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Press Release: West Virginia Balance of State joins Built for Zero, a national initiative to end homelessness

December 7, 2021
  • West Virginia Balance of State has joined Built for Zero, a national initiative of more than 90 cities and counties working to measurably and equitably end homelessness
  • The community will work toward ending homelessness for all by reaching and sustaining a milestone known as “functional zero,” with an initial focus on chronic homelessness.
  • Functional zero is a dynamic milestone that works to ensure a sustained reality where homelessness is rare and brief for a population.

WEST VIRGINIA— Today, Community Solutions and West Virginia Balance of State announced that the community has joined Built for Zero, a national movement of more than 90 cities and counties in the United States working to measurably and equitably end homelessness. 

Communities in Built for Zero work towards measurably ending homelessness for all, by focusing on building systems that can continuously reduce homelessness for populations. In April 2021, Community Solutions was awarded the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change grant, which provides $100 million to help communities accelerate an end to homelessness through Built for Zero.  

West Virginia will initially focus its Built for Zero efforts on the population experiencing chronic homelessness, a federally-defined population that includes individuals experiencing long-term or recurring homelessness with a disability, as defined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Zachary Brown, Chief Executive Officer, West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness, said:  “Participation in Built for Zero signals that a small, determined contingent of the service community still finds homelessness unacceptable in West Virginia, and beyond politics, culture, ideas or bureaucracy, is committed to ending it one person at a time.

Participation in Built for Zero makes real the fact that there are those in West Virginia who are committed to maintaining the priorities of compassion, action, and real results to ensure that people who are experiencing homelessness find and keep a home. That homelessness is not a defining factor, but a hopefully brief bump in the road toward the kind of life most of us take for granted.”

The local Built for Zero team will represent a community-wide effort to collaborate and develop systems to measurably end homelessness. Partner agencies and organizations include WVU Hospitals, City of Parkersburg, City of Charlestown, and VA Medical Center.

THE METHODOLOGY

Communities in Built for Zero harness a data-driven methodology to drive reductions in homelessness toward zero. Using this methodology:

  • 14 communities have achieved functional zero to date, a milestone where fewer people are experiencing homelessness than can be routinely housed.
  • 44 communities have driven a reduction in homelessness for a population.

Alyssa Keil, Systems Improvement Advisor, Community Solutions, said: “Communities in the Built for Zero initiative are demonstrating that homelessness is solvable. We are thrilled that West Virginia has joined the movement to measurably end homelessness and the community’s commitment to building a more equitable future where homelessness is rare and brief.” 

The Built for Zero methodology has been developed and refined to help communities develop coordinated, data-driven systems capable of making homelessness rare and brief for a population. 

  1. Communities develop or deepen their community-wide teams. The community brings together a community-wide team that works together to measurably and equitably end homelessness.
  2. Communities work toward a shared aim of functional zero. Communities work toward achieving and sustaining functional zero, a measure for ending homelessness for a population. Communities start by focusing on creating coordinated, data-driven systems capable of ending homelessness for a population, with the goal of scaling this progress to all populations. An Urban Institute report published in August 2021 found that this methodology helps communities accelerate progress across populations. 
  3. Communities use quality, real-time data. The community develops quality by-name data, which includes each person experiencing homelessness by name and provides real-time insights into their needs. This data also provides population-level insights, like inflow and outflow, which enables communities to understand whether efforts are driving down the overall number of people experiencing homelessness. 
  4. Communities target interventions based on data. Using the by-name list, the community targets resources and investments for the maximum reductions in homelessness.

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The goal of the WV Coalition to End Homelessness is to end homelessness in our state and ensure that no child, veteran, or family enters homelessness in the first place. As the Balance of State Continuum of Care, we serve people experiencing homelessness in 44 counties across the state. If you are in need of housing services, please contact the WVCEH Coordinated Entry System by calling (833) 722-2014. Media Contact: Paige Looney, paigelooney@wvceh.org, 304-203-8495 

Built for Zero is a national initiative of more than 90 communities that have committed to measurably and equitably ending homelessness. It is led by Community Solutions, a nonprofit that works to create a lasting end to homelessness that leaves no one behind. 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 or follow us at @BuiltforZero. Media Contact: Lauren Barnes, lbarnes@community.solutions, 425-728-0079

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