Ending homelessness requires coordinated action by the entire community to ensure that resources are allocated where they are most needed and are deployed in the most efficient way possible. HHA’s goal is to build a crisis response system for Okaloosa and Walton counties that enables organizations in our community to work together to move people out of homelessness as quickly as possible and then provide them resources to address the underlying issues that put them at risk in the first place. Our members work together to make homelessness brief, rare, and non-recurring.
We utilize a Housing First approach to ending homelessness that prioritizes housing as the FIRST step in solving homelessness. Research has repeatedly shown that individuals and families are more successful in addressing the challenges that led to their homelessness from the safety and security of their own home. The housing first model prioritizes preventing homelessness and rapidly rehousing those without a home as step one. The second step is stabilizing those families until they are no longer at risk.
HHA oversees the implementation of the Housing First model across our community. Different agencies play different roles in the process. Outreach programs, seek to connect unhoused individuals with community resources so that they can begin their journey home. Prevention programs help families retain their current housing to stop the cycle of homelessness before it starts. Shelter programs provide a safe place to stay for families and individuals who are looking for permanent housing. Rapid-rehousing programs help individuals find housing and then provide financial support and counseling services until they can provide for themselves independently. Finally, permanent supportive housing programs provide housing and in depth case management support for chronically homeless individuals and families.
Every year, HHA evaluates the effectiveness of our Crisis Response system. This helps us assess whether our processes are working but also provides important details about which groups are most vulnerable so that resources can be prioritized accordingly. Looking at point in time count data from the last five years, we can see that Housing First is working! The number of people experiencing homelessness in our community is declining. This is true for veterans, families, and the chronically homeless.
In addition to looking at the overall number of people experiencing homelessness in our community, we also look at how effective the overall system is at moving people into permanent housing quickly. We evaluate their exit destinations, the time it takes to house them, and how many re-enter homelessness over the next two years.
90 Days Homeless
Average Cumulative Days Homeless After Accessing Services
Percentage Exiting to Permanent Destinations
Percent Remaining Housed