One of the great joys of my career has been the Leadership Academy on Ending Homelessness and Master Class. Ann Oliva and I are shifting things up a bit this year, focusing on having a gathering exclusively for senior leaders…Managers, Directors, Executive Directors, Presidents, Vice-Presidents, CFOs, COOs, CEOs, CPOs and Board Chairs – or comparable positions within your respective organization.Continue Reading Comment on this article Share
In our field we talk frequently about applying harm reduction to our practices. There are a range of strategies that can be employed, from making sure people have safe storage of their alcohol, drugs and related works to provision of clean needles, pipes and screens; from education and focused conversations on change in use to safe injection sites; from managed alcohol programs to workshops. Even though many of us employ harm reduction strategies in our everyday life (wearing a seat belt while in a car, using a crosswalk to get across the street, wearing a helmet when on a bicycle) the thought of employing harm reduction strategies to people who use substances is still often seen as taboo. Erroneously people think it is enabling, an attempt to legalize substances, or even encourages use.Continue Reading Comment on this article Share
Originally written for my friends in WV, this is a shout out and high five to all those who work their butts off on the frontline.
This work is hard. Really hard. It can burn you out. Make you curse to the point where you make yourself blush. Lead you to question why you ever started down this road.
In congregate settings, like shelters and drop-in centers, there has to be some expectation of behaviour. One could argue that the larger the building or operation, the more important it is to have staff consistently apply expectations of behaviour. The good news is that most guests will be in compliance with the guidelines most of the time. The part that becomes difficult is what to do when people do not consistently meet the expectations of behaviour? This is where service restrictions and barring come into play.Continue Reading 3 reactions Share
This week, yet again, someone forwarded me an article about a new employment initiative for people that are homeless. Hold on to your hats, this employment initiative focused on street cleaning in the downtown of a major metropolitan area. Tell me whether you have heard of such a thing before. (As an aside, why does every community that does this think they are the first to think of it and that doing so will put an end to panhandling?)Continue Reading 1 reaction Share
I have the pleasure of working on some large scale shelter transformations these days. It is easy to say you are becoming a housing-focused shelter and something different to put into practice. The ideas, concepts and techniques are transferable across jurisdictions. That said, we are noticing a distinct patter in the reactions of existing shelter staff as they work through the transition over several months. It looks something like this (and I don’t know the author of this graphic, so don’t know who to attribute this bit of genius to):Continue Reading Comment on this article Share
Many communities have worked hard on coordinated entry. This has been transformative in many communities. Side doors are closing. Access to housing with supports is becoming better defined. Priorities are being established at the community level. These are all good things.
But coordinated entry is just one part of the process. An important part, but not the whole picture. My fear is that so much effort has been placed upon entry that communities are creating and generating wait lists to nowhere. That is a problem.Continue Reading Comment on this article Share
Since Giving Tuesday I imagine many of your organizations have been gladly accepting financial donations and the like. It is the time of year of giving, and for many non-profits, more money will come over in this stretch towards Christmas than any other time of the year. There will also be a seeming abundance of people wanting to volunteer or get involved in a toy drive or want to deliver Christmas hampers or serve Christmas dinner. Some of this may make sense to you; some of it will not. There is a madness to it all that repeats every single year that can seem overwhelming. And there are legitimate questions like, “Where is all this help the rest of the year?”Continue Reading 2 reactions Share
A warm handoff is a transition conducted between two members of the support team in the provision of homelessness and housing services. Usually the warm handoff (and the focus of this blog) occurs between the homelessness side of the system (outreach worker, shelter staff, navigator) and the housing side of the system (case manager, aftercare worker, follow-up worker, housing support specialist). That said, there are times when the warm handoff can occur between case managers (for example, a reshuffling of the caseload means the client is moved from one case manager to a new case manager). I want to explore ways in which the warm handoff can be improved upon for maximum success in the support process.Continue Reading Comment on this article Share
Harm reduction exists on a continuum. So, too, does the implementation of harm reduction practices in shelter. You can range from managed alcohol programs within shelter like the Shepherds of Good Hope in Ottawa (sometimes called Radical Harm Reduction) or smaller steps by providing access to shelter after having used alcohol or other drugs without precondition or things like breathalyzers. I am a big fan of shelters like Alpha House in Calgary which is one of the preeminent wet shelters I have ever visited and has integrated harm reduction into all that they do, as well as specialized harm reduction programs within larger shelters, like the Riverfront program at the Calgary Drop-in Centre. Not every shelter is ready to immerse themselves into a managed alcohol program like the Shepherds of Good Hope or fully integrate harm reduction into all that they do like Alpha House, but there are some tips and practices that can be followed to add more harm reduction practice to your shelter. Here are eight:Continue Reading Comment on this article Share