Homelessness is solvable. Our nation’s progress in reducing veteran homelessness is a testament to our ability to make homelessness rare and brief for entire populations.
Proof that solving veteran homelessness is possible
Detroit reduced veteran homelessness by nearly 50%
Detroit is one of the large cities reducing homelessness as part of Built for Zero.
Detroit has reduced the number of veterans experiencing homelessness by 47% in just the last three years, which is significantly higher than the national reduction of 11% in veteran homelessness over the same period.
Strong collaboration, real-time data on the veterans experiencing homelessness, and a Housing First approach have played a part in Detroit’s success.
“What became clear to us early on was the quality of relationships within the community — the level of collaboration, the culture of collaboration, the willingness to work together,” said Nate French, Director of Community Impact at Community Solutions. “That foundation has enabled them to make a lot of systemic changes to the way that they’re working day to day,”
“After the relationships, it came back to the data,” added Diandra Gourlay, Vice President of Social Services at Volunteers of America Michigan, in a recent interview with Next City. “We have quality data, and we all participate in maintaining that data. We have an accurate count of who is in our system, knowing what their trajectory to housing is, and who’s working with those veterans.”
Our nation’s capital is driving reductions in veteran homelessness
Washington, D.C., is taking a systems-wide approach to ending veteran homelessness, working together and collaborating on driving reductions.
The D.C. community’s efforts to solve veteran homelessness are based on an essential principle — real change starts with accurate data. And actual data shows that solving veteran homelessness is possible.
According to the community’s September 2023 by-name data, 266 veterans were identified as experiencing homelessness. This represents a 6% reduction in 2023 alone and a remarkable 50% reduction since the beginning of their collaboration with Built for Zero.
“With significant investments and additional outside support, [functional zero] could be possible as a large city in the next two years,” said Eileen Rosa, Special Advisor for single adults and veteran homelessness with the Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH).
Metro Denver reduced veteran homelessness by 21% in 2023
The Denver team’s data- and person-centered approach to addressing veteran homelessness has led to a 21% reduction in the past year. Building a solid data infrastructure to track and support homeless veterans is essential.
“The work we’ve done around veterans, and the reductions we’ve seen, are because we have formed these meaningful local teams. We’ve got the right resources to the table and worked very, very strategically around that. We’re seeing some encouraging reductions that we hope to replicate with other populations,” said Dr. Jamie Rife, Executive Director at the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative.
Lake County, Illinois, is sustaining veteran functional zero
Using quality improvement to continuously improve their system, the community ensures that veteran homelessness remains rare and brief.
In December 2018, the Built for Zero community of Lake County/North Chicago, Illinois, achieved functional zero for veteran homelessness. As they continue to sustain that milestone and drive reductions in homelessness for other populations, the community has modeled a discipline at the heart of the Built for Zero methodology: quality improvement.
For Yareli Salgado, Continuum of Care Coordinator at Lake County, quality improvement means enacting little changes that can add up. “Instead of trying to make one big change that you might get a lot of resistance to, it’s incremental changes that’ll still get you to that big end goal that you want, but are more achievable in the small bursts,” she said.
More progress toward solving veteran homelessness
Achieving quality by-name data shows that a community knows who is experiencing homelessness in their community in real time. It’s an essential step toward matching housing solutions with the needs of the individual, making data-driven decisions about resources, and coordinating across programs.
They can track the changing size, composition, and dynamics of their homeless population to understand whether their efforts are helping to drive those numbers down toward functional zero.
This year, more communities achieved the veteran quality data milestone:
Even more, communities celebrated a downward shift in veteran homelessness, meaning they have driven the number of people experiencing homelessness below their median for six consecutive months:
Communities are driving real estate innovations to reduce veteran homelessness.
The lack of permanent supportive housing is a huge barrier to housing veterans. Solutions involve converting temporary shelters into permanent housing and expanding access to affordable housing in partnership with social impact investors.
Jacksonville: Three properties aimed at housing veterans
The Villager apartments are the newest property acquired with a new social impact financing model designed to move veterans into permanent housing and preserve existing affordable housing.
Jacksonville is one of 16 target large cities in Built for Zero chosen for this level of investment because they have built a successful strategic partnership ecosystem that has resulted in a 47 percent reduction in veteran homelessness since joining the Built for Zero movement in 2015.
Washington, D.C.: Permanent supportive home for veterans in the heart of the city
Opened in 2016, The John and Jill Ker Conway Residence is a 124-unit, mixed-income residence for veterans who have formerly experienced chronic homelessness and low-income residents.
This is the story of one resident who lives there.
Homeless Resource Locator Connects Users with Service Providers Across the U.S.
The tool helps veterans and other people experiencing homelessness find their nearest homeless service provider.
Last Veterans Day, Community Solutions and the Rocket Community Fund launched the Homeless Resource Locator, featuring the names and contact information of more than 900 homeless service providers across all 50 states.
To date, over 6,000 individuals have visited this resource to find services on the Community Solutions website. This tool is also linked to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.
📣 Use your voice | Social media toolkit
Built For Zero communities are proving that a future where homelessness is rare and brief is within reach.
This Veterans Day, we’re calling attention to the urgent matter of veteran homelessness. Help us spread the message.
If you have any questions about this toolkit, please contact email@example.com.
Social media tips
- Use the hashtags in your posts to engage with us and others during this week. Consistent hashtags make posts about specific topics easy to find and will help to drive engagement and awareness on Veterans Day. #VeteransDay is the official hashtag. #VeteransDay2023 may also be used.
- Copy and paste the suggested social media posts or use them as inspiration to craft your own!
- Pair social media posts with a corresponding visual (graphics below) to create interest and increase shareability.
- Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn and share our content.
- Tag us if you share Veterans Day content!
Download the graphics below and include them in your posts
Please include the included links in all posts. If you choose to develop your own messaging, please include the hashtag #VeteransDay, #HomelessnessIsSolvable and/or tag @cmtysolutions or @BuiltForZero. Please feel free to tag other partners.
Real change starts with real data. And real data is showing that ending veteran homelessness is possible.
Twelve communities across the county have reached functional zero for veterans. 🇺🇸 #VeteransDay
Together, we can make sure all veterans have a place to call home. 💙🏠🇺🇸 #VeteransDay #HomelessnessIsSolvable
Data isn’t just numbers; it’s the key to solving veteran homelessness.
Identifying all the veterans experiencing homelessness by name, and then intervening with individualized solutions is arduous work. But it’s being done as we speak.
Together, we can bring those veterans home. 🏠 #HomelessnessIsSolvable 🇺🇸 #VeteransDay