Homelessness and the New Urban Agenda

Last month, IGH joined 30,000 participants from 167 countries in Quito, Ecuador for the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III).

Homelessness and the New Urban Agenda

Following four days of workshops, high-level consultations and a village of interactive exhibits, United Nations member states formally adopted the New Urban Agenda.

The United Nations describes the New Urban Agenda as “an action-oriented document which will set global standards of achievement in sustainable urban development.” Practically, the New Urban Agenda lays out a vision for cities, a set of guiding principles, and a number of commitments meant to bring them to life.

Commitments in the New Urban Agenda cover varied ground, from transportation to renewable energy. Throughout the past year, the Institute urged our peers to work with their national delegations toward including a commitment to ending unsheltered homelessness – and to actively measuring and evaluating progress.

Though the New Urban Agenda falls short of including this specific, measurable goal, the following transformative commitments offer a clear call to action for governments around the world:

  • “We will take positive measures to improve the living conditions of homeless people with a view of facilitating their full participation in society and to prevent and eliminate homelessness, as well as to combat and eliminate its criminalization.”

  • “We commit to promote national, sub-national, and local housing policies that support the progressive realization of the right to adequate housing for all.”

The Institute is eager to support cities as they take on this daunting work.

We welcome this clear commitment to reducing, ending, and preventing homelessness everywhere in the world. Now comes the hard part – ensuring all of our neighbors have a place to call home will take courage, and we’ll need to hold each other accountable.

Measuring and ending unsheltered homelessness

The Institute partnered with the National Alliance to End Homelessness and FEANTSA to host a networking event on measuring and ending unsheltered homelessness. Speakers included Nan Roman of NAEH; Maria Aldanas of FEANTSA; Alexia Suarez of the University of Puerto Rico and the Latin American and Caribbean Homelessness Network; and David Ireland of the Building and Social Housing Foundation.

The event drew over fifty participants, who learned about the IGH Framework, measuring homelessness across Europe and Latin America, and garnering public engagement and political will to tackle complex social problems.

The Institute looks forward to continuing this conversation, and to working alongside leaders across the world to give the New Urban Agenda life on the ground.

Connecting Threads: The IGH Leadership Fall Convening

Nairobi, Bratislava, Chennai, Hamilton, Waterloo, Santiago, Budapest, Brno, Tshwane. These cities have different foods, different customs, different styles of dress. They believe, sometimes, in different religions. Their governments are bound by different constitutions.

But the IGH Leadership Program cohort from each of these cities agreed on one thing: the street is not a place to live.

The cohort met in Chennai, India for the second of three convenings. The first convening, in Chicago, featured a curriculum that focused on Agile Problem Solving and innovation facilitated by Community Solutions. At the meeting in Chennai, Community Solutions’ curriculum mixed technical know-how with opportunities to exchange ideas and discuss how to overcome specific programmatic hurdles they were encountering in pursuit of the long- and short-term goals they’d committed to in Chicago.

“Homelessness work doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” explained Mrinalini Ravi, who works for the Chennai-based nonprofit The Banyan. The Banyan works specifically with people experiencing homelessness who are also mentally ill, operating facilities throughout the region. One such facility, known as The Balm, provides permanent supportive housing for older women.


At the IGH Leadership Program’s first convening in Chicago, Mrinalini and her IGH Leadership Program partner (and coworker at The Banyan), Preetha Krishnadas, committed to a short term goal of getting voter ID cards for all the patients in one of their facilities; they were happy to announce at the fall convening that they had achieved that goal, obtaining voter ID cards for 138 mentally ill clients.

This is a major milestone for both The Banyan and for persons living with mental health issues, as this is the first time in Indian Politics that a person living with a mental health issue in an inpatient setting has been given a right to vote. It also come at a time when the Indian government is debating a Destitution Bill which would decriminalize homelessness in the country, and according to key constituents whom Preetha and Mrinalini have interviewed, being recognized as an Indian citizen with a right to vote is one of the most critical elements to fostering their personhood and political identity.

“The law is for people experiencing homelessness,” Preetha pointed out. “We should hear their feedback.”

Common Problems

Those working in the homelessness sector hear the phrase “homelessness is a local problem,” a lot, and to a great extent, it’s true. The specific issues facing Mrinalini and Preetha in Tamil Nadu, India are not necessarily the exact same as those facing Marie Morrison and Amanda DiFalco in Ontario, Canada.

