Two years ago, Cisco made a commitment to positively impact the lives of 1 billion people globally by 2025, and we have made great progress toward that goal. Our efforts have helped people develop digital skills through our Networking Academies around the world, and we have invested in breakthrough, early-stage, technology-based solutions that address social and environmental challenges. We’ve also worked with governments, educational institutions, customers, NGOs, and other partners to drive inclusive growth.
Cisco is incredibly privileged to have significant global reach and impact that can scale to help individuals, countries, and our global environment. Our success and our ability to thrive are only possible because we have been able to establish deep roots in our local communities around the world. The health of our individual communities is vital—to us, to our employees, to our customers, and our partners. Yet some are thriving more than others.
For those of us in the Bay Area, and particularly in Santa Clara County, where Cisco has had our headquarters for over 30 years, it is profoundly evident that homelessness has risen to a crisis level. Santa Clara County has the third-highest rate of chronic homelessness of all counties in the United States. In fact, at this very moment, some 7,400 men, women, and children in the cities and towns around our offices do not know where they will sleep tonight. Addressing homelessness and the issues it raises costs Santa Clara County some $520 million every year.
Though homelessness seems intractable, I believe that it is a solvable issue. I also feel very strongly that we have an opportunity – and a responsibility – to do something about it.
Today, Cisco is proud to announce a five-year, $50 million commitment to Destination: Home, a San Jose-based public-private partnership which has demonstrated that providing permanent housing to chronically homeless people gives them the stability they need to change the trajectory of their lives. What’s more, this commitment can help Santa Clara County reduce unnecessary system costs and make better use of public funds.
Destination: Home has already done great things. Their “Housing First” approach has shown that permanent housing is the first step towards changing someone’s life, not the end game. Destination: Home’s work and dedication has shown that people who are given housing and proper social service support—from medical and behavioral health care to job training and placement assistance—get healthy, beat addictions, reunite with their families, build communities, and find work.
To date, the longer-term results have been excellent: The community’s Supportive Housing system has found housing for more than 5,000 people over the past three years, including nearly 1,000 veterans. Ninety-four percent of those who have received assistance are still in their apartments.
In 2016, Santa Clara County and Destination: Home spearheaded the passage of Measure A, creating a first-of-its-kind $950 million bond—$700 million of which is specifically earmarked for extremely low Income and supportive housing—that will help build 4,800 units over the next ten years. Destination: Home and their partners have also implemented a homelessness prevention system to help vulnerable low-income families keep the homes they have.
I believe that this commitment is a smart, long-term investment in the work that Destination: Home does, allowing them to buy land and build additional housing, pioneer technology solutions around homelessness, enhance data collection capabilities, and test promising social service intervention models. This is also an investment in the place that has been so good to us as a company – the place where so many of us are fortunate not just to work, but to have a home.
At Cisco, our desire to help people all around the world is core to who we are. For over 20 years, we have consistently thought about our potential to provide global impact and how we can make lives better. I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished, but there is still much to do. With this commitment to Destination: Home, I believe we are deepening our connection even further to the community we call home. We encourage other companies and foundations based in Santa Clara County to join us, and commit to making a difference. Together, I believe that we can end homelessness in our own community, and provide an example for others to follow.