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.
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.