Award Winner: Consortium for Superior Service
Published on 2018-09-24 17:11:41
The Fort Wayne Housing Authority (Ind.) developed the Housing Strategies Meetings from the Consortium to Provide Superior Service to exchange information about their services with other local service providers in order to effectively meet their clients' specific needs. Nominated from among the NAHRO Award of Merit winners each year, the Awards of Excellence winners are chosen by national juries and honored at the annual National Conference and Exhibition in October. They represent the very best in innovative programs in assisted housing and community development. This agency received an award in the Community Revitalization category, which includes programs that have a positive economic impact on a neighborhood or city, i.e. balanced growth, economic development, job creation; creative financing, public/private partnerships, mixed-use developments or neighborhood preservation.
Fort Wayne Housing Authority’s (FWHA) developed the Housing Strategies Meetings, a consortium of local service providers, to exchange information detailing the services offered by each organization and to easily connect individuals and families to the local service provider who can best handle their needs. FWHA assists more than 8,000 individuals in their community, and their clients’ requests have begun to increasingly extend beyond the realm of affordable housing. Some individuals were once homeless and now need assistance in furnishing their new homes, while others seek access to discounted food and clothing. When FWHA received requests for services that were easily addressed, residents and participants were referred accordingly. But for others, finding the right solution became more challenging over time.
With over 150 local service providers in the community, it was difficult to differentiate between each organization’s services and their specific requirements for referrals. George Guy, the CEO and Executive Director of FWHA, saw the miscommunications and disconnections between service providers in the Fort Wayne community and sought to establish a consortium of representatives from service providing agencies, which would promote the exchange of information regarding the services each organization offered. FWHA invited 270 individuals from over 150 agencies to participate in the forum. At the first meeting, more than 50 individuals, representing over 35 agencies, presented a short, high-level overview of their services . This exchange of information allowed attendees to better understand the services each agency offered. At the end of the first meeting, FWHA gathered the attendees’ contact information and a brief summary of their services and compiled it into a searchable database for the attendees’ use.
FWHA received a significant amount of positive feedback from the attendees and began working towards hosting the next meeting, where requested specific topics could be discussed and encouraged all agencies to contribute in order to build a strong agenda. After the initial meeting, many individuals reached out to FWHA for more information regarding some services that required more clarification. FWHA reached out to the directors of those organizations to ask that they attend the next meeting and present a more detailed overview of services that they provide. The forum has proven to be an innovative way to equip service providers in the area with the necessary information to refer their clients to the proper local agency for assistance outside of their own services. The cost incurred in developing and implementing these meetings was nominal. All invitations were sent via email and FWHA held the meeting on-site in their briefing room. The overall cost was limited to the $175.52 lunch for the first meeting and the time spent by FWHA completing the administrative tasks to arrange the meetings. The Fort Wayne community is now significantly more efficient in identifying the correct service providers for their clients’ various needs.
FWHA continues to hold meetings on a bi-annual basis. As a growing number of organizations become involved and additional programs are implemented, the need for increased meetings may arise. In the past, FWHA found that their clients often put off asking for help due to the hassle of the referral process, however, with the new relationships developed through the Housing Strategies Meetings, the agency is no longer faced with this issue. Being able to help residents and participants identify their needs and then quickly refer them to the correct service provider, helps establish FWHA’s credibility within the community. FWHA and other local service providers are now able to quickly and effectively assist the families and to bridge the gap between their needs and the services their community provides.