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FORBES: How 100 Communities Are Solving Homelessness—And What We Can Learn From Their SuccessFORBES:

November 15, 2022
From Forbes

Homelessness is often thought of as intractable, ever-present. Yet social entrepreneur Rosanne Haggerty demonstrates how it can be solved. One hundred U.S. cities and counties collaborate through her organization Community Solutions to achieve this goal, using new tools and habits for radically better outcomes. Social entrepreneur Sascha Haselmayer spoke with Rosanne about what we can learn from their success.

Sascha Haselmayer: Rosanne, your story began with volunteering at a shelter and realizing that shelters weren’t solving the real problems. Tell us what you saw.

Rosanne Haggerty: We were providing shelter for people for up to 30 days when none of them had 30-day problems. The good people running the shelter would explain, “Here are the cots, here’s the coffee pot, here’s the time the bus is going to be picking folks up.” But those experiencing homelessness would arrive and ask, “How do we find housing? Where do I apply?” I was struck by the mismatch between what people were seeking and the responses on hand.

Haselmayer: At what point did you realize it was possible to do things differently, to actually end homelessness?

Haggerty: More than ten years ago my colleagues and I shifted course and started focusing on system connection issues, on helping communities build the operating systems needed to prevent and end homelessness, not simply help those experiencing homelessness to survive another day. Our earlier work had shown us a fundamental problem: it was no one’s job in any community to see that all the assistance on offer was adding up to fewer people experiencing homelessness in that place. Leaders in other communities were seeing the same problem and volunteered to work with us and as a group to learn what it would take to actually end homelessness. This gave rise to our Built for Zero network, which now includes more than 100 communities committed to reaching and maintaining functional zero.