This California city just ended chronic homelessness

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In January, 2020, Bakersfield, California, had housed nearly everyone who had been homeless for more than a year. Then they sustained it during the pandemic. Bakersfield, California, struggled with extreme poverty and homelessness long before the pandemic, and when COVID hit, the challenges in fighting those issues only grew. But in 2020, the city and surrounding county still managed to achieve a goal that few other communities have: It reached “functional zero” for chronic homelessness, meaning that long-lasting and recurring homelessness were essentially eliminated. Read Full Story

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This map shows how air pollution changed in 2020

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The pandemic brought some big improvements—but many cities still had unsafe air. As the world went into lockdown a year ago, air pollution plummeted. But the cleaner air didn’t last. For one, in places like California, Oregon, and Washington, record-breaking wildfires meant that at least temporarily, 77 of the world’s most polluted cities were in the United States. Read Full Story

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COVID-19 forced one Memphis group to totally rethink its approach to homelessness. The results were life-changing

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The Hospitality Hub had planned to build a new shelter for homeless women in Memphis in 2021. Then COVID-19 hit. In Memphis, 37% of homeless individuals are women, but just 6% of the city’s emergency shelter beds are set aside for them , according to the Memphis-based homeless services provider The Hospitality Hub . It’s a problem the organization has been working for years to address, with plans in motion to open a brand new 32-bed shelter for women in December 2021. But in early 2020, as the coronavirus grew into a global pandemic, the need for the emergency shelter couldn’t wait. So the organization bought a house. Read Full Story

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What would it take to end homelessness in California?

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California represents a quarter of the U.S. homeless population. A suite of policies, including zoning changes and rental assistance, could end that crisis. Before the pandemic, around 160,000 Californians were homeless on any given night—accounting for more than a quarter of the nation’s homeless population. The number is likely higher now, and one report projects that COVID-19-related job losses could cause chronic homelessness to jump by 68% in the state in the next four years. But a new road map argues that it’s possible to move aggressively in the other direction—and outlines exactly what could happen to end homelessness in California over the next decade. Read Full Story

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These modular rooms let cities quickly and cheaply build housing for the homeless

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Connect Homes started making modular tiny houses, but now cities are starting to use its units as a quick way to build new supportive housing. Inside a factory in San Bernardino, California, workers are putting together small, modular homeless shelters that will soon be placed on trucks and shipped to Silicon Valley. Each tiny building, with four units inside, is built in roughly a day. And while a single unit of permanent supportive housing can cost $500,000, a bedroom like this costs $20,000. Read Full Story

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100 apartments in 8 months: How Toronto built housing for the homeless at breakneck speed

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The city used modular architecture to respond to a dire need for housing during a deadly pandemic. The project could be a model for other cities—during COVID-19 and beyond. In the face of overlapping crises, the city of Toronto has created a fast track to house people experiencing homelessness. As the impacts of the pandemic quickly hit this community harder than others, the city accelerated its efforts to build permanent supportive housing, using modular architecture. Just a few months after the project was launched, the city will have 100 new apartments. Read Full Story

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Chicago’s COVID-19 recovery plan aims to go beyond the crisis to correct historical inequities

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Economic inequalities aren’t new in Chicago, but 2020’s challenges may have provided a unique opportunity to fix them. In April, the city of Chicago announced it had pulled together an economic recovery task force , divided into areas from policy to mental health to business, and composed of labor leaders, academics, advocacy organizations, city council members, and regional representatives from surrounding counties, to help the city overcome the coronavirus crisis. Now, they’re releasing a report that details guidelines for an inclusive economic revival that not only focuses on the immediate issues sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic but fixes wealth disparities and addresses racial inequities that have long existed. Read Full Story

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This village for the homeless just got a new addition: 3D-printed houses

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Icon is printing full houses to give Austin’s homeless a real home to live in. For the last few years, Tim Shea has lived in an RV in a small community outside Austin that was designed for people who were once chronically homeless. In early May, he’ll move from the RV into one of the community’s first 3D-printed homes—a small house with walls made from a concrete-like material that were automatically extruded from a giant, 33-foot-long machine. Read Full Story

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This nonprofit pays former gang members to go to college—now it’s helping families survive the pandemic

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College Bound Dorchester has started offering stipends to give former gang members a small basic income so they don’t have financial worries while finishing their education. Now it’s expanded its stipend program to 125 families in need. Four years ago, Naomie Charles, who grew up in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood, started college—a milestone for the mother of two who had experienced homelessness, incarceration, abusive relationships, and other obstacles that had long held her back. Now 32, Charles is set to graduate from Southern New Hampshire University, and though the coronavirus pandemic has changed what that graduation will look like, the people at College Bound Dorchester, the Boston-based nonprofit that supported her throughout her education, will still be there, as they always have. Read Full Story

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A new $100 million fund aims to end homelessness. Building housing is only part of it

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The nonprofit organization Community Solutions is reconsidering the wisdom of focusing exclusively on newly built affordable housing. Building housing is an answer to homelessness issues in cities, but it isn’t the only answer. For Community Solutions , a nonprofit focused on ending homelessness, that housing has to be backed by on-site supportive services that those most vulnerable to experiencing homelessness would need. With a new $100 million fund of social impact investment — augmented with federal pandemic funding that could multiply its efforts—the organization is rolling out an innovative approach to quickly and affordably housing the homeless populations. Read Full Story

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Location-based salaries will kill your startup’s culture

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This startup’s founder warns that reducing salaries to save a few bucks isn’t worth the damage you’ll do to team culture and morale. 2020 has inspired all of us to do some soul-searching. We’re asking ourselves big questions about what we value, how we want to spend our time, and where we want to be in life. As a result, people are making moves. My company is based in New York City, but throughout the last few months, I’ve had employees move to Idaho, Florida, Virginia, California, and Colorado. Some are looking to escape city life after the pandemic magnified its flaws, and others are choosing to live closer to family and friends. Whatever their reasons, I’m now managing team members with drastically different costs of living. Read Full Story

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