About Partnering for Change
To catalyze the development and implementation of integrated strategies in communities that improve housing stability as the vital platform for child, youth, and family health and well-being.
A world in which access to safe, decent, and affordable housing for children, youth, and families has been prioritized at the federal level, facilitated through diverse service systems at the state level, and ensured at the local level through integrated, equitable, family-centered, and community-based strategies.
President & CEO
A nationally recognized expert in the field of family homelessness, Tull began working in the nonprofit sector in 1980, when she founded Para Los Ninos (For the Children), in response to an article in the L.A. Times about children living in Skid Row hotels. In 1983, Tull co-founded L.A. Family Housing—a nonprofit agency that develops and operates emergency shelters and permanent housing. Tull founded two additional nonprofit agencies in 1988—A Community of Friends and Beyond Shelter—as an evolution of her earlier work in the field. A Community of Friends develops permanent, supportive housing for chronically homeless populations and has been operated by others since 1990. At Beyond Shelter, Tull developed the housing first approach to ending family homelessness—and promoted the new model across the country for the next 25 years. In 2011, as an intentional evolution of her work at Beyond Shelter, Tanya founded Partnering for Change to promote early identification and more timely and appropriate interventions of housing instability by mainstream systems (including schools, community-based services organizations, and healthcare systems). Beyond Shelter later merged its direct homeless services programs with PATH, a homeless services agency in Los Angeles County.
Tanya served for many years on advisory committees for the National Alliance to End Homelessness and the National Low Income Housing Coalition and worked closely with the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. She also helped to integrate “housing first” as the key approach to ending family homelessness in national strategic planning with the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Although “housing first” for families was later renamed “rapid rehousing,” it was being adapted by communities throughout the country prior to the HEARTH Act codification of the “housing first” approach.
A graduate of Scripps College, Claremont, CA and UCLA Graduate School of Education and Communication, Tanya received an Honorary Doctorate in Social Sciences in 1992 from Whittier College. She has served as a Senior Fellow at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs since 2005 and has been a Senior Fellow at Ashoka since 2009. Recognition includes the prestigious Gleitsman National Citizen Activist Award, Kennedy School of Government – Center for Public Leadership, Harvard (1996), and the MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund) Community Service Award (2002).
Our Board of Directors
James P. Clark
President, World Technology Network
Professor, Adelphi University School of Social Work, NY
Co-Chair, Integration Advisory Board (IAB), LA County Department of Health Services
Commissioner, LA County Commission for Older Adults
Senior Analyst, Service Employees International Union
Executive Director, National Center on Housing & Child Welfare
Partnering for Change is supported and guided by an active and committed Board of Directors, a knowledgeable and experienced National Advisory Council, and valued colleagues from diverse sectors who help to inform and enrich our work.
As lead federal agency for the LA Promise Zone, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Los Angeles Field Office, has provided ongoing support and collaboration for our research in one of the least affordable cities in the United States.
Our local community outreach and research efforts are coordinated by Sheena Innocente. With an MSW from UCLA and undergraduate degree in Sociology from California State University Fullerton, her main research interests are housing, poverty, welfare policy, health care, child care, and access to adequate nutrition.
Graduates of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs in Social Welfare, Urban Planning, and Public Policy have served as research associates at Partnering for Change over the years. Student graduate projects from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Southern California (USC) have also contributed greatly to our efforts.
National Advisory Council
Christine Achre, MA, LCPC—CEO, Primo Center for Women & Children, Chicago, Ill
Henry Cisneros—Board of Directors, CityView, San Antonio, TX; Former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, Washington, DC
Maria Foscarinis—Executive Director, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, Washington, D.C.
