As the 2023 Reinventing Delaware process nears completion, we’re spotlighting the top four ideas. This week’s featured finalist is an idea from Jeff Ronald & Judson Malone – Zero Homelessness.
The following interview provides additional information about Zero Homelessness:
PDFF: How would you describe your idea in a 30-second pitch?
Zero Homelessness: The Springboard Collaborative (TSC) is a Delaware nonprofit building communities of dignified dwellings statewide that foster well-being for our neighbors in greatest need (those experiencing homelessness, housing insecurity, extreme hardship, etc.). Disadvantaged Delawareans will have a safe place to call home and access to vital wrap-around services to build a better life. Further, by teaming up with other nonprofits, we aspire to attain the coveted Functional Zero (FZ) certification* for the First State as the cornerstone of “Vision 2029”.
(*FZ designation by the nationally lauded Community Solutions, bestowed to towns, counties, and states that have achieved a sustainable, verifiable end to homelessness)
TSC holds that housing is a human right is sacrosanct. Our most marginalized neighbors across the state will have access to a ‘systems support’ approach encompassing: a safe place to live, food security, case management, healthcare/services, and empowerment to achieve one’s full potential via new educational/employment opportunities. The Springboard Pallet Village in Georgetown, Delaware, opened last winter – and is only just the beginning as we endeavor to ensure that all Delawareans have a place to call home, the opportunity to advance, and the ability to achieve self-reliance. We have raised over $4M to date via Delaware corporate funding, state and federal grants, and private philanthropic contributions – and we are just getting started – onward to Vision 2029, whereby Delaware will be the first state in the nation to achieve Functional Zero!
PDFF: In what ways will your idea benefit Delaware?
Zero Homelessness: 1. A sustainable end to homelessness makes the First State a safer, more benevolent, and more prosperous place to live for individuals and families.
2. Robust evidence indicates that beyond the profound humanitarian benefit of ending homelessness, concurrent economic gains abound (e.g. less burden on police, fire, EMS, prisons, etc; less blight in the community, fostering workforce development, etc.).
3. If Delaware becomes the first state in the nation to achieve the coveted ‘Functional Zero’ designation, it puts Delaware on the map as a beacon of hope and inspiration for the rest of the country to solve this complex humanitarian crisis. Delaware can lead!
4. A core pillar of Springboard’s mission includes creating new job opportunities and enhancing the economic engine for the First State.
PDFF: What difference will your idea make in the community or the world?
Zero Homelessness: By achieving an end to homelessness in the First State and concurrently cultivating new job opportunities, Springboard is helping to build more vibrant communities statewide. Evidence from across the country suggests positive outcomes vis-a-vis economic gains, recidivism mitigation, and less burden on EMS, police, and other emergency services; plus, the fostering of health and well-being for our most marginalized neighbors makes for a much better Delaware.
PDFF: How are you planning to achieve your idea’s purpose?
Zero Homelessness: Springboard has raised over $4M over the last 18 months and already launched our first dignified dwelling village in Georgetown, Delaware. By emulating this initial success around the First State, we will methodically build enough cottage communities to ensure that all Delawareans have a safe place to live and the opportunity to advance and achieve self-sufficiency.
PDFF: Will you or someone other than yourself champion this idea should it continue to move forward, and why? If applicable, who else is on your team?
Zero Homelessness (Jeff): My co-founder Judson Malone is a true public servant, a volunteer, and a humanitarian cultivating the greater good of the First State. Mr. Malone and I co-lead The Springboard Collaborative, but we have already created six new full-time jobs (with healthcare benefits) for Delawareans as part of our non-profit organization. Further, in collaboration with DANA, we are building a strategic and sustainability plan to ensure that TSC can live on and prosper beyond the two original founders. Prominent political and business leaders have also kindly shared they are committed to making TSC thrive so DE can prosper.
PDFF: What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Zero Homelessness: Three legs of the stool are vital to potential success:
1. Ensure there is a real need and likely (measurable/meaningful) impact you can have
2. Research the feasibility and diligently vet the idea with seasoned professionals from diverse backgrounds
3. Ask yourself, are you ‘interested’ or are you absolutely ‘determined’ to succeed?