Beth Silverman is Executive Director of the Lotus Campaign, a nimble nonprofit startup focused on reducing homelessness.
What makes the Lotus Campaign especially interesting is its approach to putting a roof over a homeless family’s head. Instead of building ground up affordable homes, employing a bevy of subsidy financing, the Lotus Campaign is instead focusing on existing Class B apartment buildings, and on building partnership with Landlords. By offering a networked support system to ensure that each tenant succeeds, the Lotus Campaign has been able to house 300 families to date. Only 1 has been evicted – a resounding success and a testament to the program. Even better, each placement has only cost an average of $800.
This seems such a small price to pay to put a roof over someone’s head…
Beth’s background lends itself to this feisty little startup. She has been chief of staff for Real Estate Transaction Services with the New York City Economic Development Corporation under Bloomberg, and led ULI’s Real Estate Advisory services, which gave her an inside look at the issues cities grapple with all over the world.
Insights and Inspirations
- The Lotus Campaign is a spirited startup, experimenting to find solutions for homeless families.
- Another 10 million families are expected to be homeless once the pandemic eviction moratorium ends.
- Educating landlords is key. Perceptions around homelessness are the enemy.
- Homelessness is a race issue. 75% of the homeless are people of color.
- Beth’s BHAG is be put out of business, because they’ve scaled and taught others how to replicate the Lotus model.
Read the podcast transcript here
Eve Picker: [00:00:06] Hi there, thanks for joining me on Rethink Real Estate. I’m on a mission to make real estate work for everyone. Real estate can help to solve climate change, can house people affordably, can create beautiful streetscapes, unify neighborhoods and enliven cities. So I’m on a journey to find the most creative thinkers and doers out there. I’m not the only one who wants to rethink real estate. You can learn more about me at EvePicker.com or you can find me at SmallChange.co, a real estate crowdfunding platform with impact real estate investment opportunities open for investment right now. And if you want to support this podcast, please join me at Patreon.com/rethinkrealestate where there are special opportunities for my friends and followers. Today I’m talking with Beth Silverman, executive director of the Lotus Campaign, a nimble non-profit startup focused on reducing homelessness. What makes the Lotus Campaign especially interesting is its approach to putting a roof over a homeless family’s head. Instead of building ground up affordable homes, employing a bevy of subsidy financing, the Lotus Campaign is instead focusing on existing Class B apartment buildings and on building partnerships with landlords. By offering a network support system to ensure that each tenant succeeds, the Lotus Campaign has been able to house 300 families to date. Only one person has been evicted, a resounding success and a testament to the program. Even better, each placement has only cost an average of 800 dollars. This seems such a small price to pay to put a roof over someone’s head. Beth’s background lends itself to this feisty little startup, she has been chief of staff for real estate transaction services for the New York City Economic Development Corporation under Bloomberg, and she’s led ULI’s Real Estate Advisory Services, which gave her an inside look at the issues cities grapple with all over the world. I’m going to learn a lot from Beth and so might you. If you’d like to join me in my quest to rethink real estate, there are two simple things you can do. Share this podcast or go to Patreon.com/rethinkrealestate to learn about special opportunities for my friends and followers and subscribe if you can.
Eve: [00:03:02] Hello, Beth. It’s been a few years since we talked, and I’m really excited to catch up.
Beth Silverman: [00:03:08] Great to be here, Eve.
Eve: [00:03:10] Yes, so I’ve been tracking the Lotus Campaign for a few years now, and I wanted you just to tell us the primary purpose and mission of the Lotus Campaign. And how did you get that name?
Beth: [00:03:24] Sure.
Eve: [00:03:24] Fill that in as well.