Bill Parent—Lecturer in public policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, Los Angeles, CA; former acting director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Civil Society and senior staff of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Los Angeles, CA
Judy Samuels, PhD—President, The Samuels Group – consultants; formerly Adjunct Assistant Professor, New York University, Steinhardt School, Global Institute Public Health; Associate Professor, Child Study Center, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, School or Medicine, New York, NY
Lois Starr, MA—Principal, Lois Starr & Associates; former Housing Director, Los Angeles County Community Development Commission, Los Angeles, CA
Deborah Werner, MA—Project Director for the Women, Children and Families Technical Assistance Project, Advocates for Human Potential, Inc. (Sudbury, MA) Los Angeles, CA
Erich Yost—Management Analyst (Community Initiatives), LA Promise Zone Community Liaison, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development—Office of Field Policy and Management. Los Angeles, CA
Partnering for Change was founded in 2011 by Tanya Tull, who at the time had been working in the field of family homelessness for 30 years. After developing two of the first family shelters in Los Angeles, she founded Beyond Shelter in 1988 with an innovation in the field at the time—the “housing first” approach to ending family homelessness. Beyond Shelter served primarily vulnerable and harder-to-serve homeless families referred by emergency shelters, transitional housing programs, re-entry programs, and residential drug treatment programs. Successful from inception, Beyond Shelter then promoted the new methodology across the country for the next twenty-five years, including with national advocacy organizations based in Washington, DC. Funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services from 1991-1996, Beyond Shelter conducted two of the first federal demonstration projects on family homelessness with this approach.
Beyond Shelter’s programs in Los Angeles County also became a “laboratory” for social change in challenging the then-emerging Continuum of Care (CoC). Promoted by HUD during the first years of the Clinton Administration, the CoC was premised on the believe that homeless people, including families with children, should move directly from emergency shelter to transitional housing where they could stay for up to two years to learn the skills required “to live independently.” It was within this context that Beyond Shelter began scaling up the “housing first” approach to ending family homelessness.
At the time, there were two emerging schools of thought, the first based on homelessness being perceived primarily as a result of personal dysfunctions and the second based on external factors: rising rents pushing people on fixed incomes out of the rental market, redevelopment of downtown cores that removed traditional SROs and residential hotels in many cities, and other economic forces. Unfortunately, rather than focus on families who might have benefited from a period of transitional support during a housing crisis, more dysfunctional families were often terminated from transitional housing programs for being “non-compliant” with program requirements. Beyond Shelter conducted its first out-of-state training in Columbus, Ohio, in 1992. In collaboration with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), the first national workshop was conducted in Los Angeles, CA, in 1993. In a few short years, family shelters and transitional housing programs from throughout the country began to adapt key housing first components into their transitional housing operations. Twenty years later, HUD’s Rapid Rehousing program is an almost exact replication of Beyond Shelter’s Housing First Program—modified by the addition of time-limited rent subsidies for participants.
In 2010, realizing that the housing affordability crisis was intensifying, Tanya began to explore the feasibility of housing interventions at an earlier stage—prior to a homeless crisis. Partnering for Change was incorporated the next year as an intentional “scaling up” of idea generation, program experimentation, and knowledge dissemination for systems transformation. With a growing evidence-base on the impact of housing instability on child, youth, and family health and well-being, Partnering for Change focused initially on a universal prevention approach: to promote early identification of, and timely and appropriate responses to, indicators of housing distress among vulnerable families served by mainstream systems: schools, child and family services organizations, and healthcare services delivery systems.
As rental housing costs continued to increase across the country, however, it became apparent that mainstream and community-based services systems were unable to keep up with the need and that direct services staff lacked both the training and resources to address housing problems successfully. Housing issues had become the “elephant in the room” and existing policies and practices were often no longer applicable.
In 2015, Partnering for Change began working in the newly-designated Los Angeles Promise Zone, researching and documenting the prevalence and types of housing instability experienced by low-income renters in one of the the most challenging rental markets in the country. Through a collective impact framework, the organization also began envisioning and testing some possible new housing interventions. We hope this website presenting the results of our efforts thus far will motivate others to join in the broader effort.