Will we be seeing you at the Leadership Academy in October?

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 »

National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference: 3 Ups and 3 Downs

I just completed my 11th National Alliance to End Homelessness conference. It is a touchdown point for me every year. It is a chance to take stalk of how I am doing and how OrgCode can help; it is a barometer of where communities and America is at in its pursuit of ending homelessness. Here are my three ups and three downs of the conference:   First the Ups: 1. The National Alliance to End Homelessness does not disappoint. Make no mistake about it, under the leadership of Nan Roman this organization knows how to organize and succeed at the conference experience. The conference tracks this year were well organized. The calibre of speakers they can recruit is extraordinary (and if you don’t know – speakers volunteer their time and get themselves to the conference and pay for their hotel room all on their own dime). The content was relevant. […] Read more »

Rethinking “Imminent Risk of Eviction” Homelessness Prevention

I want you to research two statistics in your community: 1. The number of evictions in the last year. 2. The number of unique households accessing shelter in the last year. Let me guess – the number of evictions is higher than the number of unique households accessing shelter, and it isn’t even close. Many communities have financial assistance programs to assist households at imminent risk of evictions. The thinking is that through these efforts homelessness is prevented. It is commendable in theory. It is most often an incorrect use of resources in practice. Why? Even most households that get evicted (not just at risk of “imminent eviction”) never become homeless. They figure it out. They transition to another place to live. It is bunk to think that all of these households end up as doubled up or hidden homeless. This is one of the reasons why I think it is […] Read more »

Does Rapid ReHousing Work? Well, it depends.

Seems there is no shortage of conversation and commentary about how rapid rehousing does not work, these days. NPR did a story on it. The Family Options Study findings from HUD paint a not-so-pretty picture. The Urban Institute released research that was a bit more favourable but also raised some flags too. Aside from those, people on the inside in various states have started to see certain trends related to Rapid ReHousing, calling into question what they initially touted as success.   All of this on some level is warranted. And on some level it drives me nuts. Let me explain.   From community to community to community there are different interpretations of what exactly Rapid ReHousing is, and as a result we can be calling something Rapid ReHousing when it really is not. There are no national or international standards. There is no consistent mechanism for evaluating whether one […] Read more »

Transphobia, Discrimination and the Delivery of Homeless Services

Look around your community and you may find there are some services that identify as being Women’s Services or Men’s Services. You may even find a co-ed shelter that has a Men’s Dorm and a Women’s Dorm. Is that based upon biological sex? Or is that based upon self-identified gender? For example, if someone that is biologically a male identifies as a female, is she (an intentional use of a pronoun here) accepted and permitted within the Women’s Services and Dorm? I am biologically male. I identify as male. I identify as heterosexual. I am overwhelmed by the amount of transphobia and discrimination within homeless service providers. Not all, to be sure, but enough that I felt compelled to write a blog about it. Too many services have no desire to consider service delivery based upon preferred gender identity. Instead, the default is exclusion, misgendering (assigning services based upon perceived gender […] Read more »

Say What Volume 2

The blog I did outlining the outrageous things I had seen and heard in the first quarter was so popular, I present to you “Say What Volume 2” which shares my favourites from April, May and June.   1. “Our faith tells us to serve the homeless. That doesn’t mean we end homelessness. If there were no homeless then how could we live our faith? What you propose – housing people – is against my faith. I find the whole idea offensive and against God’s wishes.” Thank you nice man in Florida who felt compelled to email me after I delivered training there. If there is good news, he and his church are praying for my soul, and praying that I learn to listen to Jesus in my heart and appreciate that God wants the poor to be with us always so that we appreciate the gifts and blessings that […] Read more »