Marissa Webb joined the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government’s Office of Homelessness Prevention and Intervention (OHPI) as the Continuum of Care (CoC) Coordinator in April of 2022. Since taking on this role, she’s brought her skills, experience, and passion into her work with the CoC and larger Lexington community.
Marissa has a long history of advocacy work in Kentucky. After attending Western Kentucky University for her Bachelor’s in Political Science and History (with a minor in Legal Studies), Marissa began working at the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission (HRC). As a law enforcement agency, the HRC ensures that all individuals, regardless of their identities, do not experience discrimination regarding employment, housing and public accommodation. For Marissa, this meant focusing on “making sure individuals get housed and that the housing is fair.” Her work covered a wide range of responsibilities, such as interviewing clients, writing legal reports for public hearings, conducting conciliations, and more.
After serving in this role for five years, Marissa brought her skills and experience to OHPI.
“I’m most passionate about thinking about what resources we have to encourage equity across the homelessness system and considering what people who are leaving the system have to maintain housing,” she said. “But first, we’re in a unique position to emphasize housing as a right, not something that must be earned.” This follows the Housing First model, which asserts that fair, safe, and affordable housing should be available to all people without preconditions or stipulations. Housing First models also stress the critical role housing serves for every person. As Marissa put it, “Housing isn’t just about the address you live in. It impacts every single part of an individual’s life.”
She has big goals for Lex End Homelessness, including increasing the number of people who have income exiting the homelessness system, building up the strength of the CoC, and focusing more attention on homelessness prevention. “I want to work on creating policy and change that can be adjusted on an annual timeline,” Marissa shared. “Homelessness is a complex problem that requires complex solutions, and it requires a little bit of everybody.” While she’s also often monitoring the street outreach team to ensure that individuals in need can access services, working on applications for federal grant money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and making sure the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) is running smoothly to ensure that local data is being kept up to date, Marissa’s primary role is communicating with the organizations and people who make up the Continuum of Care.
The CoC, a comprehensive network of partners and leaders in our community that work together to coordinate the policies, strategies, and actions that end and prevent homelessness, is central to the Lex End Homelessness movement. While Marissa shared that the whole point of the CoC is to facilitate collaboration across organizations and service providers, she also noted the importance of the local community. “Homelessness is a community-wide issue, and it needs community-wide approaches,” she said. “I really want the public to engage with our Continuum of Care. Everybody should see themselves as part of the solution to ending homelessness.” For people looking to get involved, Marissa recommended reaching out to local organizations and visiting the LEH website for more information about Housing First and our approach to ending homelessness.
You can join the Continuum of Care today. Partnership is free and highly encouraged for any organization or person working in the field of human services. Learn more on our website or byfollowing us on social media @lexendhomelessness.