Sioux Falls Thrive is capitalizing on one of our community’s biggest assets ― its people — including community stakeholder Anny Libengood.
As best-selling business author Dan Heath points out in his recent book, “Upstream,” surrounding a problem with people and organizations who share a common goal is the first step in successful system improvement.
According to Heath, the trick is to attract volunteers who can address all key dimensions of a complicated issue.
That’s why Sioux Falls Thrive takes a collective impact approach to its systems work. Its three action teams are composed of volunteers who represent four sectors of the community ― business, government, nonprofit, and faith-based entities.
Take Thrive’s Housing Action Team, which works to untangle the “plate of spaghetti” that depicts a confusing array of local agencies that help families in need find safe, affordable housing. That team includes property owners and managers, city and federal housing personnel, community stakeholders, non-profit and faith-based staff who serve families in need, a public school administrator, and a representative from 211 Helpline, an outstanding community information asset.
Collaboration Leads to Innovation
One of the right people on the housing team is Anny Libengood, who formerly worked for Minnehaha County Human Services as our community’s first Housing System Navigator. Thrive works because it’s a place to “push things forward,” she says.
“You can bring an idea to the Housing Action Team, and there are others there who can do something with it,” Libengood says. “Conversations, ideas, and relationships are changing the way we serve the community. Collaboration leads to innovation. It’s a good thing.”
Libengood calls this the intangible benefit of Thrive-facilitated collaboration.
“It’s about relationship building,” she says. From her perspective, there are a lot of changes service providers have needed and discussed for a long time. Now those changes have become reality.
Accomplishments in Housing
Thrive’s housing team members and organizations:
- Implemented the OneRoof project, reaching out to private market landowners to encourage them to rent to low-income families. The multi-agency effort is serving eight families who receive case management services through The Community Outreach.
- Promoted the role of a Housing System Navigator to assist hard-to-place tenants find suitable housing.
- Simplified the search for affordable housing by providing online Helpline access to the inventory of subsidized housing programs.
- Worked with Helpline to develop a rent calculator that helps prospective tenants determine what is truly affordable given their income and monthly expenses.
- Is developing online access for applications for 33 HUD properties in the Sioux Falls area.
- Created the community Housing Retention Specialist who is helping prevent evictions that threaten children’s stability.
Thrive’s work supports the One Sioux Falls approach to accessible housing. Many recent system innovations ― from housing navigators, to inter-agency access to real-time housing information, to housing retention specialists ― are destined to move to the City’s future, one-stop Housing Clinic. And it’s all because Thrive unites the right people!