Session Descriptions

Look below for more information on the content of the Breakout Sessions:

Thursday, October 7
9:30 a.m.–10:45 a.m. Breakout I

  • Transitional Housing Program and its Elevation to End Housing Instability 
    The Minnesota Legislature established the Transitional Housing Program (THP) in 1984 as one of many evidence based practices to prevent housing instability. Recently, the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) with the MN Department of Human Services completed an evaluation with THP providers and participants in the state of MN that receive THP funding to determine how to improve the program and better meet the needs of the individuals and families served. Join this workshop to learn about the evaluation, hear recommendations, and provide further input to elevate this program as a solution to end housing instability.
  • Community Housing and Services Innovations to Reduce and Prevent Homelessness
    The evolution of housing with services is challenged as governmental regulations shift significantly while simultaneously the needs of those who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness increase. Underlying this our society and consciousness are rightfully charged with ensuring equitable access to resources, honoring diversity and historical trauma, and ensuring inclusivity in our communities. To emerge from this even stronger we must recognize that the possibilities are endless which is extraordinarily valuable to innovation; but how will you choose? This session will focus on key opportunities for innovation in housing with services, and offer a unique look into models of care that can be adapted to elevate prevention efforts and play a key role in ending homelessness. Partnership and collaboration are evident as we co-create to evolve and elevate our impact in this critical sector.
  • Understanding Peer Recovery Support
    In this session, our presenters will give an introduction of the Recovery Community Organizations they work for: Minnesota Recovery Connection and Recovery Alliance Duluth. Julie and Justin will go over the benefits of Peer Recovery Support and the types of Support offered therein. Join this session to learn the ins and outs of Peer Recovery Support and different populations that are being served currently followed by a Q&A if time permits.
  • Tailoring Services to the Strengths and Needs of LGBTQ+ Youth and Adults Experiencing Homelessness
    Michelle and Ryan will discuss the characteristics of Minnesota’s LGBTQ homeless population with a particular focus on the unique strengths and needs. Ryan will talk about his experience supporting community members to create a welcoming place for LGBTQ+ youth. The audience will be engaged in the discussion about how to best tailor services to best engage and meet the needs of our LGBTQ+ community.
  • Opening the Door: The Role of Screening Practices used by Landlords and Where They Need to Change
    The standards landlords use to decide who will be admitted to housing plays a huge but under appreciated role in access to housing. The presenters will describe a new report shedding light on screening standards and where they need to be reformed. Also covered will be recent efforts by Minneapolis and St. Paul to regulate screening practices, and court challenges in response. Finally, the presenters will describe a new legal project called Renters Reclaim the Record, designed to help tenant seeking housing maximize their chances of getting accepted.
  • Trauma Informed Care: Supporting Whole Family Systems on the Path to Liberation
    This session introduces participants to trauma informed care and its connection to whole family thriving. As we strive toward equity, how do we deepen the work of housing families safely and partnering to support vision, agency, and self-determination? By the end of this session, participants will know where and how they’d like to grow their trauma informed capacity, and commitment to the voice and choice of the families we serve. The trauma informed care primer and content includes an overview of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES), Whole Family Systems, impact of trauma on development and family systems, intergenerational, cultural, collective and historical trauma; Secondary/Vicarious trauma and self-care & factors mitigating the experience of trauma for staff and families We will then move into a facilitated group activity that focuses on the question, “Where do you want to grow your capacity in trauma informed care and whole family supports?”
  • Voices from the Street
    Youth who have experienced homelessness bring a unique and valuable perspective to a crucial social problem. This session will allow youth who previously experienced homelessness to have their voices heard, while sharing their honest and real experiences and perspectives about being homeless.

1:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Breakout II

  • Legislative Advocacy for Systemic Change
    Every year the state legislature passes – or fails to pass – bills that extend or deny opportunities to Minnesotans in need. If you care about state investments in safe and affordable housing, who has access to medical care, how policing practices affect community safety, public school budgets, tax credits for working families, high quality childcare, or other issues impacted by decisions at the state legislature, you can and should educate your representatives about your values and priorities. The state policymaking process is both complex and insular, making it difficult for those uninitiated to the process to know where, when, and how to participate effectively, and it can be intimidating to those who lack relationships inside the system. This practical training will cover the nuts and bolts of the state legislative process with an emphasis on how participants can use their expertise and experience as direct service provides to educate and influence state policy decisions.
  • General Assistance and Supplemental Aid: Two Programs you Should Know More About
    General Assistance (GA) and Minnesota Supplemental Aid (MSA) are two income support programs that can help support your homeless or formerly homeless clients. Join this workshop to learn about eligibility for these programs, the benefits they provide, and about recent changes that make MSA especially useful for some people facing high housing costs.
  • Foster Care: A Critical Piece of the Homelessness Puzzle
    When we look upstream for homelessness prevention, one of the key questions that must emerge is WHO is falling into homelessness. All too often, foster care involvement is overlooked as a demographic question—despite the fact that Fosters are one of the most predictable, and so preventable, populations for lifetime homelessness experience. The foster care’s system of control mirrors the system of control most often found in our “justice” system. It is no wonder then that a significant number of inmates, victims of sexual exploitation, and those experiencing homelessness are current or former Fosters. Presented by Foster Advocates staff and a panel of Minnesota Foster leaders, this session will illuminate the intersections across foster care, incarceration, and homelessness. Fosters will discuss the unique challenges of foster care system impacts and trauma and how therapeutic services with homeless populations must incorporate a Foster-informed lens. We’ll elevate key opportunities for policy to focus on intervening with Fosters early, where investment will have cascading and positive returns. 
  • Moral Injury, Homelessness, and Human Services
    In this session, we will explore the concept of moral injury, the damage inflicted on one’s conscience when they perpetrate, witness or fail to prevent acts that transgress their moral compass. We will examine the intersection of our work, and the lives of the individuals and families we serve as we seek greater understanding of this insidious threat and its impact not only on our profession, but on the lives of all in our communities.
  • All Hands on Deck: Strategies for Mobilizing Resources for Quick Response to Crises
    All of us have experienced our agencies and lives changing nearly overnight when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. As emergency housing providers, we were charged with responding to the crisis safely and quickly. As new opportunities became available and needs soared, United Community Action Partnership (UCAP) rose to the occasion. UCAP quickly mobilized resources and expanded services to meet immediate and looming needs of our communities. In this session, learn the strategies we employed in the areas of emergency shelter, food assistance, and homelessness prevention.
  • Our Emerging Leaders: Elevating Youth Voices
    Are you ready to reimagine a culture where youth do not experience homelessness or living on the brinks of poverty? This workshop invites participants to invest in and engage with a process that centralizes a healing framework while being attentive to trauma-conscious practices. What does this mean? How does this evolve our work to end homelessness? Come find out and explore how rooting our narratives, particularly in relation to youth, based in racial equity, aspirations and possibility begins to interrupt a scarcity mentality and feelings of hopelessness. Let’s mobilize together for our future generations.
  • Finding Home: Housing Challenges facing the Transgender Community
    This session will weave personal and professional experience into a larger educational lecture furthering understanding of policy issues and other challenges to housing stability facing the Transgender community. Along with addressing common risk factors for housing instability among Transgender individuals, the session will offer input on implementing policy language into real world scenarios. Raw yet inspiring, this presentation aims to empower all those who identify with or work with the transgender community and other vulnerable populations.

3:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Breakout III

  • Housing Support: New Eligibility and Access
    Staff from DHS Housing and Support Services Division will present about updates to the Housing Support program. People exiting residential behavioral health treatment facilities without stable housing are now able to access Housing Support without verifying income and assets for up to 3 months. Increased access to housing will allow people leaving treatment an opportunity to build stability, elevating the capacity they built while in treatment. Attendees will also learn about additional resources, supports, and tools available to support clients in building upon their own strengths and reaching their own goals.
  • Attacking the Issue from the Inside: Preventing and ending Homelessness within the Corrections System
    The experience of homelessness and involvement in the corrections system is a tragic cycle for many individuals. This conversation will be an engagement opportunity that will begin with members of the DOC Reentry Team sharing data on how this issue is scoped from the point of view of the corrections system, steps taken to respond to the issue, and end with a strategy session to fuel future innovation.
  • Safety & Stability: Meeting Clients at the Intersection of Homelessness, Chemical Dependency, and Domestic Violence
    Homelessness doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Numerous internal and external factors can contribute to, exacerbate, or prolong experiences of homelessness. In this session, we will explore the complexities of two of those factors: domestic violence and chemical dependency. Experts from both fields will present a pilot professional training curriculum designed to equip service providers with the knowledge and tools necessary to holistically address the needs of individuals and families experiencing homelessness, domestic violence, and/or chemical dependency. Session attendees will explore the intersections of domestic violence, chemical dependency, and homelessness, learn about unique barriers related to stigma and identity, and gain best-practice skills for assessing for domestic violence and chemical dependency in homeless service settings.
  • Critical Consciousness: A Pathway to Understanding the Issues, Process the Concerns and Resolve Together
    In this presentation, attendees will be invited to participate in a restorative circle process. Together, we will examine values, engage in solutions and work towards healing, restoration, and transformation.
  • Native History & Indigenous Solutions
    This session will provide an overview of Tribal Nation history in Minnesota and explore contemporary Indigenous cultural strategies to housing & service approach, with a focus on the current work of the American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO). Participants will engage in a conversation on how Indigenous and others invested in equitable housing solutions can learn and work together to increase access to housing.
  • A Glimpse of What Could Be: Outreach Reflections From Ramsey County On Homelessness and the Shelter System During the COVID-19 Pandemic
    This session will be a presentation and discussion of findings concerning the impact of the shelter system on access to Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) by people experiencing homelessness.
  • Meeting Them Where They’re At: Understanding the Needs of People experiencing Unsheltered Homelessness
    Many of our homeless community members stay outside or in other unsheltered locations for varying lengths of time. Michelle and David will discuss the characteristics, needs, and effective outreach strategies for people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. In this session, our presenters will engage attendees in a discussion of what works to improve engagement, stabilize, and house people who experience unsheltered homelessness.

Friday, October 8
9:30 – 10:45 Breakout IV

  • Bring it Home, MN: Taking Action to End Housing Instability for All
    It is time for a transformation in Minnesota state housing policy, where we secure deep investments to meet the size of the need. The Bring it Home, MN campaign has united over thirty organizations together advocating to create a Minnesota Rent Subsidy for all who qualify. Representatives from organizations in the campaign will discuss why they joined the campaign, how this policy would impact regional and racial inequities, and the advocacy strategy to win. The representatives will be Rinal Ray from People Serving People, Kizzy Downie from St. Paul Model Cities, and Dawn Littlewolf, resident at CHUM’s Steve O’Neil apartments.
  • Navigating Corporate and Nonprofit Partnerships
    Housing stability is both an acute need in 2021 and a critical foundation on which to build towards greater equity in health, education, and employment outcomes. While the broader business sector has not often weighed in on housing policy, the MBCRE identified the issue as a community priority through partnership with the United Way and listening sessions to hear the insights of community leaders and organizations. MBCRE then partnered with the Greater Twin Cities United Way to begin advocating in the affordable housing space in the 2021 Session. This presentation will focus on the importance of engaging the business community to address housing needs, and delve into the realities, benefits and challenges of navigating these partnerships to advance positive social impact and responsibility. Attendees will learn how MBCRE and its partnership with the United Way came together, what it looked like in its first year, and the key takeaways we have as co-leaders of the housing policy effort.
  • Outbreaks, Outreach and Better Outcomes: The State of HIV in Minnesota
    This session will include current information about the HIV outbreaks in Hennepin County and the Duluth area, testing outreach techniques being employed to reach as many people as possible, and low barrier connections to prevention and care services. The gap between the historical context of HIV being centered in the MSM (men who have sex with men) community to the current infection demographics will be addressed, including dynamics among injection drug users. Education and supply resources will be shared as well as the latest information on PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) and the U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable) campaign.
  • Bending Toward Justice: Ending Homelessness as the Pursuit of Housing, Racial, and Health Justice
    In this session, the Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness is seeking your thoughts, advice, and perspectives about what it means to think of the work to end homelessness as responding to injustice, and ending homelessness as part of the pursuit for housing, racial, and health justice. Please join this interactive discussion to hear from the Council about the State’s work to prevent and end homelessness and to share your ideas for how a justice orientation should shape our collective work to end homelessness, the State’s role, and your own efforts.
  • Chosen Family Justice: Addressing Barriers and Engaging Landlords to Resource Hosting Arrangements with a Youth’s Natural Supports
    When direct-service providers approach landlords on behalf of youth facing homelessness, they’re often trying to convince them to rent directly to a youth. What’s sometimes overlooked is the possibility of resourcing existing hosting arrangements with caring people who are already in the youth’s network. Through a grant from Minnesota Housing, CloseKnit is helping providers expand the housing options available to youth by stabilizing existing arrangements, especially with hosts who are renters. Given that 3/4ths of Minnesota youth facing homelessness are BIPOC and the majority of BIPOC households in Minnesota are renters, learning how to approach landlords on behalf of renter hosts is essential to addressing racial disparities among youth facing homelessness. During the session, we will engage in an interactive small group exercise with a case study and provide participants with tools that can support youth in chosen family hosting arrangements. Participants will leave this session better equipped to engage in the preventive work of resourcing natural support relationships!
  • A Safe Place for All Youth
    Family conflict is the most common cause of youth homelessness. Youth who identify as LGBTQ+ are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than non-LGBTQ youth. In Minnesota, nearly 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+. For over fifty years, The Bridge for Youth has been a safe and welcoming place for ALL youth. In the early 1990’s, The Bridge launched “So What If I Am?”the first and today, longest running community-based support group specifically for LGBTQ+ youth ages 12-21. This session will provide insight into programmatic considerations for engaging with LGBTQ+ youth while shedding light on the importance of responsive programming through the lens of youth.
  • Low Barrier Homeless Shelter: The Highs and Lows
    Learn about the challenges associated with providing shelter services to the homeless population in the city of Duluth from CHUM’s experienced professionals. Utilizing a unique compassionate collaborative approach that begins in encampments and on sidewalks, then stretching to reasonable accommodation from winter-specific to year-round setting, the CHUM team has arrived at a standard of hospitality that embraces people and their companion pets with all their beauty and complexities.

