Regional Task Force on the Homeless Joins National ‘Built for Zero’ Initiative to End Veteran Homelessness
SAN DIEGO, Mar 23, 2021 – Continuing to advance the focused effort to end veteran homelessness in the City of San Diego, the Regional Task Force on the Homeless (RTFH) and its partners have signed onto a national initiative known as Built for Zero, led by Community Solutions. This action boosts the City’s Community Action Plan on Homelessness and supports the momentum to end veteran homelessness across the county.
Initially, the RTFH has partnered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC), and homeless services organizations such as Veterans Village of San Diego (VVSD) while receiving funding from Kaiser Permanente for dedicated local staff to further the initiatives. RTFH joins more than 80 cities and counties committed to measurably ending homelessness, one population at a time. Using data, these communities have changed how local homeless response systems work and the impact they can achieve.
“Ending homelessness in San Diego can be a reality if we take different approaches than we have in the past,” said Mayor Todd Gloria. “Built for Zero is a proven method. It works because it does more than just count people. It will force us to take a hard look at the resources we have available and how we match those resources with the people who need them. Cities across the country have shown they can end homelessness with Built for Zero. There is no reason San Diego cannot be a shining example of how to help our unhoused neighbors.”
As part of its engagement, San Diego will join the Built for Zero Large City Cohort, allowing the city to share best practices and exchange information about successful initiatives among peer cities across the country, including Denver, Phoenix, Atlanta, Washington D.C., and others working to end veteran homelessness in major urban metros. Mayor Gloria will also have the opportunity to join a Mayors’ Cohort.
“Built for Zero isn’t saying there will never be people who are unhoused,” said RTFH CEO Tamera Kohler, who helped craft the city’s Action Plan. “It is taking a different approach to how we collect and analyze data, and how we work with every single person in a particular subpopulation, provide opportunities for housing for each of those people, and ensure that if someone becomes homeless, it is brief and does not occur again.”
Fourteen Built for Zero communities have ended either chronic or veteran homelessness by reaching a standard called functional zero, a dynamic milestone that indicates a community has solved homelessness for a specific population. Ending veteran homelessness, for example, happens when the number of veterans experiencing homelessness is less than the number of veterans a community has proven it can house in a month.
“We are proud to welcome the city of San Diego into Built for Zero, a movement of communities proving every day that homelessness is solvable,” said Rosanne Haggerty, President and CEO of Community Solutions. At the heart of Built for Zero’s progress and power is accounting for everyone, through quality data that captures everyone experiencing homelessness by name, and in real time. As part of this initiative, San Diego joins a cohort of communities harnessing this methodology to create proof that, even in large U.S. cities, we can create a future where veteran homelessness is rare and brief.”
As San Diego works toward functional zero, it will build upon the data analysis and mapping conducted in 2019 and perform additional detailed analysis in 2021. In April, Community Solutions guidance will contribute to the local team’s detailed analysis of the local veteran population, including how many there are, what dedicated veteran resources are available, and what the current process is for matching people to them.
“The Built for Zero model has proven successful in several communities across the Country, and we are extremely excited to work with them on ending veteran homelessness here in San Diego” said Andre Simpson, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Veterans Village of San Diego.
Once current data is gathered, the city can update its goals and timelines. The data provides a real-time number of veterans experiencing homelessness, helps craft strategies to connect all veterans with proper support, prioritizes community resources, and regularly measures progress. The result is more tailored solutions for individuals and a clearer picture of the system as a whole.
“This investment is core to our mission to improve the health of our members and communities we serve,” said Jane Finley, executive vice president and area manager for Kaiser Permanente San Diego. “Housing and health are inextricably linked and even the highest-quality health care cannot serve as a substitute for stable housing. We are honored to support the Built for Zero Initiative and its steadfast work to end veteran homelessness.”
The city’s Community Action Plan on Homelessness identified three key goals within reach to accomplish in three years: decrease unsheltered homelessness by 50 percent, finish the job of ending veteran homelessness, and prevent and end youth homelessness. San Diego’s engagement with Built for Zero to help achieve functional zero for homelessness is a starting point with this initiative that advances the Community Action Plan’s goals.
“The Built for Zero initiative is another important step forward as the City of San Diego continues to make strides to address homelessness under the framework the Community Action Plan on Homelessness provides,” said SDHC President & CEO Richard C. Gentry, a member of the Leadership Council of the City of San Diego’s Community Action Plan on Homelessness, Chair of the Regional Continuum of Care Advisory Board and a member of the RTFH Board of Directors. “The San Diego Housing Commission looks forward to working with other communities to continue the best practices necessary to resolve the homelessness crisis.”
Once the system for veterans is in place and achieving positive results, it will be replicated for other
subpopulations and taken to scale across the county. In addition to veterans, San Diego signed on to Built for Zero to focus on using the model to measure an end to youth homelessness. This builds on the significant local efforts already underway to meet the region’s Coordinated Community Plan’s goals to End Youth Homelessness.
About the Regional Task Force on the Homeless
The Regional Task Force on the Homeless (RTFH) is the authority and lead coordinator in the San Diego region for new and best practices and policies to prevent, alleviate and ultimately end homelessness in San Diego.
The RTFH brings together stakeholders from across the region who are committed to data-driven and informed policies to strategically plan and coordinate resources to prevent, alleviate and ultimately end homelessness in San Diego.
For more information about the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, please visit RTFHSD.org
About Built for Zero
Built for Zero is a national initiative of 80 cities and counties that have committed to measurably ending homelessness, one population at a time. 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