But each team in the IGH Leadership program has faced obstacles that are familiar to anyone working in the civil sector: lack of resources, conflicting public opinions, and a deficit of political will.

“Kenya is one of the fastest growing countries in the world, and one of the richest in Africa,” explained Rodgers Omurambi of the Centre for Empowerment and Life Transformation in Nairobi, Kenya. “But it’s not looked at as ‘homelessness.’ It’s looked at as ‘street life.’ People think of it as a choice. We have to find a way to adjust attitudes.”

The Bratislava and Budapest teams are also working on campaigns to change the tide of public opinion. Luca Koltai from Habitat for Humanity Hungary in Budapest is working under the peculiar conditions of having ten times the amount of vacant privately-owned homes as there are people living on the street–but the stigma around homelessness, and lack of housing benefits and social rentals, turns empty homes unaffordable for people experiencing homelessness.

In some places, the issue is a government that is often in flux; in others, government is too long-standing and set in its ways. Vit Lesak, from the Platform for Social Housing in Brno, Czech Republic, helped start a network of people who had previously experienced homelessness to find their strengths and figure out how to better serve those still on the street.

“We learned it may be better to organize our own networks than to rely on a stronger and more rigid partner like the government,” Vit explained. He shrugged. “Politics are messy.”

Isabel Lacalle and Karinna Soto from CalleLink in Santiago, Chile took a similar route. Between the last convening and this one, they teamed up with colleagues in Brazil and Puerto Rico to form the Latin American Homelessness Network, which had its first meeting in June. Their goal is to strengthen communications across borders and create an inclusive environment where NGOs and governments can work together.

Common Solutions

Local problems can have global roots–and global solutions.

For example, Wilna de Beer and Joel Mayephu, from the Tshwane Leadership Foundation in Tshwane, South Africa recently used the VI-SPDAT, a North American intervention by OrgCode Consulting and Community Solutions, to determine the most vulnerable population in an overcrowded shelter. In Ontario, Marie and Amanda–also working on prioritization and vulnerability–worked to develop a framework to improve language around “chronic homelessness,” and help determine vulnerability.

As soon as they mentioned it, hands in the room shot up. “Can we get a copy of that?”

On the issue of working with the government, the room quickly filled with voices, offering advice and lamenting many of the same obstacles.

Team Tshwane confronted the issue of lacking political strength by collaborating with universities, service workers, healthcare professionals, local officials, and people experiencing homelessness to draft a plan for government involvement.

“We’re excited to be collaborating with the new government,” Wilna said, “because there is no party majority, which allows for more diverse voices.”

That approach was helpful for Mariana Ištoňová and Jozef Kákoš, from DePaul Slovensko in Bratislava, Slovakia who are drafting an action plan for 2017 to help raise resources, increase city involvement, and advocate to the public. They’ve managed to garner political support for a national homelessness strategy and improved cooperation between NGOs.

Connecting Threads

There is no silver bullet solution for homelessness. But there are interventions that have been successful and can be adapted to suit unique contexts. During their three days in Chennai, the IGH Leadership Program cohort exchanged ideas, advice, commiserations, and resources.

Progress has been made in each city, and will continue to be made between now and December. To quote Nairobi’s Susan Kiogora, “We have many challenges … but this is a global problem which needs people to come together to be a strong force.”

Or, to put it more simply: “I value our strength.”

A Brief History of Flight: The IGH Leadership Program Spring Convening

The IGH Leadership Program cohort is building paper airplanes. Fourteen leaders in the homelessness sector from eight countries have split into three teams and they’re arguing over aerodynamics.

Paper planes seem so simple, don’t they? Take one sheet of paper, fold a few times, and voilà: flight. But anyone who has ever taken aim at the sky knows that takeoff rarely goes as planned. Sometimes the wind is too strong; sometimes the nose is too heavy; sometimes the airplane falls apart along the folds.

Of course, the history of flight is a history of falling. A history of changing track and trying again to reach new heights. Sometimes incremental changes–a new fold here, a different flick of the wrist–is enough to illuminate the whole system in a way that leads to a breakthrough. Sometimes it takes a lot of experimenting, failing, and re-calibrating to find the blueprint that works.

