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BFZ Welcomes Five New Communities to the Collaborative!

  |  October 21, 2020

This fall, Built for Zero is proud to welcome a cohort of five new communities to the BFZ Collaborative! These communities were officially introduced during the October 2020 Virtual Learning Session, bringing the number of Built for Zero Communities to 84 (see all current Built for Zero communities here).

From Maryland to California, these new communities are bringing together fresh ideas, dynamic teams, and the shared goal of creating a lasting end to chronic and veteran homelessness that leaves no one behind in their communities. Learn more about each of them below!

*Some responses have been edited for length and clarity.


Yamhill County, OR

CoC: OR-505

Team Lead:

Mandy Gawf, Housing Stabilization Director, Yamhill Community Action Partnership

Population focus:

Chronic and veteran

Why did you all decide to join Built for Zero?

Mandy Gawf, Housing Stabilization Director, Yamhill Community Action Partnership: “We’d been thinking about trying to take steps on reducing chronic homelessness for years. We’re looking forward to engaging more people. and our knowledge of the sides of the problem is expanding. We love best practices and love to learn from other communities, and now is the time our internal systems and partnerships are strong enough for us to have the capacity to engage with BFZ and follow along and respond.

“We’ve read a lot about BFZ communities and talked to other communities but it’s something else to have our own step-by-step coaching. All those components can seem overwhelming to communities so we kind of got to the place where we are ready to give it a try.”

What part of being a Built for Zero community are you most looking forward to? 

Mandy Gawf: “I’m looking forward to building measurable outcomes, seeing data and tracking data. We’ve had successes in the past, and it’s really hard to know if it’s a part of a larger pattern. I’d love to be able to share with our community the size of the problem, the steps we are taking [to solve it.] I like the transparency of the process, it brings more people on board. We’ve wanted to be transparent with that data and use it but need some coaching on how to do that”

What is one of the biggest challenges your community faces in ending homelessness?

Mandy Gawf: “The housing stock and PSH [permanent supportive housing] units and building the housing and resources is a tough component. When we can’t do that, we need a better way to prioritize and collaborate. We can’t always control how quickly we pull housing into the market, but [we can control] how to use what we have really well.”

Vickie Ybarguen, Executive Director, Housing Authority of Yamhill County: “Community buy-in is an issue as well, and understanding the barriers that people face.”


Clark County, WA

CoC: WA-508

Team leads: 

Team Lead: Kate Budd, Executive Director, Council for the Homeless

Data Lead: Dale Whitley, HMIS Administrator, Council for the Homeless

Population focus:

Veteran

Why did you all decide to join Built for Zero?

“Our community has created strong by-name lists for veterans and people who are chronically homeless. We are wanting to take them to the next level and know Built for Zero can help us do that.”

What part of being a Built for Zero community are you most looking forward to? 

“We look forward to learning from other communities that have realized successes and more effectively using HMIS data to inform our work.”

What is one of the biggest challenges your community faces in ending homelessness?

“Our community struggles to widely tell the story about the good work that is happening to reduce homelessness. We hope Built for Zero can help us effectively share our work and the partnership. There are too many people who feel like ‘nothing’ is happening.”


Baltimore County CoC

CoC: MD-505

Team Lead:

Jason Burns, HMIS System Administrator, Baltimore County Department of Planning

Population focus:

Veteran and Chronic

Why did you all decide to join Built for Zero?

“We heard great things about this initiative from neighboring CoCs and HUD TAs.”

What part of being a Built for Zero community are you most looking forward to? 

“We’re most looking forward to the additional support for homeless veterans and chronically homeless persons.”

What is one of the biggest challenges your community faces in ending homelessness?

“Besides the pandemic, we are in need of assistance with our CoC sub-committees, so we welcome this partnership.”


Colorado BoS Pueblo

CoC: CO-500

Team leads: 

Team Lead: Kathy Cline, Executive Director, Pueblo Rescue Mission

Data Lead: Lexie Ellis, Executive Director, Pueblo Triple Aim Corporation

Population focus:

Veterans

Why did you all decide to join Built for Zero?

“The Pueblo Team decided that the time was right for joining the Built for Zero program based on the last two years of planning, strategizing, developing some plans, re-directing, [and] re-developing plans. We are finally at a point where we have the plans in place and are ready to move forward.” 

What part of being a Built for Zero community are you most looking forward to? 

“The team agrees that the training and advocacy will be the best parts of BFZ.  We are a team of advocates that have been working together for a long time. It is time to hit the refresh button and hear new ideas, new strategies — NEW! — so we can move forward in this journey.”

What is one of the biggest challenges your community faces in ending homelessness?

“The biggest challenge we face as a community is the lack of understanding of this issue. There are many diverse viewpoints. Pueblo has a number of groups that want to give the homeless everything, [and] there are others who think they do not deserve anything. Then there are the business and government officials who just think it is someone else’s problem, and churches or others that believe they should deal with the issue or run them out of town. What they all fail to realize is that the majority of these folks are from Pueblo.”


San Diego, CA

CoC: CA-601

Team leads: 

Team Lead: Kris Kuntz, Chief Policy Officer, Regional Task Force on the Homeless

Data Lead: Zegnaw Zeggeye, HMIS Data Director, Regional Task Force on the Homeless

Population focus:

Veteran

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