Just prior to Thanksgiving I led the Homeward staff in hosting our 11th annual Project Homeless Connect (PHC). This event matches clients with volunteers in a partnership to connect adults experiencing homelessness to as many on-site services as possible in one day. This year at PHC we saw over 400 volunteers connect 552 people from our community to services offered by nearly 50 providers in areas such as health, housing, dental, employment, and benefits.

As Executive Director of Homeward and an LMR Member (Class of 2011), I understand the value of connecting and educating community leaders to serve the greater community. One idea our organization would like to share with community leaders, is the importance of data to drive impact and achieve results. To best serve the needs of our community we need to listen but we also need to observe and analyze what the data tells us. Though our organization’s process of data collection, analysis, and responsive planning, we continue to reimagine how we can use Project Homeless Connect to collectively meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness. Our recent work revealed that 80% of people experiencing homelessness are unemployed or underemployed. In response to this data we added new employment service providers to PHC and continue to build partnerships with workforce development organizations throughout the region.

One of our upcoming events that provides community-level data on homelessness is our winter Point-in-Time count. This periodic count of people experiencing homelessness in Greater Richmond helps Homeward, our partners, and community volunteers understand the changing nature of homelessness in our region. The data collected from this event is compiled both locally and nationally to inform programs, planning, and funding. You can see first-hand how we collect the data that informs our work by volunteering at our winter Point-in-Time count. Join us in our efforts to prevent, reduce and end homelessness, but also use this as an opportunity to think about how your own organizations and businesses can collect and better utilize data. For more information about this event, please contact our Community Engagement Coordinator Michael Rogers at mrogers@homewardva.org.

Kelly King Horne
Class of 2011

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