Sustaining Momentum after a Learning Collaborative

This post is part of a National Alliance to End Homelessness series highlighting the Rapid Re-Housing Learning Collaboratives in Georgia and Maryland. Read more about Learning Collaboratives here.

Almost one year ago, 15 service providers across the State of Georgia gathered together to make a commitment to working differently and housing more people.

The forum – called a Rapid Re-Housing Learning Collaborative – is an Alliance program model that’s all about helping organizations work together to serve more people across a region. The work isn’t easy; even though it’s facilitated with guidance, training, technical assistance, and organizational planning from the Alliance’s Center for Capacity Building, providers are still challenged to make big changes. That includes shifting their organizational cultures, operations, and practices so that they can improve their rapid re-housing programs.

Kelly Floyd from Carroll County Emergency Shelter remembers feeling like a “deer in the headlights” during the first session, as she heard a flood of new information.

Since that time, Kelly and her colleagues rose to the challenge and made important changes that ultimately allowed them to apply best practices and serve more people more effectively through rapid re-housing.

The Alliance interviewed Kelly and along with some of her colleagues in Georgia to understand how they will sustain their improved housing outcomes over the next few months and years.

Continue Building Partners

Kelly said that her rapid re-housing program made extensive and comprehensive changes to individualize the assistance they were offering households. Previously, everyone was offered the same services regardless of need. After this shift, they were able to meet their bold goal of housing 15 households during a 100-day #HousingChallenge.

But the work does not stop there — Kelly and her team are implementing new strategies to proactively build a network of landlords willing to participate in rapid re-housing. They plan to boost advertising, host events with landlords to discuss successes, and highlight great partners in a quarterly newsletter. Kelly will also forge partnerships with city leaders in each of the five counties her program serves and plans to introduce the concept of rapid re-housing at regular county meetings to build support for the intervention.

Terry Edwards from New Horizons Behavioral Health, another rapid re-housing provider that participated in the Georgia Collaborative, echoed the importance of partners. Terry worked hard during the Learning Collaborative to build relationships with other providers in her community who can refer clients and landlords.  These referrals are so consistent that Terry recently returned from a short vacation to find an inbox full of emails from partners about four clients and two landlords ready to be matched.  Terry says that she’ll continue building and strengthening these connections because they make her job easier.

Systematizing Sustainable Rapid Re-Housing Through Ongoing Collaboration

To scale and sustain these best practices, rapid re-housing providers should operate as an integrated and cohesive system rather than a set of individual and siloed agencies.  Some communities have started a rapid re-housing workgroup that meets regularly to discuss challenges and opportunities in their region or Continuum of Care.  These groups also use this meeting to share best practices and set common procedures and performance measures.

Using Data to Scale Efforts

To ensure maximizing rapid re-housing resources, homeless services systems and programs should collect data to improve design, policies, and training.  Data can also be used to target resources to the most vulnerable individuals and families in the community. Participating providers in Georgia, for example, tracked the following metrics including elements such as numbers of households placed in permanent housing and average days of financial assistance to assist them in making changes to their program design in order to improve outcomes.

After the Learning Collaborative concludes, participating providers are asked to set new goals and performance benchmarks to continue to increase their exits to permanent housing and decrease the average length of time it takes from enrollment in rapid re-housing to placement in permanent housing.

Ending Homelessness

Even though the Learning Collaborative has ended in Georgia, the work of ending homelessness has not. To continue working towards ending homelessness more effectively through rapid re-housing, providers will expand their resources and networks of partners to better function as a system. Providers across the state continue to evaluate their operations and practices to make sure that they are most effectively rapidly rehousing individuals and families.

This Rapid Re-Housing Learning Collaborative in Georgia was made possible through a partnership between the Alliance and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.