Late last month, Solutions for Change management team and Board of Directors were faced with a decision for a second time this year to either accept public funding from government sources with contingencies or decline the federal monies because the requirements associated with acceptance were not consistent with our values and principles that Solutions was built on. As a Board, we elected to decline taking the federal money linked to a policy called Housing First, which focuses on getting people into homes without strings attached – in other words, we would be required to let active substance abusers into our clean and sober communities. We believe the whole system has taken a huge step in the wrong direction, not solving the problem, just throwing a quick fix at it to get the homeless off the streets and out of sight. We believe this is the wrong solution and Solutions for Change cannot participate.
As a result of declining the public funding, Solution’s intake and access shelter center is at risk due to these new federal regulations and will impact 14 homeless families and 24 children. Solutions for Change has created a model that permanently solves family homelessness. We address the core issues of the cause of a family’s homelessness, whether it be substance abuse, mental health, under educated/employed, past trauma, or poverty: we treat the whole person, the whole family. We have solved homelessness for over 800 families and 2000 children and will continue to impact more. The situation that is being imposed by the federal regulations highlights the critical need for Solutions to move away from a public funding model and towards a more sustainable revenue model that is congruent with our transformational goals.
We believe so strongly in the homeless families we serve, that they are assets to our community and not dependent on the system. Solutions will not be dependent on the system. We expect to give up all of our federal contracts in the foreseeable future, estimated around $600,000 over the next two years, and we will work towards becoming self-sustaining and continue to solve family homelessness. We have a system and a model that does not require us to adhere to government regulations and we will not be reliant on public funds to continue the great work we are doing.
Closing the Gap
Our organization will work toward being entirely funded by private sources and through earned income from our social enterprise by 2018. Last year, 12 percent of Solutions funding came from the government, a number now reduced down to 9 percent. Some of the future earned income funding will come from our Solutions Farms bringing in approximately $250,000 a year, as well as rental income from participants of our Solutions University that are housed in apartments we operate. We will endeavor to get the public funding level down to zero percent with the help of the innovative social enterprises we operate, our gracious community, grants, private foundations and through the outstanding fundraising events we conduct.
We need broader, deeper and new revenue sources and investors to create a more sustainable model. The gap can’t be closed by budget cuts alone or prioritizing certain activities over another without effecting critical services we provide to serve families in need that want to make a change in their lives. To ensure sustainability, revenue sources must be:
• Sufficient — enough to fund basic programs without harming other vital services;
• Sustainable — insulated from the ups and downs of the economy;
• Diverse — donors have many ways and options to give to philanthropic organizations;
• Reasonable — consistent with our mission and goals; and
• Impactful — demonstrating real transformation in people who are motivated to change.
Solutions for Change is viable, despite our funding challenges, and remains committed to our mission of solving family homelessness. This is your call to action. Be the difference. Get involved. Help us make Solutions for Change independent of public, government funding and the challenges that it entails. Please help bridge the gap and consider donating.
David H. Crean