HomeAgain has served 459 individuals during the fiscal year, and over 65% of those left us and went immediately to permanent housing.
I have 16 years of experience in the human services field, with nine of them being in homeless services. I’ve served in my current role as Executive Director of HomeAgain just over two years and most of my “free time” is spent being a single parent to my wonderful six year old daughter, Kaya, and our dog, Miko.
HomeAgain works to end homelessness for the households we serve. The agency uses a variety of “tools”, including short-term emergency shelter, longer-term transitional shelter, permanent supportive housing, and rapid re-housing to end housing crises for those we see come through our doors. Through housing-focused case management and housing-related services, we are able to provide a shelter bed and warm meal, as well as the assistance necessary to return households to safe, affordable, and permanent housing. HomeAgain has served 459 individuals during the fiscal year, and over 65% of those left us and went immediately to permanent housing.
As a trained clinician, I sometimes miss spending my time working directly with clients. However, I have learned that the best use of my time is to support my staff as they do this very demanding work. The thing I find most rewarding is when I see staff succeed when working with clients they serve — facilitating a lease signing for a formerly homeless veteran to connecting a mother experiencing homelessness with a potential landlord to ensuring that one of the children staying in one of HomeAgain’s shelters is able to remain in their school of origin while their family is homeless.
What has been one of your biggest struggles or lessons learned in this role?
Homeless service providers have developed new models for ending homelessness. A community must have an array of shelter options that are available to prevent anyone from sleeping on the streets. However, the focus must be on moving households as quickly as possible from homelessness to permanent housing.
I became the Executive Director of HomeAgain in April of 2012, in the middle of a paradigm change where we needed to change very quickly to meet new models for homeless services or risk losing the majority of our funding (approximately 70% of our budget).
I worked to break the changes into incremental parts, identifying what I could control and planning as best I could for the unknown. Staff training was provided, and the Board of Directors was upated on a regular basis. Funding was secured to hire a change consultant to assist with the transition. After almost two years, the agency has done most of the hard work of change. Change is never easy, and we are still working to embrace this new mindset, but we are now functioning as one group, working to end the crisis of homelessness for those we serve.
Our programs have undergone tremendous change in the past two years. I am looking forward to taking this next year and focusing on the “internal components” of the agency to support the change and work that the programs are doing. We will be looking at all our internal processes and systems within the administration and making necessary additions or changes. This type of work is difficult, but vital for administration to support the programs and the work that our agency does each and every day.