Santa Cruz Local’s “Solutions to Homelessness” series shows how our engaged journalism contributes to our financial health. When our journalism responds to our community’s information needs, the community is more likely to value and support our work.
Our series was inspired by years of community listening. Since 2019, hundreds of residents have told us that solving homelessness is their top issue. We asked our highest-paying members for advice on how to frame our membership/donation drive in late July 2021. They urged us to raise money to support a “Solutions to Homelessness” series. More than 100 Santa Cruz Local readers gave more than $20,000 to fund the series.
We started our reporting with a listening tour. We surveyed 116 housed and unhoused people from Sept. 2 to Oct. 7. The surveys took place in person and online, and included homeless-service providers, formerly homeless people, residents in neighborhoods and residents in tent camps. That feedback directed our focus.
Our series included a one-hour podcast that dug into how a similar California county is addressing chronic homelessness, the promise and limits of that approach, and what it would take to bring that approach to our county.
Residents told us they wanted to hear fuller, more nuanced stories of people experiencing homelessness. We shared these stories in the series and included their views on what they need to get out of homelessness. We also had an explainer about how Housing Choice vouchers work. This was in response to some landlords who asked us questions during our listening tour.