Flight Test 1: Experimentation

“Ours looks like a blimp,” says Isabel Lacalle, from Santiago, Chile. Her team has eschewed sleek aerodynamics in favor of weight and force. It’s not pretty, but it gets the job done. The two other teams have built their planes in a more traditional fashion, folding to a point and then anchoring the rear with paperclips.

The task at this point is to go from planning to testing as soon as feasible by adopting a mindset known as a Bias Toward Action. We won’t know how long the planes will go until we put them to the test.

After each flight test, they will be given 5 minutes to experiment with a new design. Then they will go back to the starting point and take off again, hoping for an improved flight process and a longer landing. Ask anyone in the homelessness sector and they will tell you that change often happens in the form of small experiments that eventually lead to a breakthrough.

Drew Marshall from ExperiencePoint argues that there’s nothing wrong that kind of constant innovation. “We’re asked to do incremental innovation every day,” he says. “It’s an important part of any work.”

As IGH co-founder Mark McGreevy explains on the first day of the convening, “Change is about resilience. It’s about taking the long view. It’s about pressing on.”

The history of flight is a history of learning from failure. As Community Solutions facilitator Paul Howard puts it: “Don’t just accept that you’re going to make mistakes; embrace it. Use mistakes as opportunities to learn and improve by adopting a mindset of ‘Failing Forward’.”

Flight Test 2: Failing Forward

Team 2 needs more clips, more tape, and some scissors. Their plane only flew an additional half a foot during the previous trial, and this is their last opportunity. Perhaps clips can weigh down the rear of the plane; cutting slits in the wings may help the aircraft catch the breeze from the air conditioning.

“What’s a surefire way to improve our problem-solving and ingenuity?” asks Garen Nigon of Community Solutions. “Cultivate a growth mindset.”

A growth mindset acknowledges that where we are today is not a permanent state, and we can always change and improve. This helps leaders and organizations face failure with the understanding that you learn more from failure than from success. An issue as complex as homelessness requires a lot of on-the-go learning; there are no set answers that will work in 100% of cases. If you fold a piece of paper the right way, it will fly every time. Housing strategies have to allow for flexibility around each individual, and that kind of flexibility requires a particular kind of agility.

“Society treats complex problems like homelessness as if they were technical problems,” says Nigon. “But complex problems require flexible, creative approaches.”

Over the course of this year, all the leaders in our cohort will learn practical ways to achieve their goals. But more than that, they will cultivate the growth mindsets necessary to remain resilient throughout even the worst turbulence.

Flight Test 3: Breakthrough

What if you could make something totally new? What if you could take a long, hard look at your homelessness services, bring in the perspectives of a wide range of users and stakeholders in the community, and come up with something that transforms an incremental system into a breakthrough system?

What if you could identify not just the needs your users and clients already know about, but also anticipate the needs they haven’t yet identified?

For three days, the IGH Leadership Program cohort is learning resilience in the face of incremental change, ingenuity at the opportunity for additive change, and new thinking to affect breakthrough change in their communities. Each country-level pair entered the program with a complex challenge they want to tackle at home.

Examples include ending family homelessness, building a multinational network of organizations working to end homelessness, completing an overhaul of national policy, and creating a comprehensive, coordinated system of homelessness services. (No small thinkers here.)

During the convening, each country-level pair turned these challenges into specific, time-bound breakthrough goals to point their learning toward.

After determining their breakthrough goal, teams were coached through the creation of concrete action plans to outline what steps they’ll need to take over the course of the program and beyond. What incremental changes will need to be tested and improved? What measurement will point toward success?


DePaul University/Jamie Moncrief

The program, split into three convenings and supplemented with facilitation, ongoing remote coaching, and support by Community Solutions and ExperiencePoint, is designed to help leaders:

  • identify new opportunities in their communities,

  • connect with their users to ensure that the new system meets their needs,

  • transform data into actionable plans, and

  • implement those ideas.

And though these long-term goals have due dates long after participants have graduated from the program, the work they do this year and the community of practice they will become part of after graduation will contribute to their efforts all the way to the finish line.

In the game of paper planes, resilience has paid off. On their third try, Team 1 and Team 3, despite radically different starts, end up going the same distance; Team 2 covers less than half the distance but lengthens their plane’s flight path 117% by the last trial.

