Functional Zero

A rigorous standard for ending homelessness

Fourteen U.S. communities have met this standard for ending veteran or chronic homelessness — and many more are on their way.

What is functional zero?

Functional zero is a dynamic milestone that indicates a community has solved homelessness for a population. Reaching and sustaining this milestone is in service of building a future where homelessness is rare overall, and brief when it occurs.

Before a community can start working toward functional zero, they must first gather quality data on who is experiencing homelessness there. A by-name list is a comprehensive list of every person in a community experiencing homelessness, updated in real time. Once this data is gathered (and regularly maintained), communities are able to use it to to better match housing solutions with individuals, prioritize community resources, and track the state of homelessness in the community at large.

Veteran homelessness is a dynamic problem — people are entering and exiting the system constantly. To address this ever-changing problem, the way we measure the progress toward our goal must be able to change as well


A community has ended veteran homelessness when the number of veterans experiencing homelessness is less than the number of veterans a community has proven it can house in a month, with a minimum threshold of 3.

Functional Zero definition (veteran))

> What’s the difference between functional zero and the USICH Federal Criteria and Benchmarks for ending veteran homelessness?

Homelessness is a dynamic problem — people are entering and exiting the system constantly. That’s why you need real-time data to track it. We call this real-time tracking the by-name list.


A community has ended chronic homelessness when the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness is zero, or if not zero, than either 3 or .1% of the total number of individuals reported in the most recent point-in-time count, whichever is greater.

Ending homelessness isn’t just possible — it’s already happening.

All communities at functional zero will be reviewed annually to ensure they are sustaining this dynamic end state for ending homelessness.

12 communities have ended veteran homelessness

  1. Gulf Coast region, MS
  2. Arlington, VA 
  3. Montgomery County, MD
  4. Rockford, IL
  5. Bergen County, NJ
  6. Fort Myers, FL*
  7. Riverside, CA*
  8. Abilene, TX
  9. Lake County, IL
  10. Norman, OK
  11. Chattanooga, TN
  12. Lynchburg, VA

5 communities have ended chronic homelessness

  1. Rockford, IL
  2. Lancaster, PA
  3. Bergen County, NJ
  4. Abilene, TX
  5. Bakersfield, CA

Three have ended both.

  1. Rockford, IL
  2. Bergen County, NJ
  3. Abilene, TX

*No longer active in Built for Zero
Help other communities reach functional zero

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