Built for Zero Year in Review
South Central Indiana team has made system improvements since joining BFZ
In May 2022, Heading Home formed a regional team to join Built for Zero. Built for Zero is a national network of more than 100 communities working to measurably and equitably end homelessness. As we pass our one-year anniversary with Built for Zero, it’s a good time to reflect on how far we’ve come.
First, we want to thank our team members for their contributions to these efforts: Melissa Burgess (HealthNet), Forrest Gilmore (Beacon), Bob Goodrum (WellSpring), Mary Morgan (Heading Home), Emily Pike (South Central Housing Network), Danielle Sorden (Region 10 Coordinated Entry Lead), and Tatiana Wheeler (Heading Home) for dedicating their time to improve our system and its outcomes for residents.
Our Built for Zero journey began with a national conference in Chicago, Illinois. At this conference we were introduced to Built for Zero’s philosophies and data-driven strategies for ending homelessness. We were amazed at the size of the gathering – about 500 people from across the nation who were dedicating their time to ending homelessness in their communities. To say it was inspiring would be an understatement.
We found out early on that our local South Central Indiana team would be supported by Built for Zero data coaches. From May to December 2022, we were placed in a cohort for new Built for Zero communities. This cohort was tasked with completing a “Single Adult Scorecard” to assess the quality of our system’s data. This scorecard helped our community identify bottlenecks within our system. Through the help of our data coaches we were able to identify solutions to these challenges.
A few challenges we found:
- The need for a more streamlined, coordinated approach among street outreach teams
- Incomplete provider participation in data sharing, which caused gaps in quality data
- Inconsistent ways of handling data for people who are no longer in the system
- People who were unassessed were not being counted in data reports
- Lack of insight from people with lived experience to guide systemwide decision-making
wE QUICKLY REALIZED THAT JOINING bUILT FOR zERO COULD HELP US CREATE FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE WITHIN OUR HOUSINC CRISIS RESPONSE SYSTEM
We quickly realized that joining Built for Zero could help us create fundamental change within our housing crisis response system.
A few accomplishments we made in the past year to begin addressing our region’s challenges:
- Formed a Street Outreach Policy to coordinate outreach teams
- Deepened local & regional agency relationships
- Created an Inactive Policy to formalize data protocols
- Implemented a procedure to document unassessed individuals to have a more accurate count of people experiencing homelessness
- Implemented client-centered case conferencing approach to more quickly house veterans
Each Built for Zero community is asked to identify a subpopulation to focus on, as an initial strategic step to decrease overall homelessness. Our South Central Indiana team chose to focus on veteran homelessness.
This population was chosen because additional local, state and federal resources are available for veterans. We thought combining our efforts with those already serving veterans could help our region end veteran homelessness.
From June to December 2022 we took time to study our regional data around veteran homelessness. In January we decided to implement an approach called veteran case conferencing. You can read more about that here. Since implementing this approach, 16 veterans have been housed.
While we celebrate the veterans who have moved into housing, we still have work to do. Our goal is to reach functional zero for veterans by January 2024. Functional zero, as defined by Built for Zero, means “fewer veterans are experiencing homelessness than can be routinely housed in a month, with a minimum threshold of 3 veterans.”
Once we reach functional zero for veterans, we plan to look at other subpopulations like youth, families, and people experiencing chronic homelessness.
The South Central Indiana team meets every other week to continue to improve our data quality and brainstorm ways to improve system outcomes.
Our current efforts include the following:
- Continuing work to improve data quality
- Welcoming consultants with lived experience into decision-making roles to improve the housing crisis response system
- Creating a public data dashboard
- Working to reach functional zero for veteran homelessness
Why are we doing all of this? To improve the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors. We are dedicated to this work because we truly believe that our region can make homelessness rare, brief, non-repeating. We’re grateful to everyone who is working daily to make this vision a reality!