A Message from OrgCode on the VI-SPDAT Moving Forward

A message from OrgCode:

In December, we announced the beginning of the end of the VI-SPDAT. Questions have emerged throughout the past couple of years that we would like to respond to now, with the goal of transitioning towards a future with a homelessness response tool and approach that also addresses racial and gender inequities – which the VI-SPDAT was never intended to do. We remain committed to ending homelessness. We remain committed to helping transform systems of care. We are thankful for all communities that have provided input along the way to help improve the VI-SPDAT.

We also want to say thanks again to every person – especially people with lived experience – service provider, community leader, and subject matter expert that has helped us along the way. And we want to say thank you to the critics that have challenged us to get better, be better and respond better to the needs of all people experiencing homelessness. In a quest to accelerate activities to improve approaches that further promote racial and gender equity, as well as acknowledge vulnerabilities, OrgCode will no longer be investing time or resources in updating and supporting the VI-SPDAT, although the full SPDAT as a service planning and case management tool will continue.

For many communities, the VI-SPDAT helped systems of care further evolve from managing homelessness with a "housing readiness" service orientation to a movement to prevent and end homelessness. Time for innovation and evolution is primed once more. Here's hoping for an even more community, equity and evidence-driven tool to help us address inequities within Coordinated Entry and other systems of care. Here's hoping we see an end to homelessness in our lifetime.

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The Time Seems Right: Let's Begin the End of the VI-SPDAT

Let's put the VI-SPDAT to rest…turn off the lights…bring it to an end.

Just not right away. Hear me out.

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Adapting to Better Serve: How OrgCode has Adjusted in the Pandemic

For over three months we have all experienced upheaval. OrgCode is no different. We used to travel all the time and be present in community after community. Obviously, a pandemic can quickly change that approach to supporting communities. I wanted to take a few minutes to outline how we are adapting our approach to assisting communities in light of COVID-19 and share what is new and exciting with us.

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Pandemic Response Next Steps: Using A Framework for COVID-19 Homelessness Response

This blog was written by Ann Oliva, Visiting Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the Leader in Residence with OrgCode, and Iain De Jong, the President and CEO of OrgCode.

We hope you all have read A Framework for COVID-19 Homelessness Response put out by the National Alliance to End Homelessness and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. If not, you can read it here. Regardless of whether you still feel like you are fumbling in beginning steps or are ready for longer-term planning, the Framework is a comprehensive resource that will be updated regularly.

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Response, Action and Wellness During a Pandemic

You may have seen my blog on Planning for a Pandemic from March 1. You can access that here. Now that we are in the midst of a pandemic, I offer the following thoughts to help you, your organization and community. To reiterate from my previous blog on this, this is NOT health advice. Use this information to have conversations with health professionals, funders, elected officials, and senior policy makers in your community.

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Pandemic Planning and Services that Support People Who are Homeless

NOTE: This blog is intended to stimulate discussion in your local community regarding pandemic planning and the homelessness services sector. This blog is NOT medical advice. You should work with your local Public Health officials, or other local health officials to develop a community response to plan for a pandemic, should one occur. OrgCode Consulting, Inc. is not responsible for any misinterpretation or misuse of the contents of this blog.

During the SARS outbreak, I was working in homeless services sector in Toronto, and I recall how much work that went into planning for and responding to the possibility of a pandemic and its impact on homeless individuals and families in the community. I suspect that many of you reading this, have, are in the process of, or are just starting to think about pandemic planning in the event the coronavirus is declared a pandemic. The time is now to be planning and preparing.

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Impactful Outreach

At the recent National Alliance to End Homelessness conference in Oakland, CA I was pleased to provide a presentation on impactful outreach. You can download my presentation here. (Related to this, you can see the recent piece we put out on responding to unsheltered homelessness here, and you can read my thoughts on street outreach in The Book on Ending Homelessness by ordering it here.)

What is impactful outreach?

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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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