As communities implement strategic plans to end homelessness it is essential to keep the lines of communication open so that other communities can benefit from lessons learned. State Interagency Councils have an important role to play to ensure effective solutions are shared and that communities can build on the knowledge base already developed. Massachusetts and Missouri have used their Councils to spread the word about what works.
Since 2007, Massachusetts has taken significant steps toward increasing coordination and improving policies and practices to prevent and end homelessness. These efforts have been very much aligned with the goals of Opening Doors, focusing on chronic homelessness, Veterans homelessness, and family homelessness. Led by Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, members of the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness have adopted an approach to ending homelessness that uses networking and data analysis to build consensus and effectuate systemic improvements. Now every community in the Commonwealth is part of one of ten Regional Networks to End Homelessness that seek broad stakeholder engagement in advancing innovative solutions. These relationships continue to improve access to mainstream and homeless resources, and help providers more effectively match those resources to individual clients’ needs. Moreover, Massachusetts is successfully aligning the shelter and housing systems and is making progress toward converting shelter resources to additional housing-based responses.
Massachusetts is featured in our webinar about Opening Doors Across America.
Missouri is recognized for best practices in their collaboration of state and non-profit agencies. This collaboration is made possible through an Executive Order that established the Missouri Interagency Council on Homelessness (MICH). MICH is responsible for raising statewide awareness around homelessness issues, providing oversight of the Balance of State Continuum of Care, and providing legislative leadership. The MICH hosts appointed members from each of the eight continua in the state, key state agencies, and homeless providers. Under the leadership of Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) and the MICH, several initiatives have started since October of 2006. Regional housing team meetings are conducted on a quarterly basis in ten regions of the state, these meetings allow providers to meet with state officials and voice their ideas and concerns regarding ending homelessness in Missouri. MHDC provides the administration of the Missouri Housing Trust Fund, Special Needs Housing initiative through the Qualified Allocation Plan, and provides the leadership of the statewide disaster housing team. Missouri believes homelessness is unacceptable and one of the key strategies to ending homelessness is collaboration of traditional and non-traditional players.