Built for Zero
The Strategic Action Plan to End Homelessness in Sacramento
The Continuum of Care adopted its strategic action plan to end homelessness in Sacramento in May 2015. The plan sets forth a systematic, strategic approach to ending street homelessness by the end of 2020. Organized around the concept of functional zero, the plan sets forth timelines for ending homelessness for each subpopulation experiencing homelessness, and identifies changes to the system that are needed to end street homelessness for all. The name, Built for Zero, is the result of this focus on achieving functional zero for all populations experiencing homelessness.
Functional zero is a term used by homeless policymakers and advocates to describe a homeless services system which has sufficient efficiency and capacity so that individuals and families can quickly obtain services and access to permanent housing, and begin to work toward self-sufficiency. In Sacramento, this term also includes the concept that homelessness will be rare, brief, and non-recurring. In short, there are more people moving out of the system than are waiting to enter it.
Orienting our system toward functional zero will significantly reduce the total number of individuals and families experiencing street homelessness – resulting in far fewer people sleeping in places not meant for human habitation, such as cars, abandoned buildings, park benches, and sidewalks.
To achieve functional zero, our community must maximize currently available resources while making strategic investments in the system for greatest impact. Several federal initiatives and guidelines informed the Strategic Action Plan:
- Opening Doors – the federal strategic plan to end homelessness by the end of 2020
- Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH Act) – the federal laws governing homeless assistance programs, as administered by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development,
- Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness – a national initiative led by President and First Lady Obama to coordinate and amplify federal and local resources to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.
All of these initiatives contain the same basic elements: improve coordination of resources and programs across the Continuum of Care, prioritize housing and services for the most vulnerable, make appropriate housing placements based on client needs and preferences, use a housing first approach and minimize barriers to housing and services, and increase system efficiency and capacity. These priorities and requirements are similarly reflected in the plan.
We envision a system of care in which people at risk of homelessness receive necessary support to stay housed, people who become homeless are permanently housed with appropriate services, and long-term homelessness is a thing of the past.
Our goal is to align our system of affordable and accessible housing and services to maximize the number of individuals achieving housing stability.
Common Cents: A Systematic Approach to Solving Homelessness
Discussed at length in the next section, Common Cents is Sacramento Steps Forward’s signature initiative, designed to ensure that individuals and families can access housing and services appropriately tailored to their specific needs within a short period of time, and that homelessness is a brief, rare, and one-time experience. Funded in large part by the City of Sacramento, Common Cents includes:
- creating an integrated outreach team to ensure consistent access to housing and services, especially for the most vulnerable,
- a coordinated entry system that prioritizes the most vulnerable and matches all clients with the appropriate level of housing and services needed to maintain housing,
- data collection and performance management to ensure program efficiency and effectiveness, as well as identify system needs,
- continual adjustment to programs to reflect the size and needs of the homeless population, and
- preventing homelessness through connections to community-based services.
We monitor and report to our community partners regarding Common Cents periodically.
Opportunities for Improvement
In addition to using the Common Cents initiative to understand system performance and areas for improvement, the Continuum of Care has identified thirteen areas of focus to guide its efforts to develop the most responsive, robust, efficient system possible. The table below lists each item in the plan document.
The Continuum of Care Advisory Board and its subcommittees are responsible for reviewing each area, identifying solutions, and taking steps to make improvements to the system. This process is guided by a set of aims and drivers, which capture the relationship between the goals of functional zero for each subpopulation, and the major tasks needed to drive towards those goals. The aims, drivers, and data inputs are being developed by the CoC and are due to be released in early December 2015.
|More Specific Resources Needed||Increased System-Level Responses||Increased Collaboration & Partnership|
|Permanent Supportive Housing||System Navigation||Community Engagement|
|Affordable Housing||Performance Measurement||Diversion and Discharge Planning|
|Crisis Responses||Crisis Responses||Mainstream Communication|
|Behavioral Health Services||Minimized Barriers to Housing||Crisis Response|
|Employment Services||Diversion and Discharge Planning||Regional Collaboration|