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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.

528 homeless people live on Philadelphia's streets, survey shows

Saturday, May 21, 2011

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."

Permanent Homes for 100,000 Homeless Americans

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

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.

Ending Homelessness

Monday, March 7, 2011

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.

New Approach Brings US Homeless in from the Cold

Monday, February 7, 2011

In the dead of winter last year, after 13 years of wandering the streets and homeless shelters of the US capital, Maureen Brosnahan was given a tiny apartment with no strings attached.

She would no longer have to endure icy nights lying on cardboard and wrapped in blankets and plastic, or huddle with others for protection against the thieves and psychotics who prey on the homeless after dark.

How You Can Propose Ideas for Brownsville

Sunday, January 30, 2011

GOOD was asked to attend The Design Difference, a charrette held by the Japan Society, Common Ground, and the Designers Accord. In this series, we're examining design solutions to social problems and ways for designers to contribute pro bono work for the proposed solutions.

In early November, dozens of designers, activists, and urban leaders convened for The Design Difference, a problem-solving workshop to develop fresh ideas and creative thinking for Brownsville, an underserved urban neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Using Design to Conduct a Problem-Solving Workshop

Friday, January 21, 2011

Design is a process made for solving problems. Yet in the last few years, that process has come under fire when designers have attempted to solve problems that have little to do with their own experience. Last year, Bruce Nussbaum stoked a vicious debate when he wondered if designers working to solve problems in developing nations might be part of a new breed of imperialism.

And it's happening right here at home, too.

In Brownsville, Enormous Urban Challenges, and Hope

Thursday, January 13, 2011

In this series, we're examining design solutions to social problems and ways for designers to contribute pro bono work for the proposed solutions.

As I ride a bus through the neighborhood of Brownsville in Brooklyn two days after Halloween, I see ghosts. The location of a once-thriving famous pickle factory. The abandoned steel plant laced with razor wire. An empty main street that once was filled with bustling furniture stores.

The Street-Level Solution

Friday, December 24, 2010

When I was growing up, one of my father’s favorite sayings (borrowed from the humorist Will Rogers) was: “It isn’t what we don’t know that causes the trouble; it’s what we think we know that just ain’t so.” One of the main insights to be taken from the 100,000 Homes campaign and its strategy to end chronic homelessness, which I wrote about in Tuesdays’ column, is that, until recently, our society though

A Plan to Make Homelessness History

Monday, December 20, 2010

This is a story about a plan to end chronic homelessness in the United States. It’s not an indeterminate “war on homelessness,” but a methodical approach to do away with a major social problem. Each day, roughly 700,000 people in the country are homeless. About 120,000 are chronically homeless. They often live on the streets for years and have mental disabilities, addiction problems and life-threatening diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

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