Skip to main content
Affordable Housing , Community Development , Homelessness , Supportive Housing

Systems Change and Collaboration Focus of Opening Doors-CT IForum

21 March 2012

Over 130 attendees heard guest speakers Dennis Culhane and Katharine Gale discuss strategies to change systems to better address homelessness and move people into housing at the March 20 IForum event at the Lyceum in Hartford. Co-sponsored by the Partnership for Strong Communities and the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, the event – Opening Doors-Connecticut: Using the Right Tools to End Homelessness – examined federal policy, promising trends from around the nation and local strategies to re-align systems, all with an eye towards stretching limited resources to assist more people and provide better outcomes.

If you are having trouble viewing the slide show, click here

Dennis Culhane, Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, presented thoughts on the implications of recent changes in national policy, including HPRP, HEARTH Act, “Opening Doors,” VA Program Expansions and the Affordable Care Act. Culhane also described programs from around the country that data have shown to work and/or that seem promising and systems changes that are anticipated due to changes in policies and funding.  

Katherine Gale, Consultant of Focus Strategies, discussed ways to realign and stretch resources from various sectors, programs and providers to help those experiencing or at risk of homelessness bounce back quickly. Gale’s presentation used data from other localities to show how resources are spent on shelters, transitional housing and rapid rehousing and the outcomes that resulted. Gale then considered how redirecting revenues could result in housing more individuals and families and offered examples from other localities. 

Representatives from state and local organizations also shared their information about work being done to better use data and to build connections across silos at the local level. In his welcome, Howard Rifkin of the Partnership spoke briefly about the Reaching Home Campaign’s expanded mission to end homelessness, using Opening Doors-Connecticut as the framework for accomplishing that goal. CCEH’s Carol Walter also discussed work happening in the state to implement the Opening Doors- Connecticut framework, to make connections across sectors and to use data more effectively. Sarah Gallagher of the Corporation for Supportive Housing’s CT Program presented information on how data is being used to identify individuals who are intense users of shelters, emergency medical services and the justice system for targeted housing interventions that produce better outcomes. 

A panel of local groups who work with homeless populations discussed how they have built connections across sectors and programs to better address the needs of the individuals and families with whom they work:   

  • Lisa Bahadosingh of Supportive Housing WORKS discussed efforts in Bridgeport to collaborate with the Bridgeport Housing Authority to identify housing resources for those experiencing homelessness.
  • New London Homeless Hospitality Center executive director Cathy Zall spoke about the ability of community care teams – a team of representatives from various medical and social service providers in New London - to leverage local resources to more effectively serve those experiencing homelessness.
  • Lisa Tepper Bates of Mystic Area Shelter & Hospitality described an initiative to develop a regional shelter screening and intake process in conjunction with the United Way’s 2-1-1 Infoline.

All three panelists noted that while collaboration is challenging and requires some give and take, it is essential to achieving better results and to making limited resources go further.

Materials from the IForum: