A national network of funders supporting strategic, innovative, and effective solutions to homelessness

Funders and the Upcoming Point-in-Time Counts

After Labor Day, many communities will start to plan for their January Point-in-Time Homeless Counts. How can you help as a funder?  

Post Labor Day there are many communities that will be starting to plan for their January Point-in-Time Homeless Counts. Sure the count is over four months away, but the planning for these events can be a considerable undertaking, especially if the community wants to seize the opportunity to get the best information possible. Here are a few ways that funders can be of assistance:

1. Help recruit volunteers

Volunteers are critical to successfully undertaking a count, and in many communities this is a huge resource drain on the Continuum of Care spending many hours tracking down volunteers to assist. If, as a Funder, you are attached to an organization or corporation that has staff, it will come as a relief locally if you are able to commit staff to volunteer, and/or help spread the volunteer recruitment message through your networks and associates.

2. Improve data collected

There are some minimum data fields that Housing and Urban Development (HUD) mandates for the counts. This does not preclude communities from capturing more information. If your community investment has a particular mandate, you may want to work with your local count leaders to see a particular survey question asked that would help with your funding strategy. Several communities are also using their count as an opportunity to engage in a 100K Homes Registry week using the Vulnerability Index-Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT) to gain much better information on the population and prioritization of services. So, you may consider that “ready-made” solution as well.

3. Introduce new prospective funders to the issues of housing and homelessness

Don’t know if you want to get involved in funding housing and homelessness or know of another organization that might? The count is a great way to gain exposure to the issues of housing and homelessness through direct contact with individuals and families experiencing homelessness. The first-person experience can be very enlightening.

4. Use the information in education, advocacy and investment efforts

The Count is an event and an activity designed to collect data. It is what happens with the information that matters. To improve homeless service delivery in your community, make a concerted effort to use the data that is gleaned from the count to help with community education, advocate to elected officials and policy makers, and improve your investments based upon the local data.

Image of user Iain De JongIain has held senior management and professional positions in government, non-profits and the private sector. He has also been a high school teacher in Oakland, California; a community-development worker in St. Lucia; a chaplain in a mental health facility in Toronto; and, a community-organizer in various communities throughout Canada and the United States. Iain is currently working with OrgCode Consulting and also holds a part-time Faculty position in the Graduate Planning Programme in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University.

We joined Funders Together because we believe in the power of philanthropy to play a major role in ending homelessness, and we know we have much to learn from funders across the country.

-Christine Marge, Director of Housing and Financial Stability at United Way of Greater Los Angeles

I am thankful for the local partnerships here in the Pacific Northwest that we’ve been able to create and nurture thanks to the work of Funders Together. Having so many of the right players at the table makes our conversations – and all of our efforts – all the richer and more effective.

-David Wertheimer, Deputy Director at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

-President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 State of the Union Address

Funders Together has given me a platform to engage the other funders in my community. Our local funding community has improved greatly to support housing first models and align of resources towards ending homelessness.

-Leslie Strnisha, Vice President at Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

Our family foundation convenes local funders and key community stakeholders around strategies to end homelessness in Houston. Funders Together members have been invaluable mentors to us in this effort, traveling to our community to share their expertise and examples of best practices from around the nation.

-Nancy Frees Fountain, Managing Director at The Frees Foundation

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