Communities across North America are working to develop and implement effective and efficient programs and services to address homelessness. However, it is not often that communities dedicate time and resources to intentionally look inward to identify opportunities to make changes to its service orientation and programming with the goal of improving outcomes for its clients. The Raleigh Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness has recognized the need to investigate how our community practices and service delivery can be improved to ensure excellence for the individuals and families experiencing homelessness within the Wake County community.
Success can only be achieved however if all available programs, services and supports continue to validate that housing is a core value and fundamental right, and not something that people need to earn as a reward, or conversely lose as consequence. A Housing Focused approach with Harm Reduction and Trauma-Informed Care tenets provide a framework and service orientation to safe and effective homelessness prevention, emergency shelter and re-housing efforts.
We believe that when there is adherence to best and promising practices, programs, organizations and communities see results in their long-term efforts to end homelessness that are tangible, inspiring, and innovative. Housing focused, trauma-informed progressive engagement is critical to any approach to change the manner with which those experiencing homelessness are identified, connected to housing, and supported in their housing.
Building a Housing-Focused Community
Preventing and ending homelessness in community is no longer rocket science. The greatest challenge rests in creating a system of care which functions at optimal capacity in a sustainable fashion. However, a system is only going to be as effective as homeless service providers are able to implement policy and best practices throughout their programs and through the direct provision of evidence-based practices and service delivery. Understanding that we experience high levels of turnover, new positions added (and lots have been added this year due to COVID), and seasoned staff who have been operational in the field for decades, the standardization of practice is not without challenges. Staff development through training and ongoing support with implementation and technical assistance can ensure our community is functioning at its highest capacity, increasing efficiencies and positive outcomes, while at the same time reducing trauma for households experiencing homelessness.