Creating the conditions for everyone to thrive means that we all need to work together. When it comes to preventing and ending people’s homelessness, that means government agencies, nonprofits, neighborhood associations, businesses and others working across such diverse areas as shelter, health, education, employment, transportation, criminal justice and community development, need to collaborate on solutions.
There are currently numerous councils, committees and task forces whose mission is to share information, discuss potential solutions and plan joint effort. However, member agencies’ scarce resources are already devoted to the complex work of serving the homeless on a day-to-day basis. It is not uncommon to find a month has passed between such meetings and when participants reconvene, nothing has progressed. If we are to see any action to come from these collaborations, it needs to be somebody’s job to drive its progress. There need to be resources specifically allocated to the mundane work of coordination and secretariat to link and join across sectors.
Somebody — a team or person — needs to be accountable for moving on the agreed actions. In short, improvements in the state of homelessness in Maricopa County demand a dramatic boost to system capacity.
We leverage the convening power of the Maricopa County Regional Continuum of Care, the Governor’s Goal Council for Homelessness, the Phoenix Community Alliance Housing and Social Advancement Committee, and the Greater Phoenix Leadership Council Affordable Housing and Homelessness Committee, to name a few, and serve as a neutral backbone organization.
The Watts College Action Nexus shares information and coordinates across these groups, identifies opportunities for system alignment, provides policy analysis, harmonizes data, provides training to boost the quality of service provision, and applies ASU’s resources to co-creating solutions. Further, we support the Human Services Campus as the critical entity addressing homelessness in central Phoenix.
We know that ending homelessness requires diverse agencies to work together, and that collaborating requires resources. The Watts College Action Nexus (the Nexus) connects the dots among supporting agencies to work together to end homelessness in Maricopa County. We believe that together can transform the opportunity ecosystem of Arizona into a national model for ending homelessness.