Using Data, Setting Goals, and Defining what it means to End Homelessness

Because of Opening Doors, the focus on goal-setting and data-driven strategies to end homelessness has increased across the country. For example, we’ve seen an increased emphasis on performance measurement, documentation of outcomes, and a focus on the most effective and cost-efficient use of resources, and believe that implementation of such strategies should be even more strongly emphasized within an amended Opening Doors.

Since the launch of Opening Doors, our understanding of what works has further solidified, and we’ve seen tremendous progress. Your input is essential to the ongoing success of Opening Doors. Please share and vote for the ideas you think would have the greatest impact in an amendment to Opening Doors.

Please consider these questions when crafting your feedback and voting for the feedback you think is most valuable. And please use the Opening Doors Amendment 2014 Participation Guide for more information on what strategies are currently included in Opening Doors. Find it here: http://bit.ly/USICH2014

1. Are there additional strategies for increasing the focus on data-driven decision making and setting measurable goals that you think should be reflected in an amendment to Opening Doors?

2. How would your community/organization benefit from a greater emphasis on these issues within Opening Doors? Please explain what information would be most helpful.

3. Would including a definition on what ending homelessness means and how it should be defined benefit your community’s/organizations’ efforts, and if so, how?

4. Are there other areas of the Plan you feel would benefit from updated information or the incorporation of additional strategies?

Thank you!

Are there additional strategies for increasing the focus on data-driven decision making and setting measurable goals that you think should be reflected in an amendment to Opening Doors?

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  1. Increase data collection and the data sources used for youth

    • Include multiple sources of data in setting goals and defining what it means to end youth homelessness (i.e. U.S. Department of Education Numbers, HUD Point-in-time count, CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, etc.).

    • Encourage Congress to fund the Prevalence, Needs, and Characteristics of Homeless Youth in America study as authorized under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA (P.L. 110-378).

    • Implement standard definitions for homeless youth that enable runaway and homeless youth who are couch surfing to qualify for all housing and supportive services available.

    • Conduct an initial inventory, to be updated on an annual basis, of…

    103 votes
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      0 comments  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    • Encourage the use of integrated data systems

      Integrated data systems can be used to better understand the interactions of homeless persons within the homeless assistance system and other local, state, and federal programs. Integrated data systems can also be used to better target housing resources to those individuals or families who are the most vulnerable or who are using the most community resources. The plan should encourage communities and states to consider creating integrated data systems, provide guidance on how to implement and use integrated data systems so they provide the most valuable information while simultaneously protecting the privacy rights of homeless persons, and provide guidance on…

      60 votes
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        1 comment  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
      • Evaluate Effectiveness of Targeting Tools

        Document and evaluate the effectiveness of various targeting tools (e.g., SPDAT, VI, Hennepin housing barrier tool, etc.) and strategies used by communities to prioritize housing resources for individuals and families experiencing homelessness; disseminate information broadly and ensure that Coordinated Assessment systems are incorporating best practices and evidence-based tools for targeting resources

        52 votes
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        • Guidance on the Local Use of HMIS

          Provide Guidance on the Local Use of HMIS Data
          A community’s Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) contains a wealth of information that can be valuable in community and program level performance measurement, system planning and analysis, and ultimately funding decisions. USICH and its federal partner agencies should provide guidance to communities on how to use the data in HMIS to evaluate their local system and the effectiveness of individual programs. Specific benchmarks on when a program is considered effective would be particularly helpful. USICH should also provide recommendations for how to make the data in HMIS more accessible to community…

          46 votes
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            1 comment  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
          • Provide guidance on how communities create and scale crisis systems

            There will always be individuals and families who will experience housing crises. How local communities and the federal government define and identify the end of homelessness is of the utmost importance as it provides clear, numeric goals and a baseline from which a community can design a crisis response system in which a family or individual spends little or no time homeless following a housing crisis. The plan needs to provide guidance to communities on what the essential elements of a crisis response system are and how communities can determine the appropriate scale of those elements given local housing and…

            45 votes
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              2 comments  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
            • We can't end homelessness by ending homelessness

              How can the FSP focus on the broader policy changes needed to prevent all types of homelessness (not just chronic)? While housing subsidies are present in the plan, can the revised FSP include support for *significantly* raising the minimum wage (beyond $10.10) and creating economic opportunities and career ladders that pay a housing/living wage? How can we increase the supply of unsubsidized affordable housing? Can the National Housing Trust Fund and other housing/tax/finance reform be present in revised strategies? Data measures could include tracking the number/percent of American households paying more than 30% of its income on housing.

              26 votes
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              • Ensure Coordinated Access Collaobrates with mainstream systems

                Ensure that Coordinated Assessment systems are collaborating with mainstream systems (including health/behavioral health, criminal justice, VA, child welfare) to cover all access points for individuals and families experiencing homelessness and blending the use of evidence-based assessment tools and data-driven strategies (e.g., cross-system data matching, prediction models) to identify and optimally target services and housing resources for the most vulnerable

                25 votes
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                • Specifics on improving data on homeless youth

                  Provide more specifics on improving data on homeless youth
                  While the current plan states the intention to obtain more comprehensive data on the scope of youth homelessness, the plan should provide more specifics on how to do this. USICH and its federal partners should provide clear guidance for how communities can better enumerate homeless youth, particularly unsheltered homeless youth, during point-in-time counts. USICH and its federal partners could also conduct a more extensive evaluation of current programming dedicated to homeless youth by analyzing available intake and outcome data from those programs. Lastly, the merging of HMIS and RHYMIS should be…

                  18 votes
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                    1 comment  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                  • Better data collection on homeless children, youth and families

                    Homeless children, youth and families are often undercounted by HUD's Point in Time Count because they do not access shelters as frequently as other populations. There are various reasons for this. Shelters may require a family to split up if there are males in the household. Unaccompanied youth may be concerned about their safety in a shelter, as well as being exposed to authorities and being wrongfully charged with truancy or other crimes as a result of being unaccompanied. Finally, there are simply often not enough beds for all the homeless children, youth, and families in a community. Therefore, homeless…

                    15 votes
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                    • Conduct experiments to decide what works

                      Do more multi-site experiments like the At Home/Chez Soi study in Canada or the Family Options study in the U.S. to understand what works for different groups. Without rigorous evaluation it is hard to identify "best practices."

