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Urban Land: Funding Solutions to Tackle Building for the Unhoused

April 25, 2024

The number of people experiencing homelessness grew by 12 percent in 2023—but Rosanne Haggerty, president and CEO of Community Solutions, a nonprofit recognized for developing innovative solutions to end homelessness, says homelessness is a solvable problem. Haggerty believes that real estate professionals are uniquely positioned to get everyone working toward the same goal of providing basic housing and infrastructure for unhoused people. Haggerty’s organization is taking advantage of increased awareness of the problem by partnering with corporations, banking institutions, government agencies, and philanthropists to help shelter unhoused people.

Housing programs that work

Community Solutions is a D.C.-based nonprofit founded in New York in 2011. The organization, which began as a housing developer, now works with communities throughout the country to help solve homelessness. “A key is having a very accurate and timely understanding of homelessness as an indicator as to how the housing system is working,” Haggerty says.

Her program operates in several large cities, working with social impact investors and government and community partners to acquire existing properties. When multifamily buildings come on the market, Community Solutions buys them; then, when units naturally turn over, the organization preserves some as permanently affordable. According to Haggerty, the goal is to fill Community Solutions buildings with 50 percent workforce housing and 50 percent housing for those who have experienced homelessness.

“I think in the first 14 months or so we’ve acquired more than one thousand units in six cities,” Haggerty says. The organization operates nimbly by not relying solely on low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC) or government subsidies.