Lotus Campaign, a nonprofit organization dedicated to housing-driven solutions to homelessness, recently placed its first Triangle resident into stable, long-term housing as part of the official launch of its Landlord Participation Program in the area.
The Landlord Participation Program, a model that works to bring together unlikely allies – including real estate developers, landlords, investors, social service providers, and philanthropists – was piloted in Charlotte beginning in 2018. Over the last five years, Lotus has facilitated housing for nearly 450 residents in Mecklenburg County with 97% of sponsored residents successfully completing their lease and moving on to independent housing.
“This is an important milestone for us,” said Beth Silverman, co-founder & Executive Director. “When we set out to do something that nobody believed was possible, we knew we needed to design a solution that would be scalable anywhere and here we are, taking what we have done in Charlotte and applying it to a brand-new place.”
Lotus Campaign’s model engages the private sector to open housing to people experiencing homelessness or in imminent danger of experiencing homelessness. The program unlocks existing housing in mixed-income neighborhoods by incentivizing landlords, in the form of financial guarantees and risk mitigation, to rent to unhoused individuals and families. Lotus then partners with local social service organizations to provide ongoing support & trauma-informed care to all participants to help keep them stably housed. Lotus Campaign’s average annual cost to place and keep someone in housing is less than $1,000.
In Raleigh alone, homelessness has increased by more than 50% since 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. Raleigh has a shortage of over 30,000 affordable housing units available to extremely low-income residents.
“Despite significant stigmas and myths, the number one reason for growing homelessness is supply and demand,” said Silverman. “Our solution is an immediate answer to the shrinking supply of affordable, workforce housing in neighborhoods where people can thrive and rebuild their lives. We partner directly with private landlords who have available units now and break down the major barriers that typically exist for homeless individuals and families to qualify for that housing.”
And after Lotus places people in stable, long-term housing, they work with social service organizations to provide each resident with a case manager who is trained in trauma-informed care for the entirety of their time in the program. That means all program participants are receiving tools and ongoing support in addition to housing that will help guarantee that they can stay healthy and housed.
In five years, the organization has secured more than 30 funding, landlord, and social service partners. While Lotus Campaign is in the early stages of building its program in the Triangle, several landlord and social service partners have already been secured.
"The A.J. Fletcher Foundation is proud to support Lotus Campaign as it launches its second Landlord Participation Program here in the Triangle," said Damon Circosta, Executive Director. "We are thrilled to welcome them to this community as they have a proven, innovative approach to solving homelessness. It’s going to take all sorts of solutions to address homelessness in our region, and Lotus Campaign will make a significant and long-lasting impact for hundreds of our neighbors."
Lotus Campaign’s first program participant housed this month was placed in an apartment home. They are being sponsored by Healing Transitions, an organization in Raleigh providing peer-based, recovery-oriented services to homeless, uninsured and underserved individuals with alcoholism and other drug addictions.
The Landlord Participation Program is funded solely by philanthropic contributions, and with continued support, Lotus anticipates housing nearly 200 others within the first three years.
“Homelessness is one of the most intractable problems of our time,” said Silverman. “Our model is not a theory. It has been put to practice every day for the last five years. The foundation we have built is strong, and we look forward to building on it here in the Triangle and beyond.”
Photo Credit: NCDOTCommunications