By Brian Gruters, Associate, LDC

Every year the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) conducts the largest gathering of professionals in homeless services in the United States. In the middle of summer, thousands of case managers and consultants, peer support specialists and policy makers make their way to our nation’s capital for the event. NAEH’s offseason winter conference is held annually in a different city, and this year was in San Diego,

The winter conference showcased a new chapter for NEAH as it pivoted away from its winter focus on youth and family homelessness and toward solutions for individual adults.

NAEH CEO Nan Roman set the stage for the conference by highlighting the most effective strategies that should be implemented nationwide to end homelessness. Among those recommended strategies are improved outreach efforts, low barrier housing-focused shelters, better diversion programs, community and housing supports such as employment programs, and permanent housing placements including Rapid Re-Housing, Permanent Supportive Housing, and new innovative housing models.

In her speech, Ms. Roman highlighted that we must accelerate innovation and creativity in order to end homelessness. She reviewed models such as single room occupancy (SRO) units, boarding houses, host homes, bunk houses and room sharing are potential low-cost housing solutions for individual adults. Ms. Roman encouraged us to re-look at shared housing models — especially in high cost rental markets, such as California. Because shared housing is generally more affordable, we get better utilization of our housing stock in the existing rental market.  Shared housing is; a more financially sustainable option for those with limited incomes and a quicker system strategy to implement than new housing developments.

We were excited to hear Nan highlight shared housing.  At LDC, we are going to be working with the Hilton Foundation and Funders Together to End Homelessness San Diego to increase local capacity building to embark on creating shared housing models in LA and San Diego Counties.

Nan Roman’s roadmap for ending homelessness reiterates what we know but don’t always implement – long-term housing solutions are imperative, and all solutions that provide quicker paths to bringing on-line permanent affordable housing opportunities – including shared housing, small housing, and bunk housing – particularly those solutions that are less expensive to create, and financially affordable for the homeless person —  must be prioritized.