Los AngelesThe Watt Family of The Watt Companies has sponsored a homelessness challenge, encouraging private citizens to find a scalable solution to the homeless problem in Los Angeles. Through Common Pool, the family will award $350,000 to implement two winning ideas. This isn’t the first time that a challenge model has been used to find solutions to community problems. In 2017, for example, InnoCentive launched the Emergency Response 2.0 Challenge through an organization called X Prize to find a solution to clean the Gulf of Mexico following the BP oil spill. The Watt Family is hopeful that through open sourcing, citizens will be able to create innovative solutions to homelessness in Los Angeles, which has the largest homeless population in the country. Applications for the challenge opened last week, and will close at the end of the summer. To find out more about the challenge and what motivated the family to get involved, we sat down with Scott Watt and Nadine Watt for an interview.

GlobeSt.com: What was the impetus to launch the homelessness challenge?

Scott Watt: I have been working with homelessness since 2001, and I am on the board of the Union Rescue Mission, where we serve 3,000 meals a day and we sleep 1,500 people a night. It is the largest rescue mission in the United States. The organization is looking for more emergency relief for these people to get them off the streets and get them fed, but as homebuilders, we have been involved in affordable housing and we are looking for solutions there. Having been on that board and being residential developers, we saw the problem and thought it was getting worse. I thought that we could create a challenge for homelessness, where we could bring people together. Once you start on a solution and open source it, everyone can participate. There will be ideas, and when we start open sourcing the challenge, people will come up with solutions. I am hoping for something outside of the box.

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Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Maree Borland is a freelance journalist and magazine writer based in Los Angeles, California. For more than 5 years, she has extensively reported on the commercial real estate industry, covering major deals across all commercial asset classes, investment strategy and capital markets trends, market commentary, economic trends and new technologies disrupting and revolutionizing the industry. Her work appears daily on GlobeSt.com and regularly in Real Estate Forum Magazine. As a magazine writer, she covers lifestyle and travel trends. Her work has appeared in Angeleno, Los Angeles Magazine, Travel and Leisure and more.

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