As I bring this series about best practices at the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte (MSC) to a close, I decided to save diversion until the end for two reasons. First, it’s a relatively new, emerging best practice that MSC has been experimenting with for a couple of years. Second, through MSC’s strategic planning process we have decided to formally launch our diversion component in early 2015! So, what is diversion? Kim Walker at the National Alliance to End Homelessness summarized it succinctly in a post she wrote as diversion emerged in 2011. Kim laid out the following bullets and I’ve added some comments relative to MSC’s use of diversion:
- Diversion is defined by the point at which intervention occurs and the type of assistance a household [or person] is seeking – in other words, only use diversion when someone is at the shelter door asking for a place to sleep;
- Diversion reduces homelessness – by helping people determine alternatives, we’ll be able to divert many folks from ever staying in a homeless shelter;
- Diversion conserves resources – I’ve blogged about that before; only use resources when absolutely necessary and only in sufficient amount to get the job done; providing too little in the way of resources sets someone up to fail, while too much is a waste;
- It’s not for everyone, but everyone should be assessed for it – this is one of the reasons that MSC is a coordinated assessment center and provides staffing to complete assessments;
- Service coordination is crucial – it’s the third leg of MSC’s equation to end homelessness: income + housing + support, and I’ve previously written that it may be the most important piece of the puzzle;
- The ultimate goal is a return to permanent housing – again, at MSC this is a goal for every man the moment they set foot into our shelters.
I’m appreciative of the informative way Kim laid out these six bullets and I hope my added commentary gives you a clearer idea of what diversion is and why its a best practice adopted at the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte. Look for more information as we prepare to roll out our diversion component in late February 2015. It’s one more way that MSC is fulfilling our mission to end homelessness for each man.
I hope you’ve found this latest series about best practices informative. Whether it’s diversion, rapid re-housing, medical respite, SOAR, or employment access, MSC is constantly looking for ways to better serve men experiencing homelessness in our community. Promoting these best practices is also a way MSC carries out our agency’s vision to be a catalyst for systemic change to end homelessness.
Several years ago the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte (MSC) made the decision to focus intently on getting men out of the shelter and into places of their own. We called it Continuing Care but what we were beginning to do is what is now commonly referred to as Rapid Re-Housing. The gist is to identify ways to move people into housing as quickly as possible to shorten their stay in emergency shelter.
Today MSC’s rapid re-housing approach includes using volunteers to help men begin preparing for their move through our Housing and Employment Resource Center. It takes partners like Crisis Assistance Ministry to obtain furniture and moving assistance. It takes resources including government funding to provide rental subsidies. It takes landlords who are willing to work with our clients. But, most importantly, it takes the determination of our men who really do want to move out of the shelter and the creativity of our case management staff to find ways to make it work.
To learn more about MSC’s impact by using best practices including rapid re-housing, check out our Impact Report.
To learn move about Rapid Re-Housing visit the National Alliance to End Homelessness. I especially encourage you to read their blog posting “Rapid Re-Housing is not an Anti-Poverty Program” (October 17, 2014). It’ll make you think!
I’m so excited to release the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte’s (MSC) first Impact Report –MSC Quarterly Impact Report_Jul-Sep2014. MSC is releasing this report in an effort to demonstrate our success towards ending homelessness, to show where we have to work harder, and to keep our stakeholders informed. MSC takes its responsibility as stewards of community resources seriously and believes in being fully transparent. This Impact Report is available on our website where you will find other important documents including our tax returns.
While I think the report speaks for itself, I would like to highlight a couple of important items.
First, MSC’s scattered sites approach towards rapid rehousing is working. You’ll see from the map that we have moved men into rental housing throughout our Charlotte-Mecklenburg County community.
Second, we are on track to achieve 500 moves to more appropriate housing by the end of our fiscal year. When added to the 497 men we moved in fiscal year 2014, our momentum is strong!
Third, MSC moves a lot of men into more appropriate housing who are considered chronically homeless. You may remember from previous blogs that I’m not a fan of labeling people. However, it is proven that those who are chronically homeless utilize a disproportionate share of community resources. So, MSC is proud that about 20% of the men we’ve moved into more appropriate housing are chronically homeless. These are men with serious barriers who have overcome and now have a place of their own!
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to check out the graphs that make up our report. We’re thrilled that so many man have been positively impacted during the first few months of this fiscal year and I look forward to the opportunity to report our impact to you every few months.