Viewpoint: What business can do to ease homelessness
Bruce McNamer, CEO of the Greater Washington Community Foundation, writes a guest article for the Washington Business Journal.
Last week, several Silicon Valley giants came to Washington, but they didn’t come here to meet with Congress or to discuss tech policy. Instead, they met with local businesses leaders and D.C. government officials to talk about a crisis that is affecting communities across the country — homelessness and the shortage of affordable housing.
Often in conversations about the affordable housing crisis, big tech is viewed as part of the problem and not the solution. Yet, many of these companies recognize the vital role they must play and the unique voice they bring to conversations affecting communities where they operate and constituents they serve, including staff and community members.
We were pleased to hear from corporate executives at Salesforce, Zillow, Cisco, and Kaiser Permanente about why their companies felt an urgency to meaningfully engage in addressing homelessness and housing insecurity. A few highlights include:
- “You can't just say it's the government's job. You can't just say it's the nonprofit's job. It's all of our jobs together,” said Jim Green, senior vice president, government affairs and public policy, Salesforce. “If the business community in this region made ending homelessness a priority, it would turn the dial.”
- "We at Cisco think about our employees. Talent wants to live in a community that is thriving," said Rekha Grennan, director corporate affairs, corporate social responsibility strategy, Cisco Systems Inc.
- "Homeless people are five times more likely to use hospitals. They're likely to stay at hospitals for multiple days, for $2,000 to $4,000 per day. … Homelessness is a problem we all pay for,” said Celeste James, executive director, community health, Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States.
What we learned about how these corporate and philanthropic leaders have put their leadership, resources, and influence to work in other communities reinforced what we know it will take to address homelessness in our community. Now is the time for the private sector and philanthropy to step up investments and leverage its voice and convening power to help accelerate our community’s response.
Source: Washington Business Journal