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Community Solutions Selected as a Finalist for the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change Grant Competition

$100 million grant would accelerate an end to homelessness in 75 U.S. communities
July 20, 2020

New York, N.Y. – Today, Community Solutions was named one of six finalists for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s #100andChange competition. The winner will receive a $100 million grant to fund a proposal “that promises real and measurable progress in solving a critical problem of our time.”

Community Solutions is a nonprofit that leads Built for Zero, a national initiative of 81 cities and counties working to measurably end homelessness. With the organization’s support, 12 of those communities have ended veteran or chronic homelessness. The proposal aims to deepen the impact of Built for Zero and accelerate an end to homelessness in 75 U.S. communities. 

“We are deeply grateful that our proposal has been selected as a finalist of the 100&Change competition,” said Rosanne Haggerty, President of Community Solutions. “At Community Solutions, we believe homelessness is one of the most critical problems of our time, and that the presence — or absence — of homelessness is a bellwether for the kind of society we want. We are honored that the MacArthur Foundation recognizes the opportunity to accelerate an end to homelessness across the country.” 

The application was one of 755 proposals considered, and MacArthur’s Board will name the winner in the spring of 2021.

“The critical challenges that these six ambitious proposals are tackling existed long before the pandemic,” said John Palfrey, MacArthur President. “The extraordinary inequality that has been accentuated by the coronavirus will continue to exist after it subsides, unless we start to reimagine our future and support the reinvention of systems and structures that create a more just, equitable, and resilient world. MacArthur is committed to supporting organizations that think big, because solutions are possible.”

BUILT FOR ZERO, A METHODOLOGY AND MOVEMENT TO END HOMELESSNESS

In the United States, the wealthiest country in the world, more than a million and half people are estimated to experience homelessness each year. 

“Homelessness robs people in our communities of their dignity, safety, freedom, and time,” said Jessica Venegas, Principal for Strategic Partnerships. “It is deeply intertwined with contemporary and historic racism, disproportionately impacting Black and Native Americans. We are working with communities in service of lasting solutions because our hope for an equitable society is at stake.”

Community Solutions leads Built for Zero a national initiative of 81 communities committed to ending homelessness. These cities and counties have changed how systems respond by adopting a data-driven, community-wide approach to end homelessness. As a result:

  • 12 communities have ended homelessness for a population
  • 48 communities have driven measurable reductions
  • 122,205 individuals have been housed by Built for Zero communities

“We forget that, as a country, we built the systems that have led to mass homelessness, and we can rebuild those systems to end it,” said Jake Maguire, Principal of Built for Zero. “The MacArthur Foundation is amplifying what 81 communities in Built for Zero know in their bones: homelessness can be solved. What an honor to support each of them as they work to end homelessness, sustainably and for everyone.”

The Built for Zero methodology includes five key changes:

  • A shared commitment to getting to zero. Communities commit to measurably ending homelessness, driving to a milestone known as functional zero,
  • An integrated, command center team. Key agencies and organizations work together toward this shared definition of ending homelessness.
  • Comprehensive, real-time, by-name data. Communities know everyone experiencing homelessness by name, in real time. The results are more tailored solutions for individuals and a clearer picture of the system.
  • Community-level measurement. Communities measure success by the total number of people experiencing homelessness, not by program outcomes. Data enables communities to test new ideas and measure whether efforts are driving reductions..
  • Strategic, data-driven housing investments. Communities use real-time data to secure and target housing resources for the greatest possible impact.

“Working with Community Solutions and Built for Zero has been a game changer for us,” said Angie Walker, Homeless Program Coordinator for the City of Rockford, Illinois. “With their assistance, we were able to get to the quality data that drove our work. They helped us establish goals and provided the coaching that ultimately propelled us forward to successfully endIng veteran and chronic homelessness — and soon, all homelessness.” 

“Cities and counties in Built for Zero have harnessed data to understand the dynamics of homelessness in their community and to drive population-level reductions,” said Beth Sandor, Principal of Built for Zero. “They have taken anonymity out of the system and replaced it with data and accountability. They have taken a problem often treated as intractable and proven that can be solved. They continue to contribute to a healthier, more racially equitable society.”


Community Solutions is grateful for its core partners, which have been integral to the progress of Built for Zero and participating communities to date. 

Adam Selipsky, CEO of Tableau Software which supports Built for Zero through the Tableau Foundation, said: “Community Solutions and the Built for Zero communities across the country have built this incredible culture of data around a simple idea—that homelessness is solvable if we’re able to see and meet the unique, individual needs of the people experiencing it. We’re thrilled that the MacArthur Foundation has recognized this incredible organization and the potential for data to offer real hope that communities can make homelessness a thing of the past. As we at Tableau continue to think about how data can be used to fight racial inequality, organizations like Community Solutions and the strides they are making on issues that disproportionately impact communities of color are even more important.”

Bechara Choucair, Chief Health Officer at Kaiser Permanente, said: “Kaiser Permanente is proud to have partnered with Community Solutions to end homelessness in communities across the country. Our partnership stems from our commitment to improving the health of the communities we serve, and a deep understanding that housing is health. We are grateful that the MacArthur Foundation has recognized the work of Community Solutions, and Built for Zero communities across the country, which have together demonstrated that homelessness is a problem that can be solved.”

Connie Ballmer, Co-Founder of Ballmer Group, said: “Ballmer Group has enthusiastically supported Built for Zero because it embodies the power of a community-wide, data-driven effort to deliver real, measurable results. With a rigorous commitment to outcomes that matches the urgency of the problem, Community Solutions has helped cities and counties challenge the status quo on homelessness and build more equitable communities. We are proud that this methodology and movement has been recognized by the MacArthur Foundation to show how communities can address seemingly intractable social challenges.”

Laura Grannemann, Vice President of the Quicken Loans Community Fund, the philanthropic arm of lead sponsor Rocket Mortgage, said: “For too long, homelessness has been seen as a personal failure. Community Solutions has flipped the script, recognizing homelessness as the public health crisis that it is, while also proving that this seemingly intractable issue can be solved through data and collaboration. We are proud to partner with an organization that has achieved functional zero in a dozen communities across the country, and is on its way to doing so in dozens more.”

Shannon Gerber, Executive Director, The Home Depot Foundation, said: “The Home Depot Foundation is so proud Community Solutions is a finalist in the MacArthur Foundation’s prestigious competition and excited by the impact the 100&Change grant would have on combatting homelessness in America. We’ve been a partner of Community Solutions since 2011, working with them to systemically end veteran homelessness, and have gotten to see first-hand how their data-driven models and real estate solutions influence measurable progress and prove homelessness is a solvable issue.”


Community Solutions is a national nonprofit that works to create a lasting end to homelessness that leaves no one behind. Community Solutions leads Built for Zero, a movement of more than 80 cities and counties working to measurably end homelessness, and proving it is possible. Learn more at community.solutions or follow us at @cmtysolutions or @BuiltforZero. Media Contact: Bethany Snyder, bsnyder@community.solutions, 425-728-0079

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