Dear (insert name of church, temple, synagogue, mosque, etc.),
In the name of (insert deity believed in/worshipped), I understand you are called upon to help humankind as a way of living your faith and putting into practice the teachings of your religion. This is most welcome, and we are grateful that you have chosen to help people that are experiencing homelessness. I am an expert in the field of homelessness, so while it is unsolicited by you, I want to take this opportunity to fill you in on ways that would be most helpful, and the stuff you may be thinking of doing that will just get in the way of what experts are trying to achieve.Continue Reading Comment on this article Share
The tour. You have been on one or given one. You walk through a homeless shelter or day centre or spend a night on an outreach van or a morning at a soup kitchen. You see the things that go on there. You meet the people – the program participants, residents and clientele; the staff; the volunteers. When these same buildings and programs are anchored in more traditional models rather than being focused on rapid exit from homelessness into housing they become, by definition, homelessness as a museum – objects of historical, scientific, artistic or cultural interest are stored and exhibited.Continue Reading Comment on this article Share
I do listening sessions with groups of case managers and outreach workers in several of the communities where we do work. It is their chance to share what is working and not working in their practice, and gives us the opportunity to identify strategies or techniques they can try to improve their practice. I absolutely love doing them, and can often see the frustrations experienced turn into optimism.Continue Reading Comment on this article Share
Theory. Practice. Implementation.
These are the three key ingredients to knowing how to make change in operations in your approach to ending homelessness. Very recently, we announced the Learning Clinics in 2017. These are the next big step (risk?) we are taking at OrgCode to enhance the knowledge-base in ending homelessness, and help communities achieve sustained reductions in homelessness.Continue Reading Comment on this article Share
One of the weirdest things about homelessness is that the longer you are homeless, the better you are at being homeless. And many services – government, not for profit, faith-based, etc. – feed into this bias. They are generally difficult to navigate unless you have been in the system for a long time.Continue Reading Comment on this article Share
Historically, day services of all kinds (known by names like drop-in centres, day centres, day shelters, resource lounges, open spaces, gathering spots, and so on) played the very important function of giving people that are homeless refuge during the day. This has been especially important in neighbourhoods or communities where shelters are open over night, but lack resources to stay open and serve people during the day. The day services have met a huge array of needs. Often they provide a meal or snack. In the winter they give escape from inclement weather and in the summer a respite from the heat. Bathrooms are almost always available. Many have showers or laundry facilities. It is not uncommon for there to be socio-recreational activities, and/or opportunities for people to mingle and engage. Some bring in external resources like health care, legal services, or even help filing taxes or applying for benefits.Continue Reading Comment on this article Share
In training communities on effective diversion, a common question is, “What are the sort of characteristics you’d look for when hiring someone for that position?” It is a great question because it appreciates that the role is somewhat different from other roles that serve people experiencing homelessness or at imminent risk of losing housing. Here are some thoughts.Continue Reading Comment on this article Share
I believe in hope. I believe that we are malleable. I know so much of our time is spent thinking somehow our bodies are changeable, but our thoughts, opinions and beliefs are not. I know that if we believe the future can be different and better than the present, we can take the steps now that allow for improvement.
Changing yourself is not just about you as one person. Changing yourself also means changing your organization, your interpersonal relationships, your peers.Continue Reading Comment on this article Share
Push envelopes. Blur the edges. Provoke. Grab people’s attention through irreverent comedy. At the most recent National Alliance to End Homelessness conference I got called “gonzo”, “brilliant but irreverent”, and “troubadour of disruption”. All in a day of work for me.Continue Reading Comment on this article Share