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.