Partnering for Change was founded in 2011 by Tanya Tull, a leading expert on family homelessness, as an evolution of her earlier work in the field. In 1988, Tull founded Beyond Shelter and introduced an innovation at the time – “housing first” for homeless families. For more than 20 years, she then helped to promote and disseminate the Housing First approach on a national and international scale. Rather than promoting replication of its Family Housing First Program, Beyond Shelter instead promoted adaptation of the key generic components of the innovation in order to be compatible with and responsive to the available resources and identified needs of local communities. The new organization, Partnering for Change, is an intentional “scaling up” of this early model of idea generation, program experimentation, and knowledge dissemination for systems transformation.
Initially focused on the provision of technical assistance and consulting on Housing First /Rapid Rehousing models as applied to homeless and precariously housed families, in 2012 Partnering for Change began to explore the feasibility of housing interventions at an earlier stage. This effort led to the development of the national Housing Stability Assessment Initiative – a main focus of our work today.
With a growing evidence-base on the impact of housing instability on child and family well-being, the organization began reaching out to researchers in the field to understand more about their work and its relevance to the direction we were taking. The new initiative was introduced to national policy and advocacy groups representing diverse services sectors, including child and family services, child welfare, education, workforce development, and healthcare – to gain a better understanding of how the effort might align with and support other and perhaps more robust efforts already in motion. These efforts further supported the thesis that indicators of housing distress at mainstream and community-based organizations often go undetected until the crisis escalates, that direct services staff often lack the training and necessary resources to successfully address housing-related problems, and that housing instability may have greater detrimental impact on services delivery for non-housing related needs than generally perceived. The new effort will also promote the integration of strategies that have been proven successful in stabilizing formerly homeless families in permanent housing into the protocols and practices of mainstream systems serving vulnerable families in communities.
In 2014, Partnering for Change identified the newly-designated Los Angeles Promise Zone as a “test site” for the integration of housing stability assessments into the protocols and practices of mainstream services systems. Within a short time, however, a new focus emerged: the need to address the deplorable housing conditions in which large numbers of low-income families with children were forced to live due to the housing affordability crisis in Los Angeles today. The newly-launched Home Zone Pilot Project is currently exploring the scope of the problem – and promoting the development of innovative approaches to address it.