In the entire history of flight, not one bird, not one plane, not one slip of paper has succeeded on the first attempt. The IGH Leadership Program teaches its participants not to be afraid of failing forward. Agile problem solving, creativity, and patience go a long way in the face of strong winds.

Fold and refold.

Try again.

True Colors United Analyzes LGBTQ Youth Homelessness; Mansfield, Australia Launches Prevention Plan; and More

At the Intersections: LGBTQ+ Youth Homelessness

Homelessness is one of the most pressing issues facing a disproportionate number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) youth in the United States today. Figures show that LGBTQ youth and young adults are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than their straight and cisgender peers. This second edition of At the Intersections explores recent changes regarding the understanding of homelessness among LGBTQ youth in the United States. True Colors United aims to use their research to make more informed decisions surrounding support to LGBTQ people living without shelter. Their ultimate goal is to make LGBTQ youth homelessness a rare, brief, and one-time experience.

Read the report on the IGH Hub.

Mansfield, Australia Launches Homelessness Plan

Mansfield District Council, Australia is introducing a new strategy to prevent and end local rough sleeping. A major component of the initiative is an increase in rent assistance and debt management – factors that contribute to local homelessness. Jill Finnesey, head of housing of the district, wants to ensure that services supporting mental illness, substance abuse and domestic abuse are incorporated to increase effectiveness. Another objective is to increase social housing.

“We need to work closely with partners, such as charities and housing associations and with private landlords to find solutions to people at risk. We want to encourage the wider community, too, to do their bit to help those at risk,” said Finnesey.

Read the article here.

Helsinki, Finland: Solution to Homelessness

“It was clear to everyone the old system wasn’t working; we needed radical change. We decided to make the housing unconditional,” says Juha Kaakinen, Chief Executive of the Y-Foundation.

According to data from the World Economic Forum, homelessness in Finland is continuously declining. The EU country has moved from a ‘staircase model’ – where people move through different stages of temporary accommodation based on their circumstances, to providing housing first, without conditions. According to Kaakinen, people shouldn’t be required to ‘fix’ other aspects of their life before being housed. Instead, housing should be the foundation that provides the necessary security for them to address those aspects.

Read the article here.

Washington D.C. Partnership to End Homelessness

The District of Columbia and the Greater Washington Community Foundation is working to end local homelessness. They have partnered to raise money for nonprofit housing developers and supportive service providers who work with low-income residents. The collaborative effort will offer impact-investing options aimed at increasing the district’s affordable housing stock. This partnership is the first of its kind in the region. Figures from the latest point-in-time count suggest that over 6,500 people are experiencing homelessness. Kristy Greenwalt, head of the District’s Interagency Council on Homelessness, stated: “this level of homelessness is due in large part to rising housing costs that outpace local incomes and a shortage of affordable housing, which are preventing many people from participating in the region’s economic growth”.

Read the article here.

If there is news you would like to include in a future update, contact us here: http://www.ighomelessness.org/contact

Montevideo, Uruguay Expands Homelessness Services; Salvation Army Meets with Illinois Lawmakers; and More

Five Factors Underpin Good Homelessness Service Implementation

The Centre for Homelessness Impact added new content to their Intervention Tool that can be used by homelessness, practitioners and policymakers to raise implementation standards.

Dr. Jenny Wood outlines five crucial factors that emerged across all interventions.

Suitable and affordable accommodation is necessary to ensure stability after experiencing homelessness. Dr. Wood suggests that such an environment gives individuals a solid foundation to address other aspects of their lives that need improvement and continue to progress.

Appropriate, sufficient and consistent resourcing is vital to the effectiveness of services, programs, initiatives, etc. Partnerships and collaborative work is paramount to the success of program. Common understanding, consistent communication, regular convening, and sharing of data are some components that can help facilitate partnerships. Person-centered support, such as housing first, has been known to foster better outcomes for people living without shelter. In order to deliver adequate support or service, providers must have the ability, training and capacity to deliver personalized care. Organizations should also be mindful of their broader service culture and environment.

Read the article here.

Montevideo, Uruguay Expands Homelessness Services

Montevideo, Uruguay has increased their capacity to support people experiencing street homelessness. The city has the resources to provide temporary accommodation for 200 more people. The Ministry of Social Development’s (Mides) 2019 Winter Plan is in affect until the end of October this year. As a vanguard city in the IGH A Place to Call Home campaign, the city is working toward their goal to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness with mental illness.

