After years of applying our Rapid Results Approach to transform businesses, it was enormously satisfying to watch "60 Minutes" this past Sunday which featured a segment on the 100,000 Homes Campaign, called "Housing the Homeless". We are proud that Schaffer's Rapid Results Approach is playing a major part in this Campaign, which to date has found housing for 83,194 homeless in 234 communities across the US.
The New York Times article on the 100,000 Homes Campaign:
This week in Washington, people from Detroit, Tucson, New Orleans,
San Diego, Atlanta and nine other cities gathered to celebrate doing the
impossible. The participants share a tough job: getting homeless
veterans off the street and into apartments and social services. They
work in cities that have large numbers of homeless vets — but most of
their cities were making only modest progress toward housing them.
anymore. Before the summer, San Diego was putting 14 homeless veterans
a month into apartments. In the last 100 days, the monthly average
more than doubled, to 32. In San Antonio, it used to take 207 days to
put a newly identified homeless person in an apartment — now it’s 71
days. Detroit created one-stop shopping with all the various agencies
needed to house a veteran all together, and sped up its housing process
from an average of 113 days to just 20.
Most cities, moreover,
also greatly improved their focus on the most needy — the chronically
homeless, many of whom are mentally ill or have substance abuse issues.
Cities are not only moving faster, they’re doing that with more
difficult clients. In Atlanta, for example, only 26 percent of housing
vouchers used to go to the chronically homeless. In the last 100 days,
however, 93 percent go to those most vulnerable.
These cities are all participating in a campaign by a national movement of communities called the 100,000 Homes Campaign
, which aims to get 100,000 chronically homeless or otherwise
particularly vulnerable people into housing. (They are a fifth of the
way there.) 100,000 Homes supercharged the housing process this summer
using Rapid Results
— a strategy that helps communities jump-start projects by breaking off
a 100-day chunk, setting wildly ambitious goals and using any (legal)
means necessary to achieve them.
Both of these groups are familiar
to Fixes readers. My colleague David Bornstein wrote about the 100,000
Homes campaign in December 2010. That group’s leaders learned about the
Rapid Results Institute a year ago by reading these Fixes columns. It
was a Fixes match.
There are about 67,000 homeless veterans in the
United States today, and according to Mark Johnston, the acting
assistant secretary for community planning and development at the
Department of Housing and Urban Development, at least a third are
chronically homeless. It’s an enormous number in some ways — but break
it down city by city, and it’s manageable. Atlanta, for example, has
around 850 chronically homeless vets to house: the San Diego region
around 600. A big push can make a difference.
If housing the
homeless is expensive, consider the cost of not housing them. The
average chronically homeless person costs taxpayers $40,000 — the price
of jail, mental institutions, emergency rooms. And after that $40,000 is
spent, they are no closer to having a home. “It’s less expensive to
solve the problem than to perpetuate it,” said Johnston.
June 2011, 100,000 Homes and its Los Angeles partner, a task force
started by the United Way and the Chamber of Commerce called Home for
Good, convened people who worked on housing in L.A. They played a game
designed to map out every step in the cumbersome housing process —
producing “a giant maze of terror,” according to Jake Maguire, 100,000
Homes’ communications director. Then they looked for every possible way
to cut it down. It was successful enough that 100,000 Homes repeated
it in New York City.
It helped to streamline the system — but it
wasn’t enough. “We wanted not only changes in process, but lots of
other changes,” said Beth Sandor, the group’s director of improvement.
They were looking to create a sense of urgency, bigger goals, closer
coordination, more confidence. So 100,000 Homes called Nadim Matta, who
runs the Rapid Results Institute.
Because money was short and
travel costs high, Rapid Results did what Matta calls a “low-touch”
version of its usual program. There were three initial boot camps, in
San Diego, Orlando, Fla., and Houston. But then instead of using Rapid
Results coaches throughout the 100 days, the program participants used
regional conference calls to coach one another. Once a month the calls
included the project’s federal partners: HUD, the Department of
Veterans Affairs and an interagency group called Usich.
challenge has largely succeeded. Four cities housed more than 100
homeless veterans in 100 days. Others came close, and nearly all
reported that they had found new ways of working that would speed things
up in the future. Some of the changes were improvements to the
process: Atlanta, for example, had previously counted on the
chronically homeless to go out and find apartments on their own.
Unsurprisingly, this strategy was not working. So the city hired a
third-party provider to help the veterans find a place to live and to
act as a fiscal agent for moving costs and security deposits. Veterans
Affairs in Atlanta divided caseworkers into teams, which competed to
house the most veterans.
For many people, however, the most
important change came in the forging of relationships. In Atlanta and
San Diego, among other cities, decision makers in every relevant agency
and outside group met every week, alternating face-to-face meetings with
on-line meetings or conference calls. “”Having everyone at the table on
a regular basis was a real culture change for Atlanta,” said Susan
Lampley, who leads the city’s work on homelessness in the office of
Mayor Kasim Reed. “It builds trust, generates pressure to fulfill your
deliverables, and allows transparency into the process. “
count from the very first touch with a veteran on the street, all the
way through the system,” said Patricia Leslie, who is the chairwoman of a
broad community group that focuses on ending homelessness in San Diego.
“The more we know each other, the better troops we make.”
Rosenberg won a Pulitzer Prize for her book “The Haunted Land: Facing
Europe’s Ghosts After Communism.” She is a former editorial writer for
The Times and now a contributing writer for the paper’s Sunday magazine.
Her new book is “Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the
World” and the World War II spy story e-book “D Is for Deception”.