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AFRICATOWN INTERNATIONAL CENTRALIZED DIVERSION

The face of homelessness has changed

Thank you for participating in one of the King County Diversion Trainings offered this summer and fall. We are grateful for your partnership in our community-wide vision to eliminate racial disparities and make homelessness rare, brief and one-time in King County.

Beginning this Wednesday, December 5, 2018, a centralized Diversion Fund, operated by Africatown International will be available to staff who’ve completed the two-day diversion training with the intention of quickly connecting more individuals and families to immediate housing solutions. Thanks to Building Changes and the Pearl Jam Home Shows investments, this fund can be accessed when you are working with a household who’s identified a housing solution through a diversion conversation and financial assistance is needed to complete the solution. Financial Assistance requests will be fulfilled within one business day.

So has our approach.

In order to access the fund, the following steps must be complete:

1. Staff must have completed the two-day King County Diversion Training offered by the King County Diversion Coaches between June-November 2018.

2. If you haven’t done so already, email Zachary.DeWolf@allhomekc.org and cc Thalia.Garcia@kingcounty.gov the title of your program within your agency so diversion outcomes can be tracked in HMIS.

3. Sign a Memorandum Of Agreement between Africatown International and your organization (with a signature from the staff member with signing authority).

4. Complete the fund request form here or visit www.africatowninternational.org for a fillable-PDF form each time you request funds for households you’re working with.

Please note that agencies with direct diversion awards must spend down their awards in full before accessing the Diversion Fund. Agencies with diversion awards designated for a specific population may access the Diversion Fund for populations excluded from their award (for example, an agency with a diversion award specifically for families could access the fund to serve single adults).

Homelessness disproportionately impacts communities of color, and the Seattle/King County Continuum of Care (CoC) has made a commitment to advancing racial equity in its shelter and housing outcomes. Diversion has been proven to be an effective and efficient approach nationally for resolving homelessness and may also help to advance racial equity. King County data suggests that Black/African American households utilize diversion at a higher rate than their overall representation in the homeless population in King County. This data indicates that efforts to expand diversion may impact disproportionality by connecting Black/African American households to permanent housing without a prolonged experience of homelessness and involvement in the homeless system.

Please contact Africatown International with questions, 206-487-3222 or request@africatowninternational.org.

Diversion trainings will be offered at least quarterly throughout 2019. Please share upcoming training offerings with colleagues who are interested in diversion approaches and accessing the centralized fund. Registration information will be sent through the All Home newsletter, shortly.

UPCOMING TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES:

January 17 and 18 – South King County (Tukwila)

February 26 and 27 – East King County (Redmond)

March 27 and 28 – Seattle (TBD)

Thanks again for all you do and will do to serve and support our neighbors experiencing homelessness. Be well.

This unique approach engages households early in their housing crisis. A staff member trained in the techniques of diversion initiates an exploratory conversation to brainstorm practical solutions for households to resolve their homelessness quickly and safely. Staff help households see beyond their current crisis by encouraging them to generate creative ideas and identify realistic options for safe housing based on their own available resources rather than those of the crisis response system. The goal is for households to become housed within 45 days.

It is critical to understand the differences between diversion and prevention. Similar service strategies are often utilized within these approaches (examples: conflict resolution, motivational interviewing, and trauma-informed care), but the time at which the intervention occurs is different and important for the purposes of measuring the success of these interventions.

Diversion is the first service offered to people without a safe place to stay tonight. When diversion is not a viable option for the household, staff may complete an additional assessment with the household to determine whether they will be prioritized for subsidized homeless housing resources through our region’s Coordinated Entry for All system. The majority of households will not receive a subsidized housing resource offer due to the lack of such resources. Immediately following the assessment, staff will return to the diversion conversation with all households who are not prioritized for subsidized housing resources.

Created By
MALAKHI KAINE
Appreciate

Credits:

Diversion starts with a conversation grounded in a household’s current housing situation, available resources, and identification of safe housing options outside of the homeless housing system they are willing to explore. The role of a diversion specialist (anyone trained in and attempting diversion) is to partner with the household to identify viable alternatives for permanent or temporary housing stability, and support connection to their preferred alternative. Services and best practices include: Hold diversion conversations that foster effective participant “problem solving.”  These conversations include open-ended questions utilizing motivational interviewing skills. Follow the lead of the household and do not inhibit the household from pursuing a viable and safe housing option, even if it’s only a short-term solution. Partner with households as advocates to work with landlords and debt collectors if advocacy directly links to a housing solution. Serve as a mediator to assist households in having difficult conversations with individuals in their support network. This may include friends and family, employers, debt collectors, and landlords. Conversations focus on solutions to securing safe housing options. Connect households to short and long-term supports and resources, including mainstream services that can address ongoing needs as well as housing search resources. Facilitate financial assistance for solutions that require financial support.

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