Thursday, February 26, 2009


"The solution for chronic homelessness turned out to be breathtakingly simple: housing."

Frank Kosa, "The Homemakers," Miller-McCune, March/April 2009.

This is great story of listening to customers, measuring and classifying, and dogged advocacy. The long-term homeless wanted housing with no strings and comprised ten percent of the homeless population. Substantial public resources could be saved if a "housing first" approach was adopted. The chronic homeless population has been reduced from 175,000 to 125,000 because of these innovations.

But it didn't happen all at once. This new approach to ending chronic homelessness evolved over decades -- and continues to evolve. It turned the shelter-based delivery model on its head, upended assumptions about cost benefit, and recognized the assets and abilities of people on the street.

Their effort didn't stop with the innovation. Lots of time and creativity were put into its adoption and refinement. I get the stream of emails.

What other social problems lend themselves to this kind of creative problem-solving?

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