People of Housing Security:
Tia Lurie

Built for Zero data coach helps South Central Indiana team improve data to move people more quickly into housing.

For the past year, Tia Lurie has played a key role in helping our region improve its data system, called the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). Why does this matter? Because understanding data helps us better address barriers to housing people experiencing homelessness.

Tia is a Data Coaching and Performance Advisor with Built for Zero, an initiative of the nonprofit Community Solutions. Built for Zero is a movement of more than a hundred communities in the United States and internationally that are working to solve homelessness. South Central Indiana – the counties of Monroe, Morgan, Owen, Lawrence, Greene and Martin – is this state’s only Built for Zero partner.

In her role, Tia helps communities improve their data systems. The goal is to use data to move people more quickly out of homelessness by understanding what’s working (or not) in a community’s homeless response system. Tia loves being able to “look at a mountain of data and find something that’s valuable and useful” and then helping people figure out something they didn’t know that will save them time and be really useful in the future.

Sometimes it’s hard for data to seem important when you’re working directly with people who are in crisis, Tia noted. But data can help communities “see trends and consider changes and improvements that can be made in your system based on those trends. And then let’s measure the data to see if those changes created an improvement.”

While taking a data-driven approach to problem solving, Tia stresses the importance of staying person-centered – to look at “that big picture of what the data is telling us, but also dig in and really see who are the individuals” and what are their needs, she said. We need to “remember that we are talking about people in crisis,” she adds, because sometimes analyzing data can feel impersonal.

Tia currently works with about 25 communities, including some that are building the foundations for improvement – like the South Central Indiana region – and others that are well on their way to ending homelessness. She’s also part of a Built for Zero team that shares information about innovations and strategies across the country, so that communities can learn from each other.

“I want everybody to know that homelessness is solvable – that we can end homelessness, that communities have ended homelessness,” Tia said. “And we have proof across the country to show that it’s possible.”

“I want everybody to know that homelessness is solvable – that we can end homelessness, that communities have ended homelessness. And we have proof across the country to show that it’s possible.”

Tia grew up in the small town of Yellow Springs, Ohio. It’s home to Antioch College, so the town has “similar vibes” to Bloomington, she said. She has a degree in international business and international studies from Wright State University in Dayton, where she lives today.

Her interest in social services started during her travels to South America. She spent some time with Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica, and later volunteered with daycare and youth development programs in Chile. Her experience also includes being an AmeriCorps Vista worker for Big Brothers, Big Sisters in California.

In 2015 she started working for a domestic violence shelter and housing project in Dayton. She began in a direct services role, and over the next six years moved into management and leadership positions there. She helped the organization develop permanent supportive housing and oversaw day-to-day operations of that project as well as the rapid rehousing program.

She loved the work and the impact it made, “but as anybody who’s worked in that field knows, it burns you out,” she said. The COVID pandemic was also a factor, so in 2021 Tia left that job to take some time to reset.

Looking for more work/life balance, Tia came across the job opening with Community Solutions and felt that it was a great fit.

Her background as a direct service provider informs her work with Built for Zero.

“I feel really strongly that we cannot lose track of the people who are day-to-day doing the work and that taking care of them and considering them is hugely important,” she said. “And I am really glad to be able to bring that perspective when we’re talking about systems changes.”

If you’re on enough Zoom calls with Tia, you’re likely to spot her rescue dog Xochi. The name is a shortened version of the Mexican river Xochimilco. She’s been Tia’s constant companion for 11 years.

Outdoor activities are also a passion, including hiking and kayaking in the parks throughout Dayton’s five rivers. Tia loves spending time with friends and traveling to see her family, who are spread out across the country. And she’s honing her ceramics and pottery skills, most recently crafting a butter dish in addition to mugs, bowls and other items.

We’re grateful for Tia’s perspective, insights and expertise as she coaches us to strengthen housing security in South Central Indiana.

About the People of Housing Security: This series highlights the work of those committed to improving the lives of residents in South Central Indiana. Find all the articles in this series here.