Our ‘aversion to homelessness’

Over the last decade, and in spite of economic turmoil, government interventions have helped decrease homelessness significantly:

This seems incredible – perhaps literally, so. The National Alliance to End Homelessness, a leader in homelessness service and research, estimates a 17 percent decrease in total homelessness from 2005 to 2012. As a refresher: this covers a period when unemployment doubled (2007-2010) and foreclosure proceedings quadrupled (2005-2009).

But as The Atlantic points out, homelessness is practically a taboo subject in public discourse. Politicians don’t talk much about it, even in the wake of success, and neither does the average citizen. With major budget battles looming, our “aversion to homelessness” could undo the progress made in recent years. (Atlantic, 8/27)

PHILANTHROPY | Opinion: Is ‘strategic philanthropy’ a good thing? A recent back-and-forth between the Hudson Institute’s William Schambra and former Hewlett Foundation CEO Paul Brest has drawn out both sides of the debate. Pablo Eisenberg weighs in with the opinion that nonprofits, which frequently have excellent ideas, are being cut out of the problem-solving business (Chronicle, 8/20):

It’s time for everyone in philanthropy to stop debating the merits of strategic grant making and whether everyone needs to measure results with statistical precision. Instead, let’s focus on what keeps philanthropy from solving serious problems: the unwillingness of foundations and big donors to realize they don’t have all the answers. Nonprofits should have a greater role in driving the agenda.

EDUCATION | Yesterday, the Post’s Wonkblog launched a series that will explore how absurdly high costs are impacting higher education. Here are parts one and two. There is a ton of information and analysis just in these first two (of ten total) posts, so you should definitely check them out. (WaPo, 8/27)

– The obesity epidemic is far more complicated than most of us realize. Did you know, for example, that monkeys, dogs, cats, mice and rats are also experiencing increases in obesity? And they don’t eat fast food. (io9, 8/26)

CDC Report Shows Progress in School Health Practices (USNews, 8/26)

COMMUNICATIONS | As we celebrate the legacy of the civil rights movement, various cohorts are trying to leverage the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington to draw attention to many worthy causes. The Center for Community Change takes stock of the causes that were publicized this past weekend and implies an important question – does a discordance of messages dilute the power of mass gatherings?

It’s a great question to consider. CCC suggests that solidarity around a general sense of injustice is sufficient, but the flip side is something like the Occupy movement. A lack of focus ultimately sank that movement and no concrete outcomes were ever achieved. So, what do you folks think? Is it better to voice many concerns simultaneously or consolidate efforts to achieve one outcome at a time?

VIOLENCE | Here’s part two of Lessons unheeded, or how not to repeat a history of violence, from guest contributor Linda Bowen of The Institute for Community Peace. (Daily, 8/27)

Check out 28 pictures of incredibly cool offices around the world. It’s hard to say which one I’d like the most, but indoor grass – number nine – is pretty appealing. What’s your pick?