Your Roadmap to “The Future of Homeless Services”

by Justine Hanson
April 05, 2010

Image of Justine Hanson

I’m so very excited to announce that the HRC Special Issue on “The Future of Homeless Services” is hot off the press! It’s published in the Open Health Services and Policy Journal.

The articles in the Special Issue are all available through free, electronic open access. Click here to read the Special Issue!

The Special Issue focuses on what we know about some of the most important services for helping people to exit homelessness. The issue includes eight research, review, and commentary articles by leading experts on homeless services, and was guest-edited by the HRC.

You’re probably already thinking – who has time to read eight journal articles?

That’s where we come in. Here’s my quick and easy roadmap to “The Future of Homeless Services” to help get you started:

The Homeless Services Workforce

Who are we? What kind of training do we need to do our jobs? This article is the first attempt since 1996 to get an idea of who makes up the workforce and what we need. Read the article to learn more about how building the homeless service workforce will help improve our nation’s response to homelessness.

Homelessness Prevention

For years our nation has focused on managing homelessness, not preventing it before it starts. Finally, homelessness prevention is starting to get the attention it deserves with HUD’s Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP). Yet, there is still so much to learn about what works. Read the article to learn more about recommended approaches to homelessness prevention.

Services and Supports for Families

There is no one-size-fits all solution for families experiencing homelessness. Read the article to learn about a framework for determining the services and supports appropriate to a family’s needs over time.

Outreach & Engagement

Anyone who works in homeless services knows it is vital to meet people where they are – on the streets, under bridges, in the woods. But what are best practices for outreach and engagement? Read the article for a synthesis of the research on outreach and engagement.

Trauma-Informed Care

We know that trauma-informed care helps providers care for people who have experienced traumatic stress. But what else do we know about trauma-informed care? Read the article for a synthesis of the research on trauma-informed care and a list of resources related to trauma-informed care.

Recovery-Oriented Care

We know recovery is possible – from mental illness, substance abuse, and traumatic stress disorders. We also know that many people who are homeless may experience combinations of all three. Read about why it’s time for homeless services to embrace recovery values and learn from recovery-oriented services in other fields.

The Canadian Perspective on Homelessness

Stephen Gaetz is a leading researcher and the head of Canada’s Homeless Hub. Read his editorial to learn more about his view of the Canadian response to homelessness.

Reflections on the US Response to Homelessness

Martha Fleetwood, Founder and Executive Director of HomeBase/the Center for Common Concern, editorializes about the past thirty years of responding to homelessness in the US.

Interested in being a HRC Guest Blogger? Email us at

Tags: , , ,

Category: HRC Insight

MI On My Mind

by Ken Kraybill
March 15, 2010

Image of Ken Kraybill

MI has been on my mind lately. No, not the state of Michigan, but Motivational Interviewing (MI). Steven Samra, Recovery Specialist, and I have been collaborating over the past few weeks on a HRC webcast, entitled "Guiding People Towards Change: The Spirit of Motivational Interviewing." 

The notion of MI spirit can be hard to pin down. We’ve had fun gleaning the literature and thinking creatively about how to convey this concept. In the end we came up with some powerful real life examples of MI spirit in action. Steven has some amazing stories that illustrate being on both the receiving and providing end.

A mantra that best describes MI spirit is that it is “collaborative, evocative, and empowering.” When our helping efforts embrace and embody these characteristics, we are likely to do much more good than harm. Conversely, when we act in paternalistic and prescriptive ways, we can do more harm than good.

When you begin to go deeper into a topic, it brings up memories. As Steven and I talked about his days living on the streets and living with a mental illness and substance use disorder, he recalled some of the helping professionals he encountered. Some were helpful, some were not.

There was one counselor he saw in the 1990’s who was particularly influential and instrumental in Steven’s journey towards recovery. Now that he knows more about the spirit and practice of MI, Steve wonders if the counselor might have been trained in it. The way the counselor treated Steven resonates with what Steve now knows about MI.

Recently, Steve decided to do some detective work. He did some digging and found a phone number for the counselor. He hadn’t seen him in over a decade. He dialed the counselor’s phone number and introduced himself. Steve asked about the counselor’s experience with MI.

Sure enough, the counselor had been trained in MI in the 1990’s. When he met Steve, he was consciously working within the spirit and skill set of MI. It was a fascinating and heartening discovery - attesting to the power of the spirit of Motivational Interviewing to transform lives.

Visit the HRC Motivational Interviewing Topic Page or read the feature article about the spirit of Motivational Interviewing to learn more.

Interested in being a HRC Guest Blogger? Email us at

Tags: , ,

Category: HRC Insight

Come to Columbia, South Carolina!

by Laura Winn
March 01, 2010

Image of Laura Winn

HRC is hosting a free two-day regional training open to all homeless service providers in Columbia, South Carolina on March 31st and April 1st. As a new member of the HRC Team, I am so excited to join our training team to see what the HRC is known for: state-of-the-art training.