Read the article here.

The Salvation Army’s Trip to the Capitol

As Illinois legislature works on budget approvals, the Salvation Army Metropolitan Division convened in Springfield, Illinois with state lawmakers to discuss the support needs for homelessness, mental health, and opioid abuse. Executive Director of The Salvation Army Harbor Light Center in West Humboldt Park, Major Merrill Powers, highlighted the needs of communities affected by the opioid crisis – through the Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery, amid declining state funding.

In response, Representative Kathleen Willis outlined Senate Bill 1966 – “Fix the Void”. She explained ways in which the state plans to generate more funding for mental health. “Mental health is always a concern because you know what, it’s bipartisan,” said Senate President John Cullerton, acknowledging their concerns.

Read the article here.

Under One Roof: Annual Conference 2019

Homeless Link’s Under One Roof Annual Conference will take place on Tuesday, July 2, 2019 in Hinckley, United Kingdom. It will be two days of networking, learning & sharing collaborative responses to tackle homelessness.​ The program will consist of plenary sessions and workshops on current and emerging good practice, recent legislation, and innovative approaches to supporting people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. The flagship event provides leaders, practitioners and service providers the opportunity to network and exchange knowledge.

Read the article here.

The Homelessness Monitor: England 2019

The Homelessness Monitor: England 2019 is the eighth annual report of an independent study of the homelessness impacts of recent economic and policy developments in England, United Kingdom (UK). The study provides an independent analysis of the how homelessness is being impacted by recent economic and policy developments across the UK. This eighth annual report provides an updated account of the state of local homelessness in 2019. It also highlights emerging trends and forecasts some of the likely future changes – identifying developments likely to affect homelessness.

Read the report on the IGH Hub.

If there is news you would like to include in a future update, contact us here: http://www.ighomelessness.org/contact

Kerala, India Offers Housing; Bristol, UK Aims to End Rough Sleeping; and More

Kerala, India Offers Housing to Tackle Homelessness

The state of Kerala is offering free housing to people experiencing homelessness. Executive Director of Housing and Land Rights Network, Shivani Chaudhry, says that with this housing plan, the Indian government can shift the focus of its efforts from temporary accommodation to permanent housing. About 145 families have received housing so far in southern India this month. Local officials have gathered data on the state of homelessness and plan to build over 400,000 homes, said U.V. Jose, Chief Executive of the LIFE Mission – a government agency overseeing the project. Chaudhry suggests that this ambitious model is “the only viable solution to end homelessness” throughout India.

Read the article here.

Bristol, UK Aims to End Rough Sleeping by 2027

Bristol, England has a new strategy aimed at eradicating rough sleeping by the year 2027. According to St. Mungo’s, over 900 people were living without shelter in Bristol in 2018 – a 23 percent increase from the previous year. By 2022, the city will work towards a 50 percent reduction in local homelessness. The five-year plan will be based on prevention. Leaders propose increasing transitional housing, efforts to combat homelessness among young people and people leaving institutions, such as prisons and hospitals.

Read the article here.

NAEH: Approaching Data Visualization

There has been a great shift toward evidence based, data-driven efforts to end homelessness throughout the world. On the National Alliance to End Homelessness blog, Jackie Janosko discusses effective ways to communicate such significant data through data visualization. Janosko suggests that data visualization provides a multitude of benefits for the homelessness service sector, such as allowing easy monitoring of individual and systemic progress within a community or viewing trends in lengths of stay and exits to permanent housing.

“The future of our mission relies on using data to make informed decisions. Using well designed, thoughtful visualizations to help make those decisions will be an enormous help to every community who chooses to embrace it,” said Janosko.

Read the article here.

Middle-aged Homelessness in Seoul, South Korea

Kang Seung-woo of The Korea Times reports on homelessness among middle-aged people in Seoul, South Korea. According to a joint study by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, Seoul Welfare Foundation and Seoul Association of Institutes for the Homeless, the average person began experiencing homelessness during their middle-age years. An estimated 3,478 people were living without shelter in 2018 and had been for approximately 11 years. People surveyed shared that contributing factors included financial hardship, marital issues and substance abuse. The local government says that homelessness has been steadily declining since 2013.

Read the article here.

