The Notorious B.I.G. famously rapped these line - “Mo’ money, mo’ problems.” And in this economy with the increased cost of living, this statement seems to be proven false. Or has it? In the context of the housing crisis sweeping across California, and beyond, the data shows that Biggie’s words are spot on.
History shows us that the more money our government spends on housing, the worse the disparities become. Let’s take a look at the community hardest hit by the housing crisis: the people experiencing poverty and homelessness. Poverty in the USA has been stuck at 12% for the last 40 years. In recent years, cities have been dedicating more and more resources to fighting homelessness, yet the problem is only getting worse.
While there are a lot of mysteries about poverty and homelessness, one thing is clear: it is on the rise. This flies in the face of the dramatic increase in money being spent in the private, public and social sectors trying to solve these problems. I recently sat down with Akash Kalia, an entrepreneur taking an innovative approach to solving his community’s homelessness crisis.
Akash converted his family’s motel into a low-cost shelter for chronically homeless people and homeless veterans. By partnering with local charities, private businesses, healthcare providers and local government, Akash has been able to make an incredible improvement in the lives of hundreds of homeless people in Sonoma County, and beyond. His approach relies on radical collaboration amongst community partners who are sometimes on opposing sides of solutions.
Akash is creating a new model; a model where throwing more money at the problem is not needed, a better coordination of resources is. Akash took a risk to get this housing model off the ground. He did not let previous efforts, historic turf wars or a resource-scarce mindset limit his thinking. His model can be applied to any problem. His model relies on being radically collaborative and being focused on outcomes and impacts above all else.
We cannot solve the same problems our society has fought for years with the dusty models we are all familiar with. Like Akash, we need to try new models, take bigger risks and work together to make progress on our most persistent problems.