Ending Veteran Homelessness Step Three: Setting Benchmarks

The national goal of ending homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015 is only about seven months away, for those of you keeping track. That’s not a lot of time. So it makes sense for communities like yours who are working toward it to keep track of the pace of their progress.

To reach that ultimate goal in your community, you’re going to need to set and meet benchmarks along the way. That’s why we made step three in our Five Steps to Ending Veteran Homelessness setting a clear numerical goal and timeline for reaching it. This should keep you and your partners focused on your progress and always mindful of how well you are doing.

(With this blog post series on the five steps, we’re not going quite in order, but we promise we’ll get to all five!) Here’s what we say in step three:

You should be constantly working with your partners to assess and evaluate your efforts and assign resources and responsibilities as needed.

A clear goal that states the number of veterans you plan on housing in a specified time frame will help to hold partners accountable; strategically allocate available resources and highlight any gaps; and ensure all stakeholders understand their responsibilities in the process.

Progress toward this should be measured and reported to stakeholders and the community as often as possible.

Once you have unified the key partners in your community, take a look at your Master List, and figure out what benchmarks you must reach, who should be responsible for reaching them, and deadlines. There you have your timeline.

Benchmarks should always be ambitious but achievable. They can and should range from the big picture (e.g. house 35 veterans by the end of the month) to the little (e.g. identify an available voucher for a specific veteran in need by next week’s meeting). Update and tweak your timeline regularly as you meet benchmarks or as circumstances change.

Attaining these benchmark goals should invigorate your community’s efforts to address veteran homelessness and allow you to structure your weekly meetings (yes, we’re going to keep saying it – weekly!) on veteran homelessness around specific topics. Additionally, if you’re missing your deadlines on a regular basis, a reassessment of your efforts and your strategy is in order.

Timelines and goals can help ensure your system is doing what it’s meant to do: house homeless veterans. For more information on bringing partners together and setting goals, check out this presentation (embedded above) from the Linda Kaufman at Community Solutions.