Last month, I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Los Angeles at CSH Summit 2018. Foothold Technology hosted our interactive Supportive Housing Resource Exchange — a forum for attendees to ask questions and share resources with one another throughout the duration of the conference. We’ve offered this forum in partnership with CSH – since their inaugural Summit in 2015. Each year at the Summit, I also have the opportunity to attend sessions, connect with colleagues, and hear from a wide variety of perspectives the priorities, developments, and next steps in the fight to alleviate homelessness. Time and time again, what is most exciting for me to hear is that everyone is talking about data: the power of data, ways to use data, the need for more data.
The conversations around data have advanced in an almost inconceivable way over the last decade as the technology to make information more accessible is advancing the role of data in our storytelling. Our stories help us all understand who we are, what our needs are, which interventions are most effective, which interventions are too expensive, where the gaps in service and community resources are, and most importantly, how much further we must go to get where we need to be. Funders are looking to data to measure impact, communities are using data to prioritize housing placements, and researchers continue to look at cross-system impacts. What’s new is that front line practitioners have begun to really understand and embrace their role in collecting this data and documenting their interactions in a way that demonstrates an appreciation for the overall impact the data has on preventing and ending homelessness.
Data and Housing
This year, CSH dedicated an entire track of the Summit’s sessions to focus on how research and data lead to better programs and outcomes. Sessions in this track showed how data has proven that investments in social determinants, such as housing, can have a profound impact on health care costs and utilization, how the effective use of data can help develop systems and initiatives for moving individuals out of homelessness and into longer-term solutions, and how data can be used to leverage funding. Additionally, my team had the chance to sit down with CSH CEO & President Deb De Santis and discuss the themes Deb was seeing at the summit. “Data, data, data” was the first theme she mentioned, specifically how to demystify data and understand what you can and cannot do.
At Foothold, we spend our days thinking about data and productive ways to leverage data in order to benefit the agencies we work with. It is both reassuring and exciting to see data come to the forefront of the conversations I have with agencies on both a daily basis and at events like the CSH Summit. By growing the universal knowledge of the importance of data, we can only become stronger and more efficient as a community. I look forward to continuing these conversations and watching them evolve.