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 [...]
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 [...]
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; [...]
I never expected to be working in homelessness and housing services.
My name’s Ali Ryder, and I joined the OrgCode team in April of 2011, but just one short year ago I had no idea what lay ahead of me. Heck, two years ago, I was moving to Peru for a contract to run a volunteering abroad program! But let’s start again, shall we?
Five neighbourhoods outside Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside will become priority destinations for homeless shelters and permanent units in the next three years as part of the city’s new housing plan. City planners mentioned this new priority in only a couple of sentences near the end of the city’s wide-ranging 35-page plan passed in July. They will decide which neighbourhoods will be selected in the fall based on new information about where homeless populations are clustering in the city. With a civic election approaching in November and a wave of anti-development-of-any-kind sentiment on the rise in the city, the plan could kick off a fractious political debate about which five neighbourhoods should top the list. But Councillor Kerry Jang said the move to identify priority neighbourhoods for homeless services is part of the city’s revamped approach to getting communities to accept them. “I have found that areas with large homeless populations often don’t see that they have a problem, as the homeless are dispersed around the area or have stayed out of sight to avoid getting hassled,” he said. “One of the tasks is to demonstrate a need to a community and develop with the community the kind of services that are appropriate [for that community].” City planners will get data from the 2011 homeless count soon that will provide more detailed information on where homeless people tend to live in Vancouver, separate from where shelters or services might be currently located. As well, staff will ask homeless people where they came [...]
Iain’s humour and teaching ability are remarkable. His ability to engage an audience and win them over as friends and believers in a concept is incredible. In my thirty five plus years in this field and being exposed to many teachers of concepts, Iain is, without a doubt the most impactful, knowledgeable and caring instructor I have met in my career. It is without any hesitation that I recommend Iain and his team to join with you to work miracles on any issue or problem that you or your organization faces.
–Senior Policy Advisor, Alberta Secretariat for Action on Homelessness
Metro Vancouver is comprised of 23 municipalities that includes the City of Vancouver. OrgCode was awarded the contract to lead the 2011 Homeless Count in Metro Vancouver in an effort to determine the overall scope of homelessness and the sub-populations impacted by homelessness such as gender-specific, youth and Aboriginal. OrgCode worked with the Metro Vancouver Homeless Secretariat, local community coordinators and over 700 hundred volunteers to survey homeless persons in shelters, those who were unsheltered and persons with No Fixed Address who were staying in hospitals, jails, transition housing, detox and other institutions. OrgCode will write a final report based on the data that will inform policy and funding over the next three years.
I just finished reading the London Community Housing Strategy as part of a review of province wide Affordable Housing Strategies and want to tell you that it is FANTASTIC. It is the only Strategy that I have reviewed (and there were nearly 30 densely packed reports) that clearly articulates an innovation vision for ending homelessness and keeping people housed. It has made my day (and it is only 11:00 am). Thanks for livening up an otherwise tedious task.
–Co-ordinator, Local Networks and Management Support, Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association (ONPHA)
More people are spending night in shelters By Sarah Douziech, The Province May 25, 2011 A dramatic drop in people sleeping on Metro Vancouver streets is proof that efforts to end homelessness are working, city and provincial leaders said Tuesday. Preliminary results from the Metro Vancouver Homeless Count released Tuesday show street-homeless numbers dropped from 1,574 in 2008 to 731 in 2011. “I think the trend is finally going in the right direction,” said Premier Christy Clark. “I’m incredibly proud of what the government has achieved on this.” But the drop in people sleeping on the street came with a sharp spike in the number of homeless people housed in shelters. There were 74 per cent more homeless people in emergency shelters, youth safe houses, transition houses, hospitals, detox centres and police departments. Overall, homelessness in Metro Vancouver went down by one per cent or by 37 people. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson made a campaign promise in 2008 to end street homelessness by 2015 and the number of people sleeping on Vancouver streets dropped 82 per cent from 2008 -the most out of all municipalities. But the overall homeless population increased from 1,576 in 2008 to 1,605 in 2011. “In spite of all the talk coming out of city hall, we’re not seeing the homeless figures in decline,” said NPA city council candidate Sean Bickerton. And NDP housing critic Shane Simpson said that while more people are off the street, the root cause of homelessness isn’t being addressed. “What we’ve seen [...]
