Are Tiny Homes the Answer?

Every day I get a Google News Feed about homelessness. There seems to be a disproportionate number of articles the past few months about tiny homes. They are sometimes called micro homes or city cottage homes or some variation. In some stories you read about an individual citizen creating the tiny home for a person that is homeless that they know. Sometimes it is a completely new development…like a “tiny home suburb”. I do NOT think there is one housing solution for every person’s homelessness. I think we need a range of housing OPTIONS for people to choose from. I do NOT believe in housing placement. Could tiny homes be an option for people to choose from? Sure. But let us dive deeper, and look at these questions: 1.Why do you want tiny homes? Do you want them because they are the nouveau thing to do? Have you asked people that […] Read more »

Say What? Volume 3 – The Crazy Sh*t I Have Heard/Encountered This Quarter

Here we go with my third instalment of the year on the weird and unbelievable things I have heard or encountered on the road. This time it covers July, August and September.   1. “They are breeding like bunnies here because the only way the County cares about you is if you are a homeless family. This city has become one big homeless orgy.” The nice lady in Minnesota was serious when she was saying this, as it was her contention that her organization gets stuck with all the people the County doesn’t want to help. To her this meant all single people.   2. “They can’t take any woman in her third trimester because they deem her to be unemployable, which means they don’t think they can house her.” Oh Tennessee and some of your organizations that help (some?) families.   3. “If you are going to help someone […] Read more »

It Ain’t Housing Only (For F Sake)

As you read this blog instalment this week, it is important you remember there is almost always a lag between when I write the blog and when it is posted. I especially do not want people to think I am pointing fingers at specific communities I have been to in the past three weeks given I make my schedule publicly available on FaceBook. Let us focus on the message – not a specific place – because you may see yourself in this instalment. As I often do when I am in a new community, I go out and speak with people experiencing homelessness. I do this often in the evenings when I don’t have other engagements. I don’t talk about it much. And I won’t go into too much detail about why, but in a nutshell, I do it to get the pulse of people that are homeless in the community and […] Read more »

More Care Required than Home-Based Case Management Can Provide: What to Do

Not every community can afford to have (or wants to have) a Recovery-Oriented Housing-Focused Assertive Community Treatment team. Even if they did, not every program participant situation can be fully served through the ACT team alone. And while Intensive Case Management teams are more plentiful, they can be confronted with health, wellness and care needs that surpass the knowledge, expertise, or time availability of the ICM team. Many times I have had ICM staff approach me in training asking what to do with those program participants that have really complex health needs, struggle to maintain their apartment because of their health, or have even been working on a palliative care plan with a health provider.   Housing based case managers are brokers and advocates to other services, rather than the direct provider of health care services, counselling services, etc. As such, the limitation of housing supports is dictated, at times, […] Read more »

Considerations in Using Competition and Comparison as a Motivation Strategy

A common approach to motivation of an organization, community or person is to use competition and comparison. There is no doubt that for those that are driven by potential accolades of being first or seen as best this is an approach that kickstarts movement at an accelerated pace. There is also no doubt that some people, organizations and community are not motivated by this quest to be first – or become demotivated when they realize that they are not going to succeed in a way that others are. I say this is akin to watching a track race where the slower competitors decrease their pace even further before they get to the finish line because it doesn’t really matter to them what their time ends up being.   Comparison leadership is not transformational leadership. There is not a defined sustainable element to comparison leadership in the way that transformative leaders […] Read more »

I will…

I will…   Show up everyday ready to make a difference. Do my work with integrity. Try my best to get results worthy of the highest esteem of others. See the big picture. Be brave enough to speak truth to power. Offer solutions, not just point out problems. Embrace evidence. Be relentless in the pursuit of awesomeness. Share what I know. Focus on the speaker while listening. Be true to my own morals, values and beliefs, while respecting that others have a world view that may differ from mine. Seek knowledge. Ask questions. Focus on justice instead of charity. Give away as much information and knowledge as I can. Say sorry when I have wronged others or been wrong. Know the difference between a job and a vocation. Find patience on days when I lack it most. Remember to say “Thank you”. Make people laugh. See potential in everyone. Challenge […] Read more »

Homeless Campuses: What Does the Future Hold?

