Tent City: How to Respond Effectively

I cut my teeth in this industry responding to a very large tent city. Since that time I have been actively involved in resolving about a dozen of them, and every year that I have been consulting I have had to respond to various scales of smaller encampments that have not yet hit a threshold of what one might call a City. Consider them more of Tent Hamlets or Tent Villages. In all of my work – across all scales of people living in an organized or semi-organized manner outdoors – I have come to realize that some things work remarkably well and some things do not.

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Crazy Shit Volume 1 2016

The crazy shit blogs were amongst the most popular and most requested in 2015, so by popular demand, I continue to share the weird and wonderful that I experience in my pursuit of ending homelessness.

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Incentive vs Coercion

When is an incentive just an incentive, and when does that nice thing you offered become coercion…even if it was not intended in that way?

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“My clients don’t deserve my bad day.”

A few years back I was interviewing someone who did intakes every single day. I wanted to know what made him tick. And I also wanted to know how he was able to remain so calm and focused as I observed him doing SPDAT assessments.

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A Hand Full of Excuses, and a Gut Full of Pain

I have been expanding my unscientific information gathering in my travels. Seems just about everywhere I go I need not travel far from my hotel before finding one or more person experiencing homelessness and living outside. Later that day or the next when in a speaking engagement, I will ask housing programs and shelter staff why they think that is, and I can summarize those into five categories:

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A Weed is a Flower Trying to Figure It’s Shit Out

Once upon a time an opinion emerged, held true by the majority: if something grew easily and spread rapidly it must be bad (weeds); if something was harder to grow and required more TLC to succeed it must be good (luscious lawn or precious flowering plants).

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But Today I am Going to be Awesome

Work pressures.

Am I going to make deadlines? Are the people I work with happy? Am I enough to the people that count on me? Does anything I do really make a difference? Am I busy, or am I effective? Am I contributing enough money to the needs of my family? Am I missing life events because of the demands of work? Have I created one meaningful thing or process to contribute? Is there one idea that is truly mine that I have unleashed to the world? Will passion ever trump the days when I feel disconnected and worthless? Am I able to mask my insecurities? Why do I deflect compliments as if they are hollow platitudes? Am I moving towards the end of my career – years away – as if on a conveyor belt in a factory assembly line, just seeing each day or situation the same as the day before?

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Are You Listening?

Society has taught us to listen with the wrong part of the body. You are supposed to listen with your ears. You spend chunks of each day listening to your eyes. We have been listening to the part of our body whose sole job is to see. It is the first tool we learned to judge with. It is the blacksmith of our prejudice and bias.

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The Return of the Leadership Academy on Ending Homelessness

October 25-27, 2016 marks the return of the Leadership Academy on Ending Homelessness. This is the only event of its kind where leaders that believe in ending homelessness come together in a tranquil setting to engage, share and learn with other leaders in the field. Registration is now open!

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Social Service vs. Social Control

You can look at any part of the human services, housing, income support and benefits system, etc. within your community and ask yourself: is what we are doing an example of social service or is it an example of social control?

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