Beth: [00:03:26] So, Lotus Campaign is a non-profit startup dedicated to housing driven solutions for homelessness. And part of what makes us different from other approaches that are out there is the whole goal is how do we bring together the private real estate and investment communities alongside of the non-profit social service providers? Our whole mission, which sounds very simple but is more complex than you might think, is to open up access to housing. And we do that through a couple of different ways. But it’s really to open up access to market rate housing and to folks that are either at risk of experiencing homelessness or experiencing homelessness. And the name is really based off of the meaning behind the lotus flower. So, if you know anything about the mythology of the flower, you know, it’s been revered for generations by many different cultures, but it is a symbol of rebirth and renewal. And the flower submerges every night into pond mud and then in the morning blossoms into a beautiful flower. And we thought that was really a great metaphor for what we’re trying to do with Lotus and in general of both the perceptions of the challenge of homelessness and the hope needed to solve it.
Eve: [00:05:12] I think it’s a lovely name. So what is the actual program?
Beth: [00:05:17] So we have three different programs and they’re all tied to immediacy of impact. So our program, which is really connected to immediate impact, is a landlord participation program and that is pretty radical in its simplicity. What we’re doing is we’re bringing market rate landlords together with non-profit social service providers. And what we’re doing is Lotus is acting as the mediator between what are the risks that the real estate community has in renting to someone that has experienced homelessness. And what is all the friction that the non-profit sector has in finding housing for their clients? So we solve for that risk in two different ways. We do a bunch of economic mitigation and then we also solve for the perception risk. So, in terms of the economic mitigation, pretty much, we did a massive amount of interviews with private sector landlords and asked them why they would be hesitant to rent to someone that’s experienced homelessness. And we took all of their objections and then solved for them. So we use capital as a tool, right? So, we do things like offer a payment in lieu of security deposit. We pay for application fees, inspection fees, renters’ insurance for a year up front, we guarantee against loss of rent and tenant caused damages. And we also agree to reimburse any legal costs if someone needed to be evicted. So we’re really trying to hedge a potential landlord’s economic risks. And then in terms of the perception risks, we partner with high-capacity non=profits that provide ongoing support and services to a resident for the duration of their lease term. And what’s really cool about that program is the impact isn’t just getting someone into housing, it’s that that impact is, one, providing a stable home for someone in a neighborhood of opportunity. It’s also giving someone a year of a runway minimum to stability and self-sufficiency. It’s giving a resident or a family the opportunity to build credit while they’re there and get all of the supportive services they might need to potentially move on to housing on their own. So, what we’ve been able to do in that program in less than three years is house over 300 individuals and families at a cost of less than 800 dollars per person.
Eve: [00:08:15] Wow. So, let’s stop there a moment. So, you’re mitigating things that are sort of making landlords nervous and unwilling to rent to that group of people who is in danger of losing their homes or already have. So, what’s the biggest thing you heard in that survey that you took?
Beth: [00:08:36] I think the biggest concern, it wasn’t even necessarily the economic concerns. Those are so easy to solve. It’s how is the person being supported once they’re in housing? And what’s the mechanism there? Because property managers aren’t case managers. Right. And so, you know, the economic barriers are really easy to solve for. It’s finding the combination of the housing plus the services, which I think…
Eve: [00:09:06] So your partnership with the service providers is really critical.
Beth: [00:09:10] Yeah. And it’s a way to invest in existing systems that are great but need some new tools and need some roadblocks eliminated for them too.
Eve: [00:09:22] So who are the tenants, and do they come into this housing opportunity and leave in a better place or like what’s the result of this program, I suppose, is what I’m asking?
Beth: [00:09:35] Yeah, no, no, no. It’s a great question. I’m going to start taking you to fundraising meetings with me. You know, it’s all different folks. So we work with everyone from high functioning chronic. That’s someone that has experienced homelessness and living without shelter for a number of years, to folks that are at risk of becoming homeless. And I think that last category is really important, especially right now. Right? There’s some recent data about the number of renter households that are at risk of losing their housing once eviction moratoriums are lifted. And that number right now is 10 million people.
Eve: [00:10:19] Oh, my heavens.
Beth: [00:10:20] So we really feel strongly that you also have to stop the flow into the cycle of homelessness. And so in terms of what sort of impact can a program like this have on someone? We’ve had people graduate from the program and move into housing on their own. A big data point for us is the number of renewals we have. Another data point is someone graduating from the program and renewing on their own. But it really depends on where the person is starting from. And and I am a strong believer that someone working with one of our non-profit partners and walking into the door of a place that they feel safe living in and feel proud of, that’s a huge metric of success that just can help lead to lots of other things.
