Dan Straughan founded the Homeless Alliance in 2004 after a career in finance. At the time, he was the sole team member, but he quickly moved to gather a collection of like-minded volunteers who – in his words – thought there was a smarter way to do homeless services.
“That group eventually became my board,” Straughan said. “We borrowed offices in the back of what was then Union Bank in Capitol Hill, and then began to grow relationships with government agencies, NGOS and faith-based organizations in an organic way.”
That network of relationships now comprises more than 100 organizations that work in homeless services. Last year, the Homeless Alliance served nearly 9,001 clients, and last year, they’ve moved 858 clients into permanent housing. The diverse collection of resources means that the alliance can respond to problems proactively and reactively.
“Early on, we had to respond to a situation where some well-meaning individuals had opened shelters that weren’t really fit for human habitation,” Straughan said. “We coordinated with all of our overnight shelters to pick everyone up and provide appropriate shelter.”
It’s the cooperation between agencies that makes the Homeless Alliance so effective. The work they do now requires a staff of roughly 130 full and part-time employees. The focus of the agencies is directed toward different demographics, all of which are prone to experience homelessness or are currently homeless: veterans, prisoners reentering the community, refugees from domestic violence, those with mental illness and single-parent families.
“The bulk of our resources are directed toward housing,” Straughan said. “Once a month, we gather volunteers and professionals, and we look at the whole city – including homeless camps and coverage areas – and the needs and resources of the agencies under our banner to provide better, more efficient services.”
The end result is a coordinating agency that takes seriously the fulfillment of their mission statement: rallying our community to end homelessness.