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Urban Homelessness and Underserved Communities


Addressing Urban Homelessness and Underserved Communities – 1/2 day workshop

Eighth International Conference on Social Informatics (SocInfo 2016),
Meydenbauer Center (, Bellevue, WA. November 14 – 17

Urban Homelessness and Wise Cities Workshop Day: November 14, 2016

Workshop Schedule DRAFT

1:00 Welcome, Bill Howe, cofounder of Urban@UW, The eScience Institute, ISchool, UW

1:20 Presentations: 15 minutes for your presentation, 10 minutes for questions

Using Data to Extend Outreach: Moderator Mahesh Somashekhar, Sociology, Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, UW

  • Tom Plagge & Matt Gee Building Data Maturity, Community by Community
  • Bill Howe Homeless – routes to homes
  • Jessica Lauren Perez When You Give a Feast, Invite the Poor: Increasing Client Feedback and Participation in Service Design and Delivery Decisions”

2:45 Coffee break

3:00 Technology and New Outreach: Moderator Tim Thomas, Sociology, Urban@UW Homeless Initiative Program Coordinator, UW

  • Abe Ray – Oliver: Coordinated Entry
  • Kevin Corinth – Technology and Homeless
  • Jonathon Kumar – Givesafe
  • Miguel Willis – Hackathons for Homeless Populations

4:30- Open to discussion

4:45 Wrap Up

5:00 DONE

Tom Plagge & Matt Gee – The Impact Lab: Building Data Maturity, Community by Community, to Prevent and End Homelessness
Communities across the country have historically struggled with locally extracting and analyzing Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) data to drive systems change towards ending homelessness. Increasingly, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has placed significant pressure on communities to measure their performance as a coordinated system of homeless assistance, motivating the urgent need for local data reporting and analytic capacity. This panel will present of an innovative project now in development, co-developed by The Impact Lab and The Cloudburst Group, that transforms raw HMIS data into action oriented data dashboards, simultaneously delivering with on-the-ground community training to develop capacities to interact with and use data for informed decision making. The Impact Lab will describe the data infrastructure developed to extract, transform, and load HMIS data into action oriented dashboards, as well as demo a prototype dashboard developed for a Florida Continuum of Care (CoC). Discussion will also focus on ways this new locally-based HMIS data infrastructure has the ability to integrate data from other social sectors such as criminal justice, health care, and child welfare systems. The Cloudburst Group will provide a brief overview of a past national project focused on Rapid Re-Housing data analytics that lead to the development of this expanded HMIS Impact Project, and describe the plans for data maturity training protocols to help communities use data to inform decision making for retargeting resources at all levels of ending homelessness.

Bryna Hazelton
(Awaiting finalized draft)

Jessica Perez – Bridgewater College: When You Give a Feast, Invite the Poor: Increasing Client Feedback and Participation in Service Design and Delivery Decisions
The homeless experience many barriers to accessing and using needed services. However, homeless clients, or service users, are often removed from service design and delivery decisions. If clients are represented, it is often through indirect methods such as feedback surveys. While designing services for the homeless is good, I argue that designing services with the homeless is better because it decreases service use barriers and more effectively addresses service needs. During a multi-phase embedded case study, I explored city and organizational level planning and decision-making for new homeless services, focusing on how client feedback and participation was used though out these processes. First, I examined factors facilitating a successful collaboration between a nonprofit service provider and the city where they reside, resulting in the establishment of protected geographic zones for homeless services. Secondly, serving as a change agent, I proposed to the same nonprofit several initiatives increasing homeless client feedback and participation in planning a new emergency shelter. The findings from this study highlight factors that facilitate more collaborative government-nonprofit and service provider-service user relationships. The findings also suggest that organizations favor and solicit certain types of client feedback over others. Finally, I outline organizational factors that facilitate and constrain collaboration between service providers and services users. From this work, I conclude that favored methods for incorporating client feedback hinder client participation in decision-making, which results in less responsive services. This work can guide individuals and organizations interested in successfully involving marginalized groups in service design and delivery decisions.

Abe Ray – Partners for Our Children: Oliver: Coordinated Entry
The lack of data and technology tools should not get in the way of improving services for the most vulnerable children and families in our communities. Yet, that’s exactly what is happening. Social service providers do not have the technology or tools they need to optimize their work with the children and families they serve. If we can empower social service providers with innovative technology, tools and powerful data, services will be enhanced, which ultimately means that outcomes for children and families will be improved.

Oliver is a new technology solution that will help child welfare and runaway and homeless youth social service providers streamline very time-consuming business processes within their organizations – comprehensive data collection, workflow management, and data analytics and reporting. Spending less time within these areas allows them to spend more time with the clients they serve. Ultimately, this allows the people doing the work to deliver more personalized client care through efficient and effective services.

Kevin Corinth – American Enterprise Institute: Technology and Homelessness
Homelessness has become an intractable problem of modern life. Real progress will require vastly improved data and a platform for rapid innovation. To this end, I propose equipping homeless individuals with free smartphones and service plans in exchange for providing daily information through a specialized app ­ including their sleeping locations, use of services, and personal outcomes.

The result could be a transformation in the way we confront homelessness. New research questions could be answered using longitudinal data on an otherwise hidden population. Innovative ideas could be tested using randomized controlled trials, with the capability of delivering many interventions directly to individuals via their smartphones. Meanwhile, homeless individuals themselves could be empowered with data-powered prediction tools, and service providers could be held accountable for their performance on the basis of data provided by the homeless individuals they serve. In the long term, new policy centers, staffed by homelessness experts and data scientists, could be tasked with the dual roles of building evidence for what works and implementing interventions personalized to unique individuals. Provided real-time access to the data uploaded by homeless individuals and the authority to conduct rapid-cycle evaluations of various interventions, these policy centers could unleash true innovation for some of the most vulnerable members of society.

These possibilities rely on the untested assumption that homeless individuals will reliably upload accurate personal data via smartphones. A pilot project should be undertaken to test this assumption.

Jonathon Kumar – Give Safe:
GiveSafe exists to reveal the needs of those we pass everyday—the single mom on the bus, the grandfather on the street, the homeless teen outside the supermarket—and provide an effective, cashless way to respond.

Small bluetooth LE beacons are given to people experiencing homelessness through nonprofit outreach. If you have the app and simply pass by a beacon holder, you receive a notification with the person’s story. You can then give into a fund the individual can use on critical needs to leaving the streets with a case manager’s help (a case study here, and a short film linked).

As the pilot takes place in downtown Seattle, many challenges remain. Come discuss the potential impact that small, direct, strategic income transfers can have from the crowd for the homeless in the US.

Miguel Willis – Seattle Social Justice Hackathon: Hackathons for Homeless Populations
(Awaiting finalized draft)