Effectively implementing housing-based solutions to homelessness often requires non-profit service providers to shift their efforts toward prevention, diversion, rapid re-housing, and housing stability and away from more traditional, temporary shelter options.
Here is a set of questions to ask potential grantees when assessing where they are in terms of making that shift as well as their capacity to effectively implement or expand housing-based solutions. These questions were adapted from materials developed for Massachusetts grantmakers by The Paul and Phyllis Fireman Charitable Foundation.
- How would you describe homelessness in our community? How effective are the safety net services? How can we make those services more effective?
- Do you have a strategic plan that connects your work back to the broader goals of the community (such as the community’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, if one exists)?
- Where does your organization fall along the continuum of care for people experiencing homelessness? Are you committed to housing-based solutions?
- Do you/how do you help people experiencing homelessness move quickly into long-term housing and/or provide tailored services to help them remain housed?
Services and Supports
- Describe the supportive services you offer or connect to that help stabilize consumers in permanent homes.
- What conditions, such as sobriety or mandatory participation in mental health treatment, do you place on people who are accessing temporary shelter, long-term housing, and/or supportive services?
- Describe the homelessness prevention and diversion services you offer or connect to.
- How have you or how do you plan to retrain your staff toward housing-based services?
- If you have already retrained your staff, what outcomes are you seeing as a result?
Connections and Coordination
- How deep are your connections to other organizations in the community that serve homeless people, including other shelters and housing programs as well as hospitals, mental health facilities, and drug treatment programs?
- How deep are your relationships with landlords in the community? Do these relationships help homeless people have shorter stays in emergency shelter? Do they help consumers overcome financial, credit, and other barriers to housing?
- How skilled is your staff at helping people connect to mainstream services for low-income (not necessarily homeless or at-risk) people, such as health care, welfare, Headstart, education, and job training?
- Does the community have a coordinated entry program? If not, why? How can we make it happen? If yes, how well does it work for your organization and the people you serve?
Data, Outcomes, and Advocacy
- Can you measure your success with the people you serve? What outcomes do you track?
- How do you use data to improve your programs and services?
- How does your organization advocate on behalf of those you serve? Do you actively advocate for housing-based solutions to end homelessness?