The Social Pitch

In their recent piece “Supportive housing can curb homelessness in our own backyard,” US Fellow Rosanne Haggerty and her co-author Martha Kegel draw attention to a housing controversy taking place in New Orleans.  Kegel’s organization UNITY wants to transform an abandoned building into “supportive housing,” an affordable housing facility with embedded case management services such as behavioral and physical clinicians. It’s a solution to chronic homelessness that Haggerty’s NYC-based organization Common Ground has proven powerfully effective.  Still, not everyone in NOLA supports the plan.

But it would be hard, after reading the article, not to be behind supportive housing.  Haggerty and Kegel present a potent case. What makes their argument so strong is that, though the humanitarian argument for supportive housing is powerful, the authors don’t rely on it.  They touch on pathos, but they lean on logos. Take, for instance, the impressive statistics they offer about the amount of money the public coffer can save--$137,000 annually per person supported--by keeping the homeless housed; or the NYU study they site that demonstrates that residential properties closest to supportive housing developments appreciate at a markedly higher rate than similar properties a few streets away.  Needless to say, the article’s concluding line—“housing the homeless is good for everyone”—isn’t a slogan; it’s a simple statement of fact.

Deftly, Haggerty and Kegel identify incentives for a number of different populations, converting into stakeholders a community of people much larger than the disabled homeless who would call the unit home. That’s what makes the pair's article an exemplary case study for how to make an exemplary case for a social pitch.   So, if you’re a social entrepreneur—whether or not you work in housing, whether or not you work in homelessness, whether or not you work in human services--you’re a stakeholder in this article.

Read the full piece from nola.com here.
Read about Common Ground’s impact on their website.
Learn about UNITY’s work here.   

This article was originally published on October 18, 2010
Related TopicsDevelopment & Prosperity, Capacity building, Housing, Social Entrepreneurship

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