Iona Holmes moved to Brownsville, Brooklyn over 25 years ago with her three young children. At first she was nervous, unsure of what to expect from her new neighbors and how to make it as a single mother. But Brownsville quickly became her home.
Keito Gray has dedicated his career to helping youth involved with the criminal justice system find work and positive, productive paths forward. Now, as a Community Based Organization Liaison and Youth Advocate Employment Specialist for the Center for Employment Opportunities, Keito is working in Brownsville, Brooklyn to lay the groundwork for a neighborhood-based model for job readiness and placement for local ex-offenders, parolees and ex-convicts.
Over the last 18 months, communities participating in our Zero: 2016 initiative have proven time and time again that, if the right people are at the table with the necessary tools for the job, no challenge is too great nor too complex to overcome. We’ve also made huge progress together: participating communities have helped more than 53,000 Americans leave homelessness for permanent housing, and four communities have ended veteran homelessness entirely!
Once a month, we bring you the story of an individual who has overcome obstacles to health, housing or employment. Today, we want to tell you about the progress being made across a whole community–– Fairfield County, CT–– which is working to end chronic homelessness.
(The county is part of the larger effort to end chronic homelessness across Connecticut, one of four states participating in our Zero: 2016 initiative.)
Here’s what’s happened so far in Fairfield County:
Kashay Sanders is a Neighborhood Coach in our Consulting division. She is also our resident "people geek," a term that will make sense after you read her thoughts below about the introduction of employee self-organizing at Community Solutions.
Work Rules! is a People Management Manifesto written by Laszlo Bock, Google’s Senior Vice President of People Operations. It details the triumphs and difficulties of ensuring people feel supported in their roles and can maximize their strengths at Google.
"I'm so proud of me."
It's a sentiment Wafa Abdul-Saleem, a Brownsville, Brooklyn native, shares with a beaming smile. It has been one year since she started working as an Associate at Butter Beans, where she serves up all-natural school lunches. She absolutely loves the job.
Just as she doesn't shy from praising herself, Wafa also speaks candidly about not always having the confidence she exudes today.
“How many veterans need to be housed to reach functional zero?” This is one of the most common questions we encounter in our work with communities to end veteran homelessness. It also misses the point.
Community Solutions’ Brownsville Partnership recently hosted fellow New York State Health Foundation grantees at The Gregory Jackson Center for Brownsville. The group of nonprofits, each one committed to measurably improving the health of communities all across New York State, spent a day with Brownsville residents and our own community-based partners to learn about the unique placemaking approaches being implemented to spark a neighborhood turnaround.
2015 was a crucially important year in our evolution as an organization. We are proud to report impact across the US and in regions all around the world.
Everything we are doing is aimed at ending homelessness and the complex social problems that drive it by helping the health and human services sector collaborate and use data more effectively.
Whether the issue is housing, unemployment, public health or any other social problem, we think the solutions lie in helping communities learn to work smarter, collaborate better and iterate faster.