Successful communities are effectively ending homelessness by changing the way they work. Learning from the fields of public health and engineering, they are using detailed data, quality improvement techniques and approaches to teamwork and accountability to create community housing systems, said Ms. Rosanne Haggerty, president and CEO of Community Solutions. based in New York City. Haggerty will join Fr. Bryan Hehir on December 19th for at a Community Meeting sponsored by A Faith That Does Justice (AFTDJ) called “Ending Homelessness: What Successful Communities Do Differently.” Those interested in attending this meeting at The Cathedral Church of Saint Paul on Tremont Street in Boston can do so by registering at the organization’s website.
“You have to know people by name in dealing with homelessness, you can’t solve this kind of problem at an abstract level,” said Haggerty. “We see that once communities know specifically the people experiencing homelessness, and what it will take to end each person’s homelessness, they find they have a lot more resources than they realize.”
Haggerty observes that the communities who are successfully reducing and ending homelessness have reorganized the way they approach homelessness, breaking down siloes among different government and not for profit agencies, which allows agencies to work more quickly – and with more accountability – in meeting the population’s needs. Many have taken what she describes as a “command center” approach, similar to the strategies used when responding to natural disasters to coordinate information and resources across organizations rapidly. Community Solutions’ methods are achieving results – of the 70 communities they are working with, 10 have ended chronic or veteran homelessness. 22 are reducing homelessness in their area month after month.
With regard to the current housing crisis, Haggerty says that faith communities are important to Community Solutions’ efforts because in many places, they are integral to outreach to marginalized populations and to providing an ongoing network of support. Haggerty’s story is an example of how contact between marginalized communities and those with the means and willingness to help can lead to change, which is at the core of AFTDJ’s ecumenical mission of encounter and solidarity.
AFTDJ is working to move people to action in confronting injustices in the United States. The goal is to create solidarity among people who very often have little contact in contemporary society – those with wealth, education, and privilege and those who are living in poverty and in threatened vulnerable communities. This Community Meeting will help educate participants in the challenges facing the homeless population and ways they can work to improve it.
AFTDJ was initially formed as a program in San Diego, where Fr. Peter Gyves brought together English-speaking and Spanish-speaking communities to share experiences and concerns about the direction the country was going in. The program moved to Boston last year and its mission has expanded. In addition to holding similar workshops, which brings together vulnerable populations and long-time Boston residents together, the organization is hosting a series of Community Meetings around topics that impact vulnerable populations, such as housing and homelessness.
At the December 19th AFTDJ Community Meeting, Haggerty will be interviewed by Rev. J. Bryan Hehir, Secretary for Social Services for the Archdiocese of Boston. Fr. Hehir is Parker Gilbert Montgomery Professor of the Practice of Religion and Public Life at the Harvard Kennedy School and previously served as President of Catholic Charities USA. He was also on the faculty of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and at Harvard Divinity School. The evening’s discussion will include remarks from AFTDJ founder and director, Peter W. Gyves SJ, MD, as well as insights from an individual who has experienced homelessness. Guests are welcome to register at AFTDJ’s website.