Kristen Keogh, Host
McQuaid Mission Episode 7 Highlights
Over 11,000 Arizona residents are homeless.
Every other week we dedicate a full episode to the news, progress and innovations surrounding homelessness in Phoenix with our McQuaid Mission series.
This week’s episode explores how technology could transform the way Arizonans receive aid and why it‘s important to understand the difference between homelessness and poverty.
Read the highlights from Episode 7 of the McQuaid Mission below.
Data Systems as Community Resources
According to John Ehlinger, President of the Garcia Family Foundation, data and analytics can be “transformative” to reducing homeless populations. Systems and technology can bring organizations together to better identify what people need and how to find the right solutions.
Ehlinger explains that data has shown how the current system would be more effective by shifting from a “provider” focus to a “client” focus. Data has also provided the solution to reorganizing how the current system would operate and distribute services.
Most homeless people need help with multiple issues. Employment, health care, food and shelter are just some of the many areas of need. Those who need help may reach out to a mix of organizations for aid. Some organizations may only offer one service, others may offer a few. This creates overlap.
The challenge is that there is no master database that organizations can cross-check to view a client’s full history, to see what type of services they receive and what they have or haven’t tried. The data is detached between organizations.
But, according to Ehlinger, using data to flip that system would radically improve the effectiveness of how homeless populations are helped. Data systems present the opportunity for organizations to share data and collaborate.
Arizona Homelessness Success Story
In this episode homelessness and suicide survivor, Kyle Johnson tells his story. Growing up as an athlete in an upper-middle-class family, homelessness was not a possibility Johnson considered. But, after a chain of what he describes as “bad” choices, he found himself without a home. Johnson decided to kill himself, but with the help of a neighbor, Banner Health and the Human Services Campus, he was able to regain a life he thought he had lost.
Local Leader to Leader Q&A
Homelessness vs. Poverty
Homelessness and poverty are often lumped together, but they’re not the same thing. Homelessness is considered to be a temporary problem, whereas poverty is often a chronic condition. Not everyone who experiences poverty will necessarily become homeless. Not everyone who becomes homeless at some point in their life is destined for a life of poverty.
Separating these concepts changes how organizations approach solutions. Even though homelessness is far from an “easy” problem to fix, assisting someone during a temporary moment of need is simpler than trying to solve a systemic issue. But, it all comes back to having access to the right resources at the right time.
When homelessness is looked at through Hirsch’s lens of circumstantial “bad luck” the problem becomes more practical.