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Obstacles to Ending Homelessness

What obstacles are in the way of solving this issue?

Rhode Island has been working to end homelessness for decades. What's going on here? Yes, ending homelessness is complex, but does it have to be so confusing?

One obstacle those of us not directly involved in homelessness work might not think of, is the very definition of homelessness. This is a problem because the federal government has numerous homelessness programs -- and the different programs define homelessness differently. USICH explored developing a coordination tool and explained this problem in a report to Congress (May 17, 2022).

Is there enough effective coordination among state government agencies and nonprofit providers(?) How are providers and agencies working together using a common methodology? It's one thing to plan, but plans must be implemented. The following quotes are from the methodology page of Community Solutions that makes sense to me. In fact, the RI Youth Homeless Demonstration Program has made a plan that appears to implement this methodology. Maybe RI has some other similar projects in the works but I haven't found them yet,

"Communities in Built for Zero use functional zero, a milestone that indicates that homelessness is measurably rare and brief for a population. They often work to achieve functional zero for various target populations (veteran, chronic, family, youth,** all singles) as steps on the way to making homelessness rare and brief for everyone. This dynamic milestone enables communities to continuously confirm whether they are driving homelessness toward zero....

"...One of the key challenges to ending homelessness is the distributed and fragmented system of homelessness response. In any community, dozens or even hundreds of organizations may serve people experiencing homelessness, each defining success by their own program measures.

"Communities in Built for Zero begin by breaking down these siloes to establish a unified team that creates shared accountability for driving homelessness toward zero. In many communities, these teams are committed to working together weekly to examine how they can connect people to permanent housing, moving from a mentality of “my client” to “our clients.”

"They can see the system as a whole and collectively remove barriers that are impacting the whole population of people experiencing homelessness....

"...Achieving real-time, person-specific data is a necessary step for driving toward functional zero. By-name data is a comprehensive source of information that accounts for every person in a community experiencing homelessness, updated in real time. Using information collected and shared with their consent, each person on the list has a file that includes their name, homeless history, health, and housing needs.

"With this by-name list — updated monthly, at a minimum — the community is able to better match housing solutions with the needs of the individuals. At the population level, this information enables them to prioritize resources, test changes to their system, and understand whether their efforts are driving overall homelessness toward zero."

There are no doubt other obstacles -- lack of suitable housing, overworked and understaffed nonprofits. Out-of-date, inadequate plans(?), failure to execute timely plans(?) Too many people facing eviction and foreclosure? It is important to get real about what the obstacles are so they can be overcome.

Do you have insight into what the obstacles are? If so, let me know your constructive comments.


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