08/27/2012 - The Power of Collaboration at Work in Los Angeles

I left Los Angeles on August 16 with both a new “I Am Home For Good” lapel pin and a new lesson in the power of collaboration. 

Executive Director Barbara Poppe and I were privileged to attend the Home For Good Funders Collaborative event in Los Angeles, (previously described here) at which the funding partners announced awards to 30 nonprofit organizations. That funding totaled $105 million of public and private investments  and will result in more than 1,000 people becoming stably housed in the coming year with support to remain in  that housing in the years ahead. Each event attendee received an “I Am Home For Good” lapel pin honoring their support and contributions; such pins will also be provided to every person housed through the funding awards announced. The Funders Collaborative’s accomplishments are truly remarkable and one important indicator of broader change in Los Angeles. 

I’ve done work in Los Angeles previously, especially in my past roles with the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) – but it has been a few years since I was actively involved.  So when I joined USICH in May, I was looking forward to the opportunity to reconnect with partners and colleagues there.  Clearly, if we want to “move the needle” on homelessness nationally, making real progress in Los Angeles is essential.  But Los Angeles has typically been known as a community in which divisions were stronger than shared interests and a community in which systems and jurisdictions operated in silos. It was a community that lacked both a unified vision for change and the coordination that makes such change possible.  

I wasn’t prepared for how changed Los Angeles would be—or that now, Los Angeles should become known across the country for its strong partnerships, its effective coordination, and its efficient leveraging of resources.  

As I look at the federal, state, and local government, the private sector and philanthropy, the business community, and housing and services providers, it is clear that all sectors of the community have forged new partnerships and have developed new skills for collaboration. When I talk about Los Angeles in other communities, now I’ll be able to talk about:

  • The leadership from the United Way of Greater Los Angeles. Their leadership is what we at USICH hope will inspire many other United Ways across America to become more engaged in their communities’ efforts to end homelessness.  
  • The willingness of private funders to dedicate their resources as catalysts for change and flexible partners to public resources. This Collaborative is highlighted by the steady leadership of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, but it is strengthened by an impressive array of private funders who have joined the Home For Good initiative and invested financial resources into the Funders Collaborative.
  • The creativity of cross-sector and cross-jurisdictional partnerships that integrate housing and services resources in ways that other communities should be replicating.  It is incredible to see the collaborative involvement of the City of Los Angeles and the City of Pasadena, the City and the County Housing Authorities, the Los Angles Housing Department, and the County Departments of Mental Health, Health Services, and Public Health all in one funding initiative.
  • The many contributions federal agencies have made, including: providing guidance to Public Housing Authorities on how best to implement limited preferences in Housing Choice Voucher administration for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness; working with CSH to convene Public Housing and Continuum of Care leaders from the West Coast; developing guidance on how best to coordinate federal funding streams; and continuing to document best practices and to innovate within the implementation of the HUD-VASH  program. 

Truly, Los Angeles feels like a transformed community – but there’s much, much more work to be done.  As Barbara Poppe concluded her remarks at the Home For Good event: “To any potential partners, collaborators, or funders here who have not yet come to the table, please use today as your inspiration to join us, and help us ensure that Home For Good succeeds as the last plan to end chronic and Veterans homelessness in Los Angeles.”

By continuing to expand upon this new spirit of collaboration, thousands more Angelenos will get the chance to put on their “I Am Home For Good” pins.

To view photos from the event, go to Home for Good's flickr site

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