Community Solutions International, Inc.

Homelessness at the Tipping Point Highly Ranked

Homeless services

75 in our network of US communities will end homelessness in five years for some or all populations, driving new expectations and behavior everywhere.

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Homelessness in the US is a $12 billion industry that doesn’t work. It affects an estimated 1.5 million people each year in the US alone, the majority of whom are people of color. Yet Community Solutions’ growing network of Built for Zero communities is proving it is a solvable problem. Thirteen US communities have ended chronic or veteran homelessness to date using our rigorous, data driven approach informed by public health breakthroughs. With 100&Change, 75 communities, including five of the country’s largest, will end homelessness for some or all populations by 2025. They will have created reliable and equitable local housing systems that prevent and quickly end homelessness for historically marginalized people. This overwhelming shift will establish new standards for communities’ efforts and new expectations of leaders for results. Our network and approach will be primed for expansion throughout the US and internationally to support this transformation.

Problem Statement

Homelessness may be the most visible form of poverty. It may also be among the most solvable. More than 1.5 million people are estimated to experience homelessness each year in the United States alone. Globally, estimates exceed 100 million. Homelessness shortens lives by years, ruins health and mental health, interrupts schooling for children, leaving lifelong scars, and prevents adults from finding and holding jobs. It turns misfortune into a way of life. It reflects and is driven by racial inequities in neighborhoods, housing, employment, criminal justice, foster care and other institutional systems. Shockingly, African Americans represent 13% of the US population and 48% of the homeless.Homelessness persists because no one has been accountable for solving it. In most places, more money is spent responding to homelessness with emergency services than would be needed to pay for housing. These communities have an array of disconnected services and lack the information to coordinate their efforts or learn what is or isn’t working. Government funding reinforces this, paying for emergency services rather than reductions in homelessness.But in more than fifty communities, a new approach is working and homelessness is decreasing. Thirteen places have ended chronic and/or veteran homelessness, and eliminating all homelessness is in sight. Community Solutions’ Built for Zero initiative trains local teams to apply a rigorous public health approach to the problem. This network of communities has proven that like smoking and drunk driving, homelessness can be dramatically reduced or eliminated through coordinated, data-driven action.

Solution Overview

Understanding homelessness through a public health lens exposes three great myths: that those experiencing homelessness are the principal source of the problem; that homelessness is principally a resource problem and more money alone is required; and that homelessness is principally an affordable housing problem simply requiring more housing. Most communities’ approaches to homelessness have been shaped and trapped by these erroneous or inadequate beliefs.Our approach is different. We train a network of communities to work systemically, adapt their existing resources and develop the information and skills they need to understand the problem in real time. This allows them to develop a local structure for delivering durable, adaptive, lasting solutions, even as the nature of homelessness evolves. This approach is applicable to other symptoms of poverty. Our solution involves:-- helping communities introduce new beliefs and norms about homelessness: that it is a systems problem that can be solved;-- persuading key government and not for profit organizations to collaborate and hold themselves accountable to the shared aim of eliminating homelessness; -- training and coaching teams in data analytics, quality improvement and other skills to coordinate efforts, understand the dynamics of homelessness in their community, find key opportunities to intervene and assess their impact in reducing homelessness;-- assisting local teams in filling specific gaps in their housing supply, as indicated by improved, system-wide data; and-- bringing the network of teams together to share innovations, train front line workers in new problem solving skills, celebrate progress and build momentum for change.

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Project Funders

  • The Ballmer Group 2019 - 2021
  • The Home Depot Foundation 2018 - 2019
  • Quicken Loans 2018 - 2019

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