Campaign for Housing and Human Dignity

Grant Details

Organization: Independent Institute
Country: United States
Funding Year: 2021
Project Duration: 2 years


Funding Areas

Private Sector Solutions ✓
System Change ✓
Empowerment of Individuals ✓
Teaching Freedom ✓

Across the state of California, local governments have shifted from a more personalized approach to homelessness that respects the dignity of the individual to a one-size-fits-all program that is euphemistically called Housing First. The Housing First program dehumanizes its beneficiaries by treating them as objectives of the system rather than subjects - protagonists in their own story. Unfortunately, this program has resulted in a redirection of funds from organizations that have demonstrated success helping people leave homelessness and rise out of poverty towards initiatives that simply build housing.

To compound this issue, excess zoning regulations throughout the state of California have resulted in sky-high housing costs. These two elements – housing without expectations and excessive regulations - combined together, are perpetuating the troubling state of the homeless in California.

The Independent Institute, through the Campaign for Housing and Human Dignity initiative, aims to provide a realistic alternative to California's current Housing First approach through (with the hope that successes can then be exported to other states):

  • A 60-page Independent Policy Report that identifies the failings and damage of current policies while also painting a positive picture for what a transformational housing approach might look like.
  • A multifaceted media campaign including a documentary to be widely disseminated via YouTube and receive high-profile coverage by key media outlets. The documentary will portray individuals impacted by homelessness, showcase programs providing transformation, and provide a vision for San Francisco to broaden the array of approaches that will alleviate the crisis.
  • Develop an unaligned website branded as Beyond Homeless that will present the policy report’s findings, including creative graphics, the documentary, as well as short excerpts and other content.

We are thrilled that this initiative has now been launched; you can watch the documentary trailer here, visit the website, and learn more about the Urban Vision Alliance.

Contribution to Enhancing Freedom

The vast array of regulations on housing development imposed by California abrogates property rights, reducing individual freedom, while both feeding homelessness and preventing individuals from exiting it. Coupled with the destructive “Housing First” narrative, California has been placed in a dire circumstance. Independent Institute effectively highlights each of these policies and their failed outcomes, and widely promotes freedom-enhancing solutions through effective promotional campaigns and working collaboratively with the Urban Vision Alliance to support a “transformational” approach to ending homelessness. Through this program, individuals experiencing homelessness will be provided with alternative options—options that enable them to take control of their own life rather than becoming the objects of a bureaucratic system that overlooks their individuality.

Through this initiative, Independent Institute will highlight and disseminate successful, human-centered solutions to homelessness that can be employed both in San Francisco and more broadly.

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