Service providers collaborate to divert people from homelessness

Staff from Homeward Bound of WNC joined other nonprofits for a Homelessness Diversion Training. Photo courtesy of Homeward Bound of WNC

Press release from Homeward Bound of WNC:

In Buncombe County, more than 500 people experience homelessness on any given night. Homeward Bound is focused on reducing that number by including a strategy that diverts people from the system before they become homeless.

Homeward Bound coordinated a Diversion Training for homeless service providers last week that was attended by 47 individuals representing 14 local organizations including ABCCM, Western Carolina Rescue Ministries, The Mediation Center, Salvation Army, City of Asheville, Buncombe County, Helpmate, Our Voice, United Way/211, Mission Hospital, Vaya Health, Pisgah Legal Services and the VA Medical Center.

“There was great representation from our community’s homeless service system,” says Homeward Bound Strategic Initiatives Director Emily Ball. “This was unprecedented collaboration from service providers on problem-solving homelessness before it really begins, which has huge potential to reduce the number of people who become homeless in our community.”

The training was hosted by First Baptist Church and partially funded by The City of Asheville and TD Charitable Foundation. Lehman Busbee, with the Cleveland Mediation Center in Ohio, trained the nonprofit attendees over three days. The Cleveland Mediation Center pioneered this client centered conflict resolution approach to diverting people from homelessness. With community-wide implementation of diversion practices, Cleveland has helped about 20% of people who are newly experiencing housing crises avoid homelessness.

Participants learned how to help people in housing crises think creatively about ways to resolve their housing needs using resources they already have, such as family and friends, in order to avoid the trauma of homelessness. By empowering people to regain control of their lives, rather than immediately referring them to a community program, diversion benefits the person in crisis while also allowing the limited resources available to stretch further and serve people with no other options.

Because so many agencies were represented, participants were also able to learn from each other about relevant services in the community and to further relationships with other service providers. They will circle back with each other in a few months and discuss how their diversion strategies are working, what they have learned and what impact they are seeing.

For more information on Homeward Bound of WNC or diversion, contact Emily Ball at or visit

About Community Bulletin
Mountain Xpress posts selected news and information of local interest as a public service for our readers. To submit press releases and other community material for possible publication, email

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

One thought on “Service providers collaborate to divert people from homelessness

  1. Enlightened Enigma

    So why was the Housing Authority of Asheville not involved with this ?

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.