With nearly 53,000 Angelenos experiencing homelessness in L.A. County, we’re going to need continually impactful solutions to end homelessness for good. That’s why United Way of Greater Los Angeles, in partnership with Watt Companies Inc., hosted the first-ever L.A. Homelessness Challenge as a way to jumpstart and reward new approaches to homeless service delivery. The Shark Tank-style event on November 14 invited local nonprofits to pitch their ideas for the chance to win one of two $200,000 prizes.

Out of 40 total applicants, five finalists were chosen to present their innovative models to end homelessness: Child Care Resource Center, Illumination Foundation, PATH (People Assisting the Homeless), Safe Place for Youth (SYP), and Venice Family Clinic.

After seeing presentations from all five finalists, the panel of judges awarded both Venice Family Clinic and the Illumination Foundation $200,000 to begin implementing their proposed solutions. The Child Care Resource Center also went home with the audience-voted EY Audience Award.

With their prize, Venice Family Clinic plans to bring street medicine to thousands of homeless residents by building a training institute for residents, doctors, and nurses so that more homeless residents can be treated. Dr. Coley King, Director of Homeless Services who presented the winning Venice Family Clinic pitch said, “Let’s protect our homeless neighbors by providing a roof over their heads and a safe community, starting today.”

The Illumination Foundation will use their prize to help house the most medically fragile homeless residents and older adults by creating six Micro Communities of shared housing with specialized, supportive services such as case management, counseling, life skills training, and medical oversight. “A home is…community and family. Social isolation and loneliness can be a huge issue for people who leave their communities on the street when they go back into housing,” said Paul Cho, CFO and Co-Founder of Illumination Foundation.

The L.A. Homelessness Challenge is a partnership between Watt Companies Inc. and United Way of Greater Los Angeles, with administration from the Home For Good Funders Collaborative. Now in its seventh year, the Funders Collaborative has coordinated investments from leading private and public funders to spark ideas, concepts, and systems that have gone on to become local and national standards.

We’d like to thank our Major Prize Sponsors: Watt Companies Inc., United Way's Home For Good Funders Collaborative, and EY. Our other Challenge Partners include: Common Pool, Social Venture Partners Los Angeles, Upswell, and The Giving Keys.