Evaluation for the Navigating to Home Project

Heartland Family Service
Heartland Family Service was founded in Omaha, Nebraska in 1875. They have served 60,309 individuals and families from more than 15 locations in east central Nebraska and southwest Iowa through direct services, education, and outreach. Their programs focus on Child & Family Well-Being, Counseling & Prevention, and Housing, Safety, & Financial Stability in an effort to provide these critical human services to those that shape our communities. They are committed to building a culture that celebrates diversity and inclusion. As such, trauma-informed care is embedded in all of their work as they practice safety, empowerment, collaboration, choice, and trustworthiness in their programs and services.

A clear pathway to housing the homeless is emerging from an ongoing learning process of improving coordination across homeless services

For people experiencing homelessness, services can be complicated and confusing, especially when navigating across a large metropolitan area like Omaha/Council Bluffs. The Navigating to Home project creates pathways to housing for clients by trying to divert families from homelessness in the first place, and then trying to help those who are already homeless find housing and supportive services (if needed) within 60 days when possible, in partnership with community service providers and local landlords. Through analysis of system data and interviews with people experiencing homelessness, staff and collaborative partners, we helped Heartland Family Service learn whether this ambitious effort was helping people experiencing homelessness find and maintain permanent housing, and whether the diversion efforts were effectively preventing homelessness.

Change Making

Service Users Driving Service Change

To make effective change, you need to go to the source. As a part of our evaluation, we authentically engaged with users of each Navigating to Home project component, centering their experiences, their self-defined needs, and their recommendations for project improvement. Evaluation is much more than project benchmarks and hitting targets – it’s connecting with those most impacted and following their lead in charting a course forward. Through in-depth interviews with people experiencing homelessness, follow-up interviews with the same group to assess progress over time, and processing findings with those whose data created them result in authentic, actionable drivers for service change.