Looking Back At The 2012 Charrette And Where We Are Now

Nov 26, 2018  |  at 1:58 pm  |  by awright

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In 2012, a planning committee that included the Coalition for the Homeless put together a two-day event known as the Charrette, to shape a new strategic plan for the homeless service system in our community. With over 300 community stakeholders (including government partners, nonprofits, community members, etc.) participating, the strategic action plan we know today came to fruition.

Since then, homelessness in our community has been reduced by 51 percent and over 15,000 individuals have been housed through The Way Home. Because the current plan only goes through 2020, the Coalition as lead agency to The Way Home, will be facilitating a Community Conversation to once again gather input from community stakeholders, with the hopes of creating a new vision for 2020 and beyond.

As precursor to the event, we reached out to those who participated in the original Charrette in 2012, to gather their thoughts on the impact this had on our homeless service system and the current work we are doing, and what they hope will come out of the upcoming Community Conversation.

“The Charrette in 2012 was memorable for me in regard to bringing together a diverse group of providers from both the public and private sectors, as well as constituents impacted by homelessness, who were not accustomed to being in the same room,” said Joel Levine, Executive Director of Harris County Protective Services. “That was the first time I saw the Coalition move from working with agencies funded through the Continuum of Care, to expanding their reach to involving the community as well.”

Thao Costis, President/CEO of SEARCH Homeless Services, also agrees that the 2012 Charrette was a huge game changer for Houston. “It kickstarted the transformation of our responses, and the realization that we can have a Houston without homelessness,” said Thao. She hopes after November 27, there will be new momentum built and clear strategies utilized to tackle specific needs in our community, while continuing to keep innovating to achieve our audacious goals.

Gary Grier, who was the Project Manager for the 2012 Charette on behalf of the Coalition, said that this event is what jump started what would become what we know as The Way Home. “The Charrette had a huge attendance and scope with over 330 participants representing 158 agencies,” said Gary. “It was something that a formerly fragmented system could coalesced around to build a system approach.”

Six years later, homelessness in our community has changed and there are new acute issues that need to be addressed. Our community also needs a plan that will pick up where our current one leaves off in 2020. Preston Witt, Chief Services Officer of Harmony House, who participated in 2012, hopes one outcome of the Community Conversation will be ensuring people are able to more easily be connected to housing resources and programs to be able to exit the shelter system into housing. He also hopes that new permanent housing models for individuals with severe mental health, and medically compromised and medication non-compliant individuals, will be explored.