For the past ten years, federal policy and community practices have focused on the value of collaboration and a system-wide approach to ending homelessness. That’s why, in 2014, The National Alliance to End Homelessness introduced the concept of a Learning Collaborative. This effort brings together dozens of homeless services organizations across a state or region to pool their collective expertise.
For several months, these organizations participate in an intensive effort involving regular workshops, trainings, and meetings designed to help them shift their organizational culture, operations, and practices in order to improve their ability to more quickly end homelessness in their community.
Each Learning Collaborative has three strategic objectives:
- Move more households from homelessness/shelter to permanent housing.
- Reduce the length of time households are homeless (from point of entry into the shelter/homeless system to exit into permanent housing).
- Create rapid re-housing and emergency shelter programs that are inclusive and can serve any homeless household regardless of barriers to housing.
As the Learning Collaborative progresses, organizations implement the learned best practice strategies, share their results, their obstacles, and their key learnings, to benefit the entire Collaborative’s efforts. This process plays an important role in shaping and informing the ambitious — but attainable — goals at the center of each organization’s #HousingChallenge.
Learning Collaboratives typically require organizations to shift both their philosophy and practices. To support this effort, participants work with experts from the National Alliance to End Homelessness who provide technical assistance and strategic guidance in making program changes over the course of the effort. In addition, participants engage in a #HousingChallenge as an opportunity to implement the program changes made to accelerate work to end homelessness in communities across the nation. And it’s exactly what it sounds like: a shared commitment made by all of the providers participating in the Learning Collaborative to set aggressive goals to house as many households as possible in a specific period of time.
For the past several months, the Alliance has partnered with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to work with providers across Georgia and Maryland in Rapid Re-Housing Learning Collaboratives. And in the coming weeks, we will have exciting updates to share on their progress. Keep an eye on this blog series to learn more about the communities participating, the challenges they’ve faced, and the most important learnings that will guide their efforts to end homelessness.
We look forward to sharing their progress with you!