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

Can Foundations Eradicate Homelessness?

Recently, a few of us from Funders Together to End Homelessness sat down with Rick Cohen, national correspondent for the Non-Profit Quarterly. The topic: Can philanthropy help to end homelessness? 

Recently, a few of us from Funders Together to End Homelessness sat down with Rick Cohen, national correspondent for the Non-Profit Quarterly. The topic: Can philanthropy help to end homelessness? The result: Rick posted the following thoughtful commentary on his NPQ blog. We think it’s worth a read. Thanks Rick!

Can Foundations Eradicate Homelessness? By Investing in Systems Change and Housing First, According to the Funders Together to End Homelessness Affinity Group

Can foundations end homelessness? The affinity group Funders Together to End Homelessness believes that the problem of homelessness-chronic homelessness-can be solved, if done the right way, according to Funders Together’s executive director, Anne Miskey. In the midst of all of the Council on Foundations workshops, we were fortunate to find a moment to have a conversation with Anne, her communications director, Teri Larson, and three core foundation leaders in the affinity group: Bill Pitkin of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, David Wertheimer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Bob Hohler of the Melville Charitable Trust (Bob won the Council’s 2009 Distinguished Grantmaker award).

How can foundations “end homelessness”? Not on their own, for sure, but by providing catalytic investments, as Wertheimer said, to provoke change in the homeless shelter and housing system in localities. It requires a systems approach, one that moves government and nonprofits from simply “managing the homeless” to changing the system.

The concept that they all advocate is “Housing First,” the idea that putting people into housing rather than having them cycled through and managed in a shelter system results in better outcomes for the chronically homeless. 

Continued here.

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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