Lessons from the Field:
Outreach plays an important role in the CT Coordinated Access system because it helps to bring in clients who are often the most challenging to engage. With nine months to go on Zero: 2016 and to end chronic homelessness in Connecticut, outreach can play a key role in bringing those with lasting homelessness back into the system.
These individuals are more likely to spend more nights on the street,
they often have more disabling mental health challenges, but often do not have medical records
They are often much more reluctant to discuss issues related to their health.
They have language and cultural barriers
Outreach workers have had to adapt and develop strategies to engage this population throughout Connecticut, within both rural and urban settings. These best practices and strategies include:
Utilizing peer groups, such as veterans can help connect with homeless veterans or youth and young adults to connect with homeless and housing unstable youth.
Understanding your community’s homeless population.
Are there encampments? or abandon buildings?
Living outdoors in urban areas? or away from main areas?
Consistently mapping your area’s homeless and maintaining an updated single, centralized list is key to ending homelessness.
Collaborating with other agencies. This can be the key to meeting these goals and best practices possible.
Maintaining consistent contact over time while offering need-based services. Relationship-building and respect for the client are central components to the outreach process.
Connecticut Outreach Programs:
Throughout the month of August, Zero: 2016 is working with 19 communities to better understand how a by-name list is defined and identify best practices that can be used to create and sustain a list that accurately reflects the number of people experiencing homelessness at any given time in your community. We will be packaging and sharing our learning with all communities in the near future, but in the meantime, here are a few highlights of what we’ve learned:
- Coordinating outreach among the outreach providers in your community is key to maintaining a dynamic list. Outreach can be used to build your by-name list and to work your list.
- Training outreach workers to serve as housing navigators will increase efficiency of housing placement and coordination of service.
- Case conferencing and access to the list is critical to keeping it updated, reducing duplication, and ensuring accountability to each individual on your list.