Sample Plan Overview

Plans tend to be between 50-100 pages. They usually include significant  information and analysis; thus, communities often develop executive summaries and other complementary communication materials based on the plan. These complementary materials ensure that the information effectively reaches a broad audience.

While every plan is distinct, the sections remain more or less consistent. Below, we provide you with a sample outline of a fictional plan.

Table 24: Sample Plan Overview

Section Intent

Executive Summary

• Succinctly summarizes plan key points: facts, solutions, costs, implementation actions

• Short (2-5 pages) document, grabs reader attention; used in wider communications

Section 1: Setting the Stage

  • Outlining the Vision
  • Guiding Principles
  • Business Case for Action
  • Key Facts on Homelessness & Youth Homelessness
  • Plan Development Process
  • Overview of Plan Strategies & Costs/Cost Savings
  • Celebrating Success
  • Key Risks & Challenges Ahead, Costs of Inaction

This section aims to present the basic premise of the plan: it paints a picture of the current state of youth homelessness in the community and presents the vision resulting from the proposed direction.

The section introduces key elements of the plan: proposed strategies, costs, implementation options and risk assessment highlights.

The section also celebrates current efforts, highlighting that while the plan proposes significant changes, it is built on a foundation of efforts already underway.

You can also make the case for continuing the status quo – the cost and human implications of inaction.

You can include an overview of the plan development process here as well, though this should be kept at a highlights level – you can add more details in an appendix.

Section 2: Making the Case

  • Local Youth Housing and Homelessness Trends
  • Housing Market & Affordability Analysis
  • Extreme Core Housing Need
  • Shelter Use Patterns
  • System Interactions
  • Homeless Count Results
  • Youth Homelessness Prevalence
  • Key Subpopulations: Indigenous, LGBTQ2S, rural, newcomer, etc.
  • Revisioning the Response to Youth Homelessness
  • Summary of Best Practice Analysis Results
  • Implications for Local Community
  • Consultations Results:
    • Youth
    • Government
    • Public Systems
    • Service Providers
  • Analyzing Needs
  • Projecting Future Needs
  • Current System Capacity and Performance for Youth
  • Emerging Housing and Program Gaps
  • Policy and Practice Issues       

The section summarises your research findings, depending on the type of information you were able to secure for analysis.

You can include a summary of the best practices around ending youth homelessness, highlighting how these impact the local response.

A section summarizing consultation feedback helps you build the evidence for proposed actions later in the plan; note that you should have this distilled to main points; use the appendices as means of including more information.

The analysis of needs and current system capacity is technical as it requires you to develop a projection of needs into the future, analyze how the system can respond under the status quo and how impact can be improved under alternative scenarios.

You can begin to identify program and policy barriers here based on the synthesis of information already presented from research and consultations.

Section 3: Presenting Solutions

  • Priority Directions in Detail
  • Priority 1
  • Objective 1 – Rationale
  • Objective 2 – Rationale
  • Priority 2
  • Objective 1 – Rationale
  • Objective 2 – Rationale, etc.
  • Projected Results, Costs and Cost Savings
  • Targets and Progress Indicators
  • Implementation Considerations
  • Policy Recommendations
  • Risk Management
  • A Living Plan: Process for Renewal

Based on the previous sections, you can now begin to lay out the proposed directions of the plan. You may want to summarize the overall direction,  then go into each strategy and its accompanying goals in further detail. For each strategy and goal, you should summarize the rationale for making the recommendation recalling evidence from previous sections.

The milestones and progress indicators will be developed once the strategies are fully worked out, along with the needs and performance analysis. You can include them after you outline your strategies and goals to show how you will track progress. You can pull these key indicators earlier in the document (executive summary, setting the stage section) to give readers a sense of your vision from a performance management perspective as well.

The sections should also provide guidance on how the plan is to be implemented. You may not have this set in stone, but you should provide some recommendations on selecting a group or organization to provide backbone supports to lead implementation, considerations on governance and tracking progress and plan renewal.

The section can include policy recommendations specific to government as well – and this could be presented as a policy agenda in further detail as an appendix.

A risk assessment is recommended to ensure readers are aware of your key assumptions building the plan and potential risk mitigation measures to consider in implementation.


  • Acknowledgements
  • Methodology Points
  • Consultation Notes
  • Plan Development Process
  • Implementation Plan
  • Policy Agenda

The appendices can include detailed information on a number of topics to ensure your plan can be as succinct as possible.


Remember, drafting the plan is not a linear process. You may find yourself having to return to the research or consultation phases to fill in gaps or re-examine your assumptions.

Often, the lead writer(s) of the plan hold(s) the reins on pulling the various sources of information, collected throughout the process, into a coherent direction. However, the plan writer does not wholly determine the suggested course of action. It is their role to work with the broader planning group to affirm the direction taken and even go back to community stakeholders for further input.

If you consider the key elements of the plan at the same time as building your research and consultation processes, you will be able to develop the content of your plan as you go through the development process, rather than waiting until the end. For instance, it is best to gain input on the vision for the initiative from a broad stakeholder group rather than having the plan writer come up with it on their own, then try to shop it out in the final editing stages.

Carefully consider who will write the plan. Is it the project manager? The steering committee members? The consultant? Or a combination thereof? You will likely have a number of authors that contribute to the plan content, but it is wise to have a lead writer accountable for pulling it all together in a timely fashion, ensuring there is a common thread tying various content pieces. The ideal plan writer is an effective communicator and able to distil complex concepts into concise communications.

The plan is largely a technical report. Therefore, it is important that your writer has the skills to develop the content based on the quantitative and qualitative data available. It is always a ‘bonus’ to have someone who can actually take on the financial and performance modelling. If this is not feasible, you can consider bringing in outside technical assistance. Nonetheless, the lead plan writer must be sufficiently proficient in these areas in order to develop a cohesive, sensible narrative.  

To develop broader communication materials, look to individuals with communications and marketing backgrounds to assist you. They can turn the content of the plan into brochures, websites, at-a-glance documents and infographics. Develop these marketing materials as part of the launch of the final report, once the plan is complete.