Interview with Kate Smith, Program Manager with Destination: Home

Though passerby may recognize her for her impeccable fashion sense, we at Housing 1000 recognize our new team member Kate Smith for fighting to end homelessness.

Meet Kate, Project Manager at Destination: Home

and Housing 1000 team member.

Q: Could you tell me a little bit about yourself, and about Destination: Home?

 Kate: I studied affordable housing at San Jose State, so I’ve been interested in these issues for a while. Destination: Home is part of the greater public-private partnership that makes up Housing 1000. My role is acting as a conduit between people who need services and people who provide them—I align case managers with faith-based groups, with clients who are receiving services in our Care Coordination Project and provide ongoing opportunities for mini-Registry Week activities – similar to our big event last summer, where we continue to register men and women living outside. I’m also working on the Crowdfunding site which will be launching soon.

Q: Can you describe the Care Coordination Project?

 Kate:   The Care Coordination Project is based in the Housing First philosophy and represents a unique approach to ending homelessness. Usually, if people are lucky enough to get into a program, they might eventually get housed but then after that they’re often on their own. That approach doesn’t work well for housing the most vulnerable people who’ve been on the streets for 15 or 20 years.

Housing First is different because it gives people the support they need to succeed in housing in the longer term and focuses the bulk of those services once stable housing has been secured. The Care Coordination Project can be thought of as a series of concentric circles; in the middle is the homeless individual, and surrounding them are case managers who help connect them to services, with a larger circle representing our community volunteers.

These intensive case managers have small case loads, and they not only help them get services and benefits but are also available to make sure they know how to use the oven, how to turn on the heat, how to fill a prescription and do grocery shopping—things you might have trouble with after decades on the street.

Finally, the greater community supports the case managers. My role is to be a line connecting all these different parts, to help advance the greater goal of moving people in and keeping them housed. This support system helps the most medically vulnerable formerly homeless individuals succeed in housing and maintain their recovery.

Q: You’ve mentioned you’ll be moving people in, soon. How do move-in parties work?

Kate: We have a great volunteer base, and I work with volunteers to advertise move-in parties. People can either donate, help set up or just be a guest and get to know the client—invite them to Wednesday bingo night at church, that sort of thing. The important thing is just to welcome them into the housed community.

Q: What sorts of volunteering opportunities are there with Housing 1000 right now?

 Kate: We’re going to have lots of surveying opportunities coming up! There will be a volunteer re-training in early February for returning survey volunteers, and a big training in early March for first-time volunteers. We’ll be surveying at many locations including Martha’s Kitchen and the Sunnyvale and Gilroy armories. Volunteers can contact us now to sign up.

Q: What are some obstacles you’ve run into with implementing Housing 1000’s goals?

 Kate: We as a team have to be very resourceful in a time of budget cuts. But Housing 1000 is all about disruptive innovation and doing what hasn’t been done before. That’s why we’re using innovative tools like social media and crowdfunding, bypassing bureaucracy and going straight to the community to find and quickly  house vulnerable individuals.

Q: What’s the best way for community members to contribute to the efforts of Housing 1000?

Kate: If they have time they can contact me and volunteer to survey homeless folks, helping us to find more vulnerable people and help house them before their health deteriorates further. Otherwise, it’s easy to donate a small amount to help keep people housed on our new site which will launch in early February.


About K.A. Erickson

I worked with Housing 1000 ( from August 2011 until July of 2012 as an Americorps VISTA member. I am the ghost of Katherine past! I wrote a couple interviews to post automatically even after I left--from beyond the grave, as it were. ;) My current blog talks about fiction writing, world travel and other adventures:
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