Rosanne Haggerty writes about the urgency of ending homelessness for Angelus News.
Awakened by the pandemic, we’re seeing a new sense of urgency emerging to solve homelessness, alongside an eagerness to know what works and what policies and approaches to support. Communities across the country have proven that homelessness is solvable. What we’ve learned is that it starts with accountability and a commitment to results.
I lead a nonprofit organization, Community Solutions, that supports more than 80 cities and counties working together toward “zero” homelessness in their communities. This means in practice that in their communities, homelessness is rare overall and brief when it occurs because a coordinated system is in place to prevent most homelessness and to rehouse more people each month than those who become homeless.
Participation in this network of “Built for Zero” communities is voluntary. These local teams commit themselves to a new way of working, using a public health approach that embraces the goal of zero homelessness across their community.
Since 2015, more than half of these communities have reduced — and in some cases, ended — chronic or veteran homelessness on their way to a comprehensive solution. Their success tells us about the federal and local policies that are needed to get results and what we should expect of our leaders at all levels of government. It tells us what we should do to protect one another from ever experiencing the indignity and nightmare of homelessness.