A Look Back, A Look Forward

Dear Campaign Supporters and Partners:

As we stand on the doorstep of 2015, it is amazing to look back over the last several years and think about what this Campaign has accomplished!  But there is still more work to be done and new paths to blaze in our effort to end homelessness.

This month’s newsletter takes stock of our accomplishments and offers a glimpse of the future. Change is on the horizon and we are excited about the opportunities and energized about the possibilities ahead for the New Year!

As always, we welcome your feedback and appreciate your support!

Best Wishes and Happy New Year!

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How it All Started: A Bold Vision and a Simple Goal

100, 000 homesThe Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego began with a bold vision, an innovative strategy and a dedicated group of local leaders all aligned in pursuit of a common goal. The goal was so simple – and so audacious – that it just made sense to make the goal and the name of the campaign one and the same.

In December 2009, San Diego Housing Commission President and CEO Rick Gentry hosted a kick-off meeting for the 100,000 Homes Campaign launch in San Diego.  The 100,000 Homes Campaign was a national movement of more than 175 communities working together to find permanent homes for 100,000 chronic and medically vulnerable homeless Americans by July 2014. (They succeeded.)

This kick-off meeting in 2009 marked the start of the official partnership and coordination between the Campaign Leadership Team and 100,000 Homes. At the heart of this partnership was an innovative strategy called “Housing First,” which prioritizes providing housing for vulnerable homeless populations as the first step toward stabilization. Services and other support mechanisms follow as needed.

Today, thanks to the commitment and dedication of a Leadership Team comprised of more than 60 organizations and individuals, the Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego has housed more than 1,150 people and created new coordinated systems that will pave the way for streamlined service delivery in the future.

The Campaign’s Structure: Collective Impact

meetingA major reason the Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego has been so successful is the implementation of the Collective Impact model.

Collective Impact is the commitment of a widely varied and multi-disciplinary group of leaders who come together to solve a complex social problem – in this case, homelessness. By working together on a shared goal, participants can realize solutions and achievements on a large scale.

The underlying notion of collective impact is that no single person, group or entity can create lasting social change alone.

For collective impact to work, all participants must:

  1. Coalesce around a common agenda
  2. Agree on how to measure progress
  3. Coordinate a mutually reinforcing plan of action
  4. Engage in frequent and structured open communication
  5. Foster backbone support from a dedicated staff

“I am proud of the incredibly talented and dedicated Leadership Team we’ve assembled,” said Jennifer LeSar, the Campaign’s Co-Chair. “Using the Collective Impact model, we’ve mobilized an impressive group of C-level executives and their staffs representing a broad range of public- and private-sector interests. They’ve all subscribed to a common agenda to solve a specific social problem: homelessness.”

See more on the future of Collective Impact later in this newsletter.

The Campaign Leadership Team: A Table of Visionaries

Aristotle famously said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” The Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego embodies that sentiment.

The Campaign has brought together San Diego’s public, private, government and nonprofit sectors for the first time, working together on the premise that ending homelessness in downtown San Diego is critical to a thriving economy, as well as a vibrant living and working environment.

Kris Michell, President and CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership and Campaign Co-Chair, speaking at the Campaign’s December meeting, thanked a long list of key players who made invaluable contributions to the Campaign over the years.

The list of those recognized by Michell included Jennifer LeSar, Congressman Scott Peters, the Veterans Administration, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, San Diego City Councilmember Todd Gloria and his policy aide, Jessica Lawrence; Kevin Crawford, President and CEO of the United Way of San Diego; Rick Gentry, SDHC President and CEO; Melissa Peterman of SDHC, the City of San Diego, SDPD’s HOT team, the Port of San Diego, healthcare advocates and 211.

For more about the Campaign’s Leadership Team, click here.

A Multi-Phased Plan of Attack

black and white handsThe Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego was carefully built around a multi-phased plan of attack. Here is how the campaign grew and matured over time

Phase 1: The Pilot Phase
The first phase started with a relatively humble goal: End homelessness for 125 people in downtown San Diego. The result: Fifteen percent of the downtown street homeless population, or 146 people, were housed in the campaign’s first year.

Phase 2: The Institutionalization
The second phase sought to build on the successes and lessons learned from Phase 1. In Phase 2, the goal was to house an additional 100 homeless people and institutionalize our coordination strategies. The result: The campaign housed 92 homeless persons in just three days and reached full capacity of 100 housed in early 2013.

Phase 3: Take Efforts to Scale
The goal for Phase 3 is to end homelessness for the remaining 800 people in downtown San Diego and the 400 people in its immediate environs. The objective: Raise public and private capital to fund appropriate housing and support services, and cover expenses, to end homelessness in Downtown San Diego.

Phase 4: Regionalization
In the campaign’s final phase, the goal is to regionalize the Campaign’s proven methodology to end homelessness in San Diego County. We have more on this phase later in this newsletter.

