Geek Out: 8 Community Dashboards, 2 Months of Data, 1 Goal

Are you #datadriven? We are! And all we had to do was get started.

We have three more communities—Anchorage, Austin, and San Francisco—joining our cohort to track their data and progress toward ending youth homelessness, using the AWHA Community Dashboards.

The first five—Cleveland, Connecticut, El Paso County, Ohio Balance of State, and Washington D.C.—have been logging their data over the course of the last two months and documented their progress: collectively, they’ve taken 107 youth experiencing homelessness off of their by-name lists, housing them through family reunification and by leveraging rapid re-housing, transitional housing and permanent supportive housing resources.

Communities are sharing realtime, month-by-month data. Community Dashboards capture where youth experiencing homelessness are living and how they’re connecting to safe and stable housing, as well as data that captures the race and sexual orientation of youth experiencing homelessness in order to better understand needs in each community. They are leading the way for our movement by narrowing the tremendous gap between need and available resources.

For the benefit of our movement and our partners, these communities are making their data public so that we can all understand the challenges they’re facing and the strategies that are working to end youth homelessness. Who is showing up at their shelter and drop-in doors? Who are they able to find safe housing for, and what is that housing? Is there parity for young people of color and LGBTQ youth (are these youth accessing housing at rates on par with their white or non-LGBTQ peers)? And, who is still left waiting at the end of each month?

AWHA Community Dashboard are critical to our ability to track our progress and our struggles, informing what work we need to do to end youth homelessness. Frankly, we are geeky about it and completely convicted: To effectively end homelessness among young people in every community across the United States, we must measure progress in real-time against our primary goal.

To end youth homelessness, we have to hold ourselves accountable and commit to learning and adapting each step of the way. We are living this by collectively and publicly track our progress toward this goal.

Have we gotten any closer to our goal since last month? Do we know why or why not?
Why are more young people exiting to family in this one community versus another?
How was one community able to house so many more young people this month?
Are young people returning to homelessness, even after we have thought they were securely housed?

We hope you’ll geek out with us and follow the progress made by these communities and those who will join them in the coming months. We hope you’ll ask questions. We hope you’ll notice that each community is starting from wherever they are; these dashboards are purposefully works in progress.

Most importantly? We hope you’ll join us! We’d love for you to follow the examples of Anchorage, Austin, Cleveland, Connecticut, El Paso County, Ohio Balance of State, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. and start measuring your progress as a community toward ending youth homelessness.

Take it from them: you don’t need to have everything figured out, just start. Start looking at your community data, however incomplete, however imperfect, no matter how it’s collected. Start on an abacus or stacks of napkins if you have to!

The secret to getting ahead is getting started. -agatha christie