San Diego has been selected, along with 68 other U.S. communities, to participate in Zero: 2016, a national campaign to end veteran and chronic homelessness. 25 Cities San Diego, the local arm of a national initiative with the same aim, will work in tandem with Zero: 2016 by providing the necessary tools to ultimately end veteran and chronic homelessness in the region. To reflect this partnership, the initiative has been renamed 25 Cities San Diego, Setting a Path to Zero.
The Coordinated Assessment and Housing Placement System (CAHP) designed and implemented by 25 Cities San Diego earlier in 2014 will play a key role in laying the groundwork to meet the national campaign goals. The CAHP system creates coordinated entry points for homeless individuals to be assessed and access services and housing – while prioritizing resources on an individual basis. It focuses on a person’s specific needs versus fitting a client into a one-size-fits-all program, and replaces previously used methods that were disconnected, confusing and inefficient.
“25 Cities San Diego is building the system that will bring our community much closer to eradicating chronic homelessness,” said 25 Cities San Diego Team Leader Michael McConnell. “The multiple private and public organizations that are leading this systems design work locally will continue to work together in alignment with the new campaign to accelerate and eventually meet the goal of eliminating homelessness. The additional resources provided through Zero: 2016 will serve to further the work we’ve started.”
Zero: 2016 was established and is funded by Community Solutions, a national nonprofit based in New York City. The initiative is a rigorous follow-on to the group’s successful 100,000 Homes Campaign, which announced in June that it had helped communities house 105,000 chronically homeless Americans in under four years.
San Diego was selected for Zero: 2016 because of its participation and progress with 25 Cities. The initiative will formally launch in January 2015 during the national 2015 Homeless Point-in-Time Count, during which local volunteers will hit area streets and shelters to enumerate the local homeless population.
Last week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development released the results of the 2014 Homeless Point-in-Time Count, which shows that homelessness continues to decline across virtually all major categories, including chronic homelessness. Veteran homelessness was singled out by the report for its particularly steep decline – more than 30 percent in the last four years.
The report also showed that communities selected to join Zero: 2016 account for a combined 31,669 chronically homeless Americans and 16,218 homeless veterans. Community Solutions said it estimates an overlap of 10,000-12,000 between these two populations.
Zero: 2016 Director Beth Sandor said Community Solutions will work with communities to accelerate their housing efforts by providing hands-on coaching and data tools, and by curating a national peer-to-peer learning network to accelerate innovation across communities.
Zero: 2016 will align with other large-scale initiatives working to help communities end homelessness, including the 25 Cities initiative, as led by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Mayor’s Challenge to End Homelessness, championed by First Lady Michelle Obama. Community Solutions has coordinated extensively with VA and other federal agencies to ensure that all initiatives complement each other.
About 25 Cities San Diego, Setting a Path to Zero
25 Cities San Diego, Setting a Path to Zero is the local arm of a federal initiative to end veteran and chronic homelessness initiated and funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. The initiative focuses on collaboration between multiple private and public organizations, which include the Regional Continuum of Care Council, the entities that comprise the Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego, the San Diego VA and Community Solutions. For more information on 25 Cities San Diego, visit www.housingsd.org.