In his column for the New York Times last Thursday (“The Unexamined Society”, July 7, 2011), David Brooks assesses new research on the “psychology of scarcity.” In times of plenty, he argues, people adopt problem-solving approaches aimed at producing long-term benefits. Faced with scarcity, however, the brain can become so preoccupied with immediate demands that it struggles to engage with the complex factors involved in long-term planning.
Homelessness is a solvable problem. Yet there is an enormous gap between what we know works to end homelessness and what is actually done in most places. This week we are launching a new not-for-profit organization, Community Solutions, to try to close this gap.
Rosanne Haggerty, an Amherst College Life Trustee, founded Common Ground Community, a not-for-profit organization started in 1990 that develops strategies to end homelessness in New York City. Haggerty, a MacArthur and Ashoka fellow, is currently president of Community Solutions, a new organization aimed at strengthening communities to end homelessness nationwide.
Homelessness is a solvable problem. Yet there is an enormous gap between what we know works to end homelessness and what is actually done in most places.
To solve a problem, first you have to understand it. That's what more than 300 volunteers were trying to do while most of us slept last week: Fanning out across Santa Clara County in the wee hours, they conducted a detailed survey of homeless residents. Officials launching a campaign to house 1,000 of the area's most vulnerable homeless within two years hope this information can revitalize their campaign to end chronic homelessness here.
This spring, Corinne LeTourneau and I attended the sold-out FSG and Stanford Social Innovation Review’s Conference on Collective Impact at Stanford University. Collective Impact is an emerging way of approaching large-scale social change, one that resonates deeply with the vision and strategic direction of Community Solutions.
Atul Gawande’s New Yorker article, “The Hot Spotters," is a fascinating story of health care visionaries creating new solutions to seemingly hopeless problems. He describes unexpected leaders who realize that the most perplexing fact about health care spending in this country is also the most promising opportunity: 5% of people in the U.S. account for 50% of health care costs. At Community Solutions, we see vexing social problems as huge opportunities to set things right.
A weeklong survey of the city's homeless found 528 people living on the streets, slightly more than half of them described as "physically vulnerable and at increased risk of death."
The count was conducted by 250 volunteers, who combed city streets and parks this week from 4 to 6 a.m. compiling a name-and-photo database.
Mayor Nutter hosted the volunteers Friday at City Hall and helped release the results of the survey.
"The big-picture goal remains the same," he said. "Philadelphia will become the first major city in America to end homelessness."
In the wake of last week's terrible disaster in Japan, we are reminded of how fragile our communities can be. The images of tens of thousands of Japanese uprooted from their homes and crowded into emergency shelters convey in ways words and numbers cannot the impact of being suddenly without a home -- an event always preceded by some trauma.
More than 30 years ago, a nonprofit was launched in New York City to try to find permanent housing for chronically homeless people in Times Square. Now it has a national campaign that some people think could be an important first step toward ending homelessness in America.
Standing outside an elegant 15-story brick building in midtown Manhattan, Rosanne Haggerty, who runs the nonprofit Common Ground, recalls how it all began — how a former hotel became a model for housing the homeless.