Vancouver street homeless population plummets, survey shows WENDY STUECK VANCOUVER— From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail Published Tuesday, May. 24, 2011 10:02PM EDT Hundreds of people are finding shelter indoors rather than sleeping in streets or parks, according to preliminary figures from the Metro Vancouver Homeless Count 2011. And that drop in unsheltered, or street, homelessness – most evident in Vancouver, where the number of unsheltered people fell by 82 per cent between the 2008 and 2011 surveys – shows the city and the province are making progress in tackling a chronic problem, government officials say. Strategies such as low-barrier shelters that allow people to hang on to their pets and shopping carts are “proven to work,” Alice Sundberg, co-chair of Greater Vancouver’s Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness said Tuesday at a news conference to unveil the report. The low-barrier shelters opened under Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who took office in 2008 after promising to tackle the city’s homelessness problem. But despite the steep decline in street homelessness, the overall number of homeless people in the Metro Vancouver was almost unchanged, at 2,623 this year compared with 2,660 in 2008 – leading critics to suggest that little progress has been made. “The dial has not moved at all,” said NPA city council candidate Mike Klassen, adding that the homeless tally had stayed flat even though more than 1,500 units of supportive housing have come on stream in the region over the past three years. Fellow NPA candidate Sean Bickerton echoed that [...]
By JEFF LEE 24 MAY 2011 CIVIC LEE SPEAKING Metro Vancouver’s latest homeless count is out and it shows me two significant things. The first is that 2,623 people were living in shelters, police cells, doorways and detox centres as of March 16, marginally down from three years ago, when researchers found 2,660 souls. Unquantified in both surveys is the number of “hidden homeless”, those people that researchers say don’t fit into the category of those living either on the street or in shelters. They’re the ones we can’t find or who don’t pop up onto our radar. In other words, we really don’t know how many homeless there are. Here’s my story from today’s announcement. You have to look inside the numbers of the March 16 count to see the real change, with a stunning rise in the number of people living in emergency shelters, and a near equivalent decline in the number living on the street. This sounds good, doesn’t it? But this also tells me is that for all the hundreds of millions of dollars governments have thrown at solving homelessness, it doesn’t seem like we’re really any closer to finding a solution. There are still virtually the same number of people without stable housing as there were in 2008, the last time Metro Vancouver did a survey. The only thing that’s changed has been Joe and Jane’s address, from #21 Heat Grate Street to #21 Emergency Shelter Ave. This despite the fact the province invested millions [...]
(Metro Vancouver, BC) Today, the Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness and the Aboriginal Homelessness Steering Committee released a Preliminary Report on the region’s fourth homeless count conducted on March 16. The overall number of people found on count day was down by 37 people (or 1%) from the previous count in 2008. Statistically, the number of homeless remains virtually the same. “This is the first time since the Count began in 2002 where the overall number of homeless found did not increase,” remarked Patrick Stewart, Chair of the Aboriginal Homelessness Steering Committee. “At 24% however, the number of Aboriginal people in the homeless population is still disproportionately high.” “It’s encouraging that efforts by provincial, local and federal governments are getting more people off the streets and into shelters,” said Wayne Wright, Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Housing Committee. “However, the lack of affordable rental housing in the region is putting low-to-moderate income young people, families and seniors at risk of homelessness. Addressing this needs to be a priority for all levels of government as well.” “54% fewer people said they had spent the previous night outside, and we know this percentage would have been a lot higher without the work of community non-profits, governments and private funders housing and supporting people” explained Alice Sundberg, Co-Chair of the Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness. “Unfortunately, the shift of people from outdoors into shelters did not hold true with our youth population. The Count found not only a 29% increase in unaccompanied [...]
