Now Is The Time

Ending hunger, homelessness, and the cycle of heels.

In the United States more than 633,000 people experience homelessness every night.  48.9 million Americans are at risk of hunger - including one in five kids. Nearly 50 million Americans are living in poverty.  Hunger, homelessness, and poverty are devastating for individuals and our communities. This is unacceptable, unjust, and illogical.

We know that effective, commonsense policies like SNAP and EITC lift people out of poverty. We know that Rapid Rehousing and Housing First models reduce homelessness. We know that innovative philanthropic endeavors like Collective Impact and Social Impact Bonds can transform the way government, nonprofits, and local communities work together to tackle our toughest challenges. We know we can band together and create change.

Now Is The Time to get this done.

This site will feature a collection of personal reflections, original ideas, and smart thinking from around the country and the globe on the issues of hunger, homelessness, and poverty.  We'll check in with thought leaders and discuss ways we can create change. We will also highlight ways to leverage two of my favorite things - National Service and the philanthropic sector. 

3,772. Where do we go from here?

The results of the 2015 One Night Count are miserable and heartbreaking but hardly surprising. 3,772 people were without shelter on a damp January evening. The number of people who are unsheltered has grown by 21% since last year and by 1,000 people over the last two years. These men, women, and kids have nowhere to go.  3,772. This is what failure looks like.

You can identify dozens of reasons - it’s everything from poverty to the outrageous cost of housing – but these are just excuses. It is shameful to have 3,772 on the streets in our community, and nearly 600,000 throughout the US.  We should all be appalled. I am.

We’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars to plan, coordinate, build, change, and evaluate. While it’s true that thousands are better off because of these efforts, we are still failing to do the most basic thing of all - providing a roof over head to the most vulnerable in our communities.

Solving homelessness is complex. But what we are doing isn't sufficient.  Something has to change.

Progress is being made in some communities and with some target populations – but many communities like Seattle are struggling. We have multiple challenges to tackle (sometimes all at once):

1.       Sheltering people who have no place to go tonight

2.       Advocating for systemic change to prevent people from becoming homeless

3.       Developing innovative solutions

4.       Developing a more effective service delivery system for people who become homeless

We have spent too little solving numbers 1 and 2 and failed to successfully execute on numbers 3 and 4.

So where do we go from here? Check out my next post with some ideas and share your own. 3,772 people are waiting.