Corporate Social Responsibility writer for Justmeans, Antonio Pasolini is a journalist based in Brazil who writes about alternative energy, green living and sustainability. He also edits Energyrefuge.com, a top web destination for news and comment on renewable energy and Elpis.org, a recycled paper bag/magazine distributed from health food stores in London, formerly his hometown for over a decade....
Cisco Partners With Community Solutions to Tackle Homelessness
Cisco's New York City public sector team has joined forces with Community Solutions to tap Cisco's human and technological assets to help end homelessness. The partnership will benefit from Cisco employees' own life experiences, their networking skill sets and fundraising to accelerate the work of Community Solutions.
In the United States at any given night there are 643,067 homeless people. Lack of affordable housing, especially in urban areas, is the main factor driving people into homelessness. Besides the suffering it causes, homelessness can be quite expensive to the taxpayer. The cost of hospitalization, medical treatment, incarceration, police intervention, and emergency shelter expenses can add up quickly, making homelessness surprisingly expensive for municipalities and taxpayers. It's a major problem that needs to be dealt with head on.
Ten to fifteen percent of America's homeless population is chronically homeless. This portion of the homeless uses up more than 50 percent of public resources available to help them. According to estimates for the New York City area, housing people permanently can amount to annual savings of US$30,000 to US$40,000 per family.
Community Solutions was founded more than two decades ago by Rosanne Haggerty. Based in New York City, it is a human network of community leaders, public agencies, nonprofits, property developers, and health and human services organizations creating practical, scalable, cost-effective solutions to homelessness. Its goal is to bring proven, replicable innovations that end homelessness to a national scale and advance new models of homelessness prevention and community development.
Community Solutions and Cisco created a proof of concept program that started in April and will run until September whereby Cisco engages at multiple levels, both corporate and local, with the opportunity for other Cisco offices to explore partnering with Community Solutions in their communities.
Cisco employees initially will be engaged in four areas. They will be sharing their life experiences as mentors to disadvantaged youth from Brownsville, Brooklyn as part of the Youth Advisor Program. The area is one of New York's most challenged communities. They will also help Community Solutions use collaboration technologies to advance its work. Besides, they will take part of a Fundraising drive. One of the actions is the "$50K Challenge Grant," whereby up to US$25,000 raised by employees will be matched by Corporate NY/NJ Civic Council support. Finally, through Corporate Support, the Cisco Foundation and Employee Relations are supporting the "$100K Homes Campaign" through matching and local grants. One of the initiatives to be benefitted with this program is "Housing Homeless Veterans Faster." Veterans make up 12 percent of the homeless population.
According to a report by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, between 2001 and 2009, a period of economic downturn, homelessness decreased by 1 percent in the U.S.. However, economic and demographic indicators linked to homelessness continue to be a cause of concern. That's because homelessness is a lagging indicator, and the effects of the poor economy on the problem are escalating and are expected to continue to do so over the next few years.
Image credit: Cisco