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The Manifesto 2.0

Around 2013, I wrote a Manifesto. I wrote it out of anger, at a time when I was done with other people, organizations, and entities constantly defining who we were as an organization and coming to wild and inaccurate conclusions about where we were headed. As naive as it was in hindsight, it was born of a time and place where we needed to put our f...
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2538 Hits

Housing First: A Realistic View of the Importance of Case Management

What is Housing a First? Why should I (or my agency follow it)? Where is proof that Housing First works? But, Michael...it's really hard to implement? Why should we change?

I genuinely hope that you take the time to real this blog if you've found yourself or your agency asking any of the above noted questions. 

Housing First is a very simple philosophy that is based on the idea that all humans deserve to have a safe place to call home. However, Housing First goes a little further in that it acknowledges that it is near damn impossible to gain stability while living outdoors, or even in shelters. 

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2941 Hits

Why pretend to be homeless?

A few months ago, I was invited to a homeless awareness event where people would be sleeping outdoors for the night in an effort to understand the plight of people experiencing homelessness. At this event, they would be giving out a prize for the “best makeshift shelter” and a prize for the best “street performance.” I was up front with this group and commended their desire to raise awareness about homelessness and the issues surrounding homelessness in West Virginia. Though their intentions were really good in that they were aiming to raise awareness about homelessness, homelessness is a traumatic event that should not be taken lightly.

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2539 Hits

An Open Letter to the WV Balance of State Continuum of Care on Prioritization

It’s come to my attention that despite continued training, technical assistance, and guidance on Coordinated Access, Prioritization, and Centralized Intake, we still have quite a bit of confusion as to the purpose and function of prioritization. Therefore, I want to take some time to clarify some things in a simple, straightforward way:

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1125 Hits

WVCEH Seeks Qualified Applicants for HMIS System Administrator

The West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness, located in Bridgeport, WV is seeking qualified applicants for a Homeless Management Information System Administrator/Trainer. The position will work directly under the Executive Director, and in collaboration with the HMIS System Administration team, and be responsible for the successful implementation and management of the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS).

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1040 Hits

Judgment Goes Both Ways

I’ve learned a lot since my direct service days in a family shelter from 2003-2009. Fresh out of college with big ideas and a big heart, I put all of myself into my work as a case manager for children and adults, a Housing Counselor and a grant writer. Now, in hindsight, I will admit that I did a lot of my direct service work pretty poorly, though the best I knew at that time. I focused on housing readiness, I focused on life skills, I focused on stuff; I knew I needed to provide my clients with everything they needed to get back on their feet. I claimed to have a housing focus, but only after my families were "ready" for housing. What I did do well was love them. I followed up with them when they left. I did not want them to come back and my biggest failure was to see a family re-apply for my programs.

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1107 Hits

The Kinetic Point in Time Count

Prepare your quiver of buzzwords, because we’ve just minted a new one (reader, beware, jargon ahead). We are a Balance of State Continuum of Care. We cover a huge area (44 counties of West Virginia’s 55 counties). Historically, we have a really shitty Point in Time Count (shitty=15 counties out of 44 returning some semblance of hard survey data). We don’t like that. So, if we are going to continue to have a shitty Point in Time Count, we’ve decided there will be some purpose behind. That being the case, our Assistant Director, Amanda Sisson, had a late-night idea about how we can change things (insomnia CAN be good).

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1017 Hits

Plain Zero Part 1

Did you see the recent story about Vegan hot dogs? Some of those tested were found to have several ingredients that were neither vegan, nor particularly hot dog-like, including human DNA (which is really weird). I’m not a vegan, but if I were, I would be asking some questions about this. Particularly given the fact that I had chosen veganism for specific health, moral, or ethical reasons. What’s this have to do with ending homelessness? A lot, I think. I chose this work (like you may have, I presume) based on specific moral or ethical reasons. I believe I have a debt to those I serve and a job to accomplish. I believe that the clock is ticking and people’s lives are potentially in my and my staff’s hands. I think that nothing replaces the need for expediency, diligence, and forthrightness in conducting this work. I believe that housing is key to ending homelessness. I accept no substitutes.

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954 Hits

More than Just Charity

I’m sort of a social-media-butterfly. I love Facebook to connect with our friends and family, Instagram to show off my wanna-be-photographer skills and I’m learning to Tweet with wit.

Always the shopper and always looking for a good deal, I follow (on Facebook) several [Insert County Here] Online Yard Sale pages; my home county, and a couple neighboring counties. Last Friday, I stumbled upon a post on a neighboring county’s yard sale site that gave a lot of details about a man who is living in an old travel trailer with no heat, water, or utilities. The closing line of the post was “he’s been building fires to stay warm.” There were 237 comments under this post of well-meaning citizens offering clothes, blankets, propane fuel, wood, food, and any other myriad of “stuff.”

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Spaghetti at McDonalds?

Zero:2016 follows a proven model that works to end homelessness, particularly chronic and veteran homelessness.  After working with nearly 200 communities throughout the United States end homelessness, they have developed an outline, or how-to-guide, on how to organize your community to determine how much housing you have and how to move people experiencing homelessness into that housing. A way to, in fact, maximize on the housing you have available and make a case for additional housing resources while you’re providing housing  for the most vulnerable persons needing it in an incredibly simple format.

