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 generalinquiry@center4si.com.

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Category: HRC Insight