Category Archives: Best Practices

Just Released: Western MA Opening Doors Plan to End Homelessness

The Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness is proud and pleased to present Western Massachusetts Opening Doors: A Collective Impact Framework to Prevent and End Homelessness.

This Plan is a product of extraordinary collaboration among dozens of Network partners, in conjunction with Simtech Solutions and Waypoint Consulting, and was made possible by the Commonwealth’s support.

As summarized in the Plan:

Rare, brief and non-recurring.   That is what homelessness must be if we are to declare ourselves successful in responding to it.   This Plan offers us a path to get there.

Western Massachusetts Opening Doors establishes a framework for the region to rigorously evaluate our ability to provide right interventions at the right time, and to continuously improve the ways we provide services and housing to people in need. The Plan defines where we are according to baseline data, where we want to go as defined through benchmarks and targets, and how we will get there using a data driven, outcome-oriented approach that employs best practices and establishes accountability.

Please click here to read more.

We look forward to continuing down this path together.  Thank you for joining us!

Statewide Access to Justice Commission Requests Your Input

This letter below from the Social Services Committee of the Statewide Access to Justice Commission requests input from non-lawyer social service providers on how to improve the justice system for low-income clients.  Please read and complete the survey if you can!

Dear Community:

As you know, many social service workers provide information and advocacy support to poor people who are interacting with the courts, with government agencies and with  public benefit administrators.  The Social Services Committee has launched a short survey to figure out ways to help social service workers be better able to help clients/guests with legal needs.

We need your  help in spreading the word. We are hoping to collect 500 responses over the next month – and we are almost there.

Please circulate this survey to link to your non-lawyer social service contacts.  This could include people who work at health centers, shelters, food pantries, hospitals, social service agencies, domestic violence shelters, ESOL programs, job training programs, housing authorities, etc.


Houston, we have no more homeless veterans

Congratulations to Houston, which announced today that it has effectively ended veteran homelessness. Houston is the second major US City to end veteran homelessness. New Orleans announced in April that it had done the same.

Houston’s Mayor Annise Parker:

 From regular provider coordination meetings and aligning local and federal resources, to dedicated street outreach teams and a coordinated assessment system that identifies, assesses, refers and navigates homeless veterans to housing, the Houston region has come together as a team to transform our homeless response system to effectively end veteran homelessness.”

We know that new people–including veterans–regularly experience housing emergencies and may become homeless. So, what doe it mean to end veteran homelessness? The US Interagency Council on Homelessness has recently provided guidance.

These are the standards to meet:

  1. The community took steps needed to identify all Veterans experiencing homelessness, including Veterans who were unsheltered, as well as Veterans in shelter, in Grant Per Diem programs and other VA residential programs, in other transitional housing programs, and in other temporary institutional settings. This identification of Veterans included both Veterans that meet the definition of chronic homelessness and Veterans that are experiencing homelessness but do not meet the definition of chronic homelessness. The definition of Veteran used includes all persons who served in the armed forces, regardless of how long they served or the type of discharge they received.
  2. There are no longer any Veterans experiencing unsheltered homelessness in the community. Some Veterans may not yet be in permanent housing, but all are now in some form of shelter (emergency shelter, treatment programs, transitional programs, other temporary institutional settings, etc…)
  3. The community has the resources and a plan and timeline for providing permanent housing opportunities to all Veterans who are currently sheltered but are still experiencing homelessness. The community has identified the programs and resources that will be used to provide those housing opportunities and can provide those housing opportunities quickly and without barriers to entry, using Housing First principles and practices.
  4. The community has resources, plans, and systems in place for identifying (1) Veterans that may have been missed in initial efforts to identify Veterans, (2) at-risk Veterans and (3) Veterans newly experiencing homelessness in the future.
    • The community has adequate outreach and engagement strategies in place to be confident that they can identify such Veterans.
    • The community has an adequate level of resources and the capacity to provide appropriate services to prevent homelessness for at-risk Veterans in the future.
    • The community can provide options for shelter and has identified the programs and resources that will be used to provide quick access to permanent housing opportunities for these Veterans not addressed in the initial work.
  5. The community has an adequate level of resources and appropriate plans and services in place to ensure the housing stability of formerly-homeless Veterans currently in permanent housing or who enter permanent housing in the future.

The USICH has put together questions to help assess whether a community has reached the point of ending veteran homelessness.

Let’s keep working to make sure that our communities can join the list of places that end veteran homelessness in 2015!

Western Mass. Homelessness Providers: Complete this survey!

The  Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness, in conjunction with the Hampden County CoC and the Three County CoC, is working on an updated and localized plan to end homelessness which is coordinated with the federal Opening Doors plan and provides us with a data-driven framework for measuring progress. As a key piece of this work, we are enlisting the the National Alliance to End Homelessness to lead our region through a Systems Design Clinic.

This clinic includes a survey of all providers of homelessness services.  We need your input!  Please go here to complete this brief survey:  Please complete it by Friday, April 17.

We thank you for your input and look forward to working together to implement the Western Mass. Opening Doors Plan to End Homelessness in the months ahead.