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SOCIAL INVESTOR: Harnessing the Power of Data and Systems to End Homelessness, For Good

October 28, 2022

Founder and CEO of Community Solutions CEO Rosanne Haggerty details how she is working in partnership with communities across the U.S. to eradicate homelessness through Built for Zero.  

After 10 years of living in a tent, William finally had a home.

During that time, organizations in Fremont County, Colorado, had each tried to help William, but in November 2019, they changed their approach. They formed a single, community wide team and joined Built for Zero, a national movement that aims to make homelessness rare overall and brief if it occurs. Fremont County made ending homelessness among war veterans like William its first priority on the way to ending all homelessness, a measure called “functional zero.” This means a community has the system in place to prevent most homelessness, swiftly identify new housing emergencies, and rapidly reconnect those in housing crises with a stable home.

What this meant for William was that when a rental subsidy voucher became available, the local team was ready. From securing an apartment, to completing a myriad of required forms, to helping William manage the transition to living inside, the collaboration stretched across the county, to state agencies, and to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. By February 2021, Fremont County had reached “functional zero” veteran homelessness, meaning that not only William but all veterans in housing crises, present, and future, would be spared the experience of being trapped in homelessness.

‍A Movement to Measurably and Equitably End Homelessness

Fremont County is one of 105 counties and regions participating in Built for Zero. Guided by Community Solutions, Built for Zero helps communities develop data-driven systems to reach functional zero homelessness. This state of equilibrium can be likened to the end of epidemics, where cases are low and systems are in place to quickly detect and respond to new cases. Fremont County is one of 14 communities that have reached functional zero chronic and/or veteran homelessness. Forty-two others are achieving measurable reductions.