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Shared Housing Collaborative

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What makes your organization unique in its approach to addressing homelessness?

Shared Housing Collaborative is a new collaboration led by Townspeople. Together with like-minded organizations, we are creating a regional, person-centered system for housemate matching and housing location for people experiencing homelessness, as well as a coalition of advocates working collaboratively to connect participants with community resources to support their housing stability.

 

Since its founding, Townspeople has remained steadfast in its commitment to following the research, which shows the solution to homelessness is Housing First. We believe housing is both a human right and the foundation for health and wellness. As such, our services aim to address the inequities of access to critical care like housing for many of San Diego's most vulnerable community members. By following evidence-based practices, Townspeople has adapted its methods over the years in order to reach these populations and maximize impact.

 


What is a misconception you think the public has about homelessness?

A common misconception about homelessness: it isn't a housing problem. Research consistently shows in San Diego and across the country, the primary cause of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing. As a result, we operate with a "Housing First" philosophy. People experiencing homelessness are first provided with permanent housing, which ends their homelessness and offers them the space to improve their quality of life.

 

Given our region's low vacancy rates, high housing costs, lengthy build timelines, and growing unhoused population, we need to get creative and find ways to maximize San Diego's existing housing stock. Shared housing is a regularly practiced method for many adults looking to lower their housing costs, but it isn't yet a routine strategy within the homeless assistance system. Implementing a regional shared housing system offers expanded options for people who are unhoused.

 


When was the organization founded?

Founded in 1984, Townspeople's mission is to finance, build, manage, and operate affordable housing and supportive services for people with special needs to achieve stability and self-sufficiency. Formed by a group of compassionate San Diegans in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, our organization provides access to affordable housing and supportive services for our community's most vulnerable members including people living with HIV/AIDS, individuals and families experiencing homelessness, as well as individuals experiencing other health-related conditions. In 1994, Townspeople opened San Diego's first permanent supportive housing program for people living with HIV/AIDS. In the 30 years since, we have continued the expansion of our affordable housing and supportive service portfolio to help ensure everyone in our community can live a healthy, safe, and dignified life.

 


You are part of the "systems change" giv4 homelessness category. Can you explain more what work your organization does in this area?

Townspeople is a disrupter. In the 1980s, when many people were turning their backs on the needs of individuals living with HIV/AIDS, Townspeople broke with the status quo and began providing them with housing. When the number of former service members was dramatically increasing, Townspeople partnered with National CORE to develop permanent housing for Veterans.

 

During the global pandemic, many in our community turned to Townspeople's model of offering non-congregate emergency housing to ensure the health and safety of unhoused San Diegans. And now, as the housing and homelessness crises worsen, Townspeople is joining forces with other like-minded organizations to design, implement, and scale a regional system for housemate matching and housing locations for people experiencing homelessness in our community. When fully realized, the San Diego Shared Housing Collaborative will offer a cost-effective and efficient option not only for moving people out of homelessness but also for providing social support.


Is your organization looking for volunteers? Are you looking for committee/board members with particular skill sets? Do you need in-kind donations of any sort?

Townspeople envisions a world in which everyone has access to permanent housing with equitable opportunities to achieve stability and self-sufficiency. To help make this vision a reality, there are several ways to support our work such as applying to become a volunteer or a member of our Board of Directors. Additionally, Townspeople operates the Welcome Home Program, which provides essential household items to individuals and families as they move into their new homes, including participants of the San Diego Shared Housing Collaborative. We are happy to accept in-kind donations of new household items such as laundry and cleaning supplies, cookware, dishes, linens, and more.

 


giv4 provides general operating support through this grant. (Why? Learn more). However, if this funding would be useful for homelessness prevention, how would it be used?

General operating support for shared housing would be greatly beneficial to Townspeople, its partners, and the individuals to be supported through this effort. Developing a system from the ground up and with an eye for regional expansion is no easy feat. Support from giv4 donors would help fund critical infrastructure needs such as the technology to ensure effective and efficient matches, the staff who will aid participants and manage the system, essential training, collaboration tools, landlord engagement, and more.

 

The time to deploy every possible strategy to increase housing affordability and long-term stability is now. Ending homelessness requires intensifying and maximizing all housing opportunities as well as finding new ways to engage the private rental market in order to increase permanent housing options. The expansion of shared housing is a critical pathway to finding a home for the thousands of individuals experiencing homelessness in San Diego.


What else would you want people to know about your organization?

Townspeople owns and operates four affordable housing developments in the city of San Diego, with a total of 118 units for households with extremely low- to moderate incomes. In addition, Townspeople operates an Emergency Housing Program that offers non-congregate, temporary housing in local hotels and motels with supportive services for San Diegans who are experiencing homelessness while also living with HIV/AIDS. We aim to connect participants with the resources needed to obtain and maintain permanent housing as quickly as possible. Through housing operations, rental assistance, case management, service coordination, and crisis intervention, in 2023, 95% of individuals and families assisted by Townspeople's supportive housing program obtained and maintained permanent housing.


Are there any recent articles featuring your organization that you would like to highlight?

Nonprofits look into shared housing model to tackle homelessness issues. KPBS, August 22nd, 2022. Announcement of $200,000 grant from Funders Together to End Homelessness to support our collaborative with Adjoin.

 

Non-profits team up to develop region-wide permanent shared housing system for homeless. ABC San Diego, August 27th, 2022. How our affordable shared housing options have already begun to help a San Diego veteran out of homelessness.

 

I would love to learn more directly from the Shared Housing Collaborative!
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