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Coming Next Year: The Standards of Excellence!

We’re excited to tell you more about the Standards of Excellence, an important project of Home For Good set to launch early next year.

When our community set a goal to end chronic and veteran homelessness, we thought it was important that this goal was clear. And we’ve seen the benefits from having a simpler goal: it’s brought our community together, and it’s brought more people into our community. Greater understanding has brought greater participation.

So we’d like to turn our attention to another question we’ve been asked over the years, what does it mean to operate effective permanent supportive housing, emergency shelter, and outreach?

Why create Standards of Excellence?

We believe that being able to answer the question of what makes for effective permanent supportive housing emergency shelter, and outreach will result in several things:

  • Easier Understanding: Greater clarity around a simpler set of core expectations
  • Fewer Reports:  Expectations, applications, and reporting mechanisms for homeless providers can consolidate around these core standards
  • Greater Resources: Simpler and clearer standards attract new funders and providers to the space.

Don’t Standards stifle creativity?

Not if you design them well.

Great care will be taken to ensure that the Standards focus only on the core outcomes involved in ending a clients’ homelessness. It will not restrict the various tactics a provider can use to get there (only exceptions explained in question below). In fact, in the absence of these Standards, providers may continue to field conflicting expectations from supporters to complete peripheral activities.

Don’t Standards encourage “creaming?”

To the contrary, the Standards are specifically being crafted in order to prevent “creaming.” “Creaming” refers to the picking and choosing of clients most likely to “succeed,” and this can often occur when you have a performance target (like a housing placement rate) on its own.

However, we are intentionally working to include a few operating standards as well to offset “creaming” practices. One example is that to enter or retain permanent supportive housing, tenants cannot be required to have completed a program, have had a shelter stay, be clean and sober, or medication compliant.

How are these being created?

Very carefully!

The development of the Standards for outreach and shelter systems are being lead by Shelter Partnership, and the Corporation for Supportive Housing is leading the development of the Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) Standards. While it is being informed by research and best practices, we really wanted this to be driven by our local providers.

As a result, the initial draft has been the product of 28 provider workgroup meetings & 65 surveys over the course of 6 months.

They will continue to be refined over the course of this year through more provider workgroups as well as looking at continuum-wide data to see what sorts of targets are reasonable. It is our aim to ensure these complement and bolster similar initiatives at the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and our other public agency partners.

What are the next steps?

An early draft of the Standards will be shared on March 21st along with offerings for training and technical assistance.

We are very excited to be partnering with the Center for Urban Community Services and Housing Innovations to provide this capacity building support for providers throughout this year. Details to come at the March 21st event. For more information about the event email Michael Nailat at mnailat@unitedwayla.org 

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