City of Sanford

S3 Housing Connect

S3 Housing Connect is a community change initiative in Sanford, NC that addresses the growing challenge of homelessness. Partners for Impact is providing technical assistance and capacity building activities to the collaborative network and organizational members of the network.

Partners for Impact, working with Write Connections | strategy + design, LLC. rebuilt the S3 website to strengthen the message and information shared with the community of Sanford and Lee County.

Shifting focus to address upstream causes of homelessness, Partners for Impact is supporting the coalition building efforts of S3 Affordable Housing Advocacy Committee. This small group of volunteers and nonprofit leaders have spent time educating themselves about affordable housing and the opportunities for local government and members of the community to work together on policies and funding to increase housing options for those with extremely low, low, and middle income levels through non-market rate housing (prices are set according to Income through subsidies, grants or special loans and can be rental or for purchase).

S3 Housing Connect Shelter Providers


City of Sanford, NC

Services Provided:

Strengthen Network, Develop Resources, Planning and Design, Professional and Team Development

The Problem/Challenge:

Sanford NC has a network of organizations who are working together through collective impact, to improve services for individuals and families experiencing homelessness in this rural community.

Our Process:

Partners for Impact facilitates  monthly meetings with the collective impact network, strengthening the system by setting priorities, supporting  committees, designing and maintaining a website, and providing training and consultation for individual agencies,  improving their board processes, messaging, and fundraising.

End Result:

Improved services, stronger grant applications resulting in collaborative funding, and stronger individual agency and collective leadership showing agility and adaptability in challenging times. Data tracking has improved, service gaps are being met, and agencies work better together as trust and relationship builds.   

Continued Success:

The community leveraged COVID related funding that supports four agencies in a collaborative partnership, including a new street medicine program.


Homelessness is not a problem isolated to large urban areas. Rural communities across the country are grappling with homelessness. Oftentimes rural communities do not have access to similar resources as urban communities, but they have strong relationships that can build a safety net for those in need.

Sanford, NC is a rural community, located about 45 minutes Southwest of Raleigh, NC in the Piedmont region. Five years ago, the City of Sanford began to notice more people loitering in the park and panhandling around the downtown area. Town staff brought providers together to create S3 Housing Connect: A community change initiative that brings together the needed resources to create a coordinated approach to ensure that homelessness is a rare, brief, and non-recurring experience. 

As Partners for Impact began working with S3, our initial focus was simply getting to know the community and listening. Stan, one of our Owners and Senior Advisors, supported the network by sharing best practices associated with ending homelessness including integrated approaches to permanent supportive housing, housing first, and rapid rehousing. We led workshops with network members on fundraising, board roles/responsibilities and development, and storytelling. We also worked with individual organizations leading board retreats, annual planning and grant applications (including a HUD Continuum of Care application for Permanent Supportive Housing).   

 From a Collective Impact perspective, Stan and other Partners for Impact consultants helped  develop a community initiative that promotes deep collaboration across agencies. On Veterans Day 2020, S3 released a video that illustrates the collaborative development as a panel discusses  local services available for veterans experiencing homelessness. Another video discussion shows the cooperation across agencies to ensure that all individuals have access to shelter. 

This community level, collective capacity building paid off as COVID moved into the community. With trust and relationships in place, agencies met weekly and shared information and resources quickly, showing agility and adaptability in meeting the challenges of the pandemic. As one of many examples,  four agencies submitted one coordinated application that leveraged over $200,000 in support, including equipment that strengthened a small street medicine program.