Giving Compass teamed up with SolutionsU, a platform that connects you to stories about responses to the world’s challenges. SolutionsU is a project of the Solutions Journalism Network: a nonprofit organization that seeks to rebalance the news, providing readers with critical reporting on society’s problems and stories that explain how individuals, institutions, and communities are responding.
We are featuring a collection of solution journalism stories from their searchable database, focusing on housing first programs.
Housing for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness can often be used as a reward for “good behavior” — nonprofits, city governments, and other actors offer affordable (or free!) housing for people who complete a certain set of programs and prove that they are substance-free. However, the “housing first” approach emphasizes housing as the foundational step for any other mental health and financial issues a person might have.
The stories in this collection highlight the successes and failures of “housing first” programs, including: a program for veterans through a collaboration between the VA and local nonprofits, a renovated motel that provides housing in Alaska, a tiny village movement on the West Coast whose residents don’t lose their housing if they relapse, and a long form piece on how “housing first” is just one part of Albuquerque’s plan to end homelessness.
Since you are interested in North America, have you read these selections from Giving Compass related to impact giving and North America?
How you can make an impact in this area:
Help break vicious cycles. It’s a misperception that drug use leads to homelessness — often it’s the other way around. This is why addiction must be treated with empathy and innovative solutions. One program called Pathways to Housing PA found that a “scattered site” approach to the housing first model, combined with street outreach (such as needle exchanges) helped chronically homeless individuals with opioid addiction receive treatment and keep a roof over their heads. In fact, 100 percent of the participants in this program retained housing throughout the first year.
Prioritize marginalized young people. Housing first applies to all populations, but we can’t forget that minority homeless youth are among the most vulnerable. Black and Latino youth are 83 and 33 percent more likely to be homeless than their peers, while LGBTQ+ homeless youth have almost twice the rate of early death. One place to start making a difference is the Youth Homeless Fund, a Houston-based community impact fund that aims to address the problem of homelessness among young people through leadership, advocacy work, education and collaborative grantmaking.
Remember that there is no magic bullet. The stories in this collection should give funders hope that we’re making progress in this area, but know that ending homelessness will likely require a combination of different interventions, along with stronger collaboration between the public and private sectors. From creating equitable affordable housing opportunities to making sure that every single person gets counted to targeting at-risk people with holistic approaches, we must be open to all ideas. Bust the myths around the problem — and let’s get to work.
Read the full collection about “housing first” by Areeba Haider at SolutionsU.
Looking for a way to get involved?
If you are interested in Homelessness and Housing, please see these relevant events, training, conferences or volunteering opportunities the Giving Compass team recommends.
Are you ready to give?
In addition to learning and connecting with others, taking action is a key step towards becoming an impact giver. If you are interested in giving with impact for Homelessness and Housing take a look at these Giving Funds, Charitable Organizations or Projects.