Eve: [00:11:17] What about evictions? How many of these three hundred tenants have gone bad or not been able to perform or have not been able to succeed?
Beth: [00:11:24] That’s a great question, Eve?
Eve: [00:11:26] Gone bad was a bad way to say that.
Beth: [00:11:29] Well, I like to always say don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good. So to date, you’ve have had one eviction and it’s always unfortunate that was a case of someone not following the requirements of the program they were in. It was never an issue with the landlord. To me, it’s a sign that the program works because our non-profit partner made the decision that that person was no longer a fit for the program. For whatever reasons we you know, they decided that. And as part of that, if they weren’t holding up their end of the bargain following the end of their lease term, they could no longer continue.
Eve: [00:12:15] How does that make you feel? One failure in amongst 300?
Beth: [00:12:21] Well, I think I’m a reformed perfectionist. And to me, that’s just a sign the program’s working, right?
Eve: [00:12:29] Yes.
Beth: [00:12:29] It’s not going to be a slam dunk.
Eve: [00:12:32] But it’s a pretty good safety net if those are the numbers.
Beth: [00:12:36] Yeah.
Eve: [00:12:36] And 800 dollars is extraordinary for what you do for these people. That’s amazing. So I’d love to stay with this program. I know you have two more to talk about, but I just want to ask a few more questions. So, the landlords that you have partnerships with, where are they and what do they look like and why did they decide to do this? Who are they?
Beth: [00:12:55] Yeah, no, great question. I mean, they are mostly Class B landlords, right? Some of them have Class A properties and more high end properties that are not fit for our program just based on the rents.
Eve: [00:13:11] What’s a Class B property for people who don’t know?
Beth: [00:13:15] Great question. So it might just be an older property that does not have the same amenities as a new building.
Eve: [00:13:25] So no roof deck. No shared gym. No swimming pool.
Beth: [00:13:29] No indoor swimming pool.
Eve: [00:13:31] But in good shape. Well looked after.
Beth: [00:13:35] Yeah. Yeah. And honestly, you know, where do they come from? Why do they want to be involved? I think really what the key to me has been with this, if you give the real estate community an easy path to say yes and participate, they’ll take it. I mean, I think folks, especially landlords and the property management community, they’re the front lines of understanding the housing affordability and homelessness crisis. So how do you give them a way that they can participate? That’s easy. As opposed to telling them they should do this, or they should do that. Or, you know, unless you do it this way, you can’t be a part of this.
Eve: [00:14:21] Interesting.
Beth: [00:14:21] And so we have a mix of landlords that participate with 10 units to a couple of hundred units. And a good piece of data for me is one of our newest landlords who started with us in July, just wrote me last week and said they want to expand their participation across their whole portfolio of properties. Going from 10 units in July to now 80 units. And to me, that’s a test that it’s working and that it’s it’s really just a great thing…
Eve: [00:15:01] Yeah.
Beth: [00:15:01] For them to be involved in in terms of being a community champion for some new ways to think about homelessness and housing.
Eve: [00:15:08] Oh, yeah. Pretty great. So another question is like, what are the neighbors thinking in these buildings, you know, NIMBYism, I think has been a downfall, right?
Beth: [00:15:18] Yeah, well, something I started to think a lot about on that front, having been yelled at for six years by community boards in New York City, is the idea of community courage. Right? And it’s not necessarily political will or NIMBYism. It’s the necessity of community courage to try new things and strengthen our communities. But the great question you asked, what do people think? What I like to say is, well, someone’s no longer homeless once they’ve moved in somewhere. So the whole key is for Lotus to kind of be the actor behind the scenes that provides the structure and the facilitation. But, you know, ideally, neighbors don’t know that they’re…
Eve: [00:16:04] Yeah, I don’t know when my neighbors came from last at all. So, yeah, it’s irrelevant. Right?
