Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

A New Social Enterprise

May 4, 2012

No business can think of itself as a standalone enterprise.

A business draws its customers from within a community and, without the members of the community in which its foundation is built, the business would likely cease to exist.

Because of this delicate balance, it is important that businesses look to enrich and improve the communities they serve.

Solutions SF is one such business, finding ways to help those less fortunate in and around the home of the Golden Gate bridge.

The Details

Community Housing Partnership (CHP) was formed in 1990 by "people who had been homeless, advocates for the homeless and affordable housing developers."

CHP is a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that develops and operates permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless people.

Solutions SF was founded in 2007 as CHP Enterprises in order to parlay CHP''s extensive property management experience into effective services for property owners and managers.

Solutions SF is a social enterprise, a business with a mission consisting of three business lines — maintenance, bedbug remediation and lobby services — through which the company is able to provide solutions to the needs of property managers throughout the city by the bay.

Like CHP, Solutions SF strives to end the cycle of homelessness by providing jobs and resume building opportunities to formerly homeless individuals through its three business lines.

The Beginning

The organization began with a lobby services business, later expanding to include maintenance services and finally bedbug remediation.

As with any business, its growth has been fluid and, as it grew, necessary changes were made to the management and structure.

At the outset, the business was managed by CHP employees; in 2011, the organization earned its own management team in order to better focus on the growing businesses.

It was at that time that a name change occurred in order to eliminate confusion between the enterprise and the nonprofit.

The Purpose

Solutions SF prides itself on creating jobs for formerly homeless individuals in the field of building maintenance and staffing.

There are so many people living under the poverty line in the U.S.; millions more are unemployed.

Solutions SF looks at itself as a creative solution to job creation; the organization is able to help people who want to work and change their lives.

The organization is able to take individuals who have been dealt a poor hand and offer them assistance in getting back some of their dignity and independence.

In addition to the name change in 2011, the organization welcomed a new director, Laurie Bernstein, who is now bringing her years of executive-level corporate experience, as well as her recent workforce development accomplishments with Goodwill Industries Inc., to ensure Solutions SF''s continued growth.

"With its foundation firmly established and with its new identity and structure, Solutions SF is well positioned to appeal to a wider range of customers," said Bernstein. "Not only do our business lines deliver solutions for customers — providing lobby staffing, maintenance and bedbug solutions — but we also offer a tangible solution to a difficult problem: Helping those who have lived on the street to re-engage in society with a job and a caring community."

While Solutions SF appears to simply be a provider of maintenance and building solutions, it is really so much more.

The organization, along with countless other social enterprises across the country, provides market quality services and helps fix social problems at the same time.

If business needs can be met, along with helping people become contributing members of society at the same time, it''s a win-win situation for everyone.