The National Homelessness Social Work Initiative (NHSWI) was launched in January 2015. This initiative is advanced by the National Center for Excellence in Homeless Services, a consortium of social work schools partnering with providers and policymakers to strengthen services that transform the lives of all homeless children and adults.

As the NHSWI began, we partnered with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), expanded our national social work school partnerships and developed regional networks of liaison schools. We emphasize increasing homelessness curricular content, expanding field placements, engaging and educating policymakers, and supporting leaders in the homelessness field.

The purpose of this project is to build on the NHSWI’s successes – sustaining regional hub leadership, furthering regional networks, advancing university-community partnerships, and prioritizing homelessness in the profession. We aim to create student paths to leadership into the homelessness field while supporting homeless service program directors and policymakers. Through innovation exchanges between homeless service programs and schools of social work, the initiative aims to strengthen social work’s ability to prepare students and better support homeless service leaders and policymakers to deliver effective homeless services.

As a part of the next phase of this project, the NHSWI will be transitioning to UT Austin. We plan to advance our collective goals by providing the infrastructure to develop and strengthen the strategic partnerships and coordination necessary for national success. The initiative will advance the HUD agenda through multi-level partnerships and innovative practice, policy, and research. The project will further school of social work and university level adoption of addressing homelessness, and resolve curricular gaps — empowering the social work profession to lead in impacting homelessness through coordinated efforts and cross-sector partnerships in practice, policy, and research arenas. In addition, as UT Austin takes on its national leader role in the initiative, the project goals will include reducing homelessness overall, increasing social work leadership in policy, practice, and research, increase housing and support services, and addressing up-stream factors in collaboration with other grand challenges in social work.

Regional hub leaders promote data-driven policies, private-public partnerships supporting homeless services, and leadership paths for students entering the homelessness field, sharing knowledge and curricular developments.