Since I’ve been here, I’ve heard of Ken Kraybill, HRC’s Training and Technical Assistance Specialist’s exceptional expertise on Motivational Interviewing training. I’m told Jeff Olivet, HRC Director of Training, has a unique way of connecting with people as he presents on Critical Time Intervention and Homelessness and the Arts. I’m also very excited to hear Steven Samra, HRC’s new Recovery Specialist, offer his lived experience as he trains providers on Consumer Integration and creating Recovery-Oriented Environments.

We’ve been working closely with local partners in South Carolina to expand our core curriculum, Promoting Wellness: An Integrated Approach to Homeless Service Delivery, to meet the unique needs and challenges faced by providers in the Southeast. Attendees will gain valuable training on Motivational Interviewing, Self-Care, Housing, Outreach, and Trauma-Informed Care. They’ll also learn how to address the needs of individuals coping with co-occurring disorders and the needs of the region’s youth.

Our registration roster is filling up, and we’re already expecting providers from South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, and even New York.

Connecting with providers tops the list of the reasons I’m excited to head south at the end of March. I’m looking forward to meeting and connecting with a wide range of professionals in the field who are working every day to end homelessness in their communities.

I hope you can join us on March 31st and April 1st in Colombia, South Carolina to see the Homelessness Resource Center in action. We are SAMHSA’s training and technical assistance center for homeless service providers and we’re very excited to work with you.

Continuing Education Unit (CEU) credits are available to participants who complete the training.

A participant at one of our past trainings told us, “This has been one of the best trainings I’ve attended. I have attended conferences and trainings in the past, but none had the energy and knowledge of this one. Glad I made the trip!”

I hope you’ll make the trip, too. Register now for the HRC Regional Training, or email me at if you have any questions.

Interested in being a HRC Guest Blogger? Email us at

Tags: , , ,

Category: HRC Insight

What is the HRC?

by Kristen Paquette
February 18, 2010

Image of Kristen Paquette

If I have learned anything working for the Homelessness Resource Center, it is that at the end of the day, our work is all about people.

SAMHSA’s Homelessness Resource Center (HRC) brings you the most up to date information on best practices in homeless services. We offer learning opportunities through training events, share information about research and policy, and help build connections. We do this through training, webcasts, the HRC website, and knowledge products.

But the HRC is more than that.

What is the HRC?

For many websites, the common thinking is “if you build it, they will come.” People visit a website, retrieve information, and then leave. The HRC started this way until we learned that people in the homelessness field are hungry to connect. In 2007, we developed a new logo, built a new site, and tried to identify what information is most critical to ending homelessness. We knew we needed to offer best practices, facts, and feature articles that engage people on a human level.

We also thought that the HRC should be a place to bring people together. Not only can you find information to help you do your work every day, but you can connect with peers. You can find others who face the same daily challenges on the job as you, but who live thousands of miles away. Together, you can exchange helpful resources or tips, troubleshoot problems, or talk about new approaches to care. Or maybe you just want to talk about creative ways to promote self-care for you and your staff.

So often we hear that people working in the homeless services field are burnt out and overworked and simply don’t have time to visit a website! They are dealing with multiple crises, the unpredictability of human lives, and faced with serving more people with less funding.

Yet time and time again, when I have the privilege of working directly with people in the field, their energy is contagious. Recently, Justine Hanson and I have been working with some wonderful folks – Lori Criss of Amethyst Programs in Columbus, OH, John Rio of Advocates for Human Potential, and Deb Werner of SAMHSA’s Women, Children & Families Technical Assistance Projects. We have been talking with programs from across the country to learn more about best practices for serving women who are recovering from substance use and homelessness.

Together, the group is interested in learning: “What are our peers doing? And what can we learn from them to do our jobs better?

When we ask programs if they would like to participate in a national dialogue on best practices with other programs, the replies have been unanimous and resounding: “Yes, please!” Program staff are proud of their programs’ work and excited to share their successes. At their core, they believe in the power of recovery and want to empower women to rebuild their lives and their families. They believe knowledge is power and that together, we can do more.

Now, we will continue our work with these programs and find new ways for the HRC to connect this community of practice. We’ll be sharing information about the process and let you know how to get involved this year. If you’re interested in participating, email me.

This is just one example of what’s going on these days at the HRC. We hope that across the country, many of you will use the HRC to connect with others in the field, using our social networking features, or by attending a training event.

So…to go back to my original question: What is the HRC?

We are many things – but we want to be your source for knowledge and learning. We want to hear from you about what you need. We want to work together to help end homelessness and support recovery. And we want to bring people together around three things: learning, connecting, and sharing.

On behalf of SAMHSA’s Homelessness Resource Center, thanks for reading!

Interested in being a HRC Guest Blogger? Email Justine Hanson at

Tags: ,

Category: HRC Insight