Reducing homelessness to Functional Zero

Solutions Journalism Network

The widespread shortage of affordable housing coupled with the scheduled expiration of the federal eviction moratorium on July 31, 2021, has some experts warning of a looming housing crisis. Although homelessness has been a difficult problem to solve for many cities, one response has gained steam and more than 80 communities have used it across the United States. 

A housing solution known as Built for Zero has attracted coverage by a variety of news outlets. The Built for Zero program helps different entities coordinate homeless services through a comprehensive database that strives to capture everyone experiencing homelessness at any given time. The aim of the program is to bring homelessness to “functional zero,” which refers to a number low enough that anyone living on the street could be housed if they wanted. Fourteen cities have effectively ended homelessness for vulnerable populations by focusing on data, organizing a comprehensive response, and promoting collaboration among agencies that provide homelessness services in order to address underlying issues.

The success of the program is evident in its scalability: Almost 100 communities have been able to use the program to varying degrees, effectively reducing the number of people living on the streets.