In May 2018 concerned community stakeholders asked KConnect to bring people together to examine how the housing system is working, establish shared goals, and develop collaborative strategies to reach those goals with a focus on children, families, youth, and people of color. KConnect initiated its work in Fall 2018, KConnect began a yearlong process to convene organizations, funders, and other stakeholders within the housing and homeless system. Together we will develop a comprehensive community plan specifically calling for equitable outcomes for children and families.
The mission, purpose of the first twelve months of work were defined as:
Mission Statement: The mission is to increase access to affordable housing and decrease homelessness for families, children, and youth, with an intentional focus on eliminating racial disparities in Kent County.
Purpose Statement: The purpose of our work is to align and connect system-level interventions that address homelessness and increase access to housing. Strategies must be intentionally designed with the end user in mind and targeted to people of color.
This work was originally anticipated to be completed in December 2019. However, in October 2019, after careful consideration and reflection, the Board of Trustees approved a request from the Design Team for a six-month extension in order to create a more comprehensive community plan. During the final months, the teams will move into a collaborative designing phase.
We have promised to deliver a common agenda and roadmap to create and sustain a movement that builds systems between sectors and empowers lived experience to dissolve housing instability and homelessness for children and families from the landscape of Kent County. That work is to be completed by June 30, 2020. It is our goal to build the movement that is already underway, and to center lived experience around this system-change strategy.
The scope and agreed-upon purpose of the last six months of work is:
Scope: Recognizing the disparate overrepresentation of families of color among homeless populations, our work through June 2020 will be focused on creating a community framework that will reduce the disparity in our housing efforts over the next five years.
Purpose Statement: Increase access to quality affordable housing and dissolve homelessness in Kent County with an intentional focus on eliminating racial disparities among families, children, and youth and other data-driven priorities.
Creating an equitable housing system will not happen overnight. It will decades of hard work and dedication from the entire community. However, if 2019 was any indication that the Kent County communities share a passion for this issue; we are well poised to create change.
During the first twelve months of work, the Housing Stability Alliance group was split into five teams:
The work was introduced for feedback in June at the Housing Accountability Partners Council. (For more information on what each group accomplished, please refer to the Housing Stability Alliance Updates.)
While these teams working independently and interdependently yet, by September we heard a consistent call for readiness for less “teaming” and more collective work. In an effort to address this very positive development, the way in which we organize ourselves – our work structure – will change to a System Building Team which will help eliminate delays in communication and strengthen our overall alignment. You can view that new structure here.
Based on prior Design Team conversations, a public/private/philanthropic chair team has been established to serve as publicly-facing liaisons to the work. Our new chairs include:
Mandy Bolter | Chair, Kent County Commission
The periodic broad network convening will transition from the Housing Accountability Partners Council to the Housing Responsibility Partners Council. The Network Chairs will also provide leadership to this convening.
Ensuring lived experience informs system change work has been our commitment from the beginning. Over the past twelve months, we engaged lived experience, grew in our empathy, and learned about both the sensitivities of engaging and ensuring that it informs change. While we recognize the work we did in the first twelve months was valued and important, we believe that there is a better way to build on community assets. We are partnering with the Grand Rapids Urban League and the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan to assist in leveraging the voice of lived experience in a way that will inform a sustainable structure and move the voice of those with lived experience to a place of empowerment.
Check back here frequently to review the communications regarding the Housing Stability Alliance work, including work updates and event announcements.
Introduction Email to KConnect Network – Sent January 22, 2019
February Housing Security Update – Sent March 1, 2019
May Housing Security Update – Sent May 9, 2019
October Housing Security Update – Sent October 15, 2019
Housing Security Extension Update – Sent November 22, 2019
January Housing Stability Alliance Update – Sent February 7, 2020
KConnect Housing Stability Alliance in the News:
‘I would love to have a house that I own where my kids could play outside’ – Data shows one in seven African American children in Kent County is in homeless system (School News Network) – December 6, 2019
Study: 1 in 7 Black Children in Kent Co. Lacks Stable Home (Wood TV) – December 6, 2019
If you would like to receive Housing Stability Alliance updates via email, please email Katie Hop, Communications Manager at [email protected]