11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Breakout V

  • First Year Population Trends and Provider Influenced Improvements to Housing Stabilization Services
    This session will review the roll out of Housing Stabilization Services across the state by exploring the demographics of the population served, the distribution of providers, and specific examples of how these services have been used to help people find housing. Staff will discuss changes that were made to these services that make it easier for providers and people to use.
  • Sacred Settlements: A Community First Approach to Homelessness
    The standard approach to homelessness is Housing First: “providing four walls and a roof” and offering professional services. This approach falls short because the problem of chronic homelessness is not a lack of housing and professional help alone, but just as critically, a lack of integration into a supportive and nurturing community. A “community first” approach is an alternative that focuses not only on providing shelter but on meeting relational and social needs in a holistic way. In this session, Gabrielle will unpack the five key pillars of the Community First approach and how together, we can sustainably implement this emerging model to meet the scale of need.
  • Emerging and Evolving through Homelessness in Indian Country
    Members of the panel will give brief description of each of their tribal nations. Myths about poverty and homelessness in Indian Country will be explored along with the realities and the solutions that the MN tribal nations are using to end homelessness for their People.
  • Emergency Shelter and the Law
    What legal protections apply to residents of emergency shelter? In the favorite words of every lawyer, it depends. This session concentrates on the law that applies to shelter evictions, including constitutional due process, the requirements of federal ESG funding, the requirements of state funding sources such as Emergency Assistance and Housing Support, when landlord-tenant law applies, and disability accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • It’s OK To Call Us Queer And Other Things To Know About Us
    This presentation is part of educational outreach done by Lutheran Social Service’s Together for Youth, a social support group for LGBTQIA2S+ and allied youths. Participants will gain a deeper understanding of the challenges young people face, from living life in the closet to being out and proud. In addition to personal stories, topics covered may include presumed heterosexuality, heterosexual privilege, cisgender privilege, homophobia, and transphobia. Microaggressions and micro-affirmations will be addressed as well as the important role of allies. Emphasis will be placed upon trans and non-binary identities, policy protections and more considerately responsive workplace practices.
  • Disrupting the Cycle of Intergenerational Homelessness
    Each night in Minnesota, over 6,000 youth experience homelessness. Alarmingly, 35% of youth experiencing homelessness in Minnesota are pregnant/parenting and, in Hennepin County, this rises to nearly 50%. While some youth become homeless due to pregnancy, being homeless puts youth at significant risk of becoming pregnant – due to abuse or assault. These youth face limited access to critical supports and risk exposing their children to substances in-utero, premature births, delays in critical developmental milestones and health risks, child abuse or neglect, and removal of their children into the child protection system. Between 2019 and 2020, The Bridge began two innovative programs to help disrupt the cycle of intergenerational homelessness, involvement in child protection, foster care and other systems, fostering housing stability across two generations – both parenting youth and their children. This session will provide a glimpse into the evolution of shelter and housing programs at The Bridge and provide insight on how to effectively implement innovative programming to meet changing community needs while maintaining mission alignment.
  • The Revolving Door Effect: Motivation and Burnout in Homeless Services
    Decades of research has shed light on work stress and causes of burnout in the human service sector. While concepts such as lack of reward or control in one’s work are consistently sited as risk factors for burnout, research is limited in the emotional connection one has to people-centered outcomes in their profession. The Revolving Door Effect captures this feeling of being hit by constant waves of work without a moment to catch our breath in between. It is defined as a type of situationally influenced learned helplessness caused by minimal behavior reinforcement when one’s sense of professional achievement is contingent on another person’s progress toward goals (client, patient, student, etc.) and/or societal progress toward larger systemic change. This dynamic session will explain the psychology behind the Revolving Door Effect, shedding light on the experience of burnout as we fight to eradicate homelessness. Join us as we examine the psychology of motivation at work and how work-related reward and control look different to those who are in people-oriented professions.

