Peter Laugharn is the President and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, a proud supporter of United Way for the last couple of decades and a staunch advocate for the unhoused in Los Angeles helping build and scale solutions to homelessness for the most vulnerable Angelenos.
Peter’s leadership and the Hilton Foundation’s investment in addressing chronic homelessness in LA has been a catalyst for change, strengthening and scaling solutions and local leadership to address homelessness and expand affordable housing opportunities. Their partnership and funding support has made it possible for L.A. to build a homeless response system that successfully rehouses over 20,000 people annually.
For Peter, who grew up in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s, the partnership the Hilton Foundation had with the United Way was textbook strategic philanthropy where a foundation and its partner grantees pursue a goal ambitiously, leverage all their assets, bring a wide group together and really put their shoulder to a problem.
“What I saw when I came in 2015 is that the United Way was really mobilizing an effort to bring significant financial resources. It was really an impressive operation and quite a savvy team at the United Way,” he said.
For United Way L.A. the partnership with the Hilton Foundation has been instrumental in building and scaling solutions to homelessness for the most vulnerable Angelenos. Their investment has been critical in launching and growing United Way’s nationally recognized Home For Good initiative and a seed investor of our Home For Good Funders Collaborative which brings together public and private funders to coordinate resources to maximize impacts on homelessness. It has always led the way and welcomed others to join, inspiring local Angelenos to show up and donate for the last decade as the match sponsor of HomeWalk, which recently evolved into WalkUnited LA.
Peter has also built a career internationally for the past 35 years. “The Hilton Foundation does about half of its grant making in the states and about half internationally. Internationally, mostly in Africa, on access safe drinking water, refugees, and early childhood development. And here in the States, homelessness, foster youth, early childhood development, and youth employment. When I came back to LA in 2015, one of the programs that really caught my eye was the homelessness work that we do,” he said.
When it comes to corporate partners and foundations, Peter believes the Hilton Foundation prides itself on being a leader and inspiring their peers to join them in these big important fights. “Part of our role is to use our resources to bring in bigger resources. And that means we should tackle problems that are bigger than we can pay for ourselves.”
Peter believes that there is absolute consensus among voters, policymakers, citizens on the streets that the biggest problem to tackle is homelessness.
What are Peter’s hopes for the future of L.A.? He’d say “a City that has little or no visible homelessness that looks after everybody who needs services, that has made real progress in the question of housing affordability, and that has really locked arms and worked together on this instead of pulling in all sorts of different directions. And I see the United Way as a really strong partner on that path. It has great ideas. It tackles problems on many fronts. It has credibility with just about everyone who’s working in the area of homelessness.”
Peter knows the work the United Way does for the unhoused population and hopes we as a society “don’t talk just about reducing homelessness, but we really make a commitment to eliminating it….we have a collective responsibility to solve this problem. And I think the United Way has an essential role in that.”
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