Last updated: October 19, 2020
With any disaster response, there will always be immediate and long-term capacity needs. One of the advantages and privileges of philanthropy is the ability to operate at the 30-thousand foot level, and we believe that philanthropy can use this to support communities in connecting dots and scenario planning. In this section, we’ve added to our previous recommendations about identifying and funding capacity needs to be more explicit about philanthropy’s role in helping their communities think about:
- The homelessness response system, specifically around congregate shelters, given the nature of the COVID-19 virus and the coming winter months.
- How to bolster policies and services related to eviction prevention, renter protections, and housing vouchers, given a looming eviction crisis once the federal eviction moratorium ends.
- How to build public and political will and change hearts and minds now to create support for people who will face housing instability and economic hardship even after economic “recovery”, such as Black, Indigenous, and other people of color who have been disproportionally affected.
New recommendations (but not examples) are denoted with ***
Capacity of Your Community's Systems
- Identify short and long-term staffing needs, such as front-line staff, emergency response strategists, policy analysts, etc., of grantee partners, lead community organizations, and Continuums of Care (CoCs) and provide needed resources in order to meet those staffing needs.
- Set priorities for providing repayable "bridge loans” from philanthropy for immediate housing needs based on the financial and time gaps of the CARES Act and subsequent federal funding relief bills.
- Fund an analysis of the community’s capacity to receive new local, state, and federal resources and focus them on racial equity, marginalized populations, and equitable systems.
- Assess the capacity needs to continue critical long-term initiatives, such as Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP), Grand Challenges, and projects focused on advancing racial equity in housing.
- Explore implementing innovative practices, such as cash transfers, to provide flexible funding and support to people and communities that need it most, such as undocumented immigrants. Consider how these practices can become permanent post-coronavirus pandemic.
- *** Identify and prioritize capacity needs to provide alternatives to congregate shelter models to allow for proper social distancing and isolating as the country enters colder seasons and a second wave of COVID-19 outbreak coupled with influenza season.
- Support an 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)
- Support scenario planning for several months and years out and begin conversations about permanent system changes, such as moving away from congregate shelter models, creating new public funding streams for affordable housing and homelessness services, and for moving systems towards equity and justice.
Examples & Resources:
Supporting immediate capacity needs and rebuilding
- San Francisco Emergency Homeless Response System (HRS) Staffing Initiative Overview – Tipping Point Community
- Rasmuson Foundation is helping support the initial operations of engagement centers for two years with $3.5M, including the conversion of a sports arena into a COVID-19 navigation center.
- HealthSpark Foundation: A Blueprint for Building Back a Better Safety Net System
- Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund
- An event or an era? Resources for social sector decision-making in the context of COVID-19, Monitor Institute - Deloitte
- County of Los Angeles memo on developing a COVID-19 recovery plan related to people experiencing homelessness
- Cash Transfers
- Creating new funding streams
Capacity Needs Related to Policy Changes
- *** Support the assessment of the impact policies will have on homelessness. Examples of policies include: cessation of eviction moratoria, rent forbearance, unemployment compensation, and individual payments.
- *** Fund the research and analysis to determine what kind of eviction prevention policies, interventions, and support are needed. Examples of this include right to counsel and supporting better data and research around informal evictions.
- *** Provide support in using this research and analysis to creating new policies and interventions, including using your voice as a funder to advocate for these policies.
- 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.
- *** Fund the capacity for leaders in the community, including grassroots organizers and movement leaders, who have had to focus on crisis response to have time and space for strategic planning, action, and self-care.
Examples & Resources:
Analyses of federal policies and bills
- Funders Together statement about CDC eviction moratorium: Philanthropy Cannot Be Expected to “Fill the Gap” in Rental Assistance Need Caused by Lack of Government Support (September 4, 2020)
- Housing Instability and Homelessness: CARES Act Suggestions for State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Elected Officials
- Summary of the Coronavirus Aid Package: What Philanthropy Needs to Know
Eviction and rental assistance
- Eviction Lab Housing Policy Scorecard: This tool shows what kind of policies each state has enacted related to the three stages of eviction (initiation, court process, and enforcement), as well as policies related to short-term housing supports and tenancy preservation measures. Funders can use this tool to help guide policy and advocacy activities or eviction interventions.
- Eviction Lab Eviction Tracking System: Tracking system monitors weekly updates on the number of eviction cases being filed in cities across the United States, broken down by Census track and race/ethnicity.
- Urban Institute tool: Where to prioritize emergency rental assistance to keep renters in their homes: The index estimates the level of need in a census tract by measuring the prevalence of low-income renters who are at risk of experiencing housing instability and homelessness. Some communities and CoCs have used this tool to create prioritization of rental assistance or to target outreach (e.g. paid advertisements at bus stops and outreach to community-based organizations) to inform residents about rental assistance.
Supporting the capacity of grassroots leaders
- Movement 4 Black Lives
- Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) has done outreach around eviction protections during COVID and also released a Black New Deal platform that includes housing
- National Innovation Service: How to Defund Your Police Department in Six Steps includes housing as part of its rationale for why to defund police departments.
- Liberty Hill Foundation participates in Stay Housed LA, a partnership between Los Angeles County and tenant-led community organizations, to promote tenants rights and provide legal services. Liberty Hill has also supported two groups that have been leading Right to Counsel-LA.
Philanthropy and advocacy
- Funders Together webinar recording: Advancing Housing Justice Through Policy Engagement
- 6 ways Congress can fight for recovery from pandemic now – Valley of the Sun United Way