Since 2011, Community Solutions, a national non-profit founded by Rosanne Haggerty, has been working to empower communities to develop their own systems-level solutions to complex social challenges. The stated goal of their many different projects and initiatives is to “change public systems so that homeless families and individuals can get the transformative help they need at a lower public cost.” Their work, however, touches many different individuals, not only the chronically underhoused.
The organization’s success in realizing its vision (and its distinctiveness amongst its institutional peers) could be attributed to how thoroughly embedded Community Solutions is in the neighborhoods it serves, leveraging the goals and resources of hundreds of likeminded partner organizations to form a network of individuals and institutions working across scales, disciplines, and sectors.
In Brooklyn, two Community Solutions projects — one national, the other locally based — are teaming up to work with residents of Brownsville on a sustained effort to turn around a neighborhood suffering from cyclical poverty and its many symptoms. Rasmia Kirmani-Frye is the director of one of these initiatives, the Brownsville Partnership, comprised of a growing confederation of individuals, community groups, and city agencies that are facilitating and rallying around change in Brownsville. The Partnership is a grass-roots organization with a deep knowledge of and commitment to Brownsville’s residents. It aims to provide a framework for helping those residents to identify and implement improvements to their neighborhood. Nadine Maleh is the director of Inspiring Places, a program of Community Solutions that provides planning, architectural, and real estate development services to communities in Northeast Hartford, CT, and New Orleans, LA, in addition to its work with the Partnership in Brownsville. In the conversation below, Kirmani-Frye and Maleh share more about both these groups and their ongoing collaboration with residents of Brownsville.