using quality improvement to reduce homelessness in chicago
How Chicago has reduced its homeless veteran population
Chicago has used quality improvement strategies to dramatically reduce the number of veterans experiencing homelessness. The local team has achieved this impressive result by testing change ideas designed to move the needle on veteran homelessness, then tracking their data to see if these interventions were having the desired effect. The result: they’ve reduced veteran homelessness significantly and developed effective strategies that work in their market.
RESULTS: Reduced veteran homelessness by 22% over two years
HOW THEY DID IT:
The local team working to end homelessness in Chicago set goals each month for reducing the number of veterans experiencing homelessness and used those goals to get every stakeholder rowing in the same direction. Each time the team achieved one of its goals, it immediately set a new one and communicated the change.
THEME-BASED CASE CONFERENCING TO ACCOMMODATE THE LARGE SCALE OF HOMELESSNESS
Because its by-name list is so large, the Chicago team couldn’t strategize around each individual veteran at every meeting. Instead it designed a schedule for rotating through key themes on a weekly basis: first, it focused on veterans experiencing chronic homelessness, then long- term shelter stayers, then veterans in transitional housing, and finally veterans connected to housing subsidies who hadn’t yet been able to find apartments. These prioritized individuals are the focus of the team’s work between meetings.
BIMONTHLY MEETINGS WITH THE MAYOR’S TEAM
The Chicago team meets bimonthly with the Mayor’s staff to brief them on progress and provide clear requests to the Mayor to take specific actions that could advance their efforts.
CREATING DATA PROCESSES
Street outreach workers were struggling to find specific veterans when housing became available for them. In response, the local team expanded data-sharing permissions in its HUD-funded data system. Now outreach workers can see the services each veteran is accessing at any time and the best point of contact at each program. This helps outreach workers find those on the street more quickly and reduces the time it takes to connect homeless veterans to housing.