A real estate developer in Mississauga was interested in rehabilitation of an existing light industrial property through adaptive reuse to change it to a residential use. They turned to OrgCode to assess the opportunity, feasibility, and zoning amendments necessary to take the opportunity to the next step.
A boutique developer was examining historical properties in Southwestern Ontario to look for restaurant and retail opportunities at grade with residential on upper floors, they asked OrgCode to help them examine retrofit and rehabilitation options.
By JANE SIMS, LONDON FREE PRESS Last Updated: March 28, 2010 1:04pm Home is where the community is. And on Saturday, the community continued to help mould a housing strategy for London at an open house public forums. The coffee was on and conversation was ongoing about everything from homelessness to home ownership. While there wasn’t a huge turn-out, there were lots of good ideas and community brainstorming about what the city should be examining. “It’s an exercise in civic engagement that allows people to truly have a voice heard,” said Iain De Jong, from OrgCode, the consulting firm that is helping guide the city through the ideas that are being tossed around by interested Londoners keen on seeing a complete five-year housing strategy. Those ideas are coming from all sectors — developers, property managers, tenants, and social agencies — and are exchanged like “people sitting around a kitchen table.” Louise Stevens, the city’s director of municipal housing said she hopes to bring the consultation components to the table in time for initial city budget consultations in May and June and for city council to settle priorities by June 28, allowing her time to set priorities for the upcoming budget consultations and before the electioneering reaches its peak. “I want to make sure we are spending it properly,” she said. The consultants will be able to tell the city what it is doing right, but can also offer constructive community ideas about what residents think are the priorities. Shelters, affordable [...]
By Wanda Chow – Burnaby NewsLeader Published: March 22, 2011 2:00 PM It will be mid-April before the preliminary results of the most recent homeless count are in, says Wanda Mulholland, co-chair of the Burnaby Task Force On Homelessness. On March 16, there were 93 volunteers conducting the count over a 24-hour period in Burnaby alone. They visited 53 different sites and had 14 anchor sites where homeless people were encouraged to visit to be counted. The initiative took place across Metro Vancouver and counted homeless people who sleep outside or are temporarily staying with others. The count also included people staying at homeless shelters, and people with no fixed address staying in hospitals, jails, or other temporary transitional facilities on that date. The count has taken place every three years since 2002. While recognized as an “undercount,” the statistics, including demographics and trends, are used to advocate for housing and services for people living with extreme poverty and homelessness. The numbers of homeless people counted in Burnaby have grown over the years from 17 in 2002, to 40 in 2005 and 87 in 2008. While research consultant OrgCode Consulting Inc. continues to compile the data collected on March 16, outreach workers from Progressive Housing Society estimate there could be as many as 250 people in Burnaby dealing with homelessness, based on their contact with people accessing the society’s services. via Burnaby NewsLeader – Results of homeless count to be announced mid-April.
CITY GROWTH: The five-year plan would cover all aspects, from streets and shelters to home ownership By PATRICK MALONEY, THE LONDON FREE PRESS Last Updated: March 19, 2010 12:13am City officials are developing a five-year plan to tackle all aspects of housing in London — from homelessness to home ownership — and want the public’s input to help set priorities. The creation of a so-called community housing strategy will combine existing city plans on affordable housing and homelessness and set a course on an issue one politician says affects a wide range of aspects of London’s future. Coun. Susan Eagle, a long-time housing activist, says that beyond helping those needing affordable housing and other assistance, the five-year plan can aid councillors in planning city growth properly. “It’s to give us the big picture of the needs of the community,” Eagle said. “Are we planning subdivisions (for example) that allow various kinds of housing? “It’s helpful . . . in the way we integrate neighbourhoods. If you’re going to avoid ghettos, you’re going to have to look at they ways you integrate communities.” Eagle also hopes the public feedback will help the city to create a “continuum” of services for people needing help: If, for example, a person is moved into affordable housing without mental-health support, they may not last there, slipping instead back into shelters. “The community knows where the gaps are. The people who use this system know where the gaps are,” Eagle said. “They know where they fall [...]
