Since 1944, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has worked to improve the lives of of the world’s most vulnerable populations, in line with Conrad Hilton’s charge in his last will and testament to “relieve the suffering, the distressed and the destitute.” Twenty five years ago, this mandate led the Foundation to examine the issue of homelessness. Since that time, the organization has supported efforts to end long-term homelessness—especially among the mentally ill—across the nation. Since 1990 the Foundation has sought to advance compassionate and cost-effective solutions to homelessness, granting more than $90 million, primarily by advancing permanent supportive housing (PSH) as a long-term solution.
In 2010, the Foundation’s board of directors approved a five-year strategic initiative to support a three-pronged strategy to advance efforts to end chronic homelessness in Los Angeles County. The vision for this strategy was to:
Eliminate chronic homelessness in L.A. through the successful creation and operation of supportive housing, by ensuring that the most needy are housed and stay housed in these units, and through efforts to prevent additional individuals from becoming chronically homeless.
Since the first phase of the strategy’s January 2011 start date, the board has approved over $55 million in grant funding targeted at systemic approaches to increasing access and prioritization to PSH for the most vulnerable persons in Los Angeles County. Over the five-year period, the Foundation has worked with partners to problem solve and develop solutions to chronic homelessness in Los Angeles. The Foundation has convened private- and public-sector stakeholders and played a leadership role in several important meetings between key foundation, city and county leaders. Through these efforts, the Foundation has catalyzed collaboration with other foundations, public leaders, and service providers to align resources and break down silos, in a model that is now being replicated throughout the country. According to Measurement Evaluation and Learning (MEL) partner, Abt Associates, “the Foundation has been a leader: willing to take reasonable risks to innovate and find new solutions, spurring other community stakeholders to action, and expanding the reach of the Initiative beyond direct investments by the Foundation.”
In August 2015, the Foundation’s board approved the proposed direction presented by staff for an additional five-year Phase II of the initiative and in November, the board approved Phase II for implementation. This briefing outlines a brief review of the first phase of the strategic initiative, a summary of results to date as well as a revised strategy informed by input from the board, the Foundation’s MEL partner, as well as public, private, and non-profit partners in the field. With the initiative having achieved or exceeded nearly all of the strategic goals ahead of schedule, the Foundation is in an excellent position to transition smoothly into Phase II in January 2016.