At the 2018 Funders Forum, we dove into learning about nation-wide prevention models and pilot programs being launched in communities taking the next step in homelessness prevention.
Funders had an opportunity to engage with Barbara Poppe, Principal of Barbara Poppe & Associates, in a discussion around what prevention is and how philanthropy can take a role in homelessness prevention work.
Barbara presented her research findings and her recommended best practices on eviction and homelessness prevention that were established with HealthSpark Foundation and Your Way Home Montgomery County, PA. She also gave suggestions on how philanthropy can be a catalyst in this space. (Attention funders: if you missed this discussion and are interested in going more in-depth on this topic, scroll to the end of this post for an additional learning opportunity!)
There was so much information packed into the one-hour discussion! So, let’s take a look at some of the key takeaways:
Let’s talk about the basics of homelessness prevention:
- Housing stability is the primary goal of homelessness prevention.
- Prevention is about targeting – the right intervention at the right time. This is different in each community.
- Eviction prevention is a timely topic as it almost always leads to increased housing instability and homelessness.
- Eviction is driven by the legal system, and what really helps is having social and legal services to help those at risk of eviction in court.
- As well as losing a home, families lose crucial belongings such as beds, furniture, etc.
Things to consider when getting involved in prevention work:
- There needs to be a highly functional homeless crisis response system first. A community needs to demonstrate that they know how to triage and respond before they can look upstream and work on prevention.
- Look upstream for opportunities around homelessness or eviction prevention strategies, such as targeting children by stationing prevention workers directly in schools or targeting those being evicted by putting lawyers for tenants in the courtrooms. Focus on putting housing stabilization resources directly in hospitals, the foster care system, and the prison system.
- Find willing partners and utilize them. For example, if you have support from the hospitals and your data shows a high number of people entering homelessness from hospitals, then begin with a program to try to prevent people from falling into homelessness after a hospitalization.
- Be a convener. Philanthropy can get the public sector at the table and provide a space where people can talk candidly.
- Philanthropy should think strategically and then look to invest in pilots. Engage the public sector at the beginning as their initial buy in and input will help to scale up.
- Educate your partners and policymakers! Share information on best practices and evidenced-based tools.
- Invest in data tools and the dissemination of the data findings.
Want to dive even deeper, hear about prevention work in action, and learn about other ways philanthropy can be a leader in prevention work? Join us on March 22 at 1:00 pm. EST for a webinar featuring the research and evaluation of homelessness prevention conducted by HealthSpark Foundation and Your Way Home Montgomery County, PA. We will explore the eviction pilot and lessons learned from Montgomery County as they launched.