Performance Measurement Tools

  • System Wide Analytics and Projection (SWAP) (2014-current). Prepared in collaboration with the National Alliance to End Homelessness. SWAP is a new suite of tools designed to allow communities to use local data to understand what the current system is accomplishing and model what happens when system and program changes are made. The SWAP tools are designed to guide and inform system planning and system change efforts to reduce homelessness over up to five years. These tools include the concepts used in the Performance Improvement Calculator (PIC) described below as well as a number of additional features to make them useful for specific system planning purposes. The SWAP analyzes system performance at a project-by-project level and allows communities to model the results of changes to individual projects or groups of projects.  One of the most powerful outputs is an estimate of how the size of community’s homeless population will change over a five-year period as a result of the programmatic and investment changes being modeled.
  • Performance Improvement Calculator (PIC) (2012).  Prepared for the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the PIC is an interactive tool that allows communities to use local cost and performance data on homeless programs to model strategies that decrease homelessness. Focus Strategies works with states and local communities to develop the information needed to fully use the PIC for system planning purposes. (See tool on Publications page)

Homeless System Performance & Planning

  • National Alliance to End Homelessness/Commonwealth of Virginia (2014-current).  Focus Strategies worked with the National Alliance to End Homelessness to develop and pilot the SWAP tools with the Continua of Care in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  The Virginia CoCs used SWAP to combine and aggregate data from their HIC, HMIS, PIT and program budgets, understand data quality and program performance at the project level, and then to model what happens when system and program changes are made.
  • National Alliance to End Homelessness/Commonwealth of Virginia (2012-2013).  Focus Strategies was part of a team of technical assistance providers that worked with the Commonwealth of Virginia to create a system for collecting and reporting on outcomes and impacts of homeless programs throughout the Commonwealth.  This system will eventually allow for data from all Continua of Care in the Commonwealth to be collected and reported, and will include meaningful measurements, including impacts and outcomes of homeless programs and investments.
  • Alexandria and Richmond, Virginia (2014-current). Focus Strategies is working individually with the City of Alexandria and with Homeward, the CoC Lead Agency for Richmond, Virginia to help both communities use the SWAP to assess their existing system performance and develop strategies for system re-design and right-sizing.
  • Nashville, Tennessee (2015-current). Focus Strategies is currently working with the City of Nashville’s Metro Homeless Commission (MHC) and Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MHDA) to conduct an assessment of homeless system performance using our SWAP tools. This analysis will form the basis for a set of system re-design recommendations and suggestions for a new governance structure that will best support the community leadership’s efforts to end homelessness in Nashville.
  • San Mateo County, California (2014-current).  In early 2015 Focus Strategies used the SWAP to conduct a system assessment for San Mateo County, which yielded important information about what is working well in the community’s homeless system and what could be further improved.   We are now beginning Phase Two of this project, which will include using the SWAP’s System Performance Predictor (SPP) to model the impact of potential system design changes. This modelling work will inform the development of a system re-design strategy and updated Strategic Plan to End Homelessness.
  • State of California (2014-2015). In conjunction with Abt Associates, Focus Strategies is providing technical assistance to the State of California in redesigning the Emergency Solutions Grant program to support the system-level planning work of Continuums of Care across the state and to more fully incorporate best practices such as performance measurement and Housing First approaches.  See the Publications page for a link to presentation material from this project.
  • North Carolina (2011 – 2014).  The Carolina Homeless Information Network and North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness have partnered with Focus Strategies to use HMIS data for HEARTH performance measurement and to prepare performance dashboards for the system and individual programs within their Continuum of Care.  Current work includes helping local CoCs and the statewide system to understand results and plan for deeper collaboration between systems leadership, local leadership and program staff, and the HMIS team.
  • Eureka, California (2014-current). As part of their General Plan Update, the City of Eureka engaged Focus Strategies to undertake an analysis of homelessness in the community and propose strategies to more effectively address the problem.  This work included interviews with key stakeholders, an analysis of existing data, and review of promising practices from comparable communities – rural places with mild climates and disproportional numbers of chronically homeless people. Our recommendations included moving towards a Housing First approach and marshalling available resources to increase the supply of rapid re-housing and permanent supportive housing in the community. We are now working with Eureka on an Implementation Plan to put these recommendations into action.
  • Montana (2012). Focus Strategies assessed HMIS data for HEARTH performance measurement usage and developed prototype dashboards for measuring system outcomes on key indicators at the State and local level.

