Systems Change Community Examples

Systems change is a process, not a single event.  Retooling homeless assistance services into an effective crisis response system requires a network of providers who have embraced the principles of Rapid Re-Housing and Housing First, each working to fulfill a specific niche in that system.  Read about five different programs that are playing important roles in their communities as those communities undergo the hard work of systems change.

Memphis Emergency Housing Partnership (Memphis, TN):  The City of Memphis used the Recovery-Act funded Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) as an opportunity to restructure the service delivery system for families who experience homelessness.  They established a centralized intake system for homeless assistance programs; a uniform risk assessment based on a tool used in the child welfare system to identify families needing services beyond financial assistance; and a team of Family Housing Advocates focused on helping families build natural support systems.

Priority Home Partnership (Alameda County, CA):  Based on an analysis of data, EveryOne Home, Alameda County’s ten-year planning body, retooled its homelessness prevention strategy to reach families and individuals at greatest risk of homelessness, including families who are tenuously doubled up and those with extremely low incomes.  Prevention services are delivered through the Priority Home Partnership, a network of seven coordinated, regional Housing Resource Centers that share a common assessment tool and targeting criteria.

Housing First Rhode Island (State of Rhode Island):  Housing First RI is one of the few State-sponsored Housing First initiatives in the country.  Coordinated by Riverwood Mental Health Services, the program provides housing placement and intensive supports to chronically homeless individuals in communities across the state. Particularly noteworthy are the way the program was launched and the adaptations it has made over the years to the traditional Housing First service delivery model.

HomeStart (Boston, MA):  HomeStart is an example of a nonprofit organization formed for the purpose of preventing housing loss and moving homeless and at-risk individuals and families into affordable permanent housing and providing the stabilization supports necessary to help them retain their housing.  It is an alternative to shelter-based programs that may struggle to retain a focus on rapid housing placement and stabilization due to competing demands on staff time.

Housing First for Homeless Families (Los Angeles, CA):  Beyond Shelter’s Housing First Program for Homeless Families in Los Angeles, California provides homeless families referred by area emergency shelters, transitional housing and other shelter programs with assistance in securing permanent rental housing.  It then provides home-based case management support for six months to help families transition to stability and make connections to community supports.  Beyond Shelter established the program in 1988 to build the capacity of family shelters to end, not just manage, family homelessness by partnering with them to assist their clients to obtain and retain permanent, affordable housing.  At the time, it was the first rapid re-housing program for families in the country.