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The MacArthur Foundation: Reimagining the Cure for Homelessness

Beth Sandor, Co-Director of Built for Zero at Community Solutions, shares how the cure to homelessness is not always about the supply of housing but connecting people to the resources.
  |  November 11, 2020

At Community Solutions, we think a lot about the eradication of smallpox.

The vaccine for the disease was introduced in 1796. But smallpox was not eradicated until 1980—more than 180 years later. Getting to zero required more than the vaccine. It required a global delivery system capable of administering the vaccine to everyone who needed it.

Without an effective delivery system, the problem persists despite the availability of a cure.

Beth Sandor, principal of built for zero

We have found that homes are to ending homelessness as vaccines are to preventing the spread of diseases: essential, but insufficient. Without an effective delivery system, the problem persists despite the availability of a cure.

Over decades, we have learned that communities must be set up to see and solve homelessness for everyone. Often, the most vulnerable are overlooked, resulting in persistent homelessness. And organizations’ best independent efforts fall short because they simply lack critical information to target their work and resources.

Accelerating our goal to end homelessness in 75 U.S. communities requires addressing this reality. With additional support we will help communities align their resources and policies behind powerful systems designed to get to—and hold—zero.

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