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100K Homes’ campaign goal: End chronic homelessness by 2013

   /   Jul 13th, 2010News

More than 100,000 Americans are “chronically homeless,” meaning they live on the streets or in shelters for a year or more. If a new campaign launched yesterday meets its goal, every one of them will be housed by 2013.

The catalyst for the campaign—called 100,000 Homes—is the New York City-based organization Common Ground, whose pioneering anti-homelessness model has succeeded brilliantly in its home town and elsewhere. Over the past year, Common Ground has knitted together a national “network of change agents” comprising dozens of communities fighting homelessness. Together, they’ve devised a data-driven approach they call “the world’s best housing process.”

That process builds on Common Ground’s successful “Street to Home” strategy and borrows from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement‘s “100,000 Lives” campaign (PDF), a national effort to reduce avoidable patient deaths. It makes the top priority identifying and helping the most vulnerable people—the chronically homeless, who cycle in and out of hospitals and other institutions at huge financial cost, and whose lives are cut short by an average of 25 years.

Local “campaign teams,” whose roughly 100 volunteers might include human services agents, business people, health care providers, members of faith-based groups, and college students, take a one-week training program; then they follow a detailed “playbook” (PDF) as they compile a registry of the homeless in their area and identify most vulnerable, line up the supply of services and housing, move people into the housing best targeted to their needs, and help them stay housed.

Throughout the process, teams stay connected to the larger network via regular conference calls and the 100,000 Homes website, where they combine resources, provide mutual support and guidance, and share ideas, information, and solutions.

Already over the past year 36 “vanguard communities” across the country have deployed the model ahead of yesterday’s formal launch. So far they’ve housed more than 5,000 people.

When we reached Common Ground’s Founder and President Rosanne Haggerty by phone in Washington D.C., where she’s attending a national homelessness conference, she said, ”It’s amazing how these communities are adopting and organically spreading techniques and solutions,” with Common Ground playing a connective role. “Three years from this week we’ll see 100,000 vulnerable neighbors housed all across the country, returning to health and becoming full participants in their communities. That’s 100,000 reasons to believe that we can come together to solve the hard problems facing our communities and nation.”

Photo: Youth Noise

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