1:45 p.m.–3:00 p.m. Breakout VI

  • Challenges and Opportunities: The Emergency Housing Voucher Program
    On May 10, 2021 HUD announced that it was making 921 Emergency Housing Vouchers available to 16 Public Housing authorities in Minnesota. Not only did these vouchers mark a significant opportunity to address homelessness in the state, it also represented a new era in collaboration between Continuum of Care organizations and Public Housing Authorities. This session will explain the EHV program, including the new “recently homeless” eligibility category, describe the manner in which CoC’s and PHA’s have collaborated around EHVs and highlight their successes to date.
  • Update on Ongoing COVID-19 Vaccination and Prevention Measures
    This session will provide an opportunity for the MDH team to share the latest data on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths among people experiencing homelessness. MDH will also provide an update on its efforts to increase vaccination rates in homeless settings as well as its most up-to-date guidance on social distancing, isolation and quarantine, and other preventive measures as we head into the fall and winter. This will also be an opportunity for homeless service providers, advocates, and people experiencing homelessness to share their feedback with MDH on its COVID19 response.
  • Families Living in the Crisis of Poverty: A Guide to Moving Beyond a Livable Wage into a Career Pathway
    The goal of this presentation is to share and discuss how Workforce Development, Inc. has successfully implemented the Career Pathway concept in their service delivery area. Session attendees will be able to interact with the career planners in the following targeted Career Pathways; health care, manufacturing & construction. Upon completing this session conference attendees will be able to understand how this concept has moved families in SE Minnesota into targeted careers with the assistance of community collaboration & navigation, and how the Career Pathway concept has moved families in SE out of poverty and into upward mobility, including stabilizing housing resources. Attendees will also learn how to partner with their local Workforce Development Investment Boards to assist community housing programs connect with community Career Pathway programming. This presentation is an example of how a Workforce Investment Board programming intersects with homeless initiatives in SE MN. Session attendees will emerge and elevate their community involvement with their local WIB’s begin refocusing how these partnerships can assist the homeless community in their service delivery area.
  • Opioid Overdose Prevention and Response Training
    Learn the indications of an opioid overdose and how to respond with naloxone to reverse the overdose and save the person’s life. Increase your knowledge on drug safety tips and how to create a drug use safety plan.
  • From NIMBY to YIMBY, Yes In My Back Yard!
    One tiny nonprofit’s experience from trusted small partner to rapid expansion during the pandemic. Evolving from 6 employees to 40 in two months and now serving hundreds of the unsheltered adults in Saint Paul. Hear about our elevated partnerships and the lessons we learned from NIMBY to YIMBY and why we would do it again.
  • Olmsted County’s Collaborative Response to Covid-19
    As the pandemic hit, the Stay at Home order was initiated, and the provider network went virtual, people experiencing homelessness in Olmsted County were left with few resources and people to help. This presentation will focus on the efforts of several providers in Olmsted County to address the challenges by those facing homelessness, the collaborative efforts that occurred as a result of Covid, and the permanent solutions that were created out of the pandemic.
  • Meeting Youth Where They Are At: The Evolution of Outreach Programming
    With the events of 2020, youth currently or at risk of experiencing homelessness are in greater need, but reluctant or unable to come into a physical location for services. Now more than ever, youth need immediate access to support and resources in locations they feel safe and are reflective of their community. The Bridge has a long-standing commitment to outreach, and views outreach as the gateway to services for homeless youth – particularly BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and sexually exploited youth. This session will provide a glimpse into the evolution of outreach programming and provide insight on how to effectively evolve programming to meet changing community needs while maintaining mission alignment.