How’s Nashville partners have made great strides in assisting people who experienced chronic homelessness over the past four years. By working collaboratively our community was able to increase the average monthly housing placement rate for people experiencing chronic homelessness from 19 people per month to 55 people per month.
Ending chronic homelessness was the original goal of How’s Nashville. Meanwhile the How’s Nashville campaign has morphed into something bigger by aligning itself with the national goals of ending chronic, Veterans, families and children, and youth homelessness as outlined in the federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness (Opening Doors).
However, if our collaboration of the past few years has taught us anything, it is that keeping a clear a focus will help us move toward the finish line. With that in mind, a recently published document by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness outlines 10 essential strategies to help reduce chronic homelessness:
- Start at the Top: Get state and local leaders to publicly commit to and coordinate efforts on ending chronic homelessness.
- Identify and be accountable to all people experiencing chronic homelessness, including people cycling through institutional settings.
- Ramp up outreach, in-reach, and engagement efforts.
- Implement a Housing-First system orientation and response.
- Set and hold partners accountable to ambitious short-term housing placement goals.
- Prioritize people experiencing chronic homelessness for existing supportive housing.
- Project the need for additional supportive housing and reallocate funding to take it to the scale needed.
- Engage and support public housing agencies and multifamily affordable housing operators to increase supportive housing through limited preferences and project-based vouchers.
- Leverage Medicaid and behavioral health funding to pay for services in supportive housing.
- Help people increase their income through employment opportunities and connections to mainstream benefits and income supports.
Read the full document published by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness in December 2016.
We, who work in the field of homelessness, are increasingly hearing about diversion.
Diversion is a strategy that prevents homelessness by helping people, who find themselves in a housing crisis and are seeking shelter, preserve their current housing situation or make immediate alternative arrangements without them having to enter shelter or any other literal homelessness situation.
Utilizing a strong diversion approach shifts how we talk to people when we first encounter them.
Rather than asking, “What programs are you eligible to enter and who has a bed?” a strong diversion focused coordinated entry system asks, “What would resolve your current housing crisis?”
The shift seems subtle, but has significant consequences and places households generally in a stronger position to deal with their crisis. The conversation any of our service providers should have at the front doors of a coordinated entry system should be focused on the household’s strength. If people are safe where they are – in a motel, in a doubled-up situation with families or friends – let’s try to help them address the problems of income, resolve conflict with co-inhabitants, mediate, etc. Work on the steps to find alternative housing while they remain where they are.
There will still plenty of situations, unfortunately, that will lead to shelter stays. But whenever possible, we need to consider a strong diversion strategy.
Learn more from this diversion-powerpoint shown at the National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference in 2015.
How’s Nashville partners launched the 2016 by 2016 campaign in January 2015 with the goal of assisting 1,421 people experiencing chronic homelessness and 595 Veterans (totaling 2016 people) by the end of 2016.
As of October 2016, our community helped 1,194 people who were chronically homeless and 456 Veterans access permanent housing opportunities.
To place this outcome into context, our community’s housing placement rate prior to the How’s Nashville movement was on average 19 people experiencing chronic homelessness per month. Meanwhile, our average monthly housing placement rate has increased to 55 people experiencing chronic homelessness per month. We have come a long way, but have still a lot of work to do.
Thank you to all our community partner! You find them listed on our Partner page. We encourage you to volunteer with them.
If you want to get engaged in our efforts to end homelessness for people experiencing chronic homelessness, families with children, Veterans, youth, and individuals who are literally homeless and very vulnerable, please consider a donation to cover some of their move-in costs.
How’s Nashville is in its second year of organizing monthly breakfast meetings for residents who have received housing navigation through a partner agency and move-in assistance thanks to our generous donors.
We held a Thanksgiving breakfast this month and asked our breakfast guests whether they would be willing to share with you on camera what they were grateful for this year. Their messages resulted in our How’s Nashville Thanksgiving Breakfast video.
Please consider a donation to How’s Nashville, so our partners can continue assisting people, who are about to transition from the streets or shelter into an apartment, with move-in costs.
By supporting us, you support some of the people most in need in our community.
Personal entry from Judith Tackett, assistant director of the Metropolitan Homelessness Commission:
The picture in this post is how I pretty much was introduced to Will.
Get focused, gather the community together, set a goal, and bring Anderson Cooper in to show the rest of the country what we can do here in Nashville when we pull together!
Today is Will’s last day at work. I am acting as if he goes on vacation or I will be an emotional wreck.
So many of the How’s Nashville partners have approached me this week mirroring my own feelings. We are happy for Will and his family and wish them all the best, but we all realize that we are losing a powerhouse here in Nashville.
Will, what you have done for this community is huge. You have brought us together and for the first time in the city’s history, we have all gathered around a distinct goal in our fight to end homelessness. We have made a dent.
Let us all turn our sadness to hope and to a commitment of continuing the work.
Thank you Will for setting a path that Nashville can proudly follow and improve on. We have a lot left to do.
Thank you Will for all that you have done for our community.
Thank you Will for being a friend. We will be in touch!
Read the farewell article that the Tennessean published this week.
During holiday season people often want to get involved in a meaningful way.
The most important and direct assistance you can provide is a donation to help cover move-in costs for people experiencing homelessness. It costs about $1,000 to set up a household and pay for deposits, first month’s rent, etc. You find more information on our Support Us page.
How’s Nashville is a collaborative initiative and consists of many partner organizations that could use a helping hand year-round. We put together a Volunteer page where you can click on any partner organization’s name and will be directly linked to the volunteer information posted on their Websites.
Most importantly, talk to people experiencing homelessness. Learn about their struggles. Once you get to know people, you will be surprised to learn that most of them will tell you that they want assistance with housing and they would like to see a system that links them directly to the support they need (rather than the fragmented system of care we have right now in Nashville).