Toward Understanding Homelessness: The 2007 National Symposium on Homelessness Research. Changing Homeless and Mainstream Service Systems: Essential Approaches to Ending Homelessness. Factors Affecting the Likely Success of System Change Efforts


From the review of existing research and observations of local community practice, the authors have identified five major factors that affect system change:

  • context of the local community and the state,
  • interest and commitment of key stakeholders,
  • scope of desired system change,
  • governance and management structure for system change, and the
  • identified process of system change.

The mix of factors will vary from one community to the next; thus, the pattern and success of system change will also vary. The review of current research suggests that no one factor of system change is more important than another, but there do appear to be cumulative impacts. That is, having multiple factors in place, such as strong state agency support and a dedicated staff member managing the system change activities, may help overcome obstacles to system change. Conversely, the absence of two or more factors may significantly hamper progress toward system change. Presumably, the more complete, strategic, and well-executed the process, the faster the goals will be realized and the greater will be the magnitude of the results.

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