If there is news you would like to include in a future update, contact us here: http://www.ighomelessness.org/contact

IGH Joins Efforts to Address Global Street Homelessness; RAIS Fundación Proposes Policy Change in Spain; and More

The United Nations Working Group to End Homelessness

The United Nations NGO Working Group to End Homelessness (WGEH), IGH, and the International Coalition to End Homelessness propose a renewed focus on measuring and ending street homelessness worldwide. WGEH convened last month to present U.N. members with information that would support their proposal – to consider housing as a basic human need, and to explore the challenges street homelessness poses to meeting other U.N. objectives, including the 2030 New Urban Agenda. A large part of these efforts going forward will be building political will to measure the problem, explained Mark McGreevy, IGH’s co-founder and Group Chief Executive of Depaul International.

“There’s a unique role that we can play, with our data and research, as well as the wealth of knowledge from our community of partners,” says Lydia Stazen, IGH Executive Director.

Read the article here.

Read about WGEH here.

The Homelessness Monitor: Scotland 2019

The Homelessness Monitor is an analysis of the impact of recent economic and policy developments in homelessness across the United Kingdom. It is the third annual report of an independent study, funded by Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Key findings include: homelessness has become a key policy priority for the Scottish Government; the overall scale of statutory homelessness in Scotland has been relatively flat for the past five years; development of temporary accommodation has been fairly stable over the past decade; and more.

Read the report on the IGH Hub.

Depaul USA’s Second Dax House in Chicago, USA

Depaul USA is thrilled to announce that they now own a second Dax House in Chicago, USA! It will provide housing to four additional DePaul University students experiencing homelessness or lacking secure housing. In 2014, Depaul USA established the Dax Program to address homelessness among college students in Chicago – providing housing, case management, counseling referrals, transportation, food, textbook assistance, and educational reimbursements.

Learn more here.

Preventing Premature Deaths Among People Experiencing Homelessness

Figures from the United Kingdom’s Office of National Statistics show an increase in premature deaths among people living without shelter in England and Wales. On the Centre for Homelessness Impact‘s blog, Dr. Emily Tweed discusses ways to prevent such deaths through effective action. Dr. Tweed highlighted a key piece of the data found – one’s life circumstances profoundly shape their chances of good health. Homelessness can increase high risks of poor health which can lead to premature death. She suggests that the homelessness service sector analyze the “causes of the causes” – the larger social, economic, and political factors which shape the course of life and apply preventative measures on a larger scale.

Read the blog here.

Transforming the System to End Homelessness in Spain

Alberto Hidalgo Hermoso: “we want homelessness on the political and electoral agenda. That’s why we’re developing awareness and advocacy with political parties, to strengthen their commitment to solving this problem”.

As part of the European End Street Homelessness Campaign, the RAIS Fundación published proposals to improve the systems in place to address homelessness across Spain. The non-profit organization suggests that homelessness is not an individual issue but, instead, is the result of ineffective policies.

Read the article here.

Malala Fund, UNICEF USA, Social Bite and IGH Collaborate for Global Sleep Out

This week marked the soft launch of the Global Sleep Out campaign of 2019. Social Bite, Malala Fund, UNICEF USA and IGH have collaborated to headline the initiative. The campaign aims to have 50,000 people participate in the sleep out on a given night to bring attention to and raise funding for homelessness on a global scale. co-founder of the Malala Fund, Malala Yousafzai, took part in a moderated Q&A where she shared insight from her lived experience of homelessness.

“I am excited to work with our partners – Malala Fund, UNICEF USA and the Institute for Global Homelessness – to bring this campaign to the international stage and I hope we can make a big difference to many people who don’t have a safe place to call home across the world,” said Josh Littlejohn MBE, Co-Founder of Social Bite.

Read the article here.

If there is news you would like to include in a future update, contact us here: http://www.ighomelessness.org/contact

Sydney, Australia Joins the IGH AP2CH Campaign; CAEH’s 2019 Conference; Working Group Pushes for UN’s Increased Engagement to End Homelessness; and More

The 2019 National Conference on Ending Homelessness

The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH) will host their National Conference on Ending Homelessness on November 4-6, 2019 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The conference program will cover a range of topics in homelessness, designed to support and accelerate the end of homelessness in Canada by equipping participants with the tools and training they need to end homelessness in their communities. Online registration, scholarship applications and presentations are now open for submission.

Learn more here.

