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Is Collaboration an Underappreciated Part of Ending Chronic Homelessness?

Abt Global, working for the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, in recent years has been assessing efforts to reduce and eliminate chronic homelessness in Los Angeles County, which has one of the largest homeless populations in the nation. One Abt report examines the effort to better coordinate public and private investments to combat homelessness. 
homeIn 2011, the Hilton Foundation provided seed funding to a new community effort –  Home For Good – to address the fragmented network of service providers and grantees working to reduce homelessness in L.A. Home For Good brought together various partners and organizations as well as public and private funders and created a Funders’ Collaborative that identified priorities and pooled private and public funds. The Collaborative also developed a streamlined application process so service providers could seek resources from one centralized source instead of submitting multiple applications.

Organizing Investments to Maximize Their Effectiveness

Under the new model of pooled funding, public and private funders, including the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and Department of Health Services, and the city and county housing authorities, worked with the Home For Good Funders Collaborative to pool funds together and align resources.

“Complex issues like chronic homelessness require communities to engage in innovative and strategic thinking. This part of Abt’s evaluation showed that alignments could make a big difference in coordinating and amplifying community efforts,” stated Nichole Fiore, Abt associate and the evaluation’s director.

Benefits of the collaborative approach included:

  • Highlighting and prioritizing resources for the most vulnerable populations;
  • Securing commitments to dedicate housing vouchers for the most vulnerable;
  • Launching a coordinated entry system to screen, match, and serve clients with permanent supportive housing resources; and
  • Using private funding to drive local investments.

Seeing Positive Effects

Under the Collaborative, Abt researchers found that knowledge of homelessness and opportunities for service providers increased. But most importantly, the Collaborative made a difference.

With an initial goal of placing 2,000 chronically homeless or vulnerable people in permanent supportive housing over five years, the community quickly surpassed that target. Community groups and grantees placed 6,053 chronically homeless individuals, more than three times their original goal.

Other benefits included increased political will and more funding to address the needs of highly vulnerable people. Annual evaluations from 2012 to 2015 found that local stakeholders felt elected officials, local government staff, private sector funders, and housing authority staff increased their levels of involvement to reduce and end chronic homelessness. And while the Collaborative set the goal to leverage $205 million in public and private funds for permanent supportive housing, they raised more than $562.1 million.

“There’s no question that the landscape in L.A. County shifted between 2011 and 2016, and that the community reached a new standard for collaboration in 2016,” stated Julia Brown, Abt associate and the evaluation’s principal investigator.
Read the report

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