New Report: Unlocking Doors to Homeless Prevention

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Since 2014, the Your Way Home system has evolved to include a single call center, diversion from shelter for those that have alternative housing options, housing-focused emergency shelters, a robust rapid re-housing program, and prioritization for permanent supportive housing for those that need more support to maintain housing stability. As a result of these system transformations, Montgomery County has reduced homelessness by 37% in four years.

However, our work is not done.

While our system is positioned to more effectively respond to the crisis of homelessness, we haven’t yet tackled the monumental effort of preventing more vulnerable families and individuals from losing their housing in the first place. If we are to truly meet our goal of making homelessness a rare event, we must start to work “upstream".

Your Way Home is  thrilled to share the final report from our eviction prevention research study, “Unlocking Doors to Homelessness Prevention: Solutions for Preventing Homelessness and Eviction.” This report is the culmination of the research study sponsored by HealthSpark Foundation to help Your Way Home develop a comprehensive homelessness and eviction prevention strategy in Montgomery County.

Through this study, we reviewed local data to better understand the need for eviction prevention services in the County, identified model eviction prevention strategies from our peer communities across the country, and solicited community feedback on which projects to implement locally. The study has led to the launch of two pilot projects to address homelessness prevention, the Eviction Prevention and Intervention Coalition (EPIC) and the School-Based Homelessness Prevention Program

The “Unlocking Doors” report includes information on our research process, the models we studied, and our implementation status. It also shares helpful tips for philanthropy, community partners, and local governments looking to adopt similar strategies in their own communities.

"As a final note, one of my personal “lessons learned” from this study has been that partnerships are the key to addressing complex and widespread issues like homelessness prevention and housing instability. Alone, none of our organizations or sectors can meet the needs of our most vulnerable residents- rather, we need the collective expertise, wisdom, resources, and support from each of our groups to truly address these types of social challenges. I’m grateful to be a part of an initiative that creates these types of partnerships."

-Emma Hertz, Administrator of the Montgomery County Office of Housing & Community Development

To read the full report, please click here.

International Women's Day

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Happy International Women’s Day! 

In a year that has been especially turbulent, it is more important than ever that we take a second and acknowledge today as one of significant reflection.  The International Women's Day 2018 campaign theme is #PressforProgress.  Press for Progress is a push for global attention towards achieving the ultimate goal of gender equality.
No issue is an island, and crucial to collective impact is the acknowledgement that achieving real impact means driving real action.  Collective action and shared responsibility for furthering gender equality are what make International Women's Day successful. Sheryl Sandberg, the author of the bestselling Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, once said, “We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women’s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored.”
Your Way Home is proud to spotlight our entirely female 24/7 street outreach team.  In October Your Way Home launched its partnership with Access Services.  Through this partnership we are now able to provide services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, prioritizing housing and benefits for vulnerable families, youth and single adults experiencing homelessness.   Services include: round the clock responsivity for physical resources, screening and assessment, housing counseling, and connection to housing resources.
Your Way Home’s priority is to serve individuals who are living outdoors, in their cars, in tents, or in other places not meant for human habitation. The complex needs, configurations, and situations of families and individuals who are experiencing street homelessness is assessed every day by the Your Way Home’s trauma-informed, street outreach team.  Following the core principals of trauma-informed care is something that has made our street outreach team especially successful in their work.  They have succeeded in creating a trustworthy environment while maintaining appropriate boundaries and empowering clients. 
Your Way Home has made it a priority that no pregnant women or child under 5 should ever be without shelter, due to the serious health consequences associated with the experience.  In 2017 alone Your Way Home served 646 women which is 52% of the population served by the program.  It is important to acknowledge the unique challenges facing homeless women including: access to proper prenatal care, menstruation products, and increased risks of domestic violence, just to name a few. 
“International Women's Day is not country, group or organization specific. The day belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. So together, let's all be tenacious in accelerating gender parity. Collectively, let's all Press for Progress.”  
We need to applaud the strong women, like our street outreach team who are doing amazing, life-changing work.  Their job is not easy, they don’t always witness a happy ending, but they continue to get up every day and  make a difference.  Thank you ladies, for your strength, resilience and tenacity.  You are amazing!  #PressForProgress