It Takes a Community to Solve Homelessness

2015-10-29-1446123749-335745-11878882_984926814904624_1402769001496661044_o.jpgCentral Florida Community Leaders at the VA Hospital, Lake Nona

This year has been an interesting one for me. For the first time in my life, I am in my third job in one year. It has been an interesting progression of events over the last 10 months. The cool part of this transition has been the opportunity to progressively get deeper involved with community issues and being able to get a true 360 perspective on approaches to solving complex social issues.

As I write this blog, I am sitting on a plane headed to Utah with 60-plus community leaders from the business community, nonprofits and the government sector. We are headed to Salt Lake City to learn about their approach to dramatically reducing homelessness in their State. My community in Central Florida is working on solutions to homelessness with a focus on the Housing First Model.

The Central Florida Commission on Homelessness is charged with putting together the community plan for ending homelessness and getting all of the players to play well together in the sandbox. Competing interests, limited funding, and changing philosophies from transitional housing to housing first are all issues the community is working to overcome. By seeking out best practices and successful communities, we are making strides towards the goal of ending homelessness.

When the year started, I was the director of a nonprofit organization focused on preventing homelessness, now I have the opportunity to work for a Foundation that holds an Impact Fund dedicated to solutions to homelessness. In between, I worked on staff with the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness to bring together leaders and other stakeholders to do research, educate the community, act as advocates, and pool resources to solve the problem.

I am convinced that leadership is at the heart of solving the issue. Through collective impact, the community has an opportunity to truly move the needle forward. The first step is admitting you have a problem, something some of our counties have been reluctant to do, and then finding the solutions and moving forward to implement them. I am encouraged that so many of the top leaders in Central Florida, including our Mayor are looking at successful programs first-hand as a way to end homelessness for our citizens.

Over the next few days, I will share insights into the trip. My hope is that other communities struggling with homelessness will look at how our community and others are working together across political lines to work towards the common good.