Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hope in the Mundane

Small groups of socially conscious, inspired people engaged on the fringes of society can do amazing things. Problems that seem intractable, impersonal and distant become glaringly hideous and embarrassing and, most importantly, solvable when ordinary individuals join hands and complete very mundane tasks. We meet at early hours of the morning, make coffee, collect pens, print copies, adjust cameras, pocket food vouchers, smile at our neighbors and go out into the cold with a higher purpose. What we have done locally has grown into something much larger. Thank you Becky Kanis and Common Ground Community for inspiring me and my native city.

In Nashville, here is what has happened in just a couple of months since our initial “survey blitz”:
**Nashville’s only “housing-first” program scrapped its usual referral process and is now only taking individuals off of the Vulnerability Index ™.
**Nashville’s housing authority promised 32 housing subsidies for the most vulnerable.
**$100,000 of city funds will match any private donations to create a local rental subsidy for the most vulnerable.
**The Vulnerability Index ™ is being used to address homeless encampments sprouting up around Nashville.
**In March, health care providers will begin completing surveys with their homeless patients. One such provider manages over 15 community health clinics in Nashville.
**The VA is considering a “pilot” that would help the most vulnerable veterans access VASH subsidies in a more timely manner.

As I list the successes above, I must confess that I am doing my own version of a Vulnerability Index ™ dance. Fortunately, none of my staff are around to see. Let’s just say it incorporates some moves from Slumdog Millionaire.

Less-than-graceful dance moves and goosebumps are occurring because I know the successes above are just scratching the surface. The future looks so promising; solving homelessness in Nashville doesn’t seem overly idealistic anymore.

The Vulnerability Index ™ galvanizes and inspires action because it tells a story, our human story. It reminds us of what happens when health fails and our systems of care disappoint. It inspires action despite geography, climate and culture.

I can’t wait to hear your stories of how you and your community have met death with hope in the form of a 5-minute survey. Thanks again Becky and Common Ground Community for what you do and this venue. Peace.

1 comment:

Becky Kanis said...

Will - what you and your team have done in Nashville is an inspiration to all of us! The way you're using the data to secure housing and supports for the most chronic and vulnerable is just phenomenal! I told the story of what you've been able to accomplish in so little time to some colleagues in Santa Monica, who remarked, "where there's a WILL, there's a way."

Can you post a video of you doing the Slumdog Dance?

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