The non-profit Common Ground — founded 30 years ago by Rosanne Haggerty to try to find permanent housing for chronically homeless people in Times Square — is now launching a national campaign that some think could be an important first step toward ending homelessness in America, NPR reported. One of Common Ground’s earliest projects was transforming the Times Square Hotel in Midtown into a homeless shelter that accommodates 650 formerly homeless and low-income tenants. But Haggerty realized she needed to know who else was living on the streets and what it would take to get them inside. She hired Becky Kanis, a West Point graduate and former special ops commander with the Army to take a team of outreach workers into the streets.
They interviewed homeless people to create a profile, ranking each on a vulnerability index — the higher the number, the more likely the person would die on the streets if he or she didn’t get help. It can take months and even years to get someone inside. But Common Ground says it’s worth it, and that it costs less to house and treat a homeless person than to leave him on the street, where he’ll use emergency services again and again. The organization has now launched its national campaign to house 100,000 chronically homeless people over the next three years. More than 70 cities have already signed up, conducted their own homeless surveys and collectively have found permanent housing for more than 7,500 people. [NPR]