. In one research study it found that clients who felt that they had a choice in where they lived were most happy with their housing, whereas those who felt that had less choice were much less happy with their housing. The latter is also more likely to move and/or experience a return to homelessness. For the purpose of this blog, I want to focus attention on working with private market landlords – even if your organization does not have access to any type of financial assistance to provide to landlords. In a perfect world there would be an infinite number of subsidies to provide; immediate access to subsidized housing; [...]