In collaboration with First 5 Orange County, we have embarked on an innovative, best-practice Diversion Project, to help build capacity and sustainability within the homeless family service system. Understanding that there aren’t always enough of the “traditional” housing opportunities available (e.g. Rapid Rehousing, Vouchers), Diversion strategies are innovative and help to alleviate the already stretched resources in our Community.
Our FSC Access Points have committed to this project over the next two years: Family Assistance Ministries, Families Forward, Homeless Intervention Services OC (HIS OC), Illumination Foundation, Pathways of Hope, Serving People in Need (SPIN) and South County Outreach.
Diversion (also known as Problem-Solving or Rapid Resolution) is a short to long-term housing intervention that seeks to assist families to identify an immediate and safe housing alternative within their own network of family, friends and social supports or support into a housing opportunity. By working alongside families facing a housing crisis in an empowering manner, innovative problem solving can assist them at the very beginning of their housing crisis, or shortly after thereafter. Diversion ensures that those households who do not have alternative housing options are quickly connected to existing emergency or crisis housing services to ensure their immediate health and safety needs are met.
Diversion is an intervention or strategy (as opposed to a program) that occurs before any formal, documented assessment takes place. In effect, the individualized conversation is the first step in an ongoing phased assessment approach that does not rely on any sort of checklist or form.
Diversion conversations rely on the ability of staff, through a guided conversation and deep listening, to help uncover the unique need, strengths and assets of the household presenting for assistance and use that rapport to identify connections the household may have outside of the traditional family homeless system.
Diversion strategies allows for a person-centered approach that empowers the families with some support, that they may be able to identify resources to help them resolve their housing crisis within their own networks.
Problem Solving conversations are guided conversations that help the household explore alternative resources outside the homeless services system when possible. The most common activities and strategies include active listening, coaching, motivational interviewing, mediation and conflict resolution with families/friends and/or landlords, connection to mainstream resources, housing search assistance, housing stabilization planning, family reunification, etc.
The National Alliance to End Homelessness supports this approach, calling it a best-practice and in a recent webinar said, “Effective diversion has never been more important than during the coronavirus pandemic.” Click here to view the webinar: Effective Diversion: A Key Strategy for Ending Homelessness – National Alliance to End Homelessness