Centering Lived Experience
No one knows more about the needs of homeless individuals than those with lived experience. At Destination: Home, we strive to ensure that our community’s efforts to end homelessness are informed by our neighbors who have endured periods of homelessness.
Our Community’s Lived Experience Advisory Board
In 2018, we helped spearhead the creation of Santa Clara County’s Lived Experience Advisory Board (LEAB): a leadership development body consisting of members with current or past experience of homelessness. This self-governing board serves as a platform for people who’ve experienced homelessness to provide meaningful input to improve Santa Clara County’s supportive housing system, and has become a vital voice in our community.
Today, LEAB includes dozens of active members who bring first-hand experience to homeless services, providing consultation and advocacy for improving our supportive housing system, while also offering a source of personal and professional growth for its members.
Learn more about the Lived Experience Advisory Board and their work in our community.
Additional Efforts to Raise Voices of Lived Experience
While continuing to support the work of the Lived Experience Advisory Board, Destination: Home has taken a number of additional steps to center our work, and the work of our system partners, around lived experience. This includes:
- In March 2022, we launched the Andre Ellison Equity Fund in an effort to support the outstanding work of organizations led by people with lived experience of homelessness and/or people of color. We’re committing a total of $2.75 million over a 3-year period to an initial 7 organizations, who’ve sought funding to develop their capacity to help end and prevent homelessness.
- We also now integrate people with lived experience into all of our grant and Request For Qualifications review panels and have helped several of our system partners institute similar practices.
- We not only have several people with lived experience of homelessness within our staff and on our Board of Directors, people with lived experience are driving some of the work to end homelessness and leading by example by guiding proven solutions. We are also continually working to share power with those with lived experience.
- We continue to incorporate voices of lived experience in speaking engagements and public events in which Destination: Home participates.
- We take direction from, fund and support our community’s Lived Experience Advisory Board, including facilitating member requested trainings, professional and personal development opportunities and technology access and equity.
Santa Clara County’s Continuum of Care built on this commitment with the 2020-2025 Community Plan to End Homelessness, which was centered on input from the currently or formerly unhoused in the plan’s development and identified the following actions to amplify the voices of lived experience in our community’s efforts.
Provide leadership opportunities for people with lived experience of homelessness to shape how we address homelessness in our community.
Center the voices of people who have lived experience of homelessness, especially people of color, in the policy and program design decisions of the supportive housing system.
Within the supportive housing system, incentivize hiring of people who have lived experience of homelessness to reflect the client population— especially people of color and LGBTQI+ persons.
Provide opportunities for people who have lived experience of homelessness to provide peer-to-peer support.
Learn more about the Lived Experience Advisory Board