Beth: [00:16:10] Right.
Eve: [00:16:10] Interesting. So what cities are you in right now?
Beth: [00:16:15] So we’re currently in Charlotte, but we are working on scaling this year to another community and raising money to do that. Which is exciting because the whole idea behind Lotus is that we want to build a model that’s replicable and scalable. Housing affordability and homelessness are not challenges that are specific to any one community. They’re unique in some of their characteristics, but every community across the country is challenged by both of those issues. So, the idea is we’ll scale another pilot this year, test that scaling, and then the hope is that then we can expand where we’re operating and where we can’t go. Really teach communities how to do what we’re doing.
Eve: [00:17:05] Mm hmm. Fabulous. OK, so tell me about the other two programs now.
Beth: [00:17:10] Great. Yes, so the second program is geared towards addressing a shortage of high quality, safe and affordable workforce housing by investing in existing properties, using the same private investment strategies that are used in for-profit real estate development. So our acquisitions and investment program looks to leverage capital. So, to give you an example of this, we purchased our first multifamily property three months after we launched, which was both terrifying and exciting. And Lotus put in or I should say Lotus and Friends invested 300,000 dollars. We got…
Eve: [00:17:59] And you didn’t crowdfund it.
Beth: [00:18:02] We didn’t.
Eve: [00:18:05] I’m chastising you.
Beth: [00:18:07] We might have had we had more than 26 days.
Eve: [00:18:11] Oh yes. You need a little more time.
Beth: [00:18:12] There’s a funny story with a flaw in the title which we don’t have time for on this podcast. But a short amount of time to raise money. And we were able to partner with an impact investment fund out of Jonathan Rose’s investment arm. And so for our 300,000 dollars, we got an equity partner for about six million, got a traditional Freddie Mac loan for about 11 million. So, for our 300,000 dollars, we now have control of a 17-million-dollar asset for seven years. The investors are making a six percent cash return today and a 12 percent return over the life of the investment…
Eve: [00:18:59] That’s a really good return for impact investing.
Beth: [00:19:02] Yeah, we think so. We’re pretty proud of it.
Eve: [00:19:05] A really great return. Yeah.
Beth: [00:19:06] It’s a great capital stock. It’s not complicated, right?
Eve: [00:19:08] Yes.
Beth: [00:19:11] So what we do in projects that we invest in, 20 percent of the units in this property are set aside for our core mission, so, providing housing for folks experiencing homelessness. So, 20 percent of the units, that’s about 30 apartments are participants in our landlord participation program. And the rest is just market rate, workforce housing. So, the idea there is profit is a tool. You can do good and do well. And we don’t have to have all of these complicated layers to preserving free housing that’s affordable.
Eve: [00:19:51] So are the units that are available for homeless people less expensive than the workforce housing units? Is that how you’ve managed the income flow?
Beth: [00:20:02] The rent is slightly lower for those units, which does help keep them affordable to our non-profit partners, but not by much. But it is really the 80 percent workforce market rate units that are allowing us to make the rent of the other units more affordable.
Eve: [00:20:18] That’s what I figured, okay. Do you have any more of those projects planned?
Beth: [00:20:24] Yes, we’re right now doing some due diligence for another project. We’ll see how that goes, we’re knee deep in it. But the idea eventually, too, is that we have a pipeline of enough projects. We’re also helping with that next stage of housing, and we are offsetting the operations of the non-profit.
Eve: [00:20:47] Right, right.
Beth: [00:20:48] So this model doesn’t have to solely depend on philanthropic contributions. It can also have a revenue model where we’re getting either an asset management fee or a return on our investment.
Eve: [00:21:04] Yep, yep. And what’s the third program?
Beth: [00:21:07] Well, this is probably the most daunting, but I think one of the most critical is an education program. And it’s really how do we creatively raise awareness, bust myths around who’s homeless and why, and really share our model and then also help dispel some misperceptions about the economics of housing development. And a key goal of this work is really to build community support, encourage and get people to have a different type of dialogue about homelessness and housing. So how do we flip the script on these really difficult topics for people to get into?
