- Washoe County is part of Built for Zero, a national initiative of more than 100 cities and counties working to measurably end homelessness, and is working to measurable reduce and end homelessness
- To understand the scope of the problem and implement strategies to reduce homelessness, Washoe County is the second community in the United States to achieve quality, by-name data for every single adult in their community experiencing homelessness
- By meeting a more stringent quality data milestone, the community has demonstrated that its system is robust enough to track the changing size, composition, and dynamics of an entire single adult population with confidence in real time
- Based on this by-name data, Washoe County has reduced homelessness by 28%
LOCATION— Today, Built for Zero announced that Washoe County has met the rigorous by-name data standards needed to solve homelessness. To understand the scope of the problem and implement strategies to reduce homelessness, Washoe County is the second community in the United States to achieve quality, by-name data for all single adults. This “all single adult” population includes veteran and chronic subpopulations, along with all other single adults experiencing homelessness who are not part of those subpopulations.
By-name data is a real-time, person-specific list of everyone experiencing homelessness — including those who are sheltered and unsheltered — that is updated in real time and provides communities with a full and up-to-date view of homelessness in their geography. Using information collected and shared with their consent, each person on the list has a file that includes their name, homeless history, health, and housing needs.
Catrina Peters, Homeless Services Coordinator with Washoe County Housing and Homeless Services, said: “We realized that we needed more than a once-a-year snapshot to effectively reduce and solve homelessness. By-name data will help us answer important questions like: How many people became homeless for the first time this month? How many were people returning to homelessness? How many people exited from homelessness? Are the experiences of people moving through the system equitable?”
The community joined Built for Zero, a national initiative of more than 100 cities and counties in the U.S. working to measurable and equitably reduce and end homelessness, in April 2020. The team began working on their quality data in January 2021. At that time, only 42 percent of homeless service providers in the community were entering data on the clients they were serving into a shared database called the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). Any organization or agency that received homelessness funding was required to report data into HMIS.
As part of their efforts to reach quality data, team leaders began a push to increase usage of the shared database, emphasizing that it would help standardize outcome metrics and allow everyone to define success in the same way across the homeless response system. Participation has now surpassed 90 percent, with 64 programs and 27 agencies reporting data.
By maintaining a by-name list, Washoe County has current and detailed information on every single adult that is unhoused. With this detailed information, it are able to better match housing solutions with the needs of the individuals. By-name lists often form the basis for case conferencing meetings, where all the providers within the community meet to coordinate and drive forward with housing solutions for people.
Washoe County will also be able to track the changing size, composition, and dynamics of its homeless population. This information enables them to prioritize resources, test changes to its system and understand whether its efforts are helping to drive those numbers down toward zero.
Lauren D’Amico, Community Solutions Senior Strategy Lead, said, “By-name data is modeled off public health approaches, like Covid-19. An annual snapshot of cases doesn’t equip public health officials with the information they need to know if they are making progress on ending the pandemic. They have real-time data to know the scale and scope of the problem, if their strategies are driving numbers down, and if not, whether they need to pivot. By achieving this rigorous level of data standards, Washoe County is able to better serve individuals and drive population-level reductions in homelessness.”
At its peak, Washoe County had real-time records of almost 2,500 people experiencing homelessness in their community.
Over the last six months, Washoe County has made huge strides, reducing that number by 28 percent, with 1,800 people on their list now. And the county is still seeing a consistent downward trend. Now, if someone asks how many people are experiencing homelessness in the community, it’s not such a challenge to address.
Washoe County is now prioritizing collecting more detailed information on inflow and outflow into homelessness — how, why, when and where people enter and exit the homeless response system. The community team also knows that increasing the number of units for low- and extremely low-income populations is a crucial component to continue to make reductions.
Washoe County Housing and Homeless Services is a division of the Human Services Agency, established on August 30, 2021, when the three entities in our community, City of Reno, City of Sparks, and Washoe County, agreed to transfer the operation of the Nevada Cares Campus shelter and the Northern Nevada Continuum of Care (CoC) to Washoe County, effective September 1, 2021. Its mission is to To lead the community to build a system that is capable of housing people experiencing homelessness, so that it’s rare, brief, and non-recurring. Media Contact: Bethany Drysdale, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Built for Zero is a national initiative of more than 100 communities that have committed to measurably and equitably ending homelessness. It is led by Community Solutions, a nonprofit that works to create a lasting end to homelessness that leaves no one behind. Using a data-driven methodology, these communities have changed how local homeless response systems work and the impact they can achieve. Learn more at www.builtforzero.org or follow us at @BuiltforZero. Media Contact: Lauren Barnes, email@example.com.