Community Engagement

Where the Work Gets Done

Everyone deserves a place to call home. At Wayfair, we’re partnering with Community Solutions to help make this possible. Here, co-director Jake Maguire shares how every town can work toward housing for all.

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Jake Maguire helped launch Community Solutions in 2011. Today, he co-directs the Built for Zero movement to end homelessness, which includes more than 80 communities in the U.S. and 40 more around the world.

Here, he breaks down the Built for Zero method and how it can work in towns everywhere.

Wayfair: Your teams are helping to solve homelessness in every kind of town and city – how does it work?

JM: We’re kind of like coaches, and a lot of our work is about helping communities to work as a team. We try to strengthen community teams by bringing them the right training and the right skills and connecting them to the resources they need. Communities have to start with real-time data to learn what’s going on; then they use that data to see reductions in homelessness over time.

Wayfair: Tell us about the Built for Zero movement.

JM: It’s the effort to help communities get all the way to zero on homelessness. It’s not just trying to help more people or build more housing, it’s a way for a community to come together to end homelessness over time. We’re trying to get communities to “functional zero” – when homelessness is brief and rare.

Wayfair: Who needs to be at the table to make that happen?

JM: It’s not any one person’s job to solve this problem – it’s lots of people’s jobs. And what that usually means is that lots of people are responsible and no one is really accountable. There has to be one table where all people are looking at that situation and responding together. So we look at who has influence. Who are the key people? Who is actually really important but sometimes gets left out of decisions? And then that team can really start to solve things for the community.

Wayfair: What kind of feedback do you usually get from communities you’re working with?

JM: The biggest thing we hear about is the energy and the power of that network. So many of the folks in these communities have been lone voices for a long time. When people connect to a network, it can give them the energy to keep pushing.

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Wayfair: What milestones are you proudest of?

JM: We’ve gone from zero communities in the country having ever ended homelessness for a population to 14. We’ve got major cities like Detroit, Washington, D.C., and Jacksonville, that are driving like 30%, 40%, 50% reductions on their way to zero. You know some people will say "I don’t think this can work in a large city," and it’s currently working in small towns and large cities. It’s tremendously powerful.

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