Sydney, Australia Joins the A Place to Call Home Campaign


This week, Sydney, Australia announced their participation in the IGH A Place to Call Home Campaign as the tenth vanguard city. Premier of New South Wales, Australia, Gladys Berejiklian, pledged the local government’s commitment to reduce the number of people experiencing street homelessness by 50% by the year 2025. “We are working hard to break the cycle of homelessness with the latest street count showing a significant reduction in the number of rough sleepers in Sydney,” said Berejiklian.

Read more here.

Hospitals House Patients Experiencing Homelessness

“Health systems can’t pay for us to get out of our affordable housing crisis,” said Rachel Solotaroff, MD, president and CEO of Central City Concern – a nonprofit homelessness and substance abuse service agency.

In 2015, The University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago (UI Health) began a three-year pilot project to house 25 frequent emergency department patients, with chronic health conditions, experiencing homelessness. The Chicago Center for Housing and Health provided a case manager, health care coordination, and other support services to participants. Due to the success of the Better Health Through Housing project, UI Health doubled the number of recipients and plans to further expand. The program is one of a growing number of housing initiatives supported by healthcare systems across the United States. In this article, Bridget M. Kuehn of JAMA Network discusses how an overworked healthcare system can become strained and initiatives like these can alleviate it.

Read more here.


UN Working Group Discusses Tackling Street Homelessness Head-on

The United Nations (UN) NGO Working Group to End Homelessness gathered in New York City, New York, USA to brainstorm on proposed long-term goals of UN engagement in ending global street homelessness. The 27-member working group discussed existing efforts and opportunities for homelessness to be addressed in the form of a global goal, starting with achieving a global measurement of the issue. Although the UN agenda doesn’t ignore the need for housing – goal 11 is to ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services, and upgrade slums by 2030; the working group is encouraging increased efforts tailored to street homelessness around the world.

Read more here.

If there is news you would like to include in a future update, contact us here: http://www.ighomelessness.org/contact

Through the Eyes of Change: IGH 2018 Leadership Assembly


As the 2018 IGH Leadership Program approached, I imagined what it would be like. I anticipated meeting the cohort, who traveled from all over the world, and learning about their endeavors in homelessness. I looked forward to meeting the leaders in homelessness who would be presenting ideas and sharing insight throughout the week. I began to read about the previous convening held in spring 2016.

This was not only my first IGH event but also my first hands-on job training in the United States, as an Atlas Corps fellow focusing on project management. The weeklong event encouraged me to reflect upon how I could apply what I learned to my efforts toward change in my country, Malawi. How could I latch onto community work?

One of my tasks during the program was to share the ideas of the presenters on our social media outlets, and as I did so I began to think about what change is, and how it feels when it is happening, both to leadership and to the people they are trying to lead. Although change can be uncomfortable, it is essential to setting and achieving goals. In order for us to progress toward ending homelessness, we must learn to get comfortable with the discomfort that change often produces in us. Sometimes this change is minor, but sometimes it requires reevaluating whole systems; we must be flexible and willing to confront the status quo if we’re going to make real headway.

In some ways, it is helpful to think of change like a muscle: it can be painful or sore when we exercise it, but that discomfort is proof that the muscle is growing stronger.

During each session, participants worked with one another to share knowledge of their programs and practices, in order to see whether they could help one another fill gaps. (To carry forward the muscle metaphor: participants acted as spotters for one another as they did the heavy lifting of turning a critical eye to their own work.) Speakers with diverse and exceptional expertise in homelessness, consultants, and academic made learning more and interactive; the program felt less like a classroom and more like a collaboration, where participants were as much a part of the teaching structure as the speakers.

To give you a glimpse of the bigger picture, here are some key takeaways:

Principle of Leadership

During this session, participants were challenged to take leading roles in ending homelessness in their communities. Cities joined together to think through how they could use current projects and initiatives to challenge and disrupt systems for more and greater impact in their work.

“Take a moment and think about how sometimes systems become a hindrance to progress in our work, and let’s come up with approaches to change together,” said Pat McArdle, CEO of the Mayday Trust.


