Institute of Global Homelessness

Reducing Global Street Homelessness

Lead Organization

Institute of Global Homelessness

Chicago, Illinois, United States

http://www.ighomelessness.org

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Project Summary

The Institute of Global Homelessness researches, tests, scales up, and advocates for promising practices that effectively reduce street homelessness around the world. In order to test and scale up, we work in-depth with thirteen international cities that are representative of every continent and vary greatly in terms of size and context. Known as the Vanguard Cities, we partner closely with these thirteen cities to convene stakeholders; categorize what types of street homelessness exist within their context; set specific goals to reduce street homelessness; create aligned action plans; and provide training and coaching, technical assistance, and a variety of other resources to catalyze progress towards achieving their reduction target. Drawing from our knowledge, we also advocate within the United Nations for global categorization, aligned measurement, actions to end street homelessness that support the achievement of multiple SDGs, and for consideration for ending street homelessness to be a specific goal post 2030.

Problem Statement

Homelessness is a complex issue sitting at the intersection of public health; domestic or relationship violence; mental illness; urbanization; discrimination and oppression based on age, race, gender, disability, or sexual orientation; housing affordability and infrastructure; substance use; and unemployment and poverty. In any form, homelessness happens because people cannot access the housing and supports they need through the failure of care and support systems. The immediate cause is often an exogenous shock, such as a health crisis; unexpected lack of employment; or abrupt housing loss due to eviction or violence. But socio-structural factors make certain people especially vulnerable, and gaps in the social safety net and homelessness services systems can extend homelessness or make it more difficult to remain housed. The interplay between these elements is expressed in a host of ways depending upon local context. Levels of homelessness rise and fall dependent on shifts in and changes to any one of the elements. Though the issue seems daunting, we know how to prevent and end homelessness. We have seen in communities around the world that the right mix of program interventions, well-coordinated local systems, and effective policy, homelessness is an issue that can be successfully addressed. IGH exists to identify and activate effective strategies that work across contexts; to connect with cities and give them structure and support to apply effective strategies, learn, and then adapt them; and to drive a global sense of urgency around homelessness as a crisis for individuals and the communities around them.

Solution Overview

IGH's singular mission is to end global street homelessness. The best data available suggest that 150 million people are homeless worldwide. To make meaningful progress towards our mission, there must be a commonly accepted framework of categories that define homelessness, we must regularly measure people who fall into each category, and we must implement effective practices that reduce the number of people who are experiencing homelessness. We are currently advocating within the United Nations for acceptance of our framework of categories, a mandate for member states to count accordingly, and for explicit inclusion within the Sustainable Development Goals and their indicators. In the meantime, we are piloting the framework, conducting regular counts, and implementing effective practices in our thirteen cities. Each city has set specific reduction targets to be achieved by the end of 2020, reported a baseline count, and reported progress towards and challenges their targets. Over the next five years, our first cohort of thirteen cities will achieve their goals and we will expand into a second cohort of 25 cities. Our solution has both deep and intense impact within each city and also global impact, as more than 35 cities spread over six continents will see measurable reductions in the number of their citizens who are experiencing homelessness. IGH's model primarily benefits the individuals and families who will be housed; secondary benefits for our participating cities include stronger social welfare systems that will lead to lower healthcare costs and better employment and educational outcomes for their citizens.

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Project Funders

  • DePaul University 2015 - 2019
  • Daughters of Charity

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