Coordinated Entry

  • Pierce County, Washington (2014-current). Focus Strategies has conducted an assessment of the existing system for Centralized Intake in place in Pierce County (Tacoma area) to help improve its effectiveness. This project included analysis of data on the existing homeless system, including HIC, PIT, HMIS and budget data. Based on this analysis, we have proposed strategies for both Centralized Intake system refinement and broader system right-sizing. In 2015 we are assisting Pierce County to develop an implementation plan and roll out the recommended changes.
  • King County, Washington (2014). Working on behalf of the Committee to End Homelessness King County, Focus Strategies assessed and made recommendations for refinement of the family coordinated entry and assessment process. Our final report, King County Family Coordinated Entry Assessment and Refinement (link on publications page) covers strengths, challenges and gaps in the current approach, and recommendations for increasing community buy-in, efficiency, and effectiveness.  Work conducted included extensive document review, site visits, focus groups and interviews, data analysis, and a review of comparable systems in other communities.
  • City of Berkeley, California (2014-current). Focus Strategies assisted the City of Berkeley with the development of a Coordinated Access System (CAS) designed to create a new single point of entry to the City’s homeless programs and services, which will streamline and improve access for people experiencing homelessness. The plan we developed was adopted by City Council in June 2015 and we are now providing the City with technical assistance to implement this system re-design.
  • Orange County, California (2014-2015). In Orange County, Focus Strategies worked with 211OC (the CoC Lead) to craft a proposed new system for Coordinated Assessment/Centralized Intake (CA-CI). This ambitious plan includes not only a proposed re-design of system entry points and expansion of shelter diversion capacity, but also re-tooling of existing transitional housing, rapid re-housing, and permanent supportive housing to ensure there are appropriate housing exits for all homeless people in the community, particularly those with the highest needs and barriers. The plan was approved by Orange County’s Commission to End Homelessness in January 2015.
  • Sacramento County (2013).  Sacramento Steps Forward, the CoC for Sacramento County, engaged Focus Strategies to develop a coordinated entry and assessment system that align with HUD goals and regulations.  Activities include researching best practices from other communities, facilitating a community input process, analyzing decision points and system design options, and drafting an implementation plan.

Point in Time Counts

  • Alameda County, California (2011-2015). Focus Strategies coordinated and lead the research team for service site-based Point in Time count on behalf of Everyone Home, CoC Lead for Alameda County in 2011, 2013, and 2015. We served as the research partner, responsible for overseeing methodological compliance, selecting the sample, ensuring the results would meet new mandates, conducted the analysis and prepared the report. Focus and Focus team members have worked on the PIT counts for Alameda County since their inception in 2003.
  • Orange County, California (2013 and 2015). Focus Strategies assisted the OC Partnership (OCP) and the Orange County Continuum of Care to successfully develop, implement, and generate results and a report for their 2013 and 2015 Homeless Point in Time Counts. Focus provided technical assistance on the development of a methodology designed to fit the terrain and size of Orange County, conducted data analysis, and presented results in a final report. In 2015 we assisted with the refinement of the 2013 methodology and helped the community with implementation.
  • Sacramento County, California (2006-2015). Focus Strategies provide technical assistance to Sacramento Steps Forward, the CoC for Sacramento County, for their 2013 and 2015 homeless counts. Services provided included development of a methodology for the count, mapping, developing of training curriculum and delivery of trainings, data analysis, and drafting the final count report.

Needs Assessments and Program Evaluations

  • San Mateo County Motel Voucher Program Evaluation (2015-current).  On behalf of the San Mateo County Human Services Agency, Focus Strategies is in the process of conducting an evaluation of the motel voucher program, a key element of the community’s homeless strategy.  The community invests significant local resources in this program, which primarily targets homeless families with children.  Focus Strategies is conducting a process and outcome evaluation designed to identify how well the program is meeting the community’s objectives and making recommendations for modifying the approach to achieve better results.
  • City of San Jose HPRP Assessment (2012).  Focus Strategies was engaged by Community Technology Alliance to assess the City of San Jose, California’s Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing (HPRP) program implementation, using data from local HMIS and interviews with providers.  We provided a summary of findings and recommendations for future efforts. (See report on Publications page)
  • Low Income People with Mental Illness in Alameda County (2011).  On behalf of the Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services (2011), Focus Strategies led a five-agency team to collect information and prepare an analysis of the needs of low-income persons with mental illness who are isolated.  This project included facilitating consumer and focus groups, analyzing local and national data sets, and preparing a summary of conditions and recommendations. (See report on Publications page)

Supportive Housing Systems and Projects

  • Sacramento County MHSA Housing Portfolio (2006 – Current) Since the inception of Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) planning, housing for homeless people with mental illness has been a high priority. To that end, Sacramento County Division of Behavioral Health Services (DBHS), committed to partnering with non-profit housing developers to finance and build affordable housing units specifically for homeless people with mental illness. Focus Strategies has advised DBHS on the investment of MHSA funds to create 165 new permanent supportive housing units for MHSA eligible individuals, located in eight separate developments (many of them mixed projects consisting of affordable units and supportive housing units). Focus Strategies monitors the properties and the system of housing for more than 600 people with serious mental illness.