Anthos Home, which began as a fiscally sponsored program of FJC, has achieved operational independence, evolving into a fully independent 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization. The organization is developing an innovative solution in partnership with government agencies and other nonprofit organizations that will connect people in need of affordable housing to subsidies and then to apartments.
The initiative received early-stage planning grants from Robin Hood Foundation and Deutsche Bank, which enabled them to win significant, multi-year, multi-million dollar commitments (in aggregate) from Trinity Church Wall Street, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and a follow-up grant from Robin Hood.
Anthos Home was co-founded by social entrepreneurs Laura Lazarus and Leslie Abbey, both longtime housing and antipoverty practitioners, with experiences in nonprofits and city government. This work has placed them on the front lines of New York City’s increasingly dire complex crisis of homelessness. (The population in the homeless shelter system reached a nightly record of over 68,000 at the end of 2022).
Although the reasons for the City’s homelessness crisis are myriad, Ms. Lazarus and Ms. Abbey identified one challenge where a focused program centered on institutional collaboration and flexible funding could have an outsized impact: the lack of coordination between individuals and families with rental subsidies and vacant units of quality housing.
The City of New York makes a variety of housing vouchers available to people and families experiencing homelessness, or in danger of becoming homeless. These vouchers, including federal Section 8 and New York City’s CityFHEPs, address the gap between market rate rents and what low-income individuals and families can afford to pay. Unfortunately, people with housing vouchers find many barriers to finding apartments.
“In New York City—as in other jurisdictions around the country— finding housing using a rental subsidy is complicated and costly,” explains Lazarus. “Due to the complexity of the systems involved and other challenges, we believe there are apartments sitting vacant that could be used for people who desperately need them whether they are in shelters, in hospitals or aging out of foster care.” Ms. Lazarus cited the Mayor’s Management Report published in September 2022, which noted that shelter stays averaged 17 to 28 months, depending on household size.
Anthos Home will collaborate with government partners, non-profit organizations, landlords, and other entities to streamline the apartment search, approval, and move-in processes, as well as support housing retention. The NYC program is modeled on the nationally recognized Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool operationalized by Brilliant Corners in Los Angeles, a successful housing clearinghouse that uses flexible funding to bring apartments online and quickly move in tenants with housing vouchers.
“We are thrilled that New York City’s philanthropic community has embraced this innovative approach,” said Lazarus. “FJC’s fiscal sponsorship was critical to us. Their support helped us to move quickly to secure these early stage funding commitments and begin operations while we applied for our own 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.”