Case #2009.0

Homelessness in Harvard Square: Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration in Action

Publication Date: September 12, 2014
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This case study is set in Harvard Square in 2012-2013, and explores how a diverse group of local stakeholders (e.g. the Cambridge Police Department, city agencies, churches, nonprofit service providers, Harvard Square businesses) comes together to understand and respond to the influx of "travelers." These young homeless individuals travel from city to city in a nomadic way, and Harvard Square has become more popular on the travelers' circuit. The travelers' aggressive behavior and drug use challenge local stakeholders who have developed reasonably effective strategies to support the chronically homeless population on Cambridge streets. Better forms of collaboration and collective action are required to address this new set of challenges. This case study describes the stakeholders involved, the multiple interests at stake, and the broader context in which collaboration and collective action must take place.

Learning Objective:
This case study helps students to explore how a diverse set of stakeholders can come together to address a shared challenge. What are the constraints to collaboration? What type of leadership fosters collaboration? What are the factors that contribute to effective collaboration? What are the implications for social policy and nonprofit management?

Other Details

Teaching Plan:
Available with Educator Access
Case Author:
Sherine Jayawickrama
Faculty Lead:
Julie Boatright Wilson
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States