Eve: [00:21:52] Mm hmm. It’s really interesting. You probably thought a lot about affordable or homeless housing solutions and why this one and how do you think it might scale 10 million more people? Families? Homelessness is super daunting.
Beth: [00:22:10] Yeah, well, what’s interesting is I actually, my background is in urban planning, but I’ve never worked in urban planning. I’ve always worked in equitable economic development and real estate. And when I was first talking to one of my co-founders, I just said, this is ridiculous. I don’t want anything to do with it. And then the more we started fleshing out what this could be and how it could be a new tool and bringing some imagination to a space that’s just heavy and fatigued, I said, you know what, this sounds more like a startup. This sounds this sounds more like testing new ideas and seeing how they land. And that sounds really exciting to me. And, you know, in many ways, I think Lotus is about abandoning the notion that there’s one way to solve a problem. I don’t think Lotus on by itself is going to solve homelessness alone. But as we know from increasing numbers of homelessness and housing insecurity, we need every tool in the toolkit. And so, what I love about what we’re trying to do with Lotus is it also represents the bright light of human possibility, because it’s about investing in players on the ground. It’s about investing in systems and trying to get rid of the friction that’s preventing those systems from being effective. And it’s about bringing a bigger tent together to solve problems. Right?
Eve: [00:23:52] Yeah.
Beth: [00:23:52] And if we think about homelessness, it’s really a barometer of social justice and the strength of our communities.
Eve: [00:24:00] Right. Right. So, what’s the biggest challenge you’ve had in building this startup? So many you can’t answer?
Beth: [00:24:09] Well, I always look at the challenges as opportunities for growth, too, but I think there is a lot of resistance at first to will this model work? Is it actually replicable? And now we’re in a place where we have a strong enough narrative of impact and proof of concept that we don’t get that question anymore. So now we get other questions. I think it’s also disarming people’s notions of what homelessness is and how we can start making a dent in it. I think it’s disarming people’s notions about who get to be allies and problem solvers together. As you probably are aware, there’s some interesting perceptions of the private sector if you’re in the public sector or the non-profit sector and vice versa. And in many ways, translating all of those worlds is a thing we do really well. And bringing those folks together who usually may not have the opportunity to be part of the same team.
Eve: [00:25:16] Um hmm.
Beth: [00:25:16] And I think, challenges, like any startup, is raising capital to do more pilots, right?
Eve: [00:25:25] Yes.
Beth: [00:25:25] We’re not at a level with our investments and acquisitions that that’s going to fund every next pilot. I don’t think this is a challenge, but I think it’s the opportunity of, how do we get people to feel connected to what we’re doing and see the impact it’s having. So that is creative storytelling and how we share what we’ve been able to do, the impact it has, and then why it all matters.
Eve: [00:25:53] Mm hmm. So, I have to ask, what role does racism play in homelessness? What are the demographics look like? I’m sure you’ve looked at this.
Beth: [00:26:02] It’s a great question. I think arguably they play a huge role. National stats show that the majority of people that experience homelessness are African American. With the data we collect in our program, the folks that we’ve been able to house, about 75 percent of those are African American. What we know about housing and real estate and land use law is that for a long time, it was actually used to segregate communities and discriminate. I think that’s no longer up for debate, which is is refreshing. And some of the challenges with the impacts of whether it was restrictive covenants, redlining, access to just the ability to buy a home. Right. And build equity,
Eve: [00:26:56] Access to capital.
Beth: [00:26:58] Yeah, it’s played a huge role. And the challenges we got to lean into, difficult conversations about structures and things that are still in place that have, whether intended or not, consequences.
Eve: [00:27:13] So what’s the big, hairy, audacious goal then for the Lotus Campaign?
Beth: [00:27:20] That’s a great, great question. You know, survival is a good goal, but I think…
Eve: [00:27:25] That’s not an audacious one.
Beth: [00:27:28] On a more aspirational note. I’d love to see us in a couple different communities in the next few years and really sharing having a blueprint to share our model with other people.
