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Imagine a $100 million investment in ending homelessness

The MacArthur Foundation has made a US$100 million dollar investment in a data-driven approach to ending youth homelessness – a data-driven approach that is also about to be used in New South Wales.

The MacArthur Foundation grant is to Community Solutions, a US-based group that has developed a Built for Zero methodology to reduce homelessness. At the centre of this new methodology is a data-driven approach that creates real-time by-name data of people experiencing homelessness – this is called a By-Name list. The observation made by Community Solutions in developing this, is that a once-a-year street count did not give enough information to agencies to respond to homelessness. A live By-Name list means that each person who is experiencing homelessness is tracked on an individual level in real-time.

It’s been a ground-breaking use of technology in the US where Community Solutions has implemented Built to Zero in 80 communities, and now 14 of those communities have eliminated homelessness. The grant means that it will be able to roll out this approach in other communities across the US.

In NSW, the End Street Sleeping Collaboration (ESSC), which has brought together the major homelessness agencies to develop a By-Name list that every agency will have access. Community Solutions has provided both the Built to Zero methodology including the By-Name list approach and is also advising ESCC on implementation. This is currently being rolled out in Sydney as part of the NSW Government’s commitment to reduce rough sleeping in NSW by 50 per cent by 2025.

The Property Industry Foundation has backed this initiative by providing funding to ESSC for the technology build behind the By-Name list. The technology build has also been supported by Microsoft, the Berg Family Foundation and the Grahame Mapp Foundation.

“Most of what we do at the Foundation is focused on building homes for homeless youth because that is where our expertise lies. However, we also look to help collaborative initiatives that we think will have systemic impact on homelessness, so we can stop people from becoming homeless in the first place. The By-Name list will enable all agencies in Sydney to have access to real-time data around homelessness and craft meaningful responses for the individuals whose stories and circumstances are recorded on the list.”

Kate Mills, CEO at the Property Industry Foundation

“Our By-Name List data shows us that 33% of adults who are sleeping rough today spent their first night on the streets as a teenager.  Ending street sleeping in NSW can only be done by ending youth homelessness, and it’s organisations like the Property Industry Foundation that propel this kind of work forward.  Community Solutions has taught us here in NSW how to solve street sleeping and we’re working hard with partners like the Foundation to do just that.”

Christine McBride, CEO of End Street Sleeping Collaboration