Free tool helps communities devise data-driven plans to end homelessness

Tue, 2016-05-10 07:39 -- Compassionate C...

It's called the Supportive Housing Opportunity Planner (SHOP) tool and it was developed by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness to help communities hold data-driven strategies to end chronic homelessness.

According to the agency, the tool provides practical knowledge that can be used to:

  • Increase the prioritization of existing Continuum of Care (CoC) turnover units
  • Seek mainstream housing resources
  • Create new supportive housing, among other strategies

The purpose of the tool is to help communities be data-driven in their approach to what it will take to end chronic homelessness. The idea is that concrete knowledge to inform discussions can add legitimacy on the planning side and purposefulness on the investment side.

Tool enriches funding conversations
A CoC in Lafayette, Louisiana piloted the tool last year and used the data to develop their supportive housing development plan.

"The SHOP tool enriches funding conversations with key stakeholders within the CoC, through the use of hard data to develop strategies that identify key housing needs," explained Eric Gammons, director of operations at Catholic Services of Acadiana. "This tool has sharpened the CoC’s planning capacity to initiate housing opportunities that will meet the needs of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness within the next two years."

Easy to use
In Miami, the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust used data derived from the SHOP tool at a number of community forums to show the need for supportive housing. As a result, the Trust allocated additional funding to develop new supportive housing units in 2015 and is planning for new units both this year and next.

"The SHOP tool is easy to use, and it was provided to us at a time when we needed a strategy for identifying our permanent housing gaps and needs towards ending chronic homelessness," said Manny Sarria, Deputy Executive Director of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust.

The tool uses 2015 Point-in-Time data and includes CoC so users just select their location from a drop down menu and their local data is populated. It also pulls from CoC Housing Inventory Charts. So from the start, the basic level of data provides a snapshot that allows users to test their assumptions and actual strategies to meet their objectives.

Learn more about how the tool works. The tool and instructions can be downloaded here.

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This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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