Homelessness is a visible outcome of a system that does not consistently work for everyone and the ecosystem that impacts people experiencing homelessness is vast. It includes individuals, organizations, perceptions, social and societal factors, economic factors, technology, historical factors, and environmental factors. Our team at CU Denver partnered with the Institute, the Downtown Denver Partnership, Together Denver and other local associations and business leaders to conduct an economic analysis of the organizations serving individuals experiencing homelessness within the city of Denver and the broader seven-county Metro Denver. Building on a basic understanding of the economic footprint of those experiencing homelessness, we sought to understand, and visualize, the ecosystem of factors, including individual, localized factors and systemic factors, that contribute to furthering homelessness and that contribute to prevention of homelessness or supporting those experiencing homelessness to move past homelessness.
Our team worked in two phases divided between the two organizations.
Map of stakeholder outreach. Note that there are more locations than conversations because organizations with multiple locations are shown as in all locations.
The aggregate of all conversations with organizations and individuals informed the development of a Homelessness Ecosystem systems map, or influence diagram, which visually illustrates the connection between relevant factors. The primary value of systems mapping is its use as a tool to make sense of a large space that is seen and experienced differently by many people. Our Homelessness Ecosystem systems map reveals which factors have outsized impacts and provides insights into where additional interventions and investments might address the root causes of persistent problems and accelerate the positive dynamics within the system.
Interactive map of resources:
here for the full map.Click
In addition, it highlighted key findings with a prioritized set of six recommendations, which we framed as opportunity areas to invite impactful future innovation. These key findings included: