In 2007, a group of housing and homeless service providers in the North Penn region of Montgomery County came together to discuss better ways of serving their community.
The North Penn Community Health Foundation and five of these nonprofits and the Montgomery County Department of Housing & Community Development established the North Penn Housing/Homeless Providers Network one year later. Capacity for Change, LLC was retained to conduct a situational analysis to identify strengths, challenges, opportunities and offer recommendations.
The Network expanded beyond the North Penn region to include other funders and providers. In response to opportunities afforded through the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 the stakeholders became the Montgomery County Housing/Homeless Providers Network. It was from this collaborative that all future strategic initiatives have spring.
In 2010, the Montgomery County Homeless Prevention Center (HPC) was launched, offering centralized screening and referral for residents experiencing or at-risk for homelessness. Those in need of housing, shelter and support could call one toll-free number and be connected to organizations that could provide necessary services.
This centralized approach simplified the process of obtaining help for residents in need. Freed from much of the work of intake, providers could focus more on delivering services.
The North Penn Community Health Foundation funded a pilot rapid rehousing project in 2012 to assist 16 homeless or near homeless families in the North Penn region. Under the previous system, homeless individuals and families were often required to complete lengthy programs or receive interventions they may not have needed. In the pilot, families were asked to identify the specific barriers that kept them from maintaining a permanent home. Interventions that addressed those specific barriers were then provided.
Lessons learned from the pilot included:
Based on the lessons learned and three years of community-driven, data-fueled planning and design, the Montgomery County Roadmap for Housing Stability was released later in 2012. The roadmap identified key goals to end homelessness in the county through innovative housing and homeless systems change. These goals were agreed upon by government, philanthropic, nonprofit and community leaders.
This strategic plan led directly to the creation of Your Way Home Montgomery County in May 2013. In January 2014, Your Way Home Montgomery County’s new housing crisis response system became operational with the launch of the Your Way Home Call Center and Housing Resource Centers.