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A Growing Drive to Get Homelessness to Zero
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times

New York Times, June 5, 2018
Posted: July 1st, 2018

Over the past three years, nine communities in the United States have reached a rigorous standard known as functional zero for either veteran or chronic homelessness - a standard that indicates that homelessness is rare and much briefer than in the past for their populations - and 37 others have accomplished measurable reductions toward that goal. Whats illuminating is how theyre doing it: by making whole systems smarter. They are linking in a national network ... to improve their performance. Rockford, Ill., was the first community in the United States to reach the functional zero level for veterans. We get everybody in our community who works on the issue ... and we bring them into a room, [said Jennifer Jaeger, the citys community services director]. So if were working on veterans, well have the V.A., the local veteran agencies, mental health agencies and substance abuse agencies. Well sit down with the list and say: O.K., John Smith is No. 1. Whos working with him? How do we get him housed as fast as we can? And we go literally name by name. It makes a huge difference because they stop being the homeless and become people we all know. And we become very vested in making sure John Smith is housed and safe and has the services he needs. Successes get turned into mini case studies and are logged in Built for Zeros menu of strategies. So if a community partner wants to know how to do effective street outreach or improve housing retention ... theres an inventory of proven ideas to draw from.

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