The Solutions for Change Story
Founder’s story: A promise between families
In 1999, Chris and Tammy Megison were helping out at an emergency winter shelter with their two boys, when a 9 year old girl named Jessica pulled Chris’ sleeve and innocently asked, “Hey mister, do you live here too?” Chris looked at the girl and then over to her mother who was preparing a bed on the shelter floor. Chris got down on one knee, looking into the girl’s eyes, and said, “I don’t live here, sweetie, but my wife and I are going to do everything possible so that you, and your family, won’t have to live here too.”
The girl’s eyes welled with tears, and so did Chris’, and a vision was born—to solve family homelessness. This one night forever changed not only the lives of Jessica and her family, who solved their homelessness, but also the lives of over 2,200 other children and their parents who have since found their way here. Through this promise an imperative evolved that is known today as Solutions For Change.
The mission of Solutions for Change is to solve family homelessness – one family, one community at a time
The History of Solutions
Solutions for Change was founded in 1999 by social entrepreneurs Chris and Tammy Megison because they didn’t think it was right for babies to be sleeping on the floor of an emergency winter shelter. Prior to starting up Solutions for Change, the Megison’s developed and directed work and housing programs that helped thousands of homeless men get jobs, pay rent and earn their way back into society through an intense boot camp style program.
Their most notable achievement was recognized as being the creators of one of North County’s most successful social purpose microenterprises, the North County Times Hawker program (those guys selling papers on the streets). Chris and Tammy built the program from the ground up and over its first seven years built it into one of the most successful newspaper street selling operations in the nation, expanding it to three other daily newspapers in 18 cities in San Diego, Orange County and LA.
In 1999 they encountered a startling new reality of homelessness as a nine year old homeless girl with her baby sister and their mother bedded down for the night on a floor of an emergency shelter. As dozens more families came to the shelter, the Megison’s realized that they were confronted with an enormous problem. Not just because there were many families in crisis needing help, but because the entire homeless response system was woefully inadequate to deal with the needs of homeless families. Big solutions were in order and so with the help of other community leaders and entrepreneurs, they struck out with their plans.
From their original 300 sq.ft. office in downtown Vista, they began casting a vision around solving family homelessness. The vision was different in that it did not include more shelter beds, feeding programs or traditional human services, but rather an audacious plan to create access to permanent solutions using a hybrid model that the couple developed. All the parents being helped would work, pay rent, attend onsite workshops and classes and be engaged in a dynamic coaching system. The model, now known as the Solutions University, blends affordable housing, educational opportunities, employment training and health related solutions all within one cohesive strategic partnership. There is but one goal: work with this community to solve family homelessness for kids and communities, permanently. By doing so, the futures for kids could be transformed.
With the future of our kids in mind, the Megison’s took the vision, model and plan to community leaders, in every sector throughout North County San Diego both public and private and because of those leaders and because of the incredible staff and volunteers, the Solutions for Change organization grew legs and remarkable things began to happen. The Futures for Families campaign initiative was launched in 2001. This would be Solutions’ first major campaign and when it was finished the Solutions Family Center, a five building living and educational campus was built on two acres. Soon thereafter an old real estate commercial building was purchased and the Intake and Access center was opened. In 2005 the New Solutions initiative emerged and several new homes were acquired for graduates. Taken together these combined resources now represent a national best practices model called the Solutions University. We hope that you agree that it is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It’s not a shelter, transitional housing, or permanent affordable housing. It takes the best of all of those things and wraps it together into one solutions driven package.
•Independence from political or personal agendas
•Take on tough issues because it is the right thing to do to affect social justice
•Our organization is accountable to the community though exemplary management and reporting
Board of Directors
Awards & Recognition
In 2013, we received a critical showing of support for the Solutions model through the historic signing of a first-ever 5-Mayor Proclamation from the mayors of Carlsbad, Oceanside, Escondido, Vista and San Marcos. The Proclamation recognizes the imperative to solve family homelessness and outlines the cities’ desire to scale the Solutions model within their own communities.