Journey to Housing Stability for Chronically Homeless People

For individuals that have had a long history of homelessness there is a psychological adaptation that occurs. The experience of being homeless and spending most days trying to meet basic needs becomes normal as a survival mechanism. The individual’s social network – if there is one – tends to be comprised mainly of others that have experienced homelessness for long periods of time. All of this is are common – if not expected – adaptations to combat the stressors of long-term homelessness. It helps ensure survival.

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Recidivism in a System Context

Recently I was in a community where a rather large service provider proclaimed that less than 10 of the households they served in the past year experienced recidivism. I was in awe. I wanted to know more. This could be the secret sauce! The holy grail of homelessness! The Colonel’s secret recipe!

But alas, it was all for nothing.

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Improving the use of Empathy in Recovery-Oriented Conversations

This week I am unveiling our new Recovery-oriented Housing Support Training. One of the areas I felt it necessary to add more time and attention is related to the importance of expressing and exercising empathetic conversation. Being appreciative of the client’s thoughts, feelings and experience is important to meaningful support, but too often I have seen well-intentioned support workers miss the boat when it comes to creating an environment conducive to an empathetic connection.

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Qualities of Some Amazing Outreach Workers

Last night I had the chance to ride along with an outreach team in Calgary. It was pretty darn cold…less than -25C with the wind chill. I love doing outreach. It takes me back to my days doing community development work and street outreach. It helps me stay grounded in that part of the reality of the front line.

The people I did outreach with were two fabulous women. I’d like to dedicate this blog to the elements of them that I was so impressed by.

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Transitional Housing?

For more than a decade, in the role of policy-development, as a service practitioner and as a researcher, I have been investigating and trying to understand the allure of Transitional Housing. I have been interested in the outputs and outcomes that Transitional Housing can demonstrate relative to other housing models. I have been interested in the planning processes used for Transitional Housing – from the needs analysis to understanding the population to be served to securing financing to the urban planning and architectural features of Transitional Housing. From a system perspective I have been working to comprehend where it fits in, for which populations and under what circumstances.

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When the World Seems Like a Cold Place, it may be Time to Kindle More Fires

This is a very personal blog about my journey to accept my mental illness and to acknowledge how it has helped me to become a much better person, practitioner and teacher.

We all seek meaning in life. We want to do things that enrich us emotionally, intellectually, socially, recreationally and spiritually. Indeed, the world can seem like a cold place when we don’t have this multi-faceted enrichment.

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Distinguishing Between Enabling and Supportive Relationships

My thanks for the blog request on this specific topic.

I’d be hard pressed to think of a housing support worker/case manager that deliberately tries to make the life of any client worse. People go into this type of work because they tend to want to help others. But I think we need to take time to reflect on when helping becomes hurting – even when it is unintentional…when our actions aren’t actually helpful at all. Understanding the differences between enabling our clients and supporting our clients is an important part of self-reflection as a practitioner and is an essential distinction to be made in the type of help we are providing to people.

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God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen & Gentlewomen

We’re winding down another year here at OrgCode. Heck, we’re even going to shut the door and turn off the phones for a week between Christmas and the New Year and that will be a first since we re-booted the company in Q4 2009.

God rest us merry gentlemen and gentlewomen.

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How to be a Kinder, More Informed & Strategic Funder

I have been a funder. I have been a practitioner. I remain a researcher. I am a faculty member at a rather excellent university. I am now a consultant.

I am going to do my best to not make this blog a rant. In my attempt to remain professional, allow me to make this an open letter to all funders of homeless and housing programs for marginalized populations, as well as administrators of community-based grants programs.

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Harm Reduction and the Provision of Homeless Services to Youth

Harm reduction approaches can be seen as controversial when working with many populations, including unaccompanied youth. Some will cite reasons pertaining to the illicit nature of certain substances, the age of maturity, psychosocial development and the like. Others hold on to the “just say no” mantra.

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