A Home For All: People Pillar
Jessica Lefkowitz & Kate Taylor Harcourt-Medina
This blog post is from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Dashboard. View the original post here.
Recently, United Way of Greater Charlotte (United Way) released the A Home For All Implementation Plan. Building on the priorities identified in the Strategic Framework, the Implementation Plan outlines which priorities to advance first in order to address housing instability and homelessness across the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area. This is the first post in a series of blogs that will examine the three pillars of the A Home For All Implementation Plan: People, Prevention, and Production.
This blog provides an overview of the People Pillar.
A HOME FOR ALL: PEOPLE PILLAR
The People pillar focuses on person-directed care and includes three of the nine initial priority initiatives that will move forward. Moving to a system-wide person-directed care model will require implementing new tools and functions that will work together to make systems more accessible for people experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity. This pillar includes the following initiatives:
- Systems navigators who will provide guidance and support to people experiencing housing instability or homelessness as they engage with the complex network of resources available to them along the housing continuum.
- Integration of a database that follows people or families as they move through the systems, reducing the burden to the person by only asking information once.
- The creation of a flexible funding account that utilizes public and private dollars that can be used for a range of wraparound support services.
Systems navigation is needed for both the housing insecure and those currently experiencing homelessness. Nationally, there are existing models that have successfully utilized navigators to provide broader, longer-term support that connects the housing insecure to existing resources and those experiencing homelessness to long-term sustainable housing solutions. Systems navigators will provide a single touch point for people experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The role is centered on establishing trauma-informed, culturally relevant, on-going relationships with people to help them navigate through the many options for service provision and ensure that they get access to the supports available in the community. What this role looks like, and the parameters around the role, will be developed during a planning period with a technical assistance consultant and the implementation team for this pillar.
Having an integrated data system creates a more person-centered experience for those moving through the system. Their information will be located in a database that is shared amongst appropriate community stakeholders to reduce the trauma associated with the amount of times the participant has to share their story with various providers, social workers and case managers. Building out a system that the community can share information to increase access to services is essential to the future development and growth of these individuals and families.
Additionally, there is a clear need in Charlotte-Mecklenburg for a funding source that responds to the wide variation in the type and acuity of services needed by households. To support this, A Home For All has envisioned the creation of a flexible pool of both public and private funding sources that can be used for a range of services to support housing stability. Rather than being tied to a specific program, this funding source would be person-directed and aimed at filling in gaps in service provision not covered by existing funding sources.
WHERE WE ARE NOW/ NEXT STEPS
For each of the initiatives moving forward, an implementation team, consisting of those with lived experience as well as leaders invested in this work, has been created to guide the work forward. A Request for Proposals was released for a consultant to provide technical assistance to evaluate the current system and make recommendations for a pilot encompassing all three initiatives in the People pillar. The Implementation team for this pillar is currently reviewing proposals and will make a selection in the coming weeks.
Once awarded, the consultant will work with the implementation team to elicit feedback on all aspects of objectives and outcomes. The consultant will evaluate current case management practices, as well as the existing data system to understand how they interact and can be further developed to improve information sharing about existing services and availability of housing. Additionally they will conduct an audit of skills necessary to complete the systems navigator role and make recommendations for testing the pilot. Finally, the consultant will work with key private and public funders to determine what should be included in the flexible spending account and how funds would be equitably dispersed.
SO WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
Many people experiencing hardships or living on or below poverty level may cycle in and out of the system because the proper supports were not in place for these individuals and families to sustain and maintain their housing absent supportive services. The concept of person-directed care will be an essential component to individuals and families maintaining and sustaining housing with wraparound supports that follow participants throughout the entirety of them needing supportive services. Through the implementation of this integrated systems model, families should have a more positive experience and more equitable access to resources and care.
Jessica Lefkowitz is the Founder and Executive Director of Hearts for the Invisible Charlotte Coalition. In this role, she is responsible for strategically coordinating homeless street outreach practices throughout Mecklenburg County. In addition, she is in the process of assembling a multidisciplinary outreach team that will provide housing focused street outreach to individuals and families experiencing literal homelessness. Hearts for the Invisible Charlotte Coalition’s mission is eradicating housing inequities for people experiencing homelessness. She also holds the Street Outreach and Diversion Seat on Mecklenburg County Continuum of Care governing board. Jessica Lefkowitz received her Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
KT Harcourt-Medina, PhD is an evaluation manager at United Way of Greater Charlotte, working on A Home For All. She is a social science researcher/evaluator with 10+ years of research & practice-based experience in program & data management. Her degrees are in Human Development and Family Science and her training is in applied research with a focus on participatory action research.