American PIE?

NB: There is currently a very significant shift in US policy towards homelessness and homelessness services, as indicated by policy documents released in December 2022: 'Transforming Approaches to Shelter'.

This shift will require - and offers the opportunity for - a major overhaul of all discussions of 'American PIE' sections of this site. Whilst this is being undertaken - and whilst US policy and practice evolved - some of the content and links on this section of the site will need considerable re-drafting to bring out the opportunity that this creates. However, as a general statement, the text below is still good:


Divided by a common language

In moulding services to meet the psychological and emotional needs of people who are homeless, we clearly do find much the same commitment and creativity across the United States and Canada as we do elsewhere.

In practice, however, comparing actual services and service types between the US and the UK is fraught with difficulties. As Winston Churchill famously said, our two countries are divided by a common language, and the terminology for services is generally the language of funding programs.

Despite our best efforts (See: cross cultural dialogues page link, plus new page and video), this can often make the US and the UK mutually incomprehensible; and as a result, much valuable innovation in the US and the UK is largely unknown across the pond (See: HF in the US and the UK; recovery housing; April Summers video or quote?).


Avoiding the language of 'programs'

Fortunately the PIEs framework deliberately does not use the technical language of national government programs or of specific sectors at all (See: ‘single framework’ page). It aims to speak to the things that matter, in and between services.

In the UK, the phrase 'psychologically informed environment' was coined and crafted in such a way as to describe that creativity operating across the entire range of such interventions.

The degree of abstraction therefore adopted in the language of the framework, both for service development and self-assessment, is probably one of the reasons it has proved effective here in bridging the implementation gap between very general principles and their very practical application (See: ‘PIEs, from principles to personalisation’ video*; also Pizazz pages)

The experience of the UK - now spreading into Europe (See: two videos)- is that the PIE approach is a very effective way of expressing and embedding, for example, Housing First and Trauma Informed Care principles in actual services.

But it does not stop there. The PIEs framework can in principle also encompass US service types such as safe havens, recovery housing, outreach, both congregate and dispersed accommodation, and the repurposing of hotels, motels etc such as we have seen during the pandemic.

By bringing all these under the same umbrella the PIEs framework provides the kind of unifying shared language and vision that the recent US policy shift towards ‘interim housing’ may need.


Reaching out

It remains to be seen whether the PIE framework, when better known, will be able to provide the unifying appreciation and momentum in the US that it has in the UK. There is a book now being prepared for publication -  Psychologically informed environments from the ground up: service design for complex needs’  - and we anticipate being able to create a US edition, to reach and American audience with US language and more US examples.  However, this will take some time. We do not expect the US edition to be ready until some time in 2024.

But here, in this section of the PIElink dedicated specifically to the US context, we will at least start to explore some of the areas where the PIE framework may make a good start.

Further background reading/listening/viewing

Key text

'Transforming Approaches to Shelter' : COMING SOON

A strategic re-framing of US homelessness policy, 2022 : HERE

Interim Housing : HERE

Recovery Housing in the US and UK : HERE

Safe havens and residential care homes : COMING SOON

Housing First as a PIEs approach : HERE

Clubhouse, campus and core-and cluster models : COMING SOON

Encampments : HERE

Outreach, in-reach and pathways: HERE

A PIE of pathways : HERE


Related PIElink pages currently being revised

Recovery housing in the US and the UK : HERE

Housing First and PIEs - how do they work together? : HERE

Housing models, Housing First and PIEs in the US and the UK : HERE

Housing First and PIEs in Europe : HERE

"Cross-cultural Dialogues in Homelessness' (book launch) : HERE

Trauma Informed Care and PIEs : HERE

The core skills of engagement : pre-treatment : HERE

Outside/outreach : HERE

A US road trip : HERE

A PIE of pathways : HERE


Further Reading

'Exploring effective system responses to homelessness' (Canada) : HERE

'Recovery housing' (HUD policy briefing) : HERE

Intersections between the domestic violence and homelessness programmes : HERE

'Shelter from the storm - Trauma Informed Care in Homelessness Services Settings' : HERE

"Cross-cultural Dialogues in Homelessness': HERE



Ground cover on Housing First : HERE

Ground cover on risk and loss in disrupting street community social networks : HERE

Ground cover on community organisation in tent cities in the US : HERE

Outreach 1: Path and PORT : HERE

Brendan Plante on outreach and community work : HERE

A PIE of Pathways; Jay Levy on attachment, relationship, witness and continuity : HERE

A PIE of Pathways: Jay Levy on the work of REACH in Western Massachusetts : HERE

John Yaswinski and April Conolly explain how the Father Bill's and Mainspring service evolved to meet changing needs : HERE

John Yaswinski & April Conolly & Robin Johnson discuss how gaps in mental health services evolved, and homelessness services then meet those needs : HERE

Rainbow services, TIC and PIEs : HERE


"Sobriety housing and peer support' : HERE