Is collaboration for organizations serving homelessness a dream?

Is collaboration for organizations serving homelessness a dream?

Posted on June 06, 2012 by Pam Truitt

Dedicated and selfless folks who work with those on the brink of—or who already are homeless—deserve extra hugs.

Social changes can be difficult, but breaking negative cycles and replacing them with positives is definitely on the ‘most difficult’ side of the scale. If you haven’t seen the "60 Minutes" segment (aired November 2011) about the explosion of homelessness in the Orlando area, brought on by the Great Recession, it is definitely a wake-up call.

So, kudos to the many citizens who participated with Sarasota County’s Suncoast Partnership to End Homeless—the lead agency—in crafting a bold 10-year plan to end homelessness.

A couple of months ago, I was invited to speak to our local Continuum of Care Council—a consortium of groups providing services to the homeless community. I had just completed reading a draft of the 10-year plan and focused my presentation on examples of how collaboration models have been used around the country to streamline operations, expand services or provide enhanced programs. I snuck in what I call the ‘challenge question’—to get the group thinking about how the business side of the plan affects the program side: If the goal is to end homelessness in 10 years, is the business model aligned?

To prepare for the presentation, I researched the Collaboration Prize database. I typed in ‘homelessness’ and got 121 results—13 with ties to Florida. The examples included shared space, shared services, joint programming, mergers and confederations. I included specific examples, highlighted in my weekly blogs, of seven collaborations of homelessness groups.

I futzed with the wording, examples, message and timing to the point where I was satisfied I’d done about all I could to whet the appetite to explore ‘what could be’. Yeah, I felt pretty proud of it.

The presentation came and went. There was only one question during the Q&A. And, there was no follow-up. I haven’t received a single follow up call.

So, I’m interested in knowing what you think. Am I expecting too much—as in instant results? Did I overkill or underwhelm the audience? I know they care about the homelessness space, so I’m not worried about that. I’m just wondering why the silence. Your thoughts please!

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