Community Solutions has been awarded $100 million to accelerate an end to homelessness in 75 communities in five years.

The organization was selected from six finalists in the MacArthur Foundation’s global 100&Change competition “to fund a single proposal that promises real and measurable progress in solving a critical problem of our time.”

Community Solutions was selected from an impressive group of finalists working to address diverse and systemic problems, such as ocean health, oxygen therapy, health disparities, news deserts, and mosquito-borne disease.

Rosanne Haggerty
Courtesy Community Solutions Rosanne Haggerty

The New York City-based organization will use the $100 million grant to implement and scale Built for Zero, its data-driven public health approach to end chronic and veteran homelessness in at least 75 geographically and politically diverse communities by 2026.

"The award is a powerful endorsement of our shared belief that homelessness can and must be solved,” said Rosanne Haggerty, president of Community Solutions. “It is also a testament to the leadership of communities in Built for Zero that are proving it is possible every day. We are grateful and eager to seize this historic moment in our country to build a future where homelessness is rare and brief."

Building on MacArthur’s investment, the Ballmer Group has committed continued support for Community Solutions, renewing its grant of $5.8 million for another three years.

Community Solutions works with local government agencies and nonprofit organizations to focus on person-specific, real-time information and interventions that help communities reach and sustain “functional zero”—an end state where homelessness is rare and brief.

In addition to the 15 communities that have ended chronic and veteran homelessness in the U.S., 50 communities within the Built for Zero network have reduced homelessness. Since 2010, the organization has helped communities secure homes for more than 235,000 individuals experiencing homelessness.

Community Solutions is working with more than 80 communities across the country. It's aiming to help a diverse, critical mass of cities and regions reach functional zero homelessness by 2026, creating proof that homelessness is solvable in any kind of community. That means the organization is working to ensure that Built for Zero participants represent a diversity of contexts and the communities are set up to receive focused support from the group, according to officials. For that reason, it plans to cap the overall number at about 110 communities.

The current composition of communities in Built for Zero is 25% rural, 37% suburban, and 38% urban, including six of the 20 largest U.S. cities by population.

Officials also said that Community Solutions is committed to racial equity, recognizing that homelessness disproportionately impacts Black people and Native Americans. Black people represent 13% of the overall population but make up 48% of people who are experiencing homelessness. To help communities design systems that produce racially equitable outcomes, Community Solutions has developed a framework to respond to disparities and measure progress.

“Homelessness is curable. For too long, homelessness has been viewed as intractable and pervasive, rather than a crisis worth solving,” said MacArthur president John Palfrey. “More than 568,000 people experienced homelessness on a given night in the United States, before the pandemic. Community Solutions has proven that people do not have to live this way. Its racially equitable response is primed for this moment.”