Call for Service Provider Professionals!

By Two Way Street’s Editorial Team

In an attempt to create a “safe space” for employees working under institutional constraints who want to share their thoughts and opinions as private citizens, Two Way Street has carved out space in our paper to publish professionals’ experiences and reviews of our community’s Continuum of Care. Contributors can have these comments remain anonymous if they would like.

In an attempt to create a “safe space” for employees working under institutional constraints who want to share their thoughts and opinions as private citizens, Two Way Street has carved out space in our paper to publish professionals’ experiences and reviews of our community’s Continuum of Care. Contributors can have these comments remain anonymous if they would like.

A couple of key questions Two Way Street’s Editorial Team would like to answer include:

— How do we define homelessness and how do those definitions limit who and how particular populations are served?

— How do we establish a stronger referral system between institutions? n How do we better coordinate housing, services, and employment to ensure clients’ stability and ladder of upward mobility?

— How do we overcome the “scarcity mindset” that exists among most service providers and most organizations that comprise the local Continuum of Care?

— How do we serve populations that are currently not being served because of the limitations surrounding funding sources?

— How much of service provisioning to address homelessness should be professionalized and how much can be addressed by average citizens? We have heard from preliminary interviews with case managers and service coordinators that many of their clients are not going on to find employment and/or reintegrating with their community.

— What are some of the challenges and strategies to doing more of this? We have heard from preliminary interviews with service coordinators that they work with folks after they have found housing, whereas we have heard from case managers and parole officers that they often work with clients throughout the whole housing process.

— How much are these efforts coordinated? How can an organization like Two Way Street work more closely with both to help people find employment and reintegrate into their community?

— How do we create a narrative of “reintegration into a community” rather than just “housing first”?

For more information on these publishing opportunities, please email Two Way Street’s Editorial Team at [email protected]

An inspirational panel of local service provider and housing experts spoke after the Guild’s presentation of The Advocates (a documentary about homelessness in Los Angeles). Two Way Street is thankful to have the opportunity to work with many of these experts to incrementally chip away at these systemic issues that impact all our lives – no matter how visible or invisible. From left to right: Ilse Biel (Community Advocate and member of the Tiny Home Village Project), Laura Combs (Executive Director of ABQ Family Promise), Kevin Arthun (Creator of the ABQ Coordinated Resource Guide sponsored by the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness), Linda Simon (Consultant for Sandoval County’s Permanent Supportive Housing Program), Debbie Johnson (Founder of Tenderlove Community Center), Anita Cordova (Chief Advancement Officer of Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless), Dennis Plummer (CEO of Heading Home), and KC Quirk (Detention Facility Management Facilitator Oversight of Bernalillo County) Photo: Two Way Street’s Editorial Team

1 thought on “Call for Service Provider Professionals!”

  1. — How do we define homelessness and how do those definitions limit who and how particular populations are served?
    Homelessness is defined differently for everyone, and this is first and foremost what we need to understand about the word. People who are without homes often don’t think of themselves as homeless, but society will look on those who live in vehicles, tents, and other make-shift dwellings and define them as homeless.
    Various entities involved with serving people that experience homelessness have different definitions which determine the category of homelessness a person is experiencing and what services are available to them. Navigating the difference can create confusion for many. For example, Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s definition of literally homeless is an individual or family that “lacks fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence”, meaning that these are people who sleep on the street, in a vehicle, or an emergency shelter. Chronic Homelessness is someone who experiences literal homelessness for one year, or four separate times in one year, and has documented proof from verifiable sources. Imminent Risk of Homelessness means that a person or people are in temporary housing, such as couch surfing. The aim of the system is to define these categories of homelessness to best match individuals to the appropriate resources and assess funding needs.
    The most significant barrier for individuals to access the appropriate services is documentation for people who qualify for support of their chronic homelessness. Accessing the backlog of where someone was staying for their year (or more) transient experience is a complex task and requires a lot of compassion and inventive solutions. There are some really amazing case managers out there who have gone above and beyond to secure documentation, who will sit with a person for hours at a time to gain their story, and then go to the warehouse outside which they were sleeping, track down the owner, and get a letter of verification that the owner was aware that the person had been sleeping there. This allowed for a vulnerable individual who was chronically homeless to gain housing.

    — How do we establish a stronger referral system between institutions? How do we better coordinate housing, services, and employment to ensure clients’ stability and ladder of upward mobility?
    There is already an existing system that houses a referral system, which is called the Coordinated Entry System, and which connects most service providers via a centralized list which matches people needing housing to the appropriate service provider. We can better coordinate housing and services throughout our community with active participation and better understanding of how the system operates. If any housing provider in Albuquerque would like to know more, please contact the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness at 505-433-5175.

    — How do we overcome the “scarcity mindset” that exists among most service providers and most organizations that comprise the local Continuum of Care?
    In order to overcome the scarcity mindset, we must start providing counseling to both case-managers and program participants to over-come scarcity mindset, poverty brain, etc. The difference in spending habits when we are in survival mode is extremely different from budgeting for the future, and is not an intuitive switch in thinking that anyone can just “figure’s out”. As it is we have very few in our community who provide this support, if any at all.
    — How do we serve populations that are currently not being served because of the limitations surrounding funding sources?
    Securing more funding that has less limitations is ideal, and to implement measures to use this only to fill the gaps in existing services. For example, throughout NM, we have nearly no prevention funds or deposit assistance. We can do this by securing private funding, creating a privately funded housing assistance program, or advocating with local entities to limit restrictions on their funding to encourage programs to use these funds for gaps in services.
    — How much of service provisioning to address homelessness should be professionalized and how much can be addressed by average citizens? We have heard from preliminary interviews with case managers and service coordinators that many of their clients are not going on to find employment and/or reintegrating with their community.
    One of the main limitations on the homeless service providers, is that we have limited education on the resources available and how to navigate through the complex housing and poverty system. Many case managers are tasked with just figuring it out as we go, and building their own network to navigate services for their clients. Many case-managers are overwhelmed with their case loads, and the people placed into housing are left to their own devices without the help of reintegrating into their neighborhoods. Because of this on the job training, it is difficult to become involved in addressing homelessness as an average citizen. However, an excellent way is to be supportive of housing our most vulnerable and to assist the community by supporting the efforts of reintegration. Be good neighbors. We must work together as a community to support these individuals, make relationships with neighbors, and just treat each other with dignity so that we can help our fellows reintegrate into the community. We must create open and inviting atmospheres.
    — How much are these efforts coordinated? How can an organization like Two Way Street work more closely with both to help people find employment and reintegrate into their community?
    Two Way Street and readers should actively move to engage with the Albuquerque Strategic Collaborative, facilitated by the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness. This is a meeting in which stakeholders come together on the second Thursday of every month from 8:30am – 10:00am. These meetings address multiple aspects of systemic homelessness, including working together to identify gaps in services. One gap recently on the agenda was the discussion of working on creating better “move on strategies” for stabilization after housing is secured, such as securing employment or SSA. These meetings are also where many Continuum of Care topics are discussed.
    — How do we create a narrative of “reintegration into a community” rather than just “housing first”?
    We can only create a narrative of “reintegration into a community” by first discussing the issues openly. We must ask and listen to those in our community that we house what it is that prevents them from staying housed or creates any feelings of alienation. We need to listen and hear what it is that is happening, and create a narrative accordingly.

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