The Globe and Mail Thu Mar 17 2011 Page: S1 Section: British Columbia News Byline: Jessica Linzey Dateline: VANCOUVER VANCOUVER — Bill doesn’t receive many visitors. His home – a battered green and orange tent tucked in a small clearing in the deep woods of Stanley Park – is off the beaten track. The site is sparsely decorated, just a scattered pile of half-filled garbage bags and a pair of jeans hanging from a branch. He’s been camped here a year, he says, though he’s been a resident of the park for many of his 30 years living rough. Once a week, he hikes into the city for supplies, but otherwise sees very few people. He prefers it that way, he says. “You want to stay away from all that organized crap. Camping seems good to me.” Most days, Bill, who prefers not to give his last name, is left to enjoy his time alone in the woods. But on Wednesday he was one of thousands of people that Metro Vancouver hoped to survey, as the region sent 700 volunteers into city streets and parks to conduct its fourth homeless count this decade. The regional tally has taken place every three years since 2002, and each has incorporated lessons learned from the last, said Alice Sundberg, co-chair of the Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness, the group – along with the Aboriginal Homelessness Steering Committee – behind the day’s activities. One of those lessons was to include a count of those [...]
By Sam Cooper, The Province PAGE A2 March 16, 2011 About 800 volunteers are pounding the pavement in Metro Vancouver today to count the homeless. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson was one of about 300 looking for homeless people in Vancouver early Wednesday. In an interview outside First Baptist Church in downtown Vancouver, Robertson said he didn’t find anyone on the street in his rounds of Burrard and Hornby streets. “Hopefully, that’s a good sign,” he said. In Vancouver over the past two years the number of people sleeping on streets has dropped by about 47 per cent, Robertson said, with the population shifting into temporary city shelters. But overall homeless numbers continue to rise. City officials said it is expected the Metro Vancouver homeless count will rise this year. Preliminary numbers from the 24-hour count, started at midnight Tuesday, will come out in April, and final numbers will be reported in June. “We see more people accessing the shelters and getting off the street [in Vancouver], and that is the first step,” Robertson said. Homeless numbers continue to trend upwards because “the federal government is not participating in affordable housing measures,” Robertson said. “ Some of [the problem] is the province’s only recent investment in social and affordable housing. But [the province] has a lot of buildings coming on stream with the city, so we will see people moving from shelters into housing in the next few years. Hopefully we will see the overall numbers coming down.” The province has [...]
By Yolande Cole, March 16, 2011 Hundreds of volunteers spread out across municipalities in Metro Vancouver today to count the number of people sleeping in shelters and on the streets. About seven hundred volunteers, including 260 in Vancouver, interviewed homeless people across the region today (March 16), according to Alice Sundberg, co-chair of the Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness. The Metro Vancouver homeless count has been held every three years since 2002. In addition to estimating the number of homeless in the region, Sundberg said the purpose of the count is also to determine where people are homeless. “We know that this problem is not isolated to downtown Vancouver,” said Sundberg. “It’s all throughout the entire Metro Vancouver area. So we want to be able to document where are homeless people staying, what services are they using, what services are they not using, what do they need.” The count also determines the age and ethnicity of homeless individuals. Sundberg noted there’s an “unusually high” proportion of aboriginal people in the region who are homeless. Between 2005 and 2008, homelessness in the aboriginal population increased by 34 percent, compared to 21 percent in the non-aboriginal population. The count, which goes until midnight, is overseen by both the Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness and the Aboriginal Homelessness Steering Committee. Judy Graves, spokesperson for the Vancouver homeless count, said this year there’s a special focus on young people who are homeless. A homeless count conducted in Vancouver in March [...]