Local Leaders Share Expertise at National Conference to End Homelessness

By Ywana Allen

Presentations at the 2016 National Conference on Ending Homelessness included the expertise of several local leaders, working to end homelessness in our community.

Carl Falconer, Regional Director – SOAR and Housing Initiatives for Lutheran Services Florida Health Systems (LSFHS) delivered “How to Form CoC Governance that Gets Results.” As the managing entity for substance abuse and mental health funding, LSFHS oversees state funding management and monitoring in over 23 counties and seven CoCs, including Jacksonville, Daytona Beach and Gainesville. Among key takeaways, the importance of having knowledgeable and strong leadership on CoC governing boards, showing and using data to drive decision making, and embracing change even when difficult, were emphasized. Falconer also recommended that having specific and measurable goals, advocating with other funding agencies, and engaging in discussions as instrumental for yielding results.

Dawn Gilman, CEO for Changing Homelessness, facilitated a “Masterclass on Coordinated Intake” highlighting the importance of having systems and processes in place that when coupled with consistency, can maximize coordinated intake. She shared current system features including the importance of knowing assessment and intake data, developing accurate record keeping practices including documentation for programs and a comprehensive master list, and the benefits of having mobile units in addition to an office. Challenges shared included shelters not taking referrals or being a part of HMIS, the length of time between referrals and housing placement, and the severely mentally ill and young transgender persons not fitting within the parameters of the assessment tool. Evidence of the impact of coordinated intake has been a drop in average community acuity, and that it drives planning, decision making and organizational direction.

Shawn Liu, HUD-VASH Program Manager for the North Florida & South Georgia Veterans Health System, presented “Partnering with Your Local VA.” To build solid and sustainable partnerships, he recommended learning who your partners are, including names, roles and chain of command, and understanding their unique wants, needs and goals. Building relationships is key, and he encouraged those considering partnerships to think about and discuss performance measures, clinician needs, risks, issues, values, the importance of data and 1-click solutions. Ultimately, partners should be working collaboratively to generate a return on investment for every Veteran.

To learn how you can attend the 2017 National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference, visit their website at http://www.endhomelessness.org/.