Leading Through Change

Dame Louise Casey reminded participants that change is a process, and ought to be part of a strategy – change is not about throwing pasta at a wall to see what sticks, it’s about targeted, smart adjustments to the system as it operates now. Dame Casey empowered participants to avoid letting their fear of failing delay their plan of action toward their goals. In addition, she encouraged the group to let best practices and an optimistic attitude guide their work. Participants wrestled with questions around how to work better with stakeholders that may be outside the “obvious” partnerships for greater impact and how to bring diverse groups to the table, despite barriers that might seem insurmountable. In an increasingly global world, for example, how can cities engage with individuals on their streets who may not speak the native language?

Tools for Leadership


Change is a mindset as much as it is a reaction, and it is the job of those in leadership positions to harness the change mindset in order to produce the change reaction. How do leaders leverage communication and interpersonal skills in order to accomplish this? Jill Stewart, from Stewart Communications Ltd., heightened the discussion on effective communication with the participants during this session. Stewart introduced skills to equip participants to respond to changing complexities while working with diverse groups, like determine ways to communicate with everybody on your team in a way that works for both the team member and the team leader.

Effectively Using Resources and Data

Kimberly Schmitt of All Chicago discussed significance of data collection in the homelessness sector. One thing that the participants kept coming back to is that change is often “behind the scenes,” and it can be difficult for the public to understand how much goes into each initiative. Providing transparent, accurate data is one way to combat this disconnect – as well as being a vital tool in the everyday work that cities and the organizations within them do. Schmitt expanded on the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) and its evident impact on the work on reducing homelessness in Chicago.

So is this all for the program leaders? Definitely not. Soon we will start featuring participants from 2016 and 2018 programs to share success stories in their work in ending homelessness across the globe, provide insights on how they are applying skills and knowledge gained from the programs. Look out for this exciting journey with our leaders to learn how they are ending homelessness around the world as we take off and grow together!

Participants Feedback During the Program

Susanne Millar,

Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership – Glasgow, Scotland

“One of the lessons I’ve learned is using the phrase ‘I don’t know’ is very powerful in allowing yourself to be vulnerable while leading, rather than presenting yourself as a heroic leader.”

Chris Barton,

Catholic Family & Community Services (CFCS) – Paterson, New Jersey, U.S

“A great platform for learning skills and engagement that needs to be further strengthened with participants’ engagement and communication after the program room.”

Grant Campbell,

Glasgow City Mission – Glasgow, Scotland

“I think there are two important aspects of leadership: direct leadership within my own organization and informal leadership when engaging with my partners.”

A Way Home Europe; Street Homelessness in Taipei, Taiwan; and More.

A Way Home Europe

The efforts of A Way Home Canada have inspired communities, states and other countries to join their international movement for change in the homelessness sector. Europe has now joined the A Way Home (AWH) initiative. The continent will engage in shared learning about effective solutions in policy, practice and planning for preventing and ending youth homelessness. In the coming months, AWH will be working with partners from around the world to draft and build consensus on shared international principles that will guide their movement. A Way Home Europe will launch in Spring 2019.

Read the blog here.

Solutions for Individual Homeless Adults: A National Conference

The National Alliance on Ending Homelessness (NAEH) will hold the Solutions for Individual Homeless Adults: A National Conference on February 21-22, 2019 in San Diego, California, USA. The convening will consist of expert presentations, panel discussions, interactive learning sessions, and networking opportunities. According to NAEH, the largest group of people experiencing homelessness is individuals living on their own. Stakeholders from across all sectors will gather to examine what is known about people who are experiencing homelessness without their families. The conference will also be an opportunity for participants to discover new ways to help end homelessness among this population.

Register here.

The Other Taipei: On The Front-lines Helping the Homeless

Ben Cheney of New Bloom explores the state of street homelessness in Taipei, Taiwan through interviews with Ku Teng-ju of the Homeless Taiwan Association and Chu Yi-jun of the Wanhua Social Welfare Service Center – a division of Taipei City Government’s Department of Social Welfare. Teng-ju estimates that nearly 3,000 people could be living without shelter throughout the city. He suggests that stagnant wages and increased cost of living over the past two decades has contributed to the issue. In addition, aging and poor health, leading to lack of employment, could also be a large factor. Cheney also discusses the demographics of people lacking shelter across different districts of Taipei. Yi-jun suggests that solving the local housing crisis and working to eliminate stigmas surrounding homelessness would help solve the issue.

Read the article here.

If there is news you would like to include in a future update, contact us here: http://www.ighomelessness.org/contact