Taking Innovation to Scale

Taking Innovation to Scale – A Case Study

Partnering for Change understands the vital role of innovation as a tool for social change.  Re-visioning requires innovative thinking, creative problem-solving, and risk-taking. Our work is grounded by the real-life experiences of vulnerable families and children and the challenges they face daily.  We believe that complex, intersecting social problems are best addressed by aligning and integrating existing resources and systems in new ways. The following provides an example of innovation taken to scale:


Family Housing First in Los Angeles, California 1988-2012


 Sample Family Housing First Flow Chart – Los Angeles  


Fall 1988: Beyond Shelter is founded by Tanya Tull in response to increasing numbers of homeless families in Los Angeles County and the need for a more comprehensive approaching to serving them. Homeless families were cycling in and out of emergency shelters and, if they were able to move into rental housing, they often became homeless again. Tanya envisions a new approach, in which homeless families would be assisted in moving into permanent housing as quickly as possible, rather than remain in emergency shelter for months at a time. Once in housing at rents they could afford, families would be provided home-based case management for up to one full year to help them stabilize and connect to resources and services in the community at-large.


Within three months of incorporation, the Housing First Program begins operation with 10 staff, including Housing Specialists, receiving referrals of homeless families from Referring Agencies from throughout L.A. County, including emergency shelters, transitional housing, and domestic violence shelters (up to 60 different Referral Agencies within a few years). Within weeks, the first homeless families are moved into permanent, scattered-site rental housing located in diverse residential neighborhoods of L.A. County – each with their own lease.


This represents the first Housing First program in the United States (aka: rapid re-housing when time-limited rent subsidies are provided).


1991-1993: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) funds the Housing First Program, as one of the first five federal demonstrations on family homelessness. The Early Intervention Demonstration Project for Recently Homeless and At-Risk Families was a collaborative effort, with outreach and intake of homeless and precariously housed families conducted at Para Los Ninos, a Skid Row child and family services agency, and permanent housing relocation and one full year of home-based case management provided by Beyond Shelter.


1992: Recognition by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness & Beyond Shelter’s first out-of-state workshop on the model is conducted in Columbus, Ohio. Subsequent training and workshops are conducted throughout the U.S. over the next 15 years.


1992-1995: The second federal demonstration project – The Homeless Families Support Center Demonstration Project, also funded by HHS, continues federal support for the Housing First Program for Families.


1995-1996: Beyond Shelter participates in the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) Program in the City of Los Angeles, one of 5 sites nation-wide, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and in collaboration with the Fair Housing Council of Los Angeles and the Housing Authority, City of Los Angeles; the model of housing relocation and home-based case management after the move is adapted from the Housing First Program.


1996: The Housing First Program (then called the Transition Program for Homeless Families) receives the following recognition:

1. one of “25 U.S. Best Practices” to represent the U.S. at the UN Conference on Human Settlements, Habitat II, held in Istanbul, Turkey
2. one of “100 International Best Practices” chosen by the United Nations Centre on Human Settlements (UNCHS) at the UN Conference
3. the 1996 Nonprofit Sector Award from the National Alliance to End Homelessness

2000: The Housing First Program is chosen as one of 19 “Solutions for America” by the Pew Partnership for Civic Change – a national initiative to see what works in communities across the U.S. See:  Solutions for America 


National Alliance to End Homelessness contracts with Beyond Shelter to adapt key components of “Family Housing First” as the lead strategy to adress family homelessness for the prototype “10-Year Plan to End Homelessness” developed as a guide for communities nationwide.


From 1990 through 2011, Beyond Shelter’s Institute for Research, Training, and Technical Assistance conducts over 200 workshops and presentations in over 75 communities, 30 states, and Puerto Rico – including national two-day workshops held in Los Angeles and Washington, DC, often co-sponsored by the National Alliance to End Homelessness and other leading advocacy groups. Over the years, the methodology is slowly adapted in localities throughout the United States.

1990-2011 Workshops and Presentations 


During that same period of time, more than 6,000 homeless families in Los Angeles are relocated to rental housing in residential neighborhoods located throughout L.A. County, with the provision of 6 months to one full year of case management support after the move.


Beyond Shelter’s leadership worked closely over the years with national advocacy groups to promote the adoption of the Family Housing First/Rapid Rehousing approach on a national scale. This goal was achieved in 2009, when the federal government codified Rapid Rehousing into federal law through the HEARTH Act. As a result, communities throughout the United States are transitioning existing homeless services systems to rapid re-housing models based on the original key components pioneered by Beyond Shelter in 1988.


In 2011, with its major goals accomplished, the work of Beyond Shelter’s Institute for Research, Training & Technical Assistance is transferred to Partnering for Change, incorporated as a separate 501(c)(3) organization and is now led by Beyond Shelter’s founder, Tanya Tull.


In 2012, Beyond Shelter merges with PATH, another Los Angeles-based nonprofit homeless organization, and is re-named PATH Beyond Shelter. The organization now focuses on Housing First / rapid re-housing programs for families in Los Angeles County.


1990-2011 Beyond Shelter Workshops/Presentations

See: Ashoka Fellow – Tanya Tull
See:  What We Did Wrong and How We Are Trying To Fix It 
See:  U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness – Profile >>

Correction to Profile: Contact Information for Follow-up: [email protected]