It’s been posted here before, but as we’re moving closer to having ICHH and HPRP money to spend, this Massachusetts pilot diversion project report is worth another look. It was a small pilot–2 months, 69 participating families–but the result was that 42% of families participating in this voluntary program were diverted from shelter. Eleven families were stabilized in their original housing, 10 familes identified friends or family with which they could live, and 7 families were placed in private housing with bridge subsidies and support services.
I spoke yesterday with Bob Pulster, who reminded me of the report and made a plea for Springfield to use HPRP to fund diversion for families (which we already plan to do), and to have diversion staff co-located at the Liberty Street DTA office, which is getting the highest rates of shelter applications in our region. I just took a look at the most recent numbers that I have on homeless families in motels (from about a month ago), and I see that, in our region, 93 families in motels originated at the Liberty Street office, 28 from the State Street office, and 31 from the Holyoke office.
In another conversation yesterday, I was reminded again of the importance of being able to show results from the big chunks of money that are currently being invested at the federal and state levels, if we are going to be able to justify spending on homelessness prevention and diversion in the future. In light of this, it’s critical that we create programs that are effective in both stabilizing families and in ensuring that our efforts are directed at those who will almost certainly end up in shelter if they do not receive assistance. This pilot seems to be one of those programs.