Making meaningful improvements in the lives of people experiencing homelessness in 2 ½ years with the allocated financial award seems incredibly challenging for our community. Tell me more about your expectations for communities.
Shifting systems and increasing employment and income for people experiencing homelessness is an ambitious task. This is where the “challenge” of the Pathways Forward Challenge comes in. We are looking to select communities that are willing to set bold goals relative to the employment and income outcomes they seek on behalf of homeless jobseekers in their communities. Bold goals are ambitious, yet believable, and result in meaningful increases in employment and income for homeless jobseekers (page 4 of RFP Info Packet).
Through our Connections Project work, we have seen how technical assistance, peer learning, a national platform, and some seed money can catalyze systems change activities that would not have otherwise been possible. We believe that if stakeholders in communities set bold goals that reflect the outcomes they want to see for people experiencing homelessness, they can leverage the resources provided through the Pathways Forward Challenge to make strides toward these outcomes. In addition, we have seen that financial awards can bring to the table local philanthropy, opening doors to additional funding opportunities. Finally, we expect that communities will encounter roadblocks along the way and acknowledge that navigating these challenges is an essential part of success.
How exactly do you define the target population?
Communities selected to participate in the Pathways Forward Challenge will develop systems change strategies that increase employment and income for the significant number of people experiencing homelessness who are not likely to receive housing through the homeless service system due to long wait lists, lack of housing stock, or low vulnerability scores. Improving systems connections to employment for this population is critical to increasing the efficiency and success of the homeless service system over time and improving outcomes for all people experiencing homelessness (page 3 of RFP Info Packet). How exactly you define this target population is up to your community and will likely vary from community to community based on the particular assessment tools used, housing resources available, and other factors.
Do people in the target population also have to fit HUD’s definition (or another definition) of homelessness?
Rather than prescribe strict guidelines around how communities identify who falls in this group and who doesn’t, we want stakeholders to demonstrate how their systems change ideas will address the critical systems gap by improving pathways to employment and income support for the significant number of people experiencing homelessness who are not likely to receive housing through the homeless services system. (If your systems change idea also increases employment for people who have been matched with housing, this does not “disqualify” your idea from consideration for the Pathways Forward Challenge.) In addition, your systems change idea may focus on a subpopulation within the target population (e.g., youth, single adults, or families), depending on the data and information you gather from your community.