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On Monday, December 5th at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.,  Enterprise Community Partners and the Wells Fargo Foundation hosted a panel discussion on the future of housing in America in conjunction with the museum’s exhibit “A Better Way Home.” The exhibit, which opened earlier this fall, features the six winners of Enterprise’s first-ever Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge, including the Homecoming Project.

In describing the Homecoming Project, Interim Director Donna Linton told the audience that what started off as a project narrowly focused on providing housing for people leaving prison ended up providing much “more than a place where individuals could lay their heads.” “We created a community — a very caring community,” Linton said.

The relationships that develop between residents who open up their homes and the formerly incarcerated people they host have turned out to be crucial, leading to other meaningful relationships. Collectively, these relationships bridge the social divide that exists between formerly incarcerated people and society at large, which has always been an underlying goal of the Homecoming Project.

Inspired by the innovative approaches other winners shared to tackle housing affordability — from financing hurdles to new approaches to construction — Linton suggested that Enterprise and Wells Fargo launch an alumni network to support these six organizations and potential future Breakthrough Challenge winners in continued peer-to-peer exchanges and identification of best practices that would also provide the grantmakers with valuable advice. Linton’s recommendation resonated with Wells Fargo Foundation President Otis Rolley who committed to exploring the idea.

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