▶️ Local nonprofits to team up with national group to end homelessness

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Central Oregon nonprofits working with the region’s unhoused community announced Tuesday they will partner with ‘Built for Zero,’ a national movement of more than 90 cities and counties across the country working to “measurably and equitably end homelessness.”

In April 2021, Community Solutions was awarded the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change grant, which provides $100 million to help communities accelerate an end to homelessness through Built for Zero.  

Communities in Built for Zero work towards ending homelessness for all, by focusing on building systems that can continuously reduce homelessness for populations, according to a press release.

Central Oregon will begin this journey by focusing its Built for Zero efforts on the populations experiencing veteran and chronic homelessness.

“Central Oregon is excited about the opportunity to participate in Built for Zero’s national initiative to address and end homelessness,” said Colleen Thomas, chairwoman of the Homeless Leadership Coalition. “As a community, we have seen a need for comprehensive and real-time data to help address the root causes of houselessness in our community and our hope is that Community Solutions and the Built for Zero team can help us continue the vital work already being done in our community.

“Ending houselessness can be a reality if we work together and continue to look beyond just the numbers and  start to address the real causes of our current crisis, and I believe that Built for Zero is going to help us do that.”

The local Built for Zero team will represent a community-wide effort to collaborate and develop systems to measurably end homelessness, the release said.

Partner agencies and organizations include NeighborImpact, REACH Central Oregon, JBarJ Youth Services, Unite Us, Family Access Network, Shepherds House, Bethlehem Inn, amongst others. 

Dana Richards, the unhoused services manager for NeighborImpact said the 2021 “Point in Time” count of the region’s homeless population – which swelled past 1,000 – doesn’t accurately account for all the homelessness here.

She said the agency was excited to work with Built for Zero to get an accurate count of those who need help.

“Up-to-date and accurate data means being able to strategize realistically how we as a region can create efficient and effective housing solution systems and processes,” she said. “Up-to-date and accurate data leads to appropriate Local, State, and Federal funding for programs and affordable housing projects needed for our houseless community members to be housed. Frankly, I’m just over the moon for the guidance from Built For Zero and all the opportunities this partnership creates.” 

THE METHODOLOGY

Communities in Built for Zero harness a data-driven methodology to drive reductions in homelessness toward zero. Using this methodology:

  • 14 communities have achieved functional zero to date, a milestone where fewer people are experiencing homelessness than can be routinely housed.
  • 44 communities have driven a reduction in homelessness for a population.

Communities in the Built for Zero initiative are demonstrating that homelessness is solvable,” said Alyssa Keil, systems improvement advisor for Community Solutions. “We are thrilled that Central Oregon has joined the movement to measurably end homelessness and the community’s commitment to building a more equitable future where homelessness is rare and brief.” 

The Built for Zero methodology has been developed and refined to help communities develop coordinated, data-driven systems capable of making homelessness rare and brief for a population. 

  1. Communities develop or deepen their community-wide teams. The community brings together a community-wide team that works together to measurably and equitably end homelessness.
  2. Communities work toward a shared aim of functional zero. Communities work toward achieving and sustaining functional zero, a measure for ending homelessness for a population. Communities start by focusing on creating coordinated, data-driven systems capable of ending homelessness for a population, with the goal of scaling this progress to all populations. An Urban Institute report published in August 2021 found that this methodology helps communities accelerate progress across populations. 
  3. Communities use quality, real-time data. The community develops quality by-name data, which includes each person experiencing homelessness by name and provides real-time insights into their needs. This data also provides population-level insights, like inflow and outflow, which enables communities to understand whether efforts are driving down the overall number of people experiencing homelessness. 
  4. Communities target interventions based on real-time data. Using the by-name list, the community targets resources and investments for the maximum reductions in homelessness.
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