                      13 votes
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                      • Promote the use of local data to evaluate current system-level outcomes and costs and to inform reallocation strategies

                        Communities are beginning o understand performance measurement but most do not yet understand how to use their own information to make strategic investment decisions. Those decisions should include cost information that is not tracked in HMIS but that communities have access to. The revised Plan should make clear that local data including cost per outcome should be central to the process of planning to end homelessness, and USICH and its partners should promote this and provide tools and support for communities to do this analysis.

                        11 votes
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                        • We are creating a trade school, and employment agency whose profits purchases employment opportunities for the unemployed.

                          Create a trade school with an Employment Agency belonging to the homeless so that it's profits purchase in Trust: homes, food, and employment. The Students can see the job opportunities and discern what educational skills are needed; their-by directing the school curriculum. The school dropouts need to become part of team that learns how to become a family depending upon one another learning how to work as temporary employees. The fruits of their own employment agency will provide them housing, food, future employment along with health benefits, security and safety.

                          7 votes
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                            0 comments  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                          • Reconcile federal definitions between HUD and MV on family homelessness. Rely on DOE counts rather than PIT to scope family homelessness.

                            Differing definitions of homelessness and methods of data-gathering between HUD and McKinney Vento tell very different data-based stories of family homelessness in the US. While the DOE perspective deepens the challenge by accommodating families doubled-up or staying in motels on their own dime, their method of data gathering is more robust and better suited to present trends--they gather data throughout the school year. The PIT on the other hand is ripe with any number of environmental or methodological inconsistencies that limit the tool's credibility in drawing a baseline or reporting out a reliable trend. While PIT remains an authority measure…

                            5 votes
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                            • Equal Access

                              To explicitly include training and information on applicable Fair Housing Regulations to all involved stakeholders. HUD funded agencies should all promote and abide all Fair Housing Regulations, this plan should promote programs that are open to all eligible homeless or at risk of being homeless individuals and families regardless, of ****** orientation, gender identity, or marital status.

                              4 votes
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                                0 comments  ·  Other  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                              • Allow Housing Authorities to give priority to the homeless in giving section 8 vouchers and accepting tenants.

                                The homeless are all extremely low income, but much of sec. 8 housing goes to people jusst within the upper income limits for sec. 8. Persons with higher income are crowding out the homeless when it comes to getting sed. 8 voucher and apts. Allow local housing authorities to give priority to the homeless. They are now forbidden to do so by HUD rules.

                                3 votes
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                                  0 comments  ·  Other  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                • Sharing information

                                  I think if more people that were once homeless could get sponsored to cover the cost of going to conferences to speak about their experiences they would go.

                                  3 votes
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                                  • Ending veteran homelessness needs to include ALL veterans

                                    We applaud the goal to end veteran homelessness in five years. And we support the investment of federal dollars into the VASH program in order to help achieve this goal. However, in order to reach this goal there needs to be an open focus and discussion about veterans who have been dishonorably discharged and are unable to access VASH vouchers. In addition, the VA needs to fully support and implement a Housing First approach to VASH. -Submitted by the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness

                                    2 votes
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                                    • Track and target other large & special-needs populations

                                      Older and disabled homeless make up a large--and often overlooked--segment of the "Single Adult" population. Many of the chronically homeless (and those who will stay homeless long enough to acquire that label) are in this group.

                                      We have special programs and focus on Youth, on Families, and on Veterans, but we ignore the fact that a disabled 50 year old or a vulnerable 70 year old in poor health are NOT going to be served by the same employment programs and housing that might be appropriate for a 35 year old with low-paying job skills.

                                      What's that old saying: if…

                                      2 votes
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                                      • Incentivize the Center for Disease Control to add housing questions to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

                                        More than 8 regions in the U.S. have housing questions on their survey and have better data on the prevalence and risk factors on homeless youth than any other data collection process known in our region. This helps our policy makers and providers make informed decisions. The data helped get a grant from HHS for our city to improve how we help foster care youth who graduate from the system NOT become homeless.

                                        2 votes
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                                          0 comments  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                        • To end homelessness, increase local community involvement and pr

                                          To end homelessness, increase local community involvement, provide for natural supports and increase options to close segregated institutions for people with disabilities, the solution is zoning changes.

                                          What once was permitted and common, a two or three family home for related family or families and individuals facing economic challenges is not permitted in most communities today. This is certainly true in NJ where I reside. I am allowed to build a McMansion on 5 plus acres. The single family home may have 6 plus bedrooms, 5 plus baths, wet bar and consist of 5,000 plus square feet. On the same…

                                          1 vote
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                                            0 comments  ·  Other  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
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                                          Using Data, Setting Goals, and Defining what it means to End Homelessness

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