Community Solutions is one of six finalists in the running for the MacArthur Foundation’s “100&Change” competition
Ending homelessness isn’t just a noble aspiration. It’s an achievable reality.
A Letter from Rosanne Haggerty
President of Community Solutions
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition will fund a “single proposal that promises real and measurable progress in solving a critical problem of our time” with a $100 million grant. We are honored to announce that Community Solutions has been named one of six finalists in the competition.
Our aim is to accelerate an end to homelessness in 75 U.S. communities of all sizes, setting the stage for any community to eliminate homelessness. We believe this plan matches the scale and imagination of the 100&Change vision and reflects the urgency of the moment.
More than 1.5 million people experienced homelessness each year in the US before COVID-19, disproportionately impacting Black and Native American individuals and families. Homelessness robs people of their dignity, safety, freedom, and health. For too many, it becomes a defining or enduring event. Prolonged homelessness is more lethal than most forms of cancer, reducing life expectancy by 17 years. This is starkly true in the midst of a pandemic, when being without a safe place to live may mean the difference between life and death.
Yet against these challenges, a future where homelessness is solved is already in view.
Currently, 81 cities and counties are part of the Built for Zero network, designed and led by Community Solutions.
These communities are building systems that make homelessness increasingly rare, and brief when a housing emergency does occur.
Already, 13 Built for Zero communities have reached a milestone known as functional zero for ending chronic or veteran homelessness. 48 are achieving reductions. This transformation can and must happen everywhere. Over the next five years, we are committed to deepening and accelerating the impact of Built for Zero and its proven public health approach to homelessness.
Built for Zero represents a fundamental shift in how communities approach, and solve, homelessness. Built for Zero communities have changed not only the way they think, but the way they work:
“[Communities] are dispelling the dangerous notion that homelessness is intractable, and proving every day that it can be solved.”Rosanne Haggerty
The communities achieving these breakthroughs don’t have more resources than other communities. What defines them is their willingness to challenge the myths about homelessness that have hindered solutions despite significant resources spent. They have rejected the myths that those experiencing homelessness don’t want help or are to blame for their situation, or that it’s an affordable housing issue alone.
They are dispelling the dangerous notion that homelessness is intractable, and proving every day that it can be solved.
Our own journey of learning what it takes to solve homelessness has spanned over three decades.
Our own journey of learning what it takes to solve homelessness has spanned over three decades. We discovered through our own efforts that shelters and emergency responses did not reduce homelessness, nor did simply building more housing. Fragmented services and policies, the lack of accurate and timely information on who was experiencing homelessness or what interventions were working meant communities made little progress while vulnerable people suffered.
What was missing everywhere was a comprehensive, coordinated local system built to eliminate homelessness across the whole community, a system focused on the person or family at the center of the housing crisis.
Built for Zero evolved through the efforts of many communities to create this new approach.
Our approach is drawn from public health practices that have demonstrated the power of data-driven collaboration to make measurable progress toward an urgent, shared goal. Our data analysts, quality improvement coaches, housing development and finance specialists, and communications advisors support each participating community in building the problem solving team, skills, and infrastructure — the system — to eliminate homelessness as we know it. This approach represents a fourth stage in our collective efforts to understand, and sustainably end modern homelessness.
“We believe the presence — or absence — of homelessness as a bellwether for the kind of society we want.“Rosanne haggerty
The 100&Change competition is dedicated to solving a critical problem of our time. We believe the presence — or absence — of homelessness as a bellwether for the kind of society we want. If our most vulnerable neighbors are ending up in a place of indignity and abandonment, that is not a reflection of them, but of all of us. Built for Zero is proving a different future is possible, where homelessness is rare overall, and a brief and passing experience when it occurs. This is the change we want.
Hear from the leaders of the movement
Five Built for Zero community leaders explain how they’re making homelessness rare and brief.