This post is part of a National Alliance to End Homelessness blog series to highlight the Rapid Rehousing Learning Collaboratives in Georgia and Maryland. Read more about Learning Collaboratives in the first post in the series here.
If you’ve ever attended an Alliance webinar, you probably know what to expect from the experience:
You will receive a lot of information. You will be challenged to do things differently. And if we do a good job, you will feel inspired to house more people in your community.
What you probably don’t expect is to receive a “WooHoo Award.”
But that’s exactly what a Ben Cattell Noll and Kay Moshier McDivitt of the Alliance’s Capacity Building team were handing out on a recent celebratory webinar with participants in the Georgia Learning Collaborative.
The cause for celebration? At the end of the 100 day #HousingChallenge and Rapid-Rehousing Learning Collaborative, the Georgia providers had housed a total of 275 households in 100 days – double the number housed in the previous 90 days! Beaming with pride, Ben and Kay took time to recognize the exceptional efforts of the providers who met and exceeded their bold goals over the course of this challenge.
The Learning Collaborative in Georgia is made possible through a partnership between the Alliance and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The sixteen participating providers are part of the Georgia Balance of State Continuum of Care and are committed to shifting their organizational culture, operations, and practices to improve their Rapid Rehousing programs and quickly end a household’s housing crisis in their community.
What were the strategies for success? Here’s what the participants told us:
A Community Effort
Many providers highlighted the importance of creating a community effort. The providers in the collaborative worked with the community across their region to make the #HousingChallenge theirs too.
For example, some providers canvassed their communities, showing up at public meetings and events, dropping off fliers at corner stores and gas stations, and leaving business cards anywhere they could reach landlords or people who needed housing. The appeal was simple: they were working to house as many people as possible, and they needed partners to help them make it happen.
By integrating the community into this effort, each provider accomplished far more than it could do alone, boosting referrals, increasing resources, and achieving better flow through their systems. Most importantly, this approach helped them exceed their bold goals and sustainably house individuals and families.
Flexible Housing Plans
As these providers received guidance, training, and technical assistance from the Alliance’s Capacity Building team and peer support from other providers in the Collaborative, they began to realize the full potential of Rapid Rehousing. Instead of offering all of their clients the same services, the providers individualized the housing plan for each person. Because they no longer provided households with 6 months of financial assistance when they only needed 2, they were able to assist more households with the same budget.
Providers consistently emphasized the importance of landlord engagement. Some providers completely rewrote their policies about communication and expectations from landlords, while other providers encouraged existing partner property owners to share information about Rapid Rehousing with their colleagues.
The Next Challenge
Despite the celebration, the work is not over. Now that these philosophical, operational, and practice changes have been made, these providers are encouraged to set another bold goal and exceed that one, too. Kay and Ben’s final message of the celebration webinar was one that will continue to inspire these providers to work towards ending homelessness in the state of Georgia: Don’t stop now! As long as there are people experiencing homelessness in your community, there is more work to do!