New Model to overcome homelessness in NY is Working

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Common_Ground_Brook_150718Overall Goal:

Turn the homeless, mentally challenged and drug addicts into productive members of society.

The Old Model focused on drug rehab and other support tasks.  The New Model, adopted by Common Ground (a NY based company founded in 1991),  focuses on building and supporting self esteem in beautifully designed buildings and micro apartments.

Strawman Value Curves:

To get a clearer picture of the difference between these two approaches, we developed Value Curves for the “Old” and “Common Ground” models.


We are uncomfortable with the last two Elements of Performance (EoP).  They are objectives, not EoPs, but we didn’t know how to express them.  Should they be “Programs to address drug dependency” and “Mental Health Treatments”?  We are comfortable with their order of importance.  The “Common Ground” model shows them as the least important.  It’s not that you don’t address them but there are many EoPs when combined can have an immediate positive impact on the homeless.  When you walk into your apartment your self esteem goes up immediately.

Common Ground Micro Apartments:

Common Ground’s first new construction project was the Schermerhorn (see below). It incorporates sustainable materials and is LEED Certified.

Common_Ground_Schernhorn_Bldg_150718Susan Rodriguez/Ennead Architects, Image ©David Sundberg/Esto

Take a look at the design of the Schermerhorn’s Micro Apartments (225 to 300 ft2).  Aren’t they great!   Rents range from $500 to $700/mo.Common_Ground_Micro_Apt_150718


A 652 unit, Common Ground’s supportive housing residence just off Times Square has helped 7,000 people overcome, or avoid, homelessness.  Homelessness within a 20 block area of Times Square has been reduced by 87%.

Common Ground manages 3,200 units in 15 buildings (Most are in NY State)  They are demonstrating that the New Model, putting housing first is far more effective and less costly approach to helping drug addicts, the mentally challenged, and the homeless.

Do you have questions about how the Value Innovation Process can help your business?

Want to find out how to use it, and how hundreds are bringing order to their Front End?

Large (e.g., Chevron,  Johns Manville, Sherwin Williams, Thermo King) and medium sized companies (American Vanguard, Nautilus), startups (FoldedPak, Pharma Diagnostics) and not-for-profits (Compassion International) have all used the VIP successfully….and Tech Transfer representatives from the National Labs are evaluating how they could use the Value Innovation Process to accelerate technology transfer from the Labs into the private sector.

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Want to learn more about Common Ground and what they are doing?

Check out,   Evan Binderglass, “How Common Ground builds small to House NYC’s Homeless,” Affordable Housing Wire, February 27, 2015 and  Jessica Leber, “See The Homeless Housing You Might Mistake For Luxury Condos,” CoExist, Fast Company, July 13, 2015

Want to up your innovation game? Want to up your organization’s innovation game? Attending one of our Mastering Value Innovation Workshops is a great place to start. In 2016 we are going to change our approach. We will work with you to develop your own custom workshop that addresses your problems and you define the length and location. More information can be found in the Workshop Brochure.