Rosanne Haggerty

Ashoka Fellow
New York City, NY, United States
Fellow Since 2007
My work: Ending homelessness by linking homeless persons with stable housing and personalized support plans.

Citation

This profile was prepared when Rosanne Haggerty was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.
The New Idea
In 1991 when Rosanne Haggerty successfully converted New York’s historic Time Square Hotel from a dilapidated drug den, nicknamed “Homeless Hell”, into the nation’s largest supported housing development for the formerly homeless, she accomplished a previously unimaginable feat: She demonstrated that a permanent solution to homelessness could be provided for a fraction of the cost of the conventional short-term services such as shelters that maintained individuals in homelessness. She proved as well that homeless individuals could be integrated into a mixed income building, and that an ambitious project for the homeless could serve as a catalyst for community economic development. In 1999, when she proved that her success was replicable by transforming The Prince George Hotel, she did another unimaginable thing: She provided an emerging “housing first movement” among homeless advocates with large-scale, sustained proof of its viability. The housing first movement now has many champions but Rosanne’s creativity and leadership stand out because she unites disparate interests in creating large-scale, cost effective demonstrations that homelessness can be ended.

Rosanne’s new idea stemmed from studying the data related to homeless people, which reveals three important facts. First, not all homeless people experience homelessness in the same way. In fact, a subgroup now classified as “chronically homeless” represents just 15 percent of the estimated 2 million people who experience homelessness each year in the U.S. Yet these chronically homeless individuals typically consume over 50 percent of the estimated $8B (according to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness) spent by governments, charities, and emergency rooms in responding to homelessness in the U.S. The chronically homeless are typically those seen sleeping on the streets year-after-year and often have severe complicating problems: Drug dependency, physical illness or psychological impairment. Although 40,000 agencies work with the homeless in the U.S., only a handful systematically studies the patterns of homelessness and apply research to practice.

Second, her team’s original research led to new approaches to reducing street homelessness and street deaths. Their predictive studies enable Rosanne and her colleagues to prioritize for housing assistance to specific individuals who are the most vulnerable on the street, or are likely to become or remain chronically homeless.

Third, Rosanne demonstrated that given stable housing, a positive integrated (formerly homeless and others) community, and a customizable set of supports, formerly homeless people could avoid ever being homeless again. When homeless individuals move into a Common Ground community they agree to pay their rent, to conduct themselves in a neighborly manner and to create and enact their own success plans. Common Ground deliberately stokes the will-power necessary to fight these internal fights for personal restoration by surrounding community members with people who fight similar fights and with support services, all within an environment of beauty and mutual assistance.

Another important element of the Common Ground solution to homelessness is integration. Common Ground integrates low-income residents with the formerly homeless residents in buildings that intentionally create an affirmative community life. They also integrate access to services that they know their residents need. For example, counseling, health screenings, financial literacy seminars and employment assistance are all available to residents onsite in a Common Ground community.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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