MLD 836 Grey Lee Class 2 Workshop: Problem Definition 9/5/17
- What is the specific problem you are aiming to address?
Housing costs are significant for people who are working in the social sector, and many professionals leave the social sector after a few years because they feel like they won’t be able to afford to continue to live in their chosen community due to housing costs.
- Who has “pain points” around this problem?
Both the individuals working in the social benefit sector and the agencies and organizations that employ them. Workers move on from their preferred engagement and employers lose talented and experienced staff. Social benefit organizations have to cycle through many staff to keep their roles fulfilled.
- Why is this a problem to be addressed now?
Technology, design and curation can enable a new type of lower-cost and higher-amenity housing option. For-profit co-living enterprises* have started to build out communal residences but are aimed at high rent capable members. A branded, well-modeled, philanthropically-supported initiator entity can step into this mix and create a new option on the sub-market of housing for people dedicated to public service who want the benefits of group living.
Example for-profit co-living enterprises include WeLive (spin-off of WeWork coworking); Unsettled (one-month work-vacations); Roam (co-living in emerging markets); PMGx, Common, HubHaus (lite-luxury serviced apartments fostering community), and others.
- What is your solution and vision for success?
My organization will develop or re-purpose multi-resident buildings to be local lodges of a network of residential group living communities for individuals dedicated to social benefit work. The facilities will be somewhat like a dormitory or fraternity/sorority house for people working in the social sector. There are many related types of housing in institutions and in the cooperative sector; this new network will be more formal and more supported to create nodes of engagement and cross-disciplinary interaction to advance social benefit work in a variety of communities.
- What are your near term, mid-term, and long term goals?
The first order of business is to test the market and the concept. Who is already working on this and how are they not supporting social benefit professionals? Can we develop a brand and followers?
In a year, we want to run a test and model a prototype. Can we find a host or sponsoring entity – somewhere that has social benefit employees needing structured group housing? Can we find multiple of these in order to fulfil the inter-disciplinary enrichment of the community we intend? Also, is our model of group management working? What are the trade-offs that residents experience and how is our model managing friction points? Can we really say living in our lodges creates an enriching experience? How are we measuring that?
Over time, I intend to build out an organization that can forge partnerships with social benefit employers, receive and secure the residential assets, convert them and market the opportunity, and then operate the facilities and manage the community of residents.
- What is your end-game to establish a sustainable solution and perhaps declare “Mission Accomplished”?
If the network is self-sustaining and creating new value for non-profit and agency partners, that will be winning. This organization will be a steward of the open-source nature of the process – linking the parties into the future. We can provide standardization, research, and advocacy to support the nodes. An ongoing need will be to continue to identify new niches to support, to develop processes of self-improvement and to celebrate excellence.