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Affordable Housing , Community Development , Homelessness , Supportive Housing

IForum Outlines Steps to Ending Chronic Homelessness

19 March 2014

Laura Zeilinger of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), Nadim Mata of the Rapid Results Institute, and members from the Bridgeport Housing First Collaborative demonstrated that leadership and proven methods of collaboration can end chronic homelessness in any community committed to that goal.

The experts laid out several recipes for success before more than 150 attendees at the Partnership for Strong Communities’ second IForum of the season, “Driving Toward Zero: Ingredients for Success in Ending Chronic Homelessness.”

The line-up not only provided an opportunity to hear guidance from national leaders on ending homelessness, but also allowed practitioners, advocates, and other stakeholders to learn about best practices in accelerating housing placement from across the country—including those in Bridgeport.

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Zeilinger, the newly appointed Executive Director of the USICH, applauded Connecticut’s leadership for investing in supportive housing, saying that the state is well-positioned to create a comprehensive housing crisis-resolution system where instances of homelessness are rare, brief, and non-recurring. Zeilinger offered three suggestions:

  • Prioritize resources for people who are most vulnerable and have the most acute needs.
  • Continue investing state resources, but be persistent in efforts to leverage mainstream resources such as Medicaid, Social Security, Housing Choice Vouchers, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
  • Manage to your goals: Set benchmarks for the short- and long-term and hold your community accountable to those benchmarks.

Mata, the President and Founding Board Member of the Rapid Results Institute, described the Institute’s efforts to support a growing number of communities across the country in their work to triple housing placement rates for people experiencing chronic homelessness. Mata offered suggested that housing advocates:

  • “Shrink the change,” or set short-term, actionable goals that complement overarching Ten Year Plans to End Homelessness and broader public policy work. Short-term goals, such as aggressively increasing the number of housing vouchers targeted to people who need them in 100 days, make it more feasible for states and communities to stay committed to high-impact initiatives.
  • Engage leadership in new ways.
  • Leverage peer support and competition.
  • Empower front line staff.

Members of the Bridgeport Housing First Collaborative discussed how key individuals and institutions came together to reduce chronic homelessness by 50% in Bridgeport over the past 4 years. Through innovative partnerships and resource-sharing, the collaborative may be able to end chronic homelessness in Bridgeport ahead of the state deadline of 2017. The collaborative would not have made as much impact without bringing a wide array of partners to the table, including developers and landlords, the Bridgeport Housing Authority, funders, front-line staff, and other local leaders.

Click here to view a recording of the event. 

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