All Chicago: Making Homelessness History
Focus on Strategy
In 2016, All Chicago, with a budget of $6 million provided systems level coordination to Chicago’s Homeless System. $2.7 million, was distributed as financial assistance to prevent homelessness or provide short term rental assistance. All Chicago served 3,195 households, including more than 1,350 children. According to survey results, 94% of All Chicago clients reported being housed at the time of follow up, and 88% reported that the financial assistance resolved their crisis.
In the same year, Millennia Consulting was retained to lead a strategic planning process that put the organization on a path to growth and included several ambitious priorities. Together, we explored the critical issues facing the organization’s internal capacity and external positioning. We contemplated several scenarios and concluded that All Chicago would not be satisfied with the status quo. One year out, All Chicago has put 79% of its strategic priorities in motion with significant advances. It is already well on its way to reaching its plan for growth.
All Chicago coordinates a community planning and application process which secures over 60 million dollars annually from Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These funds come to homeless service providers in Chicago and are distributed through the city’s Continuum of Care (CoC), a consortium of more than 100 homeless service providers. In addition to implementing policies decided by the CoC board, All Chicago’s plan includes a range of components such as: a restructured learning center able to offer continuing education to housing and homeless professionals and leaders; a more robust data analytics capacity in which quality data can be leveraged for evaluation, research and policy analysis; a broader range of community partners, and; more policy advocacy presence, especially at the federal level.
Only a year into the plan, much progress has been already been made.
The CoC governance model has been restructured, bringing in new leaders including some key government officials from the Sheriff’s office, the Department of Family Support Services, and the housing authority to name a few. Homeless service providers continue to be critical members of the governing body along with People of Lived Experience.
The Learning Center will soon have new space allowing for larger training sessions in an area more conducive to adult learning. New training modules have been developed so students can receive profession Continuing Education Units (CEU’s). New online software has greatly facilitated the student registration process and even increased revenues.
All Chicago manages the HUD Management Information System (HMIS) data system in which all HUD grant recipients report their client data and outcomes. Recognizing that this data is critical to not only the monitoring of results but also to fully understanding policy implications, All Chicago’s strategy includes building more capacity to analyze the data in order to generate research and policy reports. At a recent national conference, All Chicago staff were pleasantly surprised when a plenary speaker unexpectedly touted the All Chicago data dashboard and analytics and identified it as a model for other CoC’s to follow.
Our situational analysis identified partnerships with health providers as an opportunity for the future. And, All Chicago has made progress on that front too. It is actively working with a local health system to link health data with HMIS data on the homeless. This data sharing has the potential to substantially improve outcomes for Chicago’s homeless individuals and families. Prototyping is currently happening.
Future plans are to ramp up its policy research efforts in the service of advocacy at the federal level for programs that increase affordable housing and provide programs that support an end to homelessness.
The All Chicago Executive director had this to say about Millennia and the strategic planning process, “Developing and implementing strategic plans has been critical to our ability to build and strengthen our organization allowing us to better serve our community. Millennia Consulting supported us, encouraged us, and brought valuable insight and context to this work. They helped us develop a plan that worked for us. The results speak for themselves.”