Getting to Zero

 

Elizabeth Grim is the Evaluation Consultant at The Consultation Center at Yale University. She was previously the point person for Zero:2016 at Partnership for Strong Communities. 

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking to 100 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Grantees about Zero: 2016 Connecticut. Zero: 2016 CT is the statewide campaign to end Veteran homelessness by the end of 2015 and chronic homelessness by the end of 2016, coordinated by the Partnership for Strong Communities and the CT Coalition to End Homelessness.

At the start of the presentation I asked the group who had heard of Zero: 2016 CT; almost every hand in the room went up. Great news! Next I reviewed the goals: to house 863 Veterans by the end of 2015 and 1,094 people experiencing chronic homelessness by the end of 2016. Then I asked another question: who in the room thinks CT can achieve these goals on time. Only about 10 people (10%) raised their hands. Not so great.

Well I think we can achieve the Zero: 2016 goals and here’s why:

  1. We already know the cure for homelessness: housing. And we have a Governor and a state Department of Housing that believe in and support the efforts to end homelessness in Connecticut. Does this mean we have all the resources we need and we can turn on cruise control? No. But with the help of partners such as the state Department of Housing, Corporation for Supportive Housing, and CT Coalition to End Homelessness, providers are maximizing impact by prioritizing the housing resources we do have to those most in need.
  1. We have amazing partners working collaboratively across the state in unprecedented levels of coordination. People are breaking down the silos. Over 40 partners signed Connecticut’s Zero: 2016 application but many more than that are engaged in the effort on a daily basis, working diligently to assess people based on level of need, provide case management, advocate for resources, research best practices, improve systems, and analyze data. And guess what? It’s working! We are in the process of revising the targets based on better data now available to us, which we expect will actually make the targets lower than before. But even with the original goals of housing 863 Veterans and 1,094 people who are chronically homeless – we have made great progress! Six months into the effort at the end of June, we estimated that we housed over half the Veterans and a quarter of those experiencing chronic homelessness. On top of that, this summer CT became the 1st state to end chronic Veteran homelessness, setting a path to end homelessness for all Veterans!

Connecticut is truly a leader in the efforts to end homelessness in our nation. It’s my hope that providers and partners realize and celebrate the success to date and continue to collaborate and innovate to achieve the goals of Zero: 2016.

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