Tableau launches $1.3M initiative to ‘eliminate veteran and chronic homelessness’ in 50 US cities

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Tableau’s Seattle headquarters. (Lara Swimmer Photography Photo)

Tableau is launching a new initiative to tackle homelessness in the latest example of the tech industry taking on the housing crisis plaguing cities across the country.

The Seattle company behind data visualization software used around the world is launching a new program to help 50 U.S. communities eliminate veteran and chronic homelessness by 2025.

The company’s philanthropic arm, Tableau Foundation, is partnering with the nonprofit Community Solutions to launch the initiative, which uses software to help service providers determine the best interventions when treating people experiencing homelessness. Tableau is committing $1.3 million in donated software, services, and financial support to scale up Community Solutions’ Built for Zero program.

“Our experience with Community Solutions and the fact that Built for Zero has been so effective in using data to make regional collaboration work and work well has helped shape our understanding of the issue and what are effective solutions,” said Steve Schwartz, Tableau’s director of public affairs.

How it works: Community Solutions uses Tableau’s visual data dashboards to better understand the people entering homelessness each month and break the group down into specific categories to determine which interventions could be most effective. The nonprofit will expand its work with Tableau under the new initiative.

The track record: More than 70 communities are currently using the Built for Zero dashboards. Ten of them “have measurably ended homelessness for veterans, individuals experiencing chronic homelessness, or both,” according to Tableau.

Yes, but: The communities that have been most effective are not West Coast tech hubs like Seattle and San Francisco, where soaring costs of living and housing have created some of the most acute homelessness crises. Arlington, Va. is one of the 10 cities that has seen the most success. Amazon plans to plant at least 25,000 high-paid tech jobs in Arlington, the winner of the company’s second headquarters sweepstakes, which will impact that city’s housing market.

Big picture: The tech industry is stepping up on homelessness, one of the most confounding problems gripping tech hubs. Tableau’s announcement comes two months after Microsoft launched a $500 million fund to encourage more low- and middle-income housing and support homeless services in the Seattle area. In 2017, Seattle tried to adopt a tax on large businesses to fund affordable housing but backed down amid resistance from companies like Tableau and Amazon. Pressure has been building on the Seattle tech industry to do more to mitigate the consequences of growth in the wake of that fight, though Seattle is not one of the 50 cities in Tableau’s new initiative. Schwartz said Tableau’s hometown is not included because Community Solutions doesn’t currently operate in the Seattle region.

This story has been updated to clarify why Seattle isn’t included in Tableau’s initiative.

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