Maximizing the Impact of Housing Vouchers

In This Report

Home For Good leveraged the flexibility of philanthropic funding alongside the scale and broad reach of public resources to help create the first dedicated housing resources for chronically homeless individuals in Los Angeles.

The Problem

Pairing tenant-based housing vouchers with supportive services has long been a preferred approach to expanding supportive housing in Los Angeles, especially as project-based supportive housing takes longer to develop and turn over than tenant-based vouchers and raises fewer NIMBY concerns. However, the commitment of a substantial number of these vouchers for people experiencing homelessness has not always been a priority. Those lucky enough to receive vouchers have faced competitive and discriminatory housing markets, where options are limited and many landlords are unwilling to accept their vouchers as payment due to fear of delays or lost revenue during public housing authority required inspections. There is also evidence that Black households looking for housing using these vouchers are more likely to experience discrimination compared to members of other racial groups that also use vouchers.

The Approach

Optimizing Private Investment by Leveraging Public Resources 

In the first years of the Home For Good Funders Collaborative, we developed an annual RFP process that aligns public and private resources and invests in system-change efforts to end homelessness in L.A. While private funding has the ability to be flexible and pilot innovative solutions, having public funders at the table means that we have the ability to align those private dollars with public resources and scale solutions to meet the needs of our system.

We worked to secure commitments to dedicate large numbers of vouchers from public housing authorities for people experiencing homelessness and aligned them with services commitments from public partners like the L.A. County Departments of Mental Health (DMH) and Health Services (DHS). We aligned those investments with flexible private funding to support strategies that connect eligible individuals with these services and housing opportunities. In the first three years alone, we paired over $44 million with over 1,700 dedicated vouchers and 1,100 supportive services slots for people experiencing homelessness.

Ensuring Long-Term Commitments from Partners

We worked with our public partners at the city, county, and Housing Authority of the City of L.A. (HACLA) to institutionalize the innovative practice of linking housing vouchers and rental subsidies with county supportive services. This led to a ten-year memorandum of understanding that committed the city to create 10,000 new supportive housing units, which would be matched annually by HACLA with 1,000 project-based vouchers for the first five years and with supportive services, additional rental assistance, and landlord incentives by the county. That same year, the county’s housing authority increased the percentage of tenant-based vouchers that it would dedicate to people experiencing chronic homelessness to fifty percent.

Breaking Down Barriers to Access

We advocated successfully to eliminate all eligibility criteria related to criminal backgrounds, and we advocated for the passage of SB 329, which made it illegal for landlords to discriminate against potential renters using housing vouchers.

The Outcome

Home For Good leveraged the flexibility of philanthropic funding with the scale and broad reach of public resources. Through the commitment of dedicated vouchers and rental subsidies, we helped create the first dedicated housing resources for chronically homeless individuals in Los Angeles. Matched with flexible private dollars, these resources have allowed for thousands of Angelenos to finally come Home For Good.