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Washtenaw Housing Alliance. Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti & Washtenaw County Michigan. A Plan is Just a Plan……. We Make the Road by Walking History of Housing Alliance Structure & Governance Challenges in Implementation Lessons Learned. A Quick Hit of History . Alliance Pre-Dates 10-Year Plan

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Washtenaw Housing Alliance

Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti &

Washtenaw County Michigan


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A Plan is Just a Plan……

  • We Make the Road by Walking

    • History of Housing Alliance

    • Structure & Governance

    • Challenges in Implementation

    • Lessons Learned


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A Quick Hit of History

  • Alliance Pre-Dates 10-Year Plan

    • Formed in 2000/2001

    • Builds on Success of Initial Community Campaign Responding to Homelessness (2001-2003)

  • Alliance Delegated Authority by “Powers that Be” in 2003 to Create and Implement 10-Year Plan

  • “Blueprint to End Homelessness” Published in Fall, 2004

  • “Phase 2” Action Planning and Early Implementing Now Coming to Close


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Structural Elements that Support Success

  • Incorporated Non-Profit Entity

    • Partnership of Public, Private and Non-Profit Sectors

  • Delegated Authority

    • Local Government Has Unofficially Designated The WHA to Oversee Implementation of 10-Year Plan

  • Community “Buy-In” (both literal and figurative)

    • County, Cities, Businesses, Community Leaders

  • Collaborative Management Strategy

    • Lean Staff – Focused on Process Management

    • Engagement of Core Providers in Governance Process


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It’s NOT “Who’s the Boss?”“It’s the Collaboration, Stupid!”

  • Commitments to Collaboration Embedded in Organizational Structure

  • Structure and Function Build on Respect for Importance of Provider-Driven Process – Most Vested Owners Are Helping “Drive the Train”

  • Active Engagement of Jurisdictional, Mainstream Systems, and Community Leadership is Key


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Board Structure Supports Function

  • Board of Directors and Community Leadership

    • 4 appointees – St. Joseph Mercy Health System

    • 8 appointees – Community Members

    • 4 appointees – Service Providers (Operations Committee)

  • Operations Committee

    • Key to Provider Participation

    • Standing Committee of the Board of Directors

    • Recently Expanded from 10  28 Member Agencies


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Shared Vision/Shared Leadership

  • Reliance on Blueprint Vision and Mission as “Community Glue”

  • Reliance on Community Board Leadership

    • Promoting Community Advocacy, Investment, and Ownership

    • Building Public Support and Political Will

  • Reliance on Alliance Member Leadership

    • Issues Leadership & Agenda-Setting

    • Assessment and Review of Action Plans and Implementing Strategies


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Who’s Minding the Store?

  • Small Core Staff

    • Executive Director

    • Administrative Support Manager

    • Program Planning & Evaluation Coordinator

    • Development Director

  • Staff Provides Instrumental Leadership and Follow-Through in Intermediary Functions

    • Process Management

    • Scheduling & Coordination

    • Work Group Orchestration and Integration

    • Coordinates Outcomes Evaluations

    • Data Integration

    • Communications


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More on Staff Roles

  • Focused on “Keeping It Simple”

    • Minimizing Bureaucratic Expectations

    • Avoiding Funding Competition in Services Domain

    • Focusing on Centralized and Coordinating Functions

    • Assists in Creation and Publication of Work Group “Products”

  • Emerging Functions / Potential New Roles

    • Housing Resource Coordination

    • Centralized Homeless Response/Gaps Case Management

    • Data Management/HMIS Coordination

    • Continuum of Care Coordination


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Key Staff Skills and Sensibilities

  • Big Picture and Long-Term Vision

  • Flexibility

  • Pro-Active Administrative Support

  • Facilitate Collaborative Leadership

  • Diplomacy in Perpetual Cycles of Negotiation


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Challenges: Funding and Administrative Operations

  • Mobilizing Ongoing Operations Budget

    • Treading Lightly in Heavily Trodden Paths

    • Avoiding Undermining Members’ Needs

    • Cultivating “Community Partners” as Sponsors

  • Managing Pass-Through Funding

    • How Much Administration?

    • How Much Management and Oversight?

    • How Much (If Any) of an Administrative Fee?

  • Special Fund-Raising Initiatives

    • Supportive Housing Services Campaign (Housing First)

    • Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative


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Challenges: Integrated Funding

  • New Community Funding Model Emergent from Blueprint Process

    • Integrated Funding Plan Driven by Major Community Funders

    • Funding Coordination Focused on “500 Unit Plan”

    • Reliance on Provider-Based Funding Recommendations


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Challenges: Balancing Values

  • Managing Sometimes Conflicting “Cultural” Values in the Trenches

    • “Housing First” vs. “Housing Ready”

    • “Dry” vs. “Wet” Housing

    • “Voluntary” vs. “Mandated” Services

  • Inclusiveness in Process vs. Organizational Efficiency

    • Ability to be Flexible and Nimble in Decision-Making

    • Ability to Exploit Unanticipated Opportunities


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Challenges: Managing Collaboration

  • Managing Conflicts That Arise When Players Wear Multiple “Hats”

    • Balancing Agency-Specific Interests vs. Community Interests

  • Aligning Intersecting/Overlapping Community Initiatives

    • Early Childhood Initiatives, Youth Services Initiatives, Adult Literacy Initiatives, Aging Initiatives, Substance Abuse Initiatives, etc…

  • Facilitating Strategies for “Shared Leadership”

    • Decision-making in Collaboration Requires Clarity, Openness, Transparency, and Hard Work


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Challenges: Data Development

  • Who’s Driving the Data that Drives the Process?

    • Need to Manage the Flow and Shape of Data

    • Need Broader Buy-in to Community Info System Than HMIS Systems Have Typically Nurtured

    • Developing Data Meaningful for Policy-Making and Systems Change Processes


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Challenges: “Building the Plane While Flying”

  • Change is a Constant

    • Responding to Political & Economic Shifts in Community

    • Sensitivity to “Life Stages” of Process

  • Building Structure that is Self-Sustaining

    • Sustaining Funding for General Operations

    • Nurturing New Leaders & Participants

    • Continuing to Educate Community – “Old News”

  • Building “Shared Leadership” Models

    • Expanding Membership Generates New Concerns

    • Cultivating Norms for Collaborative Governance

    • Negotiating Relationships with Community Leaders


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What Do We Know Now That We Wished We Knew Then?

Planning and Action

  • Need to Focus a Little More on Action and a Little Less on Planning (too many groups taking too long and focusing on too much)

  • Need to Go Where Community’s Energy Flows (sometimes the time is right for action even if it isn’t in the plan)

  • Need to Maintain Allegiance to Practice Principles and Outcomes More than to Particulars of Original Plans (plans laid in Year 1 aren’t always in synch with Year 3 realities)


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What Do We Know Now That We Wished We Knew Then?

Governance and Decision-Making

  • Need Stronger and More Clearly Defined Institutional & Jurisdictional Supports

  • Need Better Models for Shared Decision-making (especially when it involves policy and systems change initiatives)


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What Do We Know Now That We Wished We Knew Then?

Collaboration Matters

  • When You’re Committed to Community Systems change, the Locus of Control is Never Really Terribly Clear…..

  • Collaborative Planning and Governance is Heck of a Lot Harder than it Looks

  • Whatever the Cost, Collaboration is Worth the Price of Admission


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Contact Information

Washtenaw Housing Alliance

PO Box 7993 Ann Arbor, MI 48107

734-222-3575 www.whalliance.org

Chuck Kieffer

Executive Director

([email protected])

734-645-0810


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