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

Homelessness Prevention: Where To Start


At the 2018 Funders Forum, we dove into learning about nation-wide prevention models and pilot programs being launched in communities taking the next step in homelessness prevention.

Funders had an opportunity to engage with Barbara Poppe, Principal of Barbara Poppe & Associates, in a discussion around what prevention is and how philanthropy can take a role in homelessness prevention work.

Barbara presented her research findings and her recommended best practices on eviction and homelessness prevention that were established with HealthSpark Foundation and Your Way Home Montgomery County, PA. She also gave suggestions on how philanthropy can be a catalyst in this space. (Attention funders: if you missed this discussion and are interested in going more in-depth on this topic, scroll to the end of this post for an additional learning opportunity!)


There was so much information packed into the one-hour discussion! So, let’s take a look at some of the key takeaways:

Let’s talk about the basics of homelessness prevention:

  • Housing stability is the primary goal of homelessness prevention.
  • Prevention is about targeting – the right intervention at the right time. This is different in each community.
  • Eviction prevention is a timely topic as it almost always leads to increased housing instability and homelessness.
  • Eviction is driven by the legal system, and what really helps is having social and legal services to help those at risk of eviction in court. 
  • As well as losing a home, families lose crucial belongings such as beds, furniture, etc.  

Things to consider when getting involved in prevention work:

  • There needs to be a highly functional homeless crisis response system first. A community needs to demonstrate that they know how to triage and respond before they can look upstream and work on prevention. 
  • Look upstream for opportunities around homelessness or eviction prevention strategies, such as targeting children by stationing prevention workers directly in schools or targeting those being evicted by putting lawyers for tenants in the courtrooms. Focus on putting housing stabilization resources directly in hospitals, the foster care system, and the prison system.
  • Find willing partners and utilize them. For example, if you have support from the hospitals and your data shows a high number of people entering homelessness from hospitals, then begin with a program to try to prevent people from falling into homelessness after a hospitalization.

Philanthropy’s role:

  • Be a convener. Philanthropy can get the public sector at the table and provide a space where people can talk candidly. 
  • Philanthropy should think strategically and then look to invest in pilots. Engage the public sector at the beginning as their initial buy in and input will help to scale up.
  • Educate your partners and policymakers! Share information on best practices and evidenced-based tools.
  • Invest in data tools and the dissemination of the data findings.

Want to dive even deeper, hear about prevention work in action, and learn about other ways philanthropy can be a leader in prevention work? Join us on March 22 at 1:00 pm. EST for a webinar featuring the research and evaluation of homelessness prevention conducted by HealthSpark Foundation and Your Way Home Montgomery County, PA.  We will explore the eviction pilot and lessons learned from Montgomery County as they launched.

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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