Eve: [00:27:41] That’s a very sensible goal. So I want to go back to your background, because I know you’ve had a really interesting career path. And I want to understand what led you here. So you have a degree and I can’t remember, planning?
Beth: [00:27:58] Yeah, well, undergrad, I did the design-your-own-major program.
Eve: [00:28:03] Oh.
Beth: [00:28:03] Which was great actually, but I created something that was probably would have in any other place, would have been in urban studies program and then went on to study city planning and economic development in Philadelphia, which was a great city to be learning about all of those things and forced myself to take finance classes while I was there so I could understand that language of real estate. I have never worked as an urban planner, which I find interesting, but I think most people that go into urban planning, it’s a great field of study for identifying problems and understanding how to create solutions.
Eve: [00:28:46] I met you when you were at the Urban Land Institute, which is a very large, what, 10,000 strong, more people? Real estate membership organization with lots of big, fat developers. So how did you get like, what’s your trajectory been like? How did you get to the Lotus Campaign?
Beth: [00:29:08] Yeah, great, great question. So, I think a good starting point with my path is in my early 20s, I was an outdoor guide. Which means I taught people how to feel safe and comfortable doing crazy stuff outside. Whether it was hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, sea kayaking, snowshoeing. But the whole key there was disarming people of their notions of what they thought something was, teaching them how to trust themselves and how to try something new. And hands down one of the most fun and one of my favorite jobs and have a great community of friends from those days. But the other thing with nature is, is that’s always been a refuge for me. That’s always been a part of community building for me. And I found myself in urban planning because I wanted to strengthen communities. So, I went to undergrad, there was no such thing as urban planning, at least not where I went. So, I did this design-your-own-major program that looked at essentially urban studies and economics and then decided, let me go on and study this and throw on economic development and went to grad school in Philadelphia. And I found myself, you know, in an interesting path, which is not linear, because I wanted to soak up as much experience as possible. But I think a thread that runs through all the jobs that I have is how do we strengthen our communities? And, you know, I worked in New York City when Mike Bloomberg was mayor, doing crazy real estate projects, trying to get things going during a recession when no one was building things, getting yelled at community board meetings, because I was the free therapy for that evening and trying to disarm people’s notions of what they thought something was. But Lotus, for me, was this opportunity to build something and create real change and get to do it nimbly and at ULI I had this great job where I got to travel all over the country and the world with teams of experts helping communities on complex land use and real estate issues. What that also showed me was where people were inspired and motivated in their careers, right. And what some of the characteristics were.
Eve: [00:31:59] And how some people aren’t motivated and inspired, right?
Beth: [00:32:03] Totally, totally. You know, I think a bunch of people wanted my job after they went on a roll. But also personally. Right, with homelessness and housing, if you’ve ever witnessed someone in your family have some sort of emergency, whether it’s an economic crisis, a medical crisis, a mental health crisis and how close to the edge people get. If they don’t have a support system, what happens? Right, and with Lotus, there are just so many people that fall into a cycle of homelessness because they don’t have a support network or they don’t have an emergency fund or a strong family network, whatever it might be. And I was just really attracted to the idea of I think we can do something here and let’s take the best principles from real estate. Let’s take the best principles from community building. Let’s test some things. And so now I found myself running a startup. But as I’ve mentioned earlier, I really think homelessness is a reflection of us. Right. And if we’re measuring our communities doing well, are they thriving or are they healthy? I think we have to look at that as one of the metrics and it’s a sobering reality because a lot of communities are not doing so well, so that’s a long way of saying, I think I’ve had I’ve had a non-linear path, but it’s always been about how do you usher in change and get people to join you and how do you do it in a way that helps create some sort of positive impact.
Eve: [00:34:00] So I would say it’s pretty courageous path. I don’t think there’s many people, I think a lot of people don’t know what to do about the homeless situation and don’t even know where to begin to help. And you’re sort of diving into one of the most difficult problems, housing problems to solve. It’s not even about affordable housing housing. It’s about any housing. Right? It’s the roof over your head, so…
Beth: [00:34:29] Well, the other thing that keeps me motivated is no one else is doing this. And if we don’t do it, how are we going to get others to join us and how are we going to get someone else to do this? And I actually think about that a lot because I don’t think what we’re doing is rocket science, but it is radical in its simplicity and that makes it challenging for some people to understand.
