I have been doing some research since January of this year, and I am going to let you in on it – the most frequent questions I get asked over email, on the phone, and one on one in my travels. I have been keeping tabs of what I get asked about. Here are the 12 most frequent questions (paraphrasing in some instances) – in order of frequency – up until the end of July…
1. Do you really believe homelessness can be ended?
I believe that chronic and episodic homelessness can be ended. I do not believe that we can prevent all homelessness. Some people/families will always be homeless at all times. No one can stop family breakdown, job loss, and life decisions with terrible consequences from happening. But we can make homelessness rare and of a short duration.
2. How do you really make money with the SPDAT?
We don’t. People seem to think we must have some sort of hidden agenda/money making scheme for the SPDAT. We honestly lose boatloads of money on the SPDAT. We are okay with that. If we thought it was important to make money on the SPDAT we would:
- charge a lot more for the training
- have an annual licensing fee/user fee
- not give the VI-SPDAT away for free
- charge for technical assistance in the follow-up from using it
3. Is all that travel hard?
Yes and no. The travel itself is not hard. You get used to it. I wouldn’t do it if I was not okay with it. No one forces me to travel. I own the company. After a while every airport and hotel looks the same. Almost every flight I am on is just an office at 32,000 feet – I do work on almost all flights.
Being away from my family gets hard – sometimes more than others. That is the only part of the travel that stings sometimes. I have missed dance recitals and first days of school and Christmas concerts and kid birthdays. Thankfully my family supports what I do.
4. What is your favorite city/place?
I don’t have just one. There are bits and pieces of several. I really love Brisbane, Australia. I could live in Providence, RI or Edmonton, AB if I was staying in one place for any length of time. Ann Arbor, MI has some amazing qualities. About one month a year I would love to live in LA. My favorite food experience is pretty much anywhere in Louisiana, though BBQ in Kansas City rocks my world. One of the best drives I have had in my life is from Denver to Grand Junction in Colorado, though the beauty of West Virginia is a close second. My favourite place to run when on the road is Traverse City, MI. I have great friends in several places…across Alberta especially.
5. Who (where) is really doing a good job?
Nowhere has completely figured it out. I would love to take a bit from here and add it to a bit from there and put together a super awesome hybrid. The truth is, there are lots of places making great progress.
6. Are you a HUD TA provider?
No. Black out period does not impact us. We sometimes accept work from other TA providers.
7. Has your hair always been long?
I have been growing my hair since before high school. I joke that my father is still waiting for me to get a hair cut and a real job.
8. Do you ever find some people are turned off/tune out your message of (Housing First, SPDAT, prioritization, harm reduction, etc.)
Yes. But I will keep delivering it. I will keep trying to convert people to the value of evidence.
9. Have you ever been homeless?
I do not talk about anything like this in my life publicly.
10. What do you teach?
For more than a decade I have been teaching a graduate course on Community Planning and Housing. I also sometimes teach courses on Public Involvement and/or Social Policy and Planning. I teach at York University in the Faculty of Environmental Studies, where I also did my graduate work. The program is near and dear to my heart. Barbara Rahder, who teaches there and is the former dean, has had an amazing impact on my life. So did Gerry Daly (now retired) who wrote a very impactful book on homelessness.
11.How many people work for OrgCode?
Me, Tracy Flaherty-Willmott, Ali Ryder, and Jeff Standell.
12. Are you presenting at (insert name of conference)?
My schedule gets filled up months in advance. I love presenting at just about any conference. But other than Alliance conferences that are booked into my calendar a year in advance, please let me know well in advance if you want me to speak.