Homelessness: A Problem with a Solution
It’s an all-too-common sight in communities across America. One that can be disturbing for many to take into full view. It’s the human face of the growing epidemic of homelessness.
“We can think of this crisis in abstract terms or data points, but at the heart of it are real people, our community’s most vulnerable residents, who just need a helping hand,” said Allison Ulrich, GCR’s new Senior Grants Manager who has spent her professional career working on issues of affordable housing and homelessness. “Now more than ever, ending homelessness is an important community and public health issue that urgently demands our attention.”
The challenge of homelessness is much more pervasive than many might imagine, and it is on the rise. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), more than half a million people experience homelessness on any given night. This comes at a high cost for cash-strapped cities, because people without housing often experience high rates of chronic mental and physical health conditions or co-occurring disorders and can be heavy consumers of public services.
“Homelessness has been an escalating problem for many communities, particularly those with limited resources, even prior to the coronavirus pandemic. We can only expect to see matters become more dire with what is forecasted to be a protracted recession. As communities contend with how best to protect their most vulnerable residents, finding effective solutions to homelessness is vital,” said Ulrich.
She says that while the causes of homelessness are often complex, the solution is straightforward: housing.
The challenge is, however, that many communities face an extreme shortage of affordable housing and have limited resources with which to fill the gap. As a California Bay Area native, a region that has some of the steepest rents and rates of homelessness in the nation, Ulrich has seen the effects firsthand. After earning a law degree, she began working in the Bay Area to provide housing counseling services. She went on to coordinate housing development activities across 10 area counties for the Department of Veterans Affairs, and she later began advising Continuums of Care across the U.S. She also serves as the Policy Chair for the American Public Health Association’s Caucus on Homelessness and on the board for a nonprofit organization that provides meals to those experiencing hunger and homelessness in New Orleans.
“Through my experiences across the country over the past 15 years, I’ve seen how focusing on data-driven, systems-level improvements can dramatically increase a community’s ability to house more people,” she said. “That’s why I am so excited about the potential we have at GCR. This team’s existing knowledge, experience, and dedication can completely change the game for Continuums of Care and others working to end homelessness.”
For nearly 40 years, local governments, public sector agencies, and organizations have counted on GCR’s extensive multidisciplinary expertise to help navigate the complex workloads of federal grant management, community planning, and real estate matters. With Ulrich’s addition, the company is broadening its services to include helping communities employ thoughtful and strategic approaches to addressing the urgent challenges of homelessness and housing instability.
“We will apply the same systems and expertise that GCR has become known for in its disaster management and community development work to help communities improve the lives of their most vulnerable members and support cost-effective housing solutions,” she said. “Creating and supporting efficient systems of care ultimately depends on effectively managing and maximizing resources.”
The chief source of funding for states, local governments, and nonprofit providers to address homelessness for families and individuals is HUD funding, which requires significant capacity and regulatory knowledge to be administered successfully.
As former state government grant and program administrators, best-in-class workflow developers, and planning experts, GCR brings lessons learned and best practices from administering and implementing over $200 billion in federal grants on behalf of communities across the country. Its team is also experienced in combining HUD funds with other sources in compliance with multi-agency regulations, which can translate into maximized housing outcomes.
“We are thrilled to have Allison join our team and open our eyes to how we can apply our resources and expertise to help communities address homelessness,” said Angele Romig, GCR’s President of Land and Grants Management. “This new service offering is a natural evolution for us and builds on our extensive work delivering strategic and effective solutions for the communities we serve. Whether needing to overcome crises or wanting to realize a brighter future, communities know they can rely on GCR.”
GCR improves, expedites, and digitally transforms public sector offerings in the areas of grants management, critical infrastructure, land and facilities management, elections, and government business services. Together with its subsidiaries, PCC Technology Inc. and MB3, GCR is recognized as one of the top government technology and service providers in the country.