What should funders do about homelessness? Your approach will be specific to your context, values, and assets. These suggestions can help you formulate your individualized plan for ending homelessness.

Affordable Housing: 

The easiest way to end homelessness is to prevent it. Helping to keep people in the homes they already have or transition to places they can afford can avert the dangerous cycle of homelessness altogether.

What does it take to keep people in their homes? Rent control is one option:

Building dedicated affordable housing is another way to do that. Cities, donors, and companies can build affordable housing the traditional way or turn to creative solutions:

Housing First: 

Housing First is considered the gold standard for helping the homeless. Housing First prioritizes stable housing in order to address the many needs of homeless individuals:

  • How Housing First Can Help End Homelessness
    Solutions Journalism Network
    The “housing first” approach emphasizes housing as the foundational step for any other mental health and financial issues a person might have.

Cities and communities can subsidize Housing First programs to reduce or eliminate their homeless populations:

  • Why D.C.’S Housing Vouchers Are Working
    Pacific Standard
    DC’s Housing Authority is offering landlords beneficial terms, making the area’s housing voucher program work much better than other cities with similar programs.

Housing First can also be used to reduce the burden of homelessness on the healthcare industry:

Housing First works well, but homeless people who receive housing may also need support for other needs. Housing First must be done well in order to be a long-term solution.

Housing First must also include the individual needs of homeless people. For example, most people are very attached to their pets. For some, owning a pet might make it difficult to find housing programs that will accept them.

  • Providing Pet Assistance For Homeless Individuals
    National Alliance to End Homelessness
    Street Outreach staff often share a similar story … Someone they know has been living on the street for a long time and continually turns down assistance or shelter. Suddenly, the individual reaches out for help because their service animal or pet needs assistance. For the outreach team, this is a perfect opportunity to finally offer support to both the animal and its owner experiencing homelessness.

This is an important reminder that the whole lives of homeless people must be taken into account when funding homelessness solutions.

There is good news. Across the country people are working hard to end the homelessness crisis. Some cities have successfully ended homelessness. Other cities, counties, and states can do the same. What will your role be?

Going forward, keep up with homelessness news.