Funders Together to End Homelessness, a national network of funders with over 230 members, is encouraged to hear of the recent announcement from Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos regarding his $2 billion fund to assist families experiencing homelessness. We applaud his commitment to providing this level of funding towards efforts to address family homelessness.
This announcement adds to the growing trend of corporate investments addressing the homelessness crisis. Because of both past and current structures in our country that perpetuate racism, homelessness disproportionally affects people of color also making this a racial equity crisis. But, there is a solution to the crises at hand: access to safe and affordable housing for everyone. The best way to end family homelessness is to ensure that families and children have a stable home, which is the foundation for better health, consistent employment, and effective education.
Through the years of working with philanthropy and our partners, we’ve learned that funding programs and services that band-aid homelessness can perpetuate a broken system and negate the progress made on making homelessness rare, brief, and one-time. While important and necessary, solely focusing on funding emergency shelters or soup kitchens won’t address homelessness at its core and will only temporarily address needs. Instead, we should look to engage in public-private partnerships and invest in models that put housing at the center of the solution and tackle the affordable housing crisis head on.
Funders Together to End Homelessness supports business leaders in providing this type of giving and is encouraged by the national attention highlighting the issue of homelessness and the factors that contribute to it. While funding of this magnitude is critical to our collective efforts, it is our belief that we can’t end homelessness without philanthropic commitment from funders at all levels. Funding of this size alone will not end homelessness and it is important to remember that some of the most impactful work on homelessness has been driven by small funders who make strategic catalytic investments in systems change. We are confident Mr. Bezos will learn from and follow the lead of those before him who have championed this work in communities across the country.
We look forward to learning more about Mr. Bezos’s efforts and are willing to be a resource as well as facilitate connections to catalytic funders who have invaluable experience and knowledge around preventing and ending homelessness.