There was a time when homeless campuses were seen as the best possible approach to working with people experiencing homelessness. Some consultants (experts?) continue to talk about a Housing Fourth approach (read this) as they try to get government officials to choose the campus approach. No doubt, though, there is loads to be learned from existing campuses – and from this learning we can posit what the future may hold. I have been to MANY homeless campuses. I have been to the big ones like Haven for Hope in San Antonio and what they do for single adults in Phoenix. I have been to smaller and medium sized ones like what they do in Lafayette. I would say that some have made valiant attempts to offer excellent services co-located on one plot of land, and that campuses with a single central service provider would appear to perform better than campuses […] Read more »

Drop Ins and Day Shelters in the Era of Coordinated Entry

Much discussion in communities has been focused on shelters, street outreach, and the match to support and housing options as communities have focused on implementing coordinated entry. Where drop-ins, day shelters, and other types of programming during daytime hours fits in is worthy of exploration. One of the challenges to figuring out the role for the likes of drop-ins and feeding programs is that they often serve both homeless and precariously housed households. This is a challenge because with the former group we should be able to figure out intentional engagement and assessment strategies, whereas with the latter group the focus is going to be on maintaining housing stability through various strategies. One way (though rarely feasible or preferred by service providers) is to separate population groups: some drop-ins and feeding programs only serve people experiencing homelessness, while others only serve people that are precariously housed. Another way is to […] Read more »

We Need to Tackle Grant Per Diem Funded Programs – NOW

If there is one pressing issue to be tackled from a policy and funding perspective in the pursuit of ending homelessness, it is grant per diem funding in any homeless services. While much of the spotlight has been on Veterans Affairs and its massive inventory of GPD funded beds, they are not alone. Other jurisdictions have wrestled with the concept of GPD funding in shelters for quite some time – and with little success. I say now is the time for tough change to get GPD aligned to the pursuit of ending homelessness. If you don’t know what a GPD program is, in a nutshell it goes like this: as a service operator, you get a set fee for a head on a bed each night. Used in a sheltering context (which varies by jurisdiction, but can include things like transitional shelter, something resembling transitional housing, or emergency shelter…or in […] Read more »

The Difference Between Commitment & Interest

If you are committed to achieving something: you have steadfast fixity of purpose (nothing gets in your way or detracts you from getting results) you have a solution-focus to barriers/problems (there is not a culture of excuse making) the good results are fuel to keep working and poor results are welcome as data on what needs to be improved (data drives refinement and improvement) you invest in gaining the knowledge to know how to be successful (you don’t assume you know how to be successful or do all of the practices that will be required, you learn how to be successful and implement various practices) you innovate as necessary (in the absence of a known solution you experiment to create approaches that may work until you find one that does) you have informed, meaningful performance targets that reasonably challenge and stretch people engaged with the work (“some” is not a […] Read more »

Gone Fishing

As you read this, with any luck there is a bass on the end of my line or a monster lake trout. I am in Northern Ontario, about an hour from my parent’s home on the north shore of Lake Huron. Call it the middle of nowhere (no cell service, lots of wildlife, loons on the lake are the loudest sound to hear). As many of you know, I suck at self-care. I am, however, working on it. I have been actively trying to do smaller things in the hopes of finding a greater sense of calm amidst the storm that is often life on the road. This week I am going to: 1. Cloud watch. I intend to lay on my back and watch the sky. 2. Connect with my kids. I intend to laugh at dumb jokes around the campfire and take endless fish off their hooks. 3. […] Read more »

The Next Best Thing

Imagine you live in a small to medium sized city. I also want you to imagine that you have had a heart attack. You get rushed to the emergency room in an ambulance. Paramedics have been keeping you alive with really intensive assistance. Given the nature of your situation, you are a top priority when you arrive at the ER. Oodles of resources are allocated to your condition. ER nurses, doctors and other health staff have applied their expertise to your immediate needs. It is the best your small to medium sized city has to offer. They page for a cardiologist. One is not available. They are busy with other people with heart issues. Now what? I know, let us put you on a waiting list. If you are still alive and it can be confirmed that your heart is still unwell when a cardiologist is available, then you will […] Read more »