• September 29, 2011 10:40 AM | Anonymous

    You don’t need an expert to tell you that people working in homeless services are spread thin. You are tasked with some of the most challenging–and rewarding–work in the nation. You must juggle competing demands, face risk of burnout, and often have little access to training.

    That’s why we created t3: Think, Teach, Transform, a new training institute committed to supporting people working in homeless services. Our trainers come from the field and include former case managers, educators, clinicians, doctors and nurses, and consumers. We’ve trained thousands of homeless service providers across the nation for all the major homelessness training and technical assistance centers.

    We have learned that while many good training efforts exist, training is often haphazard or fragmented. Quality varies, and access to training is often limited by time constraints and travel budgets.

    To overcome these obstacles, we’ve brought together the very best of what we’ve learned and created t3 – a flexible model of online, onsite and blended learning that enables people to access a variety of learning opportunities on their own time, at their own pace, tailored to the needs of their agency and community. 

    t3 training is practical, skills-based, interactive, based in established core competencies and grounded in adult learning theory. We offer online, onsite, and blended training on evidence-based and promising practices like trauma-informed care, Motivational Interviewing, Critical Time Intervention, and more, in addition to basic knowledge about homelessness and subgroups within the homeless population.

    Throughout the learning process, we support individual providers and their agencies to think differently about the work they do, teach each other how they have overcome challenges, and transform their communities. 

    t3 has partnered with the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness to offer special member discounts. We invite you to join us on October 13, 2011 at 12 pm Pacific for a special webcast or drop by our resource table at the 18th Annual AZCEH Statewide Conference on Homelessness on October 17-18, 2011.

    To learn more, watch a video about t3’s approach to training or visit the t3 website. You can join our mailing list to receive periodic updates about training opportunities.

  • August 19, 2011 10:33 AM | Anonymous

    I can remember the first time I was introduced to People First Language, defined on Wikipedia as a “form of linguistic prescriptivism in English, aiming to avoid perceived and subconscious dehumanization when discussing people with disabilities.“  I was at a mental health conference when a panelist described the an Arizona state legislature, where I live, as schizophrenic.

    A gentleman that I did not know at the time stepped up to the microphone in the audience and stated rather firmly that the characterization was offensive.

    No, it wasn’t one of our esteemed state legislators!  This man, who is now a friend of mine, stated that he had schizophrenia himself.

    He went on to explain how using a condition or disability as the primary way of identifying a person or group of people is extremely harmful.  He did not want to be labeled a schizophrenic, as if his condition summed up all that he was.  He is a man that lives with schizophrenia, but his disability does not define him.

    It was an important moment for me, and I try diligently to focus on people – not conditions – in my speech, both professionally and personally.

    Words Matter

    Words matter.  The way that we construct language has an effect on how we see and understand the world.  Focusing on one’s condition or circumstances increases the likelihood that the listener identifies the person or people as “less than,” as “other,” and reduces the opportunity to identify with them as fellow human beings.

    We share so much more in common as members of a community with equal rights and responsibilities than we have differences.

    This phenomenon of labeling people and groups of people extends beyond the issue of disability.  Last week I attended and presented at the annual conference of the Arizona chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO).  NAHRO is the membership and advocacy organization for public housing authority and community development professionals.

    I’m proud to say that this year marked my 15th year as a NAHRO member.  I’m even more proud to learn from Community Solutions that NAHRO is now a partner in the 100,000 Homes Campaign – an absolutely monumental partnership in the world of homelessness.  NAHRO should be commended for their support of the campaign and I am truly excited to see how they demonstrate their support in their message and guidance to their members.

    Public housing authorities (PHAs) control the HUD Housing Choice Voucher program – formerly known as Section 8 – in their communities, which is an absolutely critical mainstream tool in ending homelessness.  The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) recently outlined actions that PHAs can take to become more involved in preventing and ending homelessness in their communities.

    While presenting to my colleagues at the AZNAHRO conference, I began to understand how labeling people based on their circumstances – in this case, as “homeless people” – continues to keep us from focusing on those with the worst case housing needs.

    In our discussion, I heard in my own voice and in others how the labeling and categorization of people impacted the conversation.  By focusing on the condition of homelessness for individuals and families, mainstream housing programs were not as easily thought of as solutions.

    There are targeted “homeless programs” for “that population.”  Some believe that PHAs need to focus on low-income and “working families” in their programs and that the non-profit and even faith-based sectors are better suited to assist “them.”  I don’t see it that way.

    When we attach labels to people, like “homeless,” we miss the fact that these individuals and families are people that are suffering.  They are members of our community that are perhaps the most vulnerable among us.  They are someone’s son or daughter; perhaps a parent, or grandparent.  They may be someone’s brother or sister, and may have served our country bravely in the military.  They’re certainly low-income!

    As we come together as communities to explore and develop new tools in the effort to end homelessness, I think it is important to choose our words carefully; especially as we bring new partners to the table.

    Some may call it political correctness run amok, but I’ve seen how people respond to this crisis when we frame this issue appropriately – when we look at homelessness as a temporary condition of an individual or family.  People experiencing homelessness have names, faces, stories and are members of our community.  When we discuss solutions to homelessness, we’ll do well to remember that it’s “us” – not “them.”

    Photo credit:  Henti Smith

  • August 18, 2011 12:16 AM | Anonymous

    Welcome to the AZCEH Blog, where we’ll post periodic thoughts on issues related to our vision to end homelessness.  In this space, we’ll provide insight and commentary on issues, trends, and news stories; highlight the efforts of our members and communities working together to end homelessness and we’ll share stories of individuals and families as they overcome challenges and barriers on the path out of homelessness.

    We want this blog to be a true dialogue and encourage your engagement.  Please be free with your comments and we welcome guest posts on issues related to this cause.

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