I am the Director of the 100,000 Homes Campaign http://100khomes.org/ recently profiled on 60 Minutes http://www.cbsnews.com/news/100000-homes-housing-homeless-saves-money/

West Point Graduate Army Vet Director of 100,000 Homes Campaign

Proof: Starting @reddit_AMA now. Ask me anything! bit.ly/1nqXo7j

Thank you for asking these questions! For more information, go to http://100khomes.org/ or http://cmtysolutions.org/

Comments: 55 • Responses: 19  • Date: 

JanMichaelDC3 karma

Once you hit 100,000 people housed, what's next?

BeckyKanis4 karma

First we're going to celebrate - as a team and with all the communities that have made this movement so successful! What's next for me personally is that I'm going to support other non-profit leaders and teams to kick ass and have a great time making the world a better place. I've learned so much leading the Campaign about how to do that, and I want to share it with everyone. The Campaign team is busy formulating "what's next" but you can be pretty certain it will include helping communities get to zero in chronic and veteran homelessness by the federal plan's deadline the end of 2015. Thanks for asking!

BeckyKanis3 karma

I appreciate all your questions about this. Go to http://100khomes.org/ to learn more!

seethemania3 karma

I saw you chatting with Anderson Cooper...very cool. Can you talk more about how being a veteran and serving in the military influenced this work?

BeckyKanis6 karma

Definitely. Thanks for asking this. So much of how I approach leading social change is informed by what I learned at West Point and during my 9 years of service as an Army Officer. There's too much to share here, but one core value is "Mission First, Troops Always." Get the job done no matter what, and take care of your people. I think that's a good way to approach making the world a better place, too, and to extend the "taking care of your troops" to include ALL people, not just people who report to you at work. Thanks for asking that!

ambivalentanglican2 karma

What drives you to help others like this?

BeckyKanis2 karma

At first it was because I went through a very difficult time in my life and wanted to find a way to stop feeling sorry for myself. Now, though, I am motivated by how awesome it is to see people come together and solve problems that they thought were impossible to solve. I love being part of a creative and powerful movement doing good in the world.

cramj2 karma

What's the next large-scale social problem you'd like to see tackled with a Campaign-style intervention? 100,000 __________ (fill in the blank!)

BeckyKanis7 karma

Did you know that over a billion people in the world don't have access to a toilet? Which means they just go to the bathroom the best as they can, and that makes all the water polluted, and then people get sick, and well all the bad things that come from just not having a place to go to the bathroom - where does it end? And a BILLION people? The thing that intrigues me about that, though, is that putting in plumbing would also have unintended consequences, too. I get really interested in how solving one problem actually creates another, and I love thinking about what's the root root root root big problem that would fix all kinds of other problems. There's lots of other things that lend themselves to a Campaign style intervention, but that's the one that comes to mind right now. We built this campaign off the successful 100,000 Lives Campaign run by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. It's a great model for scale and spread and I learned from Joe McCannon how to do it. What would you like to see tackled?

pmanpman2 karma

I do love your way of raising awareness, but I must ask for proof.

BeckyKanis2 karma

hi - I just added proof - the tweet I just sent out.

BeckyKanis2 karma

did I answer your question or did I misunderstand it?

DWSLV2 karma

An observation: REALLY great segment. STILL too many communities that don't get it.

Q: How is HUD or the Regional CofCs forcing the adoption of Housing First (housing plus req'd services)?

BeckyKanis3 karma

I wish HUD and Regional CofCs would do more! The reality is that housing providers have a tremendous amount of discretion in this. Coordinated Entry where all the people and all the vacant units are matched in a pre-agreed-upon way - and which is mandated by HUD - could help move this in the right direction. HUD is giving more "points" when they award money for communities embracing this approach, but there's still more to be done!

lauriesherrod2 karma

Awesome work! Loved the 60 minutes piece. Please don't stop at 100,000!!!

BeckyKanis2 karma

Look to Community Solutions for what's next - there will be something bigger and better! Thank you for your support!

middleageddude1 karma

Saw your piece on 60 Minutes last night and was very impressed.

Would this work in an expensive urban area like DC or NY? How would you get landlords to donate, or deeply discount apts. in a competitive market?

BeckyKanis5 karma

Hi - this works incredibly well in urban areas. The concept was incubated in NYC back in 2003. As for landlords, the key is to ask, in to invite them to be part of something giving back to the community.

elefantiasis1 karma

What gave you the idea to help people in this way?

