MAAC’s Mission

Strengthening the Social Service Community through Information Systems, Training, and Advocacy

Welcome to MAACLink!

Information Systems

MAACLink is a Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) and social service software suite developed and maintained by the Mid America Assistance Coalition. The system contains vital information regarding services provided to individuals throughout the communities MAAC serves. Access to this information helps service agencies manage limited resources more efficiently by:

  • Minimizing duplication of services
  • Capturing information about unmet community needs
  • Identifying households that could benefit from more comprehensive case management or support services

Training

MAAC provides Strengths Based Case Management training – a best practice in working with homeless populations – for caseworkers. This takes an approach of looking at and building on clients’ strengths.  Each year, MAAC also hosts an Annual Training Conference in Kansas City, designed to provide continuing education and information to over 200 service providers and agencies.

Advocacy

MAAC is involved in advocacy efforts for homeless and low-income people and families, including utility assistance and homeless services. The MAAC Fund Management Program distributes more than $600,000 in privately donated utility assistance each year.

Kansas Housing Cost/Benefit Analysis Released by Kim Wilson Housing

Kim Wilson Housing recently published the results of a months-long research effort into the costs of various housing and other interventions in Kansas.  Broadly, I think its results match those of similar studies done previously nationwide, and reinforce the excellent cost/benefit value of permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing.

Read the report for yourself right here: Cost Benefit Analysis for KS 2014-final

My thoughts:

  • Keeping Kansans homeless is very expensive!  A person experiencing homelessness in Kansas accesses about $153.00 of services – including ambulance and ER services, encounters with police, emergency shelter, etc. – per day.  In contrast, permanent supportive housing (which decreases uses of these other services drastically) costs about $29 per day for scattered-site projects (i.e. rent vouchers and wrap-around services).  Budget-minded taxpayers ought to favor increasing permanent supportive housing, it seems to me!
  • The cost of an ambulance ride plus an emergency room visit is roughly equal to that of providing 61 days of permanent supportive housing in a scattered site project.  ER “frequent fliers” can access the ER several times per month; identifying and housing these folks drastically improve their health, along with saving money!

The way we do things now results in huge, mostly hidden, costs to all of us for emergency health, police, and housing services.  There are better ways that, together, communities across the country are working toward.  They have to make sense locally, but they all include improved data systems, collection, and reporting, re-allocation of resources toward permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing, and housing first-style priorities (i.e. our system does not prolong someone’s homelessness due to addiction, lack of “job readiness,” criminal record, etc.).

If you had a housing crisis tonight, which system would you want to encounter?  The one we have now?  Or the one we’re building?

Reasons to Smile

Today as we reflect on the tragic events of 13 years ago, our thoughts are with the thousands affected by 9/11 as well as our country and its leaders.

Tribute in Light

It seems like it’d also be a good time to point out just a few things I’ve recently seen that might give us some reasons to smile… Because that’s never a bad thing.

Like this Indianapolis police officer who stopped not to hassle a homeless man, but instead to give him a new pair of boots. And the indy police officer shares bootsfact that an Indiana Pacers player captured it on his drive home from the gym and shared it with his almost 200K Instagram followers, is just icing on the cake.

 

shower bus

 

Or these retired San Francisco Muni Buses that a woman, with the help of the city, turned into mobile showers for the homeless.

 

Also, this agency in Vancouver who created pop-up shelters for their homeless out of existing city benches. The benches also give more info about how to get connected with their services.

park bench shelter

And just yesterday here in our very own KC, the sweetest thing I’m so happy to have witnessed all week (maybe so far all month) – on a corner just south of the Plaza where you can commonly find a homeless person with their sign, an older gentleman stood just that way. Trying to ask for some compassion; whether he was looking for money or food or some work, I’m not sure. I was stopped at a light headed in a direction not facing him and didn’t even notice until one of the cars going toward him slowed and rolled down their window. A hand emerged holding two large boxes of pizza and grocery sack with what appeared to be a couple two-liters of soda. I wish that I had a video of not only the kind act, but the huge, seemingly never-ending (nearly toothless) grin on his face! The little jig he danced and the gratitude and almost disbelief he showed to the person in the car will hold in my memory. We know that didn’t solve all his problems, but wow… for that moment, he had a reason to smile. It was one of the greatest looks of joy I’ve seen.

