Police and Effective Responses to Homelessness

I have written about criminalization of homelessness and the likes of Salt Lake City’s Operation Rio Grande before. The ACLU of Utah has done a fantastic job analyzing Operation Rio Grande crime statistics (worth a read) and provides a cautionary tale for other communities that may be at their wits end on addressing street involved behavior and think that upping police engagement from an enforcement perspective is the way to get effective results. I also dedicate a chunk of The Book on Ending Homelessness to why criminalization approaches to homelessness do not and will not work.

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Giving Tuesday

For some non-profits, especially medium and large ones, Giving Tuesday is a day to make hay. Nothing wrong with putting money into the organization to help it achieve the mission it aspires to reaching. As one of the biggest philanthropic opportunities of the year, many a non-profit relies upon the generosity of donors on Giving Tuesday to give them the push and resources they need to do remarkable things. Many of those remarkable things only come about because the funding received is unrestricted in the sense that it is not tied to any government funding that may prescribe a certain type of program for a certain population is a certain way (though there is a place for that too).

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The Book on Ending Homelessness

Three years in the writing and over twenty years in the making, The Book on Ending Homelessness is now available here.

I have collected almost everything I have learned about ending homelessness over more than two decades of being immersed in the work from different angles – practitioner, funder, policy developer, researcher, consultant – and put it in one place. It was my intention to ensure there is something for everyone in the book, including frontline practitioners in the homelessness services sector, elected officials, and the general public.

I wrote the book for several reasons. After delivering a keynote address I would frequently get asked if I had a book. When providing policy advice to elected officials or senior public servants, I would often get asked if I had a book. Certain blog posts also resonate with people, and it had been suggested I take ideas from various blog posts and put them into a book. Finally, I wrote the book to take the pulse of my own knowledge on the subject of ending homelessness, and to evaluate what holes in information and practice I possess and take stock of that which I knew to be true and effective.

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Update on VI-SPDAT: Progress and Equity


We have been getting a number of questions about the future of the VI-SPDAT, especially as it relates to when the next version is coming out, as well as matters of equity. Some of this results from a release by C4 that claims based upon the study of a small number of communities, that the VI-SPDAT favors white people over people of color. By way of update, and in response to concerns regarding equity:

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The Cost of Poop

Poop. It happens. For many people, daily. I am talking the real kind – not the metaphoric kind. We all got to go sometime.

Being homeless can mean fewer options of where to take care of this daily need. It is not uncommon in my travels to have people banned from using businesses' and restaurants' restrooms. They may also be banned from the library or city hall. Or it may be after hours and the person has no other options.

Then poop happens. Outside. Sometimes in the most inappropriate places.

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Should Facial Recognition Be Used in Homeless Service Delivery?

More than one organization in homeless services that we are aware of is considering the use of facial recognition software. I can see the pros and cons of it, but very interested in your thoughts. Here is a guest blog from one of the providers considering the use of facial recognition software. Please chime in with comments!

To live day-to-day, a person needs to prove who they are to receive the best service and care as possible. Without ID, a person can’t vote, access many social services or join most banking institutions. Even book loans can be restricted.

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Supporting People that Have Complex Challenges and Have or are About to Lose their Accommodation: When is it Okay to Say “That’s enough, we’ve done all we can?”

The OrgCode team get asked this question a lot. As communities find themselves housing and supporting more and more people with higher acuity and unique personalities and behaviors, they are facing an increasing number of challenges. Amidst those challenges, there is a desire on the part of some service providers to draw a line in the sand…a threshold that cannot or should not be passed, and if there is, comes with a consequence of retracting housing and/or support. In performing due diligence in these difficult situations, I think the following questions can provide good guidance:

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A Gathering for Senior Leaders

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.

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Is Harm Reduction Enabling?

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.

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This Work Is Hard

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.

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