Counties Join Campaign to House Chronic, At-Risk Homeless

September 26, 2011
By Charles Taylor

As a child, Harold Fisher would play in the Arlington County, Va. park that eventually became his “home.” He found a sheltered area near the park’s tennis courts to sleep nights in later years when he was homeless.

Today Fisher, 42, who suffers from Type 2 diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure and sleep apnea, has his own apartment in Arlington, thanks to the county and the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN).“It’s nice,” he said of the one-bedroom flat he’s able to afford with the help of county programs and subsidies. “I thought I’d go stir crazy being alone, but I actually love the peace.”

Arlington and counties across the country are hoping to replicate that success many times over as part of a national campaign called 100,000 Homes for 100,000 Homeless Americans (100,000 Homes) launched last year by Community Solutions, a New York City-based nonprofit working to end homelessness. Other counties that have adopted local versions of the campaign include Santa Clara County, Calif., Clark County, Nev. and Pasco County, Fla. There is no cost to affiliate with the national campaign.

“We’re just kind of a connective infrastructure,” said Jake Maguire, communications manager for Community Solutions and 100,000 Homes. “The primary reason this approach works is that communities can share with and learn from one another. What the campaign, I think, is doing is creating kind of a platform and infrastructure for these communities that are already innovating so successfully to share their ideas.”