Best Practices

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has identified a number of evidence-based best practices that, when implemented consistently, are shown to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of programs designed to serve the homeless.  The core best practices are:

Coordinated Intake -- This is a process where all agencies providing shelter and/or services to homeless households are using the same assessment tools to evaluate the needs of each person/household.  Referrals are made quickly and appropriately reducing the chance of a homeless person or family feeling they are finding it difficult to get the help they need.

Diversion/Prevention -- Whenever possible our goal should be to prevent homelessness.  In Lake County, 2-1-1 operators are trained to identify factors contributing to a household's housing emergency and make referrals to local agencies with programs/resources that may prevent homelessness.

Housing First -- Here the focus is on helping individuals and families access and sustain permanent rental housing as quickly as possible and THEN providing needed services designed to improve housing stability.  Shelter stays, if unavoidable, must be as short as possible.

Transition in place --  This is a permanent housing program model in which homeless families obtain housing in the community through a lease in their own name while receiving supportive services and rental assistance for a specified duration of time.  Older program models, where housing was provided in a facility owned by the agency, required families to move into the community when their time in the program was ending.  This older model was disruptive and expensive for newly stable households.

Motivational interviewing
 -- Since overcoming homelessness often requires an individual or family to make changes to improve their situation, it is important that agency staff members use a collaborative, person-­‐centered form of guidance to elicit and strengthen an individual’s motivation for change.

Trauma informed care -- Often homeless families have had traumatic experiences that have left deep emotional scars.  Agency staff members are encouraged to use an approach to engaging people with histories of trauma that recognizes the presence of trauma symptoms and acknowledges the role that trauma has played in their lives.

Progressive engagement -- Most individuals are resourceful even when facing a serious disruption like homelessness. Progressive engagement is a strategy of starting off offering a small amount of assistance initially, and adding more only if needed to help each household reach stability. This technique allows local agencies to use scare resources wisely and still provide the 'right' amount of support to their homeless clients.

HMIS data collection -- HMIS is the Homeless Management Information System sponsored by the State of Ohio.  This computer system enables each homeless program to track all information  related to the homeless households they serve.  It also allows the state to monitor the performance of the programs they fund.