So this week, as we remember the past and quite possibly have some difficult days, I’m going to try to remind myself that it’s often the little things that make a big difference.

Ice Cream for Air Conditioners

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a pretty big fan of sweets. I love any kind of sweets – candy, chocolate, ice cream, baked goods, I love them all! When I recently heard a local sweet shop, Garza’s Goodies, was doing a fundraiser to benefit Project Eldercool, the sweet loving social worker in me knew I had to find out more.

garza'sAfter checking out their blog, I learned that Garza’s Goodies was started by Richard Garza in 2012 in an effort to set an example for his son and show him how hard work can pay off.  After two successful years in business the Garza’s decided to celebrate by giving back to their community.  This summer they have been raising money for Project Eldercool through their fundraiser, “Ice Cream for Air Conditioners”.  This fundraiser will continue through the end of September and the Garza’s will be donating 10% of every Ice Cream Treat they sell to Bishop Sullivan Center’s Project ElderCool.  Their goal is to donate enough money to provide 10 air conditioners to elderly individuals in need.  You can keep up on their progress by following their blog.

Project Eldercool was started in 2000 by eldercoolBishop Sullivan to help provide window air conditioners to the elderly here in Kansas City.  When I worked in Emergency Assistance I had the opportunity to see how this program greatly improved situations for the elderly here in Kansas City.   Since its inception, Project Eldercool has installed over 5000 air conditioners and each year they continue to grow and improve the program.

If you’re interested in contributing to the cause, you can visit Garza’s Goodies at 322 West 85th St, Kansas City, MO 64114. If you’re not a sweets fan like me, you can also make a donation directly to Project Eldercool here.

#BeAwesomeToSomebody

We survived another Back-to-School season! Most of the kiddos in my life got new clothes, school supplies and the requisite haircut before heading off to their first day of school. Haircuts, I think, are one of those things that we tend to forget are a luxury which leads me to my latest Instragram find: markbustos.

For the past 2 years this NYC stylist takes to the streets on his days off, approaches homeless individuals and says “I want to do something nice for you today.”
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That something is a free haircut.
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His selflessness is inspiring and a great reminder that individuals can change lives. I love the hashtag he created for the project: #BeAwesomeToSomebody.
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For more pictures you can follow the link below to a full story or you can follow Mark on Instragram.
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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/17/mark-bustos-homeless-haircuts_n_5678454.html

What’s Next For 100,000 Homes?

The national 100,000 Homes Campaign reached its goal one month ahead of schedule, housing 101,628 people as of June 30.  Locally, we housed 434 people (including 107 veterans) in under two years.  This was more the double our original goal of 200!

What’s next?  The Zero:2016 Campaign to end homelessness for veterans and chronically homeless individuals by December 31, 2016.

Communities – specifically, HUD COCs – must apply to join Zero:2016, and the KC/Jackson COC is currently considering whether and how to apply.  I’ll be speaking at the COC’s meeting tomorrow to provide background information and answer questions about the campaign.

If we apply and are accepted, in many ways we’ll continue what we’ve been doing for 100,000 Homes.  We’ll survey people experiencing homelessness with the VI-SPDAT assessment, use those assessment results to guide our use of our permanent housing and rapid re-housing resources, work together in housing and outreach teams to offer our homeless neighbors appropriate housing options, help move them into housing (the most important step!), and support them according to their assessed needs.

In another way, however, Zero:2016 would be a game-changer in Kansas City.  The local 100,000 Homes campaign has been a voluntary coalition of the enthusiastic.  Zero:2016 would bring the institutional resources of the COC, the local Veterans Affairs office, and the public housing authority into the campaign.  Decisions regarding participation in the process I described in the previous paragraph might well have higher stakes.

More and more in the social services world, funding is shifting to coordinated, data-driven methods that have been demonstrated to work.  Zero:2016 is at the leading edge of this sea change, but whether or not we join the campaign locally I expect that in a few years our work will look like what the campaign is advocating for.  I say let’s make the change now, for the sake of the people we serve.  Ending homelessness, here we come!