A national network of funders supporting strategic, innovative, and effective solutions to homelessness

Funders Together Goes to Washington

Part of philanthropy’s responsibility to the most vulnerable in our society is to call on government―both elected officials and non-elected staff on both sides of the political aisle―to work in ways that are just, effective, and efficient.

Part of philanthropy’s responsibility to the most vulnerable in our society is to call on government―both elected officials and non-elected staff on both sides of the political aisle―to work in ways that are just, effective, and efficient.  To this end, representatives from Funders Together and our partners at theNational Alliance met this summer with senior staff from various federal agencies to discuss homelessness in America.

Specifically, we met with Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Health and Human Services (HHS), Veterans Affairs (VA), the Domestic Policy Council (DPC), and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) about issues such as family, veterans, and youth homelessness.  We spoke openly and honestly about what is working in communities across the country and ways that both the government and private sector could be more effective and efficient in helping those most vulnerable in our society.  We spoke about the priorities and strengths of philanthropy and what we can bring to the table but also the need to work together with government to both share ideas and to leverage resources.

Our meetings with HUD focused on how both the public and private sectors can better target those who receive services to ensure that people get what they need to be successful – not more, not less.  One specific example of this is the need for better targeting of HUD/VASH vouchers to reach those with the greatest needs.  We also called upon HUD to continue its focus on and support of rapid re-housing and stressed the need for more timely data and their continued commitment to outcome-based funding.

HHS, largely as a result of work of one of our members, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, recently launched the $25 million Keeping Families Together federal notice of funding availability (NOFA).  This initiative is a true public/private partnership with funds coming from both the federal government and from philanthropy.  During our meeting we were able to discuss additional opportunities to support families and youth by connecting with and using mainstream services such as TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) and the Affordable Care Act.

Youth homelessness is an area of growing concern and one which both HUD and HHS see as a real priority.  There was much discussion with both departments on ways philanthropy, government, and communities can help identify and support young men and women who find themselves without a home.

In all of our meetings, including those with the OMB, VA and the DPC, we clearly stated our belief that the federal government is on the right track. Through the work of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and the release of Opening Doors and the HEARTH Act―with its focus on outcomes, data, and best practices―communities have been given a roadmap that can move them toward ending rather than managing homelessness.  Of course, government must stay the course, working across agencies and departments and collaborating with the private sector to ensure communities receive the support they need to be successful.

It is easy to be cynical about government; to call it ineffective and inefficient.  But for those of us who spent time this summer meeting with government staff who really get it―who understand what it will take and who are committed to making it happen ―it made us believe more than ever that we can do this. We can end homelessness, together.

anne_miskey.jpgAs Executive Director of Funders Together, Anne brings years of expertise in both the corporate and not-for-profit sector. She is passionate about promoting the philanthropic community’s catalytic role in ending homelessness, working with government to create public-private partnerships, and advocating for funding and policies which end, rather than manage, homelessness.



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We joined Funders Together because we believe in the power of philanthropy to play a major role in ending homelessness, and we know we have much to learn from funders across the country.

-Christine Marge, Director of Housing and Financial Stability at United Way of Greater Los Angeles

I am thankful for the local partnerships here in the Pacific Northwest that we’ve been able to create and nurture thanks to the work of Funders Together. Having so many of the right players at the table makes our conversations – and all of our efforts – all the richer and more effective.

-David Wertheimer, Deputy Director at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

-President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 State of the Union Address

Funders Together has given me a platform to engage the other funders in my community. Our local funding community has improved greatly to support housing first models and align of resources towards ending homelessness.

-Leslie Strnisha, Vice President at Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

Our family foundation convenes local funders and key community stakeholders around strategies to end homelessness in Houston. Funders Together members have been invaluable mentors to us in this effort, traveling to our community to share their expertise and examples of best practices from around the nation.

-Nancy Frees Fountain, Managing Director at The Frees Foundation

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