Community Solutions Awarded $100 Million to End Homelessness

MacArthur today awarded a $100 million grant to Community Solutions to accelerate an end to homelessness in 75 U.S. communities in five years.

The Foundation’s Board selected Community Solutions from the six finalists in 100&Change, MacArthur’s global competition to fund a single proposal that promises real and measurable progress in solving a critical problem of our time.

Community Solutions will use the $100 million grant to implement and scale Built for Zero, its data-driven public health approach to accelerating an end to homelessness. Ending homelessness has the potential to strengthen communities, improve health outcomes, and enhance economic well-being.

The project will change the norms around homelessness, treating it as a solvable public health crisis. Fifteen communities have already functionally ended chronic or veteran homelessness, using Community Solutions’ approach, and it aims to make this goal achievable and expected in any community by 2026.

“Homelessness is curable. For too long, homelessness has been viewed as intractable and pervasive rather than a crisis worth solving,” said MacArthur President John Palfrey. “More than 568,000 people experienced homelessness on a given night in the United States, before the pandemic. Community Solutions has proven that people do not have to live this way. Its racially equitable response is primed for this moment.”

Building on MacArthur’s investment, the Ballmer Group had committed continued support for Community Solutions, renewing its grant of $5.8 million for another three years.

The award was announced at the 100&Change: Finalists Live virtual event.

Community Solutions works with local government agencies and nonprofit organizations to focus on person-specific, real-time information and interventions that help communities reach and sustain “functional zero” — an end state where homelessness is rare and brief.

The strategy was informed by research, experiences in the field, and deep community engagement. More than 30 international communities have been equipped with the Built for Zero methodology.

In addition to the 15 communities that have ended chronic and veteran homelessness in the U.S., 50 communities within the Built for Zero network have reduced homelessness. Since 2010, the organization has helped communities secure homes for more than 235,000 individuals experiencing homelessness.

Community Solutions’ plan will help 75 communities end veteran or chronic homelessness, toward reaching a tipping point that creates the conditions for any community to end homelessness.

“We are deeply honored that Community Solutions and the Built for Zero movement have been selected as the award recipient of the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition,” said Rosanne Haggerty, President of Community Solutions. “The award is a powerful endorsement of our shared belief that homelessness can and must be solved. It is also a testament to the leadership of communities in Built for Zero that are proving it is possible every day. We are grateful and eager to seize this historic moment in our country to build a future where homelessness is rare and brief.”

Community Solutions is committed to racial equity, recognizing that homelessness disproportionately impacts Black people and Native Americans. Black people represent 13 percent of the overall population but make up 48 percent of people who are experiencing homelessness. To help communities design systems that produce racially equitable outcomes, Community Solutions has developed a framework to respond to disparities and measure progress.

COVID-19 has created more housing and economic challenges and emphasized the urgent need to solve this crisis. During the project development phase of 100&Change, Community Solutions adjusted its strategy to seize the political and cultural moment to change outdated federal data and technology requirements, funding incentives, and public policy around ending homelessness.

Ballmer Group has long championed the data-driven methodology that Community Solutions uses, enabling communities to tackle challenging social issues, like homelessness. Ballmer’s $5.8 million renewal will enable Community Solutions to apply its rigorous approach to strategies that address homeless families and youth, as well as to root cause issues like behavioral health and evictions.

“We are proud to continue our support of Community Solution’s leadership and methodology, and we congratulate Community Solutions on receiving MacArthur’s extraordinary award and vote of confidence,” said Connie Ballmer, Ballmer Group Co-Founder.

The awards were announced at a virtual event where the finalists presented bold solutions to big challenges. Lever for Change, a MacArthur affiliate, will continue to work with all the finalists to gain support for their projects. All six solutions are listed in the Bold Solutions Network, which showcases the highest-rated proposals from competitions managed by Lever for Change.

“The 100&Change finalists represent opportunities to solve society’s most pressing problems — ocean health, oxygen therapy, health disparities, news deserts, and mosquito-borne disease,” said Cecilia Conrad, Managing Director of 100&Change and CEO of Lever for Change. “We are deeply committed to helping all of the finalists attract support and accelerate social change.”

Since the inaugural 100&Change competition, other funders and philanthropists have committed an additional $448 million to date to support bold solutions by 100&Change applicants.

100&Change is a distinctive competition that is open to organizations and collaborations working in any field, anywhere in the world. Proposals must identify a problem and offer a solution that promises significant and durable change.

This round of the competition had a promising start, with 755 organizations or collaborations submitting proposals. Of those, 475 passed an initial administrative review. 100&Change was designed to be fair, open, and transparent. The identity of the judges and the methodology used to assess initial proposals are public. Applicants received comments and feedback from their peers, judges, and technical reviewers. The six finalists worked with expert teams to strengthen their proposals, plan for evaluation and learning, and authentically engage with communities of interest. Key issues in the competition are discussed in our Perspectives on 100&Change blog posts.

In the inaugural round of 100&Change, Sesame Workshop and International Rescue Committee were awarded $100 million to educate young children displaced by conflict and persecution in the Syrian response region and to challenge the global system of humanitarian aid to build a foundation that helps ensure the future of millions of children.

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