National Homelessness Social Work Initiative

In 2015, the National Center for Excellence in Homeless Services received a $100,000 grant from the New York Community Trust to launch the National Homelessness Social Work Initiative (NHSWI). This NHSWI follows and builds on previous initiatives in child welfare and aging to resolve existing curricular gaps and empower the social work profession to lead in ending homelessness. The overarching aims of this initiative are to:

  • Advance the agenda of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to eliminate homelessness; and

  • Engage social work programs in New York State and across the country in a coordinated effort toward the elimination of homelessness.

These aims are being pursued through three primary strategies. First, the National Center is working with partner social work schools nationally to increase the attention to homelessness in social work curriculum and strengthen homeless services. Second, the National Center has partnered with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) to engage the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, other government agencies, and additional schools of social work. Third, the National Center initiated a saturation model in New York to engage schools of social work across the state.

In 2016, the National Center received a $150,000 grant from the New York Community Trust to continue the NHSWI and build on Year 1 accomplishments. Year 2 of the NHSWI will continue to increase attention to homelessness in social work and addressing the Grand Challenge to End Homelessness. Specific priorities for Year 2 include:

  • Supporting the design and leadership of six Regional Hub Leader schools focusing on: 1) curriculum development and dissemination; and 2) developing partnerships to shape local and state policies driving programs and services accessed by people experiencing homelessness;

  • Expanding our national partnerships by engaging additional schools of social work and selecting five New York liaison schools to become full partners;

  • Continuing to strengthen the saturation model in New York State and extending this effort into New Jersey;

  • Strengthening relationships with HUD and other government agencies and policymakers at the local and federal level; and

  • Creating and disseminating educational tools to support the infusion of homelessness-related content into social work curriculum.

The National Center provides stipends to Regional Hub Leaders, partners, and liaison schools to support the activities described above and supports the dissemination of homelessness curricular tools, ideas, and strategies. CSWE also features spotlights on partners’ innovations in homelessness, both inside and outside of the classroom, in their monthly newsletter.

The National Center’s blog and social media accounts (Twitter and Facebook) feature periodic updates on grant activities and progress, as well as features of partner school accomplishments.