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982 Hits

West Virginia Selected to Join National Campaign to End Veteran and Chronic Homelessness

West Virginia has been selected, along with 68 other U.S. communities, to  participate in Zero: 2016, a national campaign to end veteran and chronic homelessness in the next two years. The Campaign is being spearheaded by Community Solutions, a national non‐profit based in New York City. The organization said it would work intensively with Beckley, Charleston, Clarksburg, Huntington, Lewisburg, Martinsburg, Morgantown and Parkersburg, in collaboration with the West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness (WVCEH), to meet the federal goals set by President Obama to end veteran homelessness by Dec. 2015 and chronic homelessness by Dec. 2016. The initiative is a rigorous follow-­‐on  to the group’s successful 100,000 Homes Campaign, which announced in June that it had helped communities house 105,000 chronically homeless Americans in under four years.

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766 Hits

This is NOT easy work!!

I spent last week at the National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference and it was awesome to be surrounded by so many like-minded people committed to believing we can, and will, end homelessness. West Virginia is quite popular for our emerging methods of change, our involvement with 100,000 Homes, and our innovative uses of the VI-SPDAT in HMIS. I was on a high when I left DC, I was pumped to make some connections with the great speakers I heard, and was super excited to start planning. My mind was racing!...

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THAT THERE SHOULD BE NO SCHISM. . .

A couple of months back David Milch’s Deadwood turned 10 years old, and I, for one, was excited.  If you have spent any extended amount of time around me during the past decade chances are that at some point I have bored you with incessant rambling and raving about this show.  But don’t worry; I am not going to do that here.  It is not my intention to write an analysis of a TV series (no matter how phenomenal said TV series may be); I am here to write about ending homelessness, and, how we all can attain this goal through the systemic creation of community.  Just recently, Deadwood (or, more accurately, St. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians) provided me with an interesting take on this very subject. 

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Killing them with Kindness?

Whenever I am talking to people about the need to prioritize the people most likely to die on the streets for housing, or if I get into a discussion about performance, data, and the need to limit rules and conditions for housing so we can get people off the streets, I usually get any number of responses, depending on the audience. Often, I get a “right on!” or the less enthusiastic “that makes sense”. But, when I look at the most frequent response I get, it would be something to the effect of, “Well, Zach, there are a lot of really good, kind, people out there in agencies doing their best”. By in large, I would agree that we have an absolute army of kind, concerned people helping homeless individuals and families the best way they know how. But often, I think we tend to confuse kindness and compassion with qualification and knowledge.

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1166 Hits

Making The Grade

This is my first blog. Ever. I’m not ashamed to admit that don’t like to write, I’d rather look at graphs and bury myself in an excel spreadsheet all day than sit down and write something. So needless to say, when Zach told me to blog, eh some 3 months ago, I had a minor whining meltdown. “I don’t know what to say.” “I’m not creative.” “It will come off sounding like a term paper from college.” Therefore, I’m sure, by the time you’re reading this, it’s gone through no less than 3 or 4 revisions.

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981 Hits

What “The Walking Dead” Taught Me About Ending Homelessness.

I like “The Walking Dead”. A lot. And its mass appeal gives me the indication that a lot of other people do as well. So, what’s the appeal? I have my theories, but I think in many ways it’s less a story about zombies than it is about collaboration, and the human question, “what are we capable of becoming?” In desperate circumstances, what are the paths that we take as people that lead us to excel, fail, change, give up, or overcome. Watching the show actually stresses me out. It’s not one of my more relaxing hobbies, but I enjoy it nonetheless. But, there are definitely morals to the story that I think resonate with all of us. I know they certainly do me. So, I’d like to examine some areas in terms of ending homelessness where the show has given me insight (and I will speak in generalities, so as to not create spoilers for those who may be a season behind).

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927 Hits

The Manifesto

“So what is it that you actually DO?” I get that question a lot. Almost as much as I get the question, “Oh “Zach Brown”? Like the band?” And boiling down what we do into an “elevator pitch” (being able to explain your organization in the time it takes to ride an elevator to your destination floor) can be a tall order. Honing in on our identity as an organization and deciding where time is best spent is an ongoing struggle and an ongoing work in progress. It’s a question of vision, management, funding, and the ability to remain flexible and realistic. It’s the ultimate exercise in “switching gears”.

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1086 Hits

The Obligatory Blog Introduction

“So, the Coalition has itself a blog, does it?” you may be asking. Well, yes, yes we do. It’s been a long time coming, and we fancy ourselves an opinionated, informed, progressive group of people, and a blog seemed the natural e next step in our ability to reach out to communities. As with all things we do, however, this blog will have some organization about it, and a purpose. In short, it will come with some general rules, both for the public and us. Not hard and fast rules, necessarily, but friendly ground rules and really more of a promise to you in terms of expectations and what purpose we want the blog to serve.

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878 Hits

WVCEH Blog

October 02, 2017
Around 2013, I wrote a Manifesto. I wrote it out of anger, at a time when I was done with other people, organizations, and entities constantly definin...
February 15, 2017
What is Housing a First? Why should I (or my agency follow it)? Where is proof that Housing First works? But, Michael...it's really hard to implement?...
August 31, 2016
A few months ago, I was invited to a homeless awareness event where people would be sleeping outdoors for the night in an effort to understand the pli...

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WVCEH is holding open interviews again TODAY from 9:30 am until 3:00 pm for the position of Housing Stabilization C… https://t.co/N95YKa1IxM

WVCEH is holding open interviews TODAY until 3:00 pm for a Housing Stabilization Case Manager position. Please brin… https://t.co/2jU7mV7z0l

The CoC has established deadlines and processes in accordance with the FY2019 Continuum of Care Competition for fun… https://t.co/3pq2kOg4LR

WV Coalition to End Homelessness | PO Box 4697, Bridgeport, WV 26330 | 304-842-9522 | info@wvceh.org | website by brickswithoutstraw