Lotus Turns Two!

Lotus Campaign
August 4, 2020

The scope of homelessness in America is beyond the capacity of public and nonprofit sectors to address alone.  

Two years ago, we officially started building a new model that brings together the private for-profit and nonprofit sectors to create sustainable, scalable solutions and lasting impact. July 19th marks our second birthday. Celebrate with us by looking at the milestones we’ve hit so far!

The early success of Lotus has been possible because of you. Thank you very much for your support.

Housing! Housing! Housing!  
Housed 250 individuals (including 49 children) at a cost of less than $800 per person per year

  • 2018 – We started by considering the risk and cost barriers that keep landlords from making their apartments available to those experiencing homelessness and began beta testing our ideas in the Spring of 2018. Our Landlord Participation Program officially launched with two Sponsoring Organizations and one Participating Landlord in July 2018. By December 2018, we housed 70 individuals and had early proof that our model was working.
  • 2019 – We recruited two additional Participating Landlords and two Sponsoring Organizations to grow our pilot program. By the end of 2019, we had housed 200 individuals!
  • 2020 – We expanded partnerships with our existing Sponsoring organizations to now include more support + service programs, increasing the number of programs we work with from four to seven. To date, we have housed over 250 families and individuals (32 families and 49 children) at a cost of less than 800 dollars per person per year. On top of that, 128 people have renewed their leases or moved onto housing on their own because of the Landlord Participation Program.

Teamwork is the Dreamwork!

  • In 2019, we grew our board of advisors to seven creative and thoughtful experts in public policy, advocacy, real estate development, sustainability, and the media world to help us reimagine how our country is enabled and empowered to respond to homelessness. Read about these rock stars here. We’re so lucky to have them on board.

$155,000 in grant funding from 4 national and local funders, and the generous support of 275 donors

Impact Investment / “You Can Do Good and Do Well”!

Three months after launching (yes, you read that right) we invested in our first real estate project (Fall of 2019). We partnered with Jonathan Rose Companies to purchase a 144-unit multifamily building while reserving 20% of the units (30 units) for Lotus Campaign clients. We have completed a green rehab to reduce energy consumption, water consumption and other initiatives to improve the overall health and safety of the property. In acquiring this property, we followed a social impact investment model using market rate debt and private equity - without relying on any government funds or subsidies. We intend to invest in more housing developments to help create and maintain a long-term supply of housing for people experiencing homelessness and housing instability, and to reinvest our investment returns back into the Lotus Campaign.

Eviction Prevention Program

The overarching and ongoing impacts of COVID-19 have made it clear how critically important flexibility and adaptability are to keeping people in housing. We worked with two of our partners to create an eviction mitigation program targeting families at risk of becoming homeless. To create this program, one of our nonprofit partners expanded the scope of its services to include families at high risk of becoming homeless, the Landlord increased the number of units available, and Lotus increased its emphasis on those in imminent danger of homelessness. We know that once eviction moratoriums and other relief programs end, this program will be critically important.

Community Collaborations

  • Hip Hop Architecture Camp – In the summer of 2019, we partnered with ULI Charlotte to host the Hip Hop Architecture Camp in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Hip Hop Architecture Camp uses hip hop culture as a catalyst to introduce underrepresented youth to architecture, urban planning, and design. The camp is led by architectural grad students who work with middle and high school students and introduce them to architecture, urban planning, creative placemaking and placekeeping, and equitable economic development. Take a look at the students’ final video where the students speak about community, affordable housing and homelessness better than most experts we know!
  • Tiny WPA – TinyWPA’s Building Heroes program made some amazing tote bags for us this winter! A second batch is currently in production. Please reach out to contact@lotuscampaign.org for more information about how to get one!
  • Alternative Housing Forum – In February 2020 we spoke at ULI Sacramento’s forum on alternative housing solutions and homelessness. Philip gave the keynote address and spoke about the origin of the Lotus Campaign, how it works and why engaging the private sector as partners is critical for solving homelessness. Beth participated on a panel discussion, covering the specifics of how Lotus works and the breakdown of our impact. This was one of our favorite speaking engagements in a city committed to testing new ideas. Small scale and positive coverage of the event here.

Press Hits, Honorable Mentions, and Other Cool Things

  • The Lotus Campaign received an honorable mention in the general excellence category of Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards! The awards honor the businesses, policies, projects, and concepts that are actively engaged and deeply committed to addressing climate crisis, social injustice, or economic inequality. You can see us in the fine print right here and in Fast Company’s May/June print edition.
  • Beth and the Lotus Campaign participated in this year’s class of SEED20 – (Social Entrepreneurs EmpowereD) nonprofit entrepreneurs. Beth recently made this video to share the story of the Lotus Campaign, our work and why it matters.
  • We collaborated on a guest blog series with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing and Homelessness Dashboard to share more about the Lotus model, how it works and our impact. Read parts one, two, and three here and here and here!

Coming Soon

  • Our first Impact Report coming Summer 2020 to your mailbox and inbox!
  • We're working hard to launch our second Landlord Participation Program pilot with our favorite West Coast City this Fall!

Our Birthday Wish

  • We’d love for you to share this newsletter with someone you believe cares about the work we do. Word-of-mouth recommendations are a gift.
  • You can always always support us by making a direct donation here.