BeckyKanis3 karma

I was hired by Rosanne Haggerty to reduce street homelessness in Times Square of NYC by two-thirds in three years. She knew it was possible because the UK had reduced "rough sleeping" as they call it by 75% in four years. I didn't have a lot of baggage because I was new to this kind of work, so from a very pragmatic place, I just discovered that Housing First works. We were able to reduce street homelessness in Times Square by 87% in four years using this approach.

jakeorigami1 karma

What's your favorite part of doing this? This is incredible :)

BeckyKanis5 karma

I love stirring the pot - helping people see that something is possible. And most of all I love working with my team and the leaders from across the country who have joined the movement. I love the people I get to work with everyday. Thanks for asking!

jcmaguire1 karma

What was it like for you hanging out with Anderson Cooper?

BeckyKanis3 karma

He's a dreamboat. He was smart, curious, and willing to go the extra mile to see first hand what life is like on the streets for people. I really respect him. He's a top notch journalist, and he captured a deeply complex issue in a way that was insightful, accurate, and balanced.

scobb991 karma

Hi Becky!

I loved the report on 60 Minutes last night. I work for a nonprofit doing homeless outreach. In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception the public has about what it means to be homeless?

BeckyKanis9 karma

Nice question! The biggest misconception that I see is that people think becoming/staying homeless is a choice that people make. While I'm not saying that we don't all have agency and we aren't all responsible for our decisions, I do think that we should take into consideration that the vast majority of people who are on the streets for a long time are experiencing some kind of disabling condition, and blaming them for their situation is pretty cruel, actually. I do think it is possible to hold someone accountable for their decisions, while at the same time ALSO holding ourselves responsible for the kind of society we're creating together. You don't end up on the streets without a long string of bad personal decisions AND a dog pile of institutional failures - all the safety net protections that should help you out having failed. It's not an either or - it's usually both. You probably see this, too, but when people say, "oh they just want to be homeless" my response to that is, "have you literally walked up to them and handed them keys to an apartment? because if you haven't, you don't know whether or not they want an apartment, you just know whether or not they trust you at this point in time, and maybe they don't yet. So what are you gonna do about that?"

What do you see as the #1 misconception?

f3rp1 karma

What are your thoughts on the homeless that you end up giving a home that do not search for a job after they have settled in?

BeckyKanis6 karma

What I've found over the years I've been doing this is that almost everyone wants to work, even people who are tremendously disabled. So many of the people our enrolled communities help house are so mentally ill or disabled that they're not eligible for work. Still, though, plenty do go on to get jobs and fully integrate back into the work-force.

Hikers4Homeless1 karma

What advice would you give the founder of a small nonprofit that helps the homeless who is just starting out? What have you learned?

BeckyKanis4 karma

I'd build my business on three basic tenents: First, I'd make sure to fuel everything I do with my staff and all stakeholders - with appreciation. Second, I'd model and encourage everyone around me to take healthy responsibility for what's going on. Finally, I'd build strong accountability infrastructure to reinforce a healthy culture of keeping agreements and using data to measure progress against ambitious, time-bound goals. Good luck!!
oh, and I wouldn't go it alone. I'd definitely want to build connections with colleagues in my community and across the country like the leaders in the 100k Homes Campaign have. Is your community enrolled in the Campaign?

Hikers4Homeless0 karma

Great advice - I don't believe we're enrolled. I was on the news Saturday giving out valentines and survival kits here: http://www.localsyr.com/story/d/story/volunteer-group-gives-survival-kits-to-the-homeles/33318/1jRIRd_Yo02SpVtRmRgYtQ. This is just a small project right now (10 hours or less/wk) so I have a day job. I actually applied for the Performance Management Associate position with your campaign the other day. I would LOVE to be able to work on helping the homeless full time.

BeckyKanis1 karma

thanks for your interest! Good luck!

Hikers4Homeless0 karma

One more question if I may - how do you deal with negative responses to trying to help the homeless? Is there any hope of educating people who feel the homeless are a nuisance or should we just move on and focus on those who are interested in helping?

BeckyKanis4 karma

Hi - mostly I focus on those who are willing to help. AND - for those who are inclined to see people living on the streets as a nuisance, I have a solution for them: help me house them! And they often do, once they see that this would be a win-win-win. Look for the win-win-win. Win for you, win for constituent, win for homeless person.

[deleted]-5 karma


BeckyKanis3 karma

hi - what's behind your story? Tell me more.