Reflecting on the Campaign’s Accomplishments

The Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego has an impressive string of accomplishments to its credit. Here are the highlights:


  • Registry Week: The Campaign sent nearly 250 volunteers onto the streets of downtown in September 2010 and counted 1,040 homeless people – 737 of whom participated in a detailed survey that used the 100,000 Homes’ Vulnerability Index to identify people at high risk of dying of on the street.  Nearly 150 people were housed through this effort.
  • Blitz Week: Just in time for the winter holidays of 2012, the Campaign housed nearly 100 homeless; most of them in just three days.  This effort institutionalized unprecedented coordination among federal, County and City partners, who came together to leverage available resources and enroll these now formerly homeless individuals into wraparound case management services.
  • Work Plan Completion: The Campaign launched an ambitious work plan in 2014 that centered on the following goals: End all street homelessness in downtown San Diego by 2016, develop and implement a Coordinated Entry System, improve data collection and database utilization, and align and develop resources to end homelessness in downtown. Accomplishments from the Work Plan include:
    • Downtown San Diego “take-down” target of 9,487, or 264 per month;
    • Alpha Project’s successful implementation of the Coordinated Entry System to assess over 3,000 homeless in the single adult emergency shelter;
    • All partners have signed onto a single HMIS System.

Jennifer LeSar, Campaign Co-Chair, also mentioned the following accomplishments of Campaign partners at the December meeting:

  • Funders Together to End Homelessness: This group has raised almost $1 million.
  • San Diego Housing Commission:  A $200 million, five-point action plan to combat homelessness.

“The infrastructure you have put in place is putting people on the path to stable housing,” LeSar said. “Thank you to all who have stepped forward to join (the Campaign). I have loved being part of this and look forward to continuing to work with you.”

A Few Words from Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins

The2.5Club_10Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), was recognized for her tireless efforts toward ending homelessness at the December meeting.

Kris Michell introduced Atkins, saying she has been a key participant and leader since the Campaign’s beginning.

“Starting in 2009, Toni has been the wind beneath our wings,” Michell said.

Atkins, a former San Diego City Council member, made a point of thanking the campaign’s partners. She singled out County Supervisor Greg Cox, SDHC President and CEO Rick Gentry, the Veterans Administration, the Downtown San Diego Partnership, the SDPD HOT Team and the Regional Task Force on the Homeless.

Atkins noted that the abolition of redevelopment in 2011 was the biggest setback for the Campaign, but that it persevered thanks to healthy collaborations.

“This Campaign has been a success because the County, City and businesses have worked together, developing a best practice model, particularly for data,” Atkins said.

Campaign Leaders Endorse Migrating Efforts to Support and Engage with the RCCC

For 2015, the coordinators of the Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego have recommended that the Campaign migrate its people-power to support and engage with the Regional Continuum of Care Council (RCCC).RCCC Logo

The Governance Board acts on RCCC’s behalf and is representative of the relevant organizations and of projects serving homeless subpopulations within the San Diego Region. The RCCC Board is charged with important responsibilities and authorities on behalf of the community of stakeholders. Representation of a broader array of stakeholders on the RCCC Board will enhance the capacity to coordinate and leverage resources from various community sectors throughout the San Diego Region.

The RCCC is a collaborative community group consisting of representatives of the 18 cities within the County, nonprofit service providers and other interested parties.  The RCCC meets on a monthly basis to identify gaps in homeless services, establish funding priorities, and to pursue an overall systemic approach to addressing homelessness.

Kris Michell, President and CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership and Co-Chair of the Campaign, recommended at the December meeting that the Campaign be folded into the RCCC, allowing members to participate in RCCC activities on a regional scale, but still maintaining a tactical approach downtown.

“The goal has always been to benefit the entire region,” Michell said. “Today is the day we make it a reality by transitioning to a regional table.”

Kevin Crawford, president and CEO of the United Way of San Diego, voiced agreement with that vision.

The RCCC has five committees in need of volunteers: Sub-Populations/Coordinated Intake, Data, Evaluation, Fundraising, and Nominations/Selections.

In January, Michell and Nancy Sasaki will convene a meeting with the goal of encouraging Campaign participants to participate in the RCCC Committees.

Moving Beyond Collective Impact to Systems Change Leadership

Jennifer LeSar, tJennifer LeSarhe Campaign’s Co-Chair and President and CEO of LeSar Development Consultants, said at the December meeting that although the Campaign was built around the Collective Impact model, after 54 months of coordinating the Campaign, it had actually moved beyond Collective Impact.

The Leadership Team had, in fact, become system leaders, as defined by Stanford University Social Innovation Review.

“The deep changes necessary to accelerate progress against society’s most intractable problems require a unique type of leader – the system leader, a person who catalyzes collective leadership,” according to the Review.

“Learning on the job, letting go of control, working with other system leaders; all of these are the core capabilities of system leaders to see a larger system together, their ability to self-correct, shift from a collective focus of reacting to co-creating the future,” LeSar said.

LeSar added: “This Campaign has created dozens of systems change leaders. I am looking forward to co-creating our future together.”

A New Plan to Address Homelessness: SDHC’s Housing First—San Diego

Dear Campaign Supporters and Partners:

This month, we begin with an exciting announcement of a three-year, $200 million commitment to address homelessness called  Housing First—San Diego, administered by the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) and supported by a broad array of leaders in the nonprofit, for-profit and government sectors.

In other local news, we bring you up-to-date on the City’s winter shelter, which opened this month.

On the national scene HUD has released its Annual Homeless Report, which found that homelessness has decreased by 10 percent nationally. Specific populations, such as veterans, saw even greater decreases.

Meanwhile, we also have news on new funding opportunities and a key job opening.

As always, we welcome your feedback and appreciate your support!

Best Wishes and Happy Thanksgiving,

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