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Invisible People: Study Finds Achieving ‘Functional Zero’ Homelessness Has Broad Social Benefits

September 23, 2021

A study by the Urban Institute (UI) found that achieving functional zero for veteran homelessness can provide broad social benefits.

Functional zero is a standard that a community achieves when it measurably ends either chronic or veteran homelessness. To achieve the standard, a community must prove that it has fewer people experiencing homelessness than the number of people it can provide housing and other services to over a six-month period.

UI’s study found that the standard significantly reduces the individual impacts of homelessness for people in the target group. It also provides more extended stays in housing and more access to programs or services for people outside of the target group.

At the same time, the study found that achieving functional zero can positively impact a community’s economy and improve the overall efficiency of its crisis response system.


According to Community Solutions, a national nonprofit that operates the Built for Zero campaign, there are 89 communities participating. Of those participants, 12 communities have functionally ended veteran homelessness. Another five communities have ended chronic homelessness as well.

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