Being Authentic in Ending Homelessness

This week I am channeling my inner Brene Brown and focusing on what it takes to be authentic. This has been top of mind for me lately. I went fishing Saturday, which is one of the activities I do that lends itself to being self-reflective. My grandfather once had a sign up in his house that said, "Fishing: a jerk on one end of the line waiting for a jerk on the other." Fishing is time to focus on whether or not I am being a jerk.

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A Move Towards Ohana Zones?

As communities struggle with outdoor homelessness, more and more are looking to Ohana Zones as they are called in Hawaii, sanctioned tent cities as they may be called elsewhere. In some communities these are strictly for single adults, while other communities consider these for families with children. Some have premade structures and tents, while other communities require people to bring their own tent or create their own structure. Some are service rich environments with professional staff onsite, while others allow the campers to self-govern. Some have running water and other amenities onsite, while others rely on bottled water and portable toilets. The truth is, there is so much variation it is difficult to provide a comprehensive outline of exactly what constitutes a sanctioned place such as these, other than to say government allowed, encouraged or created it.

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The size of the mountain you have to climb is secondary to the fact that there is a mountain in front of you at all.

I was asking around for blog ideas recently, and it turned into a venting session for many. Anecdotally, I know of many who are feeling overwhelmed these days, and know of three people that have quit or resigned in the last month. 

In life, and this work, the heaviest thing you will ever have to lift is your own spirits.

So you - yes you - person reading this blog, I want you to know that you matter and I want to say thanks.

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Radical Acceptance

The practice of radical acceptance is not easy. It demands that regardless of background or circumstance we find strengths and live our empathy. It demands that we see people and their potential, not their past. It challenges us to examine our own potential biases because of our own values and beliefs and rise beyond those to enter into relationship with others who live their lives differently than how we live ours.

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3 Things I Look For When Monitoring

“When you go into a community or organization,” one of the people I mentor asked me the other day, “what are the first things you look for to know if people have bought into ending homelessness?”

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1 Needs 6

1 shelter bed added to your system of care requires 6 housing resources per year to avoid warehousing people in shelter. And that, my friends, is the part of the discussion that is lost as communities wrestle with expansion of shelter, sanctioned campgrounds, safe parking, and other forms of sheltering. If you are going to add a shelter bed (and maybe you need to in your community), you need to think about how people are going to get out.

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Place-making is an intentional process designed to help the newly housed person connect with and take pride in their apartment. Without place-making, connectivity to the apartment is one of luck. We can increase the odds of connection - and by extension decrease the odds of a person damaging or vacating the apartment unit - by actively and intentionally engaging in place-making.

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Interventions vs General Service

In program evaluations and job shadowing as of late, I have seen many very busy frontline workers. In almost all instances they are very well intentioned, dedicated, compassionate people who are trying to make a difference. They are also, in many instances, overwhelmed by the demands of their caseload and the litany of intrusions on their time. No doubt they are busy. But are they effective? How busy a person is should not be confused as a metric of effectiveness.

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Unique Individuals & Length of Stay

My mind has been blown twice this month looking at shelter data.

The push that many of us have been trying to make is to know the people touching in your system of care by name, and to cross reference those same people by shelters, outreach, and other services, as well as your By Name List or Priority List. In the case of assembling priority lists for coordinated entry, as David Tweedie on the OrgCode team has pointed out before, once you dig into the data to look at it by people that touch your system rather than people on your list, you will quickly see that there are a number of people in your shelters or served by outreach that have not been assessed and therefore are unlikely to end up on a priority list for housing. Who you are serving and who you are housing may be two different groups.

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A Response to Iain’s Letter to His Younger Self

From time to time, Ann Oliva is taking over my blog as part of her Leader in Residence role with OrgCode. Despite having different leadership styles and career trajectories, Ann and I share a passion for cultivating leaders in the pursuit of ending homelessness and in leadership driven by values. I hope you enjoy reading Ann's guest blog as much as I did.

Last March, Iain wrote a blog post called "A Letter to Myself of 15 Years Ago" that I found particularly compelling for both the similarities and differences in our leadership experiences.  I bookmarked the post with the vague idea that I might one day have the chance to respond with my own thoughts.  I figure now is my chance.

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