For as long as we’ve been counting, Los Angeles County has been the homeless capital of the nation, with more people living on our streets than any other region of the country. It’s also home to 10 million people who believe we can do better – that we can create a Los Angeles community that is stronger and more vibrant than it is today.
In December 2010, we celebrated the beginning of this new Los Angeles. We launched Home For Good, a five-year plan to end chronic and Veteran homelessness, inspired by the leadership of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and informed by Opening Doors. The action plan is led by the Business Leaders Task Force, a joint initiative of United Way of Greater Los Angeles and the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce. Most importantly, the plan belongs to all of us.
A year and a half into the plan, we’re on track to reach our goals, with over 3,000 chronically homeless individuals and over 1,200 veterans in permanent housing to date. Five strategies have been central to our success and learning thus far, which also might be helpful to your community:
- Collaborate across sectors.The blueprint laid out in Home For Good calls for the leadership and collaboration of every sector. The plan is built on a collective impact strategy in which each of us plays a critical role - the public sector and philanthropy targeting and aligning resources, nonprofits collaborating and employing best practices, the faith community engaging congregants in volunteerism and advocacy, and the business community providing leadership and connections to new assets.
- Commit to audacious goals. We set the audacious goal of ending chronic and Veteran homelessness in 5 years, then we mapped out exactly how we could get there.We have tangible benchmarks and measurements of our progress along the way –how many people our community will connect with permanent housing and services, and how we will align the resources and shift our systems to make this possible. Over 110 cross-sector leaders have signed on to Home For Good and committed to do their part to reach these goals.
- Crunch the numbers. Data is a crucial driver of our work. We began with an analysis of the resources already in our system, and the most remarkable discovery we made is that it’s possible to reach our goals with resources that exist in our systems. In the past, Los Angeles spent over $875 million a year in public and private resources and remained the homeless capital of the nation. Our public and private partners are now shifting to channel their resources into a system that can effectively and efficiently end homelessness.
- Communicate. We communicate regularly and transparently with our stakeholders. We communicate successes and shortfalls through quarterly reports and regularly share data on key measurements in order to stay focused on our goals. Our communication channels are also a powerful way to mobilize the general public to support solutions and counter NIMBYism. We are currently using social media to mobilize community members to oppose a harmful L.A. City Ordinance that would reduce access to affordable housing.
- Celebrate! We celebrate our successes, large and small. We recognize our partners’ successes through social media, weekly blogs, quarterly reports, regular convenings, and an annual Summit to acknowledge the incredible work on the ground every day. We strive to build community among the partners working to end homelessness, and celebration is key to weaving together this community of committed champions.
We have a long road ahead, but today we are celebrating that our creative and dedicated community can and will make it happen. We’ve come together around a shared vision of what’s possible, and in the act of committing, a new day has already begun for all of us.