[Rockford, Illinois] is nationally recognized for effectively ending homelessness among veterans and the chronically homeless — placing them in housing within 30 days from the point of identification. Now the department is setting its sights on eliminating homelessness among youth and families.
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According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, about 17 of every 10,000 U.S. residents were homeless in 2018. Travis County had 17.5 homeless individuals per 10,000 residents counted on a single night in January 2018, the highest ratio in Texas but far lower than Los Angeles—53.44 homeless individuals per 10,000 residents—and King County, Washington, which includes Seattle—55.34 homeless individuals per 10,000 residents.
But not every American city is struggling to contain the problem. Community Solutions, a national nonprofit that works to find effective solutions to homelessness, has certified 12 communities as achieving “functional zero” with certain segments of their homeless populations, meaning those communities have fewer homeless people than they can permanently house in a single month.
Minister of Veterans Affairs Lawrence MacAulay today announced an investment of $669,928 over four years in the CAEH that expands Built for Zero Canada (BFZ-C) to work with 12 communities and achieve functional zero on veteran homelessness in five communities by March 2023. This funding follows the unanimously passed motion from the House of Commons in June that called for the government to set a goal to end veteran homelessness in Canada by 2025.
In the past year, the Central MS-500 CoC has joined the Built for Zero, or BFZ, movement, also referenced in Veal's article. (BFZ is the program that helped Open Doors Homeless Coalition on the Gulf Coast reach their goal of housing all homeless veterans.) BFZ drills down on the data gathered in the HMIS system and helps us develop strategies to address obstacles to getting people housed. But it also connects us to our peers in other states, so we can share ideas, celebrate breakthroughs and learn from one another's insights and mistakes.
Tech has proven successful for Austin, TX, which could be due in part to a strategy informed by a blend of individual experiences and innovative solutions.
Additionally, the city is working toward, but not yet involved in, "Built for Zero," a national nonprofit's campaign to help cities use data to end chronic and veteran homelessness. Cities pay an annual fee of $10,000 and are provided with the tools to effectively meet and count every single homeless veteran and chronically homeless person, and eventually provide them with permanent housing.
Gulfport will be testing a new program to try to combat the evident homelessness around the city. The city’s police department is teaming up with several social service agencies to create a “Homeless Housing Hub.”
It’s a model that is already proving effective in Pascagoula. In the first year since the city established the hub, that program reduced homelessness by 47 percent. It continues to be successful, say officials.
The Gulf Coast program uses a combination of cohesiveness, strong partnerships and open communication within the community of care, along with Supportive Services for Veterans and Families.
The piece, shot by Friendly Films, was for Community Solutions/Built for Zero, Quicken Loans and the History Channel.
Residents are hoping for something nearly as improbable — for the food business hub to breathe life back into their economically depressed neighborhood, home to few businesses beyond convenience and package stores and take-out restaurants.
“We’re doing this in a neighborhood whose history is disinvestment, lack of access to resources,” said John Thomas, engagement coordinator for Community Solutions. “We see that this is an opportunity to recreate the economic engine that the factories of Hartford once served as in the neighborhoods.”
Because cities are the most trusted unit of government they have more latitude to push the boundaries and engage in the experimentation necessary to achieve breakthrough innovations.
And we're seeing evidence of this across the world, where more and more cities are innovating with intention to solve their biggest problems, which have previously been viewed as intractable. Take for example the challenge of homelessness, which is affecting cities across the world. With support from the Built for Zero program, three cities across the U.S. have ended homelessness through the application of proven strategies and real-time data.
In 2015, the City of Gulfport managed to get veteran homelessness to functional zero, which is the threshold demonstrating that veteran or chronic homelessness has ended. Mary Simons, executive director of the Open Door Homeless Coalition, said her group achieved this by partnering with Community Solutions' Built for Zero.