Community Solutions was honored last week to accept the World Habitat Award
at the closing ceremonies of the United Nations World Urban Forum
. The event, which took place in Medellín, Colombia, brought together more than 22,000 people from 140 countries to discuss the unique challenges facing cities around the world.
Community Solutions received the award in recognition of the 100,000 Homes Campaign
, a national movement we coordinate to help US communities find permanent housing for 100,000 Americans by the end of July. To date, 235 participating communities have housed more than 93,000 people, and they expect to reach their shared goal in mid-June.
In accepting the award, Community Solutions President Rosanne Haggerty told an audience of more than 2,000 people that “the 100,000 Homes Campaign proves that we don’t have to wait for perfect data or more resources to start solving the problems that affect our most vulnerable neighbors. We can learn and innovate along the way as we work to improve our communities for everyone.”
The 100,000 Homes Campaign works by helping communities innovate effective solutions to homelessness and share them with one another through an open source virtual infrastructure. It urges communities to identify all of their homeless residents by name and apply a Housing First approach, in which permanent housing is provided ahead of, rather than following, offers of substance and mental health treatment and/or employment. Communities also track their monthly housing placements and work toward housing a reliable percentage of their homeless neighbors each month to get on track to end chronic and vulnerable homelessness in a clear timeframe.
A swelling body of research shows that it is typically 30 to 40 percent cheaper to provide chronically homeless individuals with permanent supportive housing rather than allow them to remain homeless, due to frequent use of emergency rooms, jails, shelters, and other taxpayer funded services.
In recognition of the participating communities that have made the Campaign a success, Community Solutions selected a community representative to join us in Colombia through a national innovation contest. Shane Groen, Director of Special Initiatives for the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness
, won the contest with a submission that highlighted Phoenix’s unique, peer-led approach to case management and supportive services. The program, known as “housing navigation,” has helped Groen and his team keep 94 percent of the chronically homeless veterans they have housed from becoming homeless again, a rate that eclipses the national average at substantially lower cost than traditional approaches.
“We’ve been working hard here in Phoenix to do right by our veterans and make sure they all have homes,” said Groen. “It feels great to see that work recognized nationally and internationally.”
In Colombia, Groen joined Community Solutions team member Jake Maguire in a presentation and panel discussion on the 100,000 Homes Campaign and its approach.
The World Habitat Awards were established in 1985 by the Building and Social Housing Foundation as part of its contribution to the United Nations International Year of Shelter for the Homeless. Two awards are given annually, to a project from the global north and the global south, that provide practical and innovative solutions to current housing needs and problems. Community Solutions’ 100,000 Homes Campaign was selected, along with the Hebron Old City Rehabilitation Programme in Palestine from over 200 projects reviewed.