08/07/2013 - The Power of Collaboration

Two years ago, the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce joined forces to create the Home for Good campaign to end chronic and Veteran homelessness in Los Angeles County. Earlier this month, Home For Good held a stakeholder Convening in recognition of the mid-point of its 5-year action plan, with many federal partners participating, including VA Assistant Secretary Dr. Tommy Sowers, HUD Acting Assistant Secretary Mark Johnston, and USICH Executive Director Barbara Poppe.

One of the most exciting aspects of Home For Good’s strategies is its Funders Collaborative, bringing together both public and private funders to work toward the same goals. This is exactly the kind of approach we need across the country to help us meet the goals set out in Opening Doors.  USICH has worked closely with Home for Good since its inception, and we think other communities can learn a great deal from the success of these efforts as described in a new evaluation from Abt Associates. The report, Home For Good Funders Collaborative: Lessons Learned from Implementation and Year One Funding, was funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and highlights the great work and progress of the Funders Collaborative. The Hilton Foundation who was also the Collaborative’s seed funder, providing an initial challenge grant to attract private funds.

The goal of the Funders Collaborative is simple in theory: to create a more coordinated approach to funding permanent, supportive housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness.  Instead of having different agencies, organizations and funders working independently, the Collaborative brings them together to align their priorities and make funding decisions together. But bringing that many partners to the table and reaching consensus can be a daunting task. The Abt report describes how the collaborative successfully overcame such challenges.  Among the first steps were to:

  • Establish shared values
  • Develop and understanding and appreciation of the different organizational cultures
  • Create clear methods for participation

One of the keys to the success in Los Angeles was having strong leadership and champions.  By bringing the right people to the table, staying adaptable, and reaching out to tentative partners, the Funders Collaborative built strong, collaborative partnerships and exceeded its initial goals.

With significant commitments from both private and public funders, the Collaborative created a joint Request for Proposals and grantee selection process to award more than $5 million in private funding, 847 long-term rental subsidy vouchers, and nearly $8.6 million in public capital financing.  Through the Collaborative’s efforts during its first year, 1,000 chronically homeless people have already been housed. The continued work of the Funders Collaborative has incredible potential to remove barriers for the community’s efforts to efficiently create the housing and services solutions needed to end chronic and Veterans homelessness in Los Angeles County.  Excitingly, the Funders Collaborative is now getting ready to announce its second year grant awards, again totaling more than $100M in public and private funds.

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