Eve: [00:34:54] So when I met you, you were at ULI, and that’s a very different place where you are now. I mean, Urban Land Institute rights for our listeners.
Beth: [00:35:07] Right, and I was running a program called the Advisory Services Program, which you can think of as an in-house consulting arm that goes out with teams of multidisciplinary experts and works with communities on complicated land use and real estate challenges. So that might be a downtown vision challenge for Norman, Oklahoma, or that might be how do we think about transit-oriented development in Cape Town, South Africa? So that was a wild couple of years of getting to travel all over the country and internationally a little bit to see what challenges communities were facing and then also provide real, tangible strategic advice to them. And I think a big takeaway I had from that phase of my career is most communities have similar challenges as different as they might be.
Eve: [00:36:11] No, I sat on a few of those advisory committees, and I was always struck like small town, big city, same problems. Pretty amazing. Almost the same financial problems. The performers look the same. This was really quite striking.
Beth: [00:36:29] Yes.
Eve: [00:36:30] Same homeless problems, do you think?
Beth: [00:36:34] You know, maybe different scales, but I can, I can say that every single program I did, it was always a housing issue. Even if it was a panel about urban resilience, there was always a housing affordability issue that came up.
Eve: [00:36:50] So then of all of the things you’ve done, why this? Because you saw, you know, because housing loomed larger in your life or I mean, it’s a big leap from real estate to, you know, director of advisory services to running this non-profit, which is really, really stretching the limits of what’s possible, right?
Beth: [00:37:13] Yeah, I mean, I’m a doer, right? I’m impatient, I like to solve problems, and I saw this as an opportunity to work somewhere and lead something that could be really nimble and had the potential for massive impact and to build a new tool that could ideally help communities help individuals. And that’s what really attracted it, attracted me to the, to helping to start Lotus. I will tell you, I was not a housing expert when we started. And now I feel like I have a little more fluency. But again, all these things about building strong communities. How do we measure that in our communities? I think it also comes down to housing and folks’ access to housing and you know how we’re thinking about how the folks that are with the least resources…
Eve: [00:38:17] Right.
Beth: [00:38:18] How they’re able to be a part of the community. And I think I was just really attracted to, let’s try to make a dent in this thing that seems intractable.
Eve: [00:38:30] Yeah, well, I’m really excited to see where you go with this. And I’m ready to buy a building with you in Pittsburgh if you if we can get a Class B building.
Beth: [00:38:42] Okay.
Eve: [00:38:42] Because I really think it’s a what a great program. It’s really pretty fabulous. I can’t wait to see where you take it. Thank you so much for joining me.
Beth: [00:38:51] Thanks so much for having me, Eve.
Eve: [00:39:01] Radical in its simplicity. That’s how Beth Silverman thinks of the Lotus Campaign. This spirited little startup is growing quickly, experimenting with a variety of solutions to homelessness. Lessons I learned today? Another 10 million families are expected to be homeless once the pandemic eviction moratorium ends. Educating landlords is key. Perceptions around homelessness are the enemy. Homelessness is a race issue. 75 percent of the homeless are people of color. Ultimately, Beth’s big, hairy and audacious goal is to be put out of business because the Lotus Campaign has taught others how to replicate the Lotus model and they are no longer needed.
Eve: [00:39:57] You can find out more about this episode on the Show Notes page at EvePicker.com, or you can find other episodes you might have missed. Or you can show your support at Patreon.com/rethinkrealestate, where you can learn about special opportunities for my friends and followers. A special thanks to David Allardice for his excellent editing of this podcast and original music, and thanks to you for spending your time with me today. We’ll talk again soon. But for now, this is Eve Picker signing off to go make some change.
Image courtesy of Beth Silverman, the Lotus Campaign