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

Resource Immediate Needs and Build Capacity During the Response

Last updated: May 5, 2020

As with any disaster response, there are immediate needs that should be addressed to support communities, maximize federal resources, and prepare and lead officials to think strategically about long-term implications and solutions. Through public-private partnerships, philanthropy can recommend and push for bold action from public partners that will result in effective and equitable support of grantee partners and people experiencing homelessness as communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Leverage Public-Private Partnerships 

  • Learn how the decisions for flexible Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars in the CARES Act are being made locally. Use public-private partnerships to influence and ensure that homelessness and housing needs are prioritized in coordination with other public agencies, and work to make sure that homelessness grantee partners have a voice in the implementation of funds.
  • Through public-private partnerships, identify and resource a “Housing Stability Lead” to coordinate state and local action and act as the main point of communication for housing stakeholders, including financial institutions, property owners, renters, housing counselors, and legal aid organizations.



Broker Relationships

  • Offer your organization and staff as resources of information or identify a partner who can compile, analyze, and communicate best resources and guidance.
  • Be vocal about prioritizing populations that are not typically funded through Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG), such as youth and young adults experiencing homelessness.
  • Utilize relationships within the private sector to build support for immediate needs like securing hotels for people experiencing homelessness to isolate, access to supplies and risk reduction equipment for service providers and banning encampment sweeps.
  • Community foundations, already seen as committed to supporting the betterment of their community, should leverage the relationships they have with local leaders from all sectors to ensure that homelessness and equity are at the forefront of policy and funding decisions.



Identify Immediate Capacity Needs

  • Identify the short and long-term staffing needs of grantee partners, lead community organizations, and Continuums of Care (CoCs) and provide needed capacity resources.
  • Fund an analysis of the community’s capacity to receive new local, state, and federal resources focusing on racial equity and systems.
  • Assess the needs for capacity to continue critical long-term initiatives, such as Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP), Grand Challenges, and projects focused on advancing racial equity in housing.



Fund Immediate Capacity

  • Explore implementing innovative practices, such as cash transfers to provide flexible funding and support to people and communities that need it most, and consider how innovative practices can become permanent post-coronavirus.
  • Set priorities for providing repayable "bridge loans” from philanthropy for immediate housing needs based on the financial and time gaps of the CARES Act.
  • Fund the capacity for thought-leaders in the community who have had to focus on crisis response efforts to have the space and resources to engage in strategic thinking, planning, and sharing with partners.
  • Help create or support creation of evaluation measures to show the impact of response dollars and immediate interventions in order to help communities make mid-course corrections to interventions.
  • Support assessment of homeless service system’s current diversion practices and establish strengthened practices and increased capacity, including tailoring support for households whose support networks have fewer resources. Ensure that prevention funding is being provided to community-based organizations and/or non-traditional partners best able to reach into highly-impacted communities. (A Framework for COVID-19 Homelessness Response)



Advocate for Equitable Policies

  • Fund advocacy and policy efforts for additional homelessness and housing resources in upcoming federal relief packages and for policies that do not leave out marginalized and vulnerable populations (e.g. immigrants, mixed-status families, Native and Indigenous communities, and youth)
  • Document and assess the impact of COVID-19 on disproportionately impacted communities, especially communities of color, and create planning structures and partnerships to develop strategies to eliminate such disparities. (A Framework for COVID-19 Homelessness Response)
  • Work with local and state officials to ensure the federal dollars coming in support homelessness and housing programs, initiatives, and organizations that prioritize racial equity and use disaggregated data to determine how resources and funding should be distributed equitably
  • Champion and fund grassroots organizations and organizing led by people of color to work with federal, state, and local leaders to advance equitable implementation of the relief package funds and recovery efforts
  • Fund grassroots organizations to hold local leaders accountable to policies enacted through the CARES Act, such as moratorium on evictions and recommendations by the CDC like allowing encampments to remain.    



Keep Racial Equity and People Experiencing Homelessness at the Forefront

  • Look at where rapid response dollars are going and ensure that organizations led by and serving people of color and LGBTQ people are receiving resources every time dollars and resources are distributed.
  • Examine how culturally specific organizations are or are not connected to mainstream organizations and policy tables. Resource both mainstream organizations to work with culturally specific organizations and vice versa.
  • Prioritize culturally specific organizations who are not historically part of the mainstream systems to ensure they know of and are able to access both public and private funding.
  • Ensure and support outreach to populations experiencing homelessness or housing instability that may already be distrustful of the government and the medical system. This outreach should be led by people who already have a high degree of trust with those populations or communities.
  • Directly fund grassroots organizers with unrestricted grants and help amplify their work, resources, and needs through activities like virtual town halls.



Adopt Best Practices in Grantmaking

  • Set up a rapid response fund or contribute to a local rapid response fund, and work with other local funders to coordinate grantmaking to reduce redundancies, ensure funding for all needs, and be aware of what other resources are available for grantees.
  • Expedite grantmaking processes, including: eliminating grant applications for existing grantees; aligning RFPs with other funders; waiving or deferring grant reports; and expediting grant payments.
  • Convert restricted grants to general operating support. Keep sponsorships despite canceled or postponed events.
  • Look at whether internal budgets for events or travel can be repurposed into additional grant dollars.
  • Start the process of permanently adopting these best practices to make your grantmaking equitable and best support grantees.



>>>COVID-19 Response and Recovery Recommendations


>>>Long-Term Strategies



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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