Montgomery County achieved functional zero for veterans experiencing homelessness at of the end of December 2015. The County's effort has been recognized by both the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (ISICH) and the Zero: 2016 Campaign. Zero: 2016 is a national effort of 71 communities across the United States who have committed to ending veterans homelessness by December 2015 and chronic homelessness by December 2017.
Montgomery County's Zero: 2016 effort builds upon the successful
100,000 Homes Campaign
. Montgomery County's Zero: 2016 Plan was developed with a primary focus on the rapid exit of veterans from homelessness to permanent, sustainable housing. The following plan was the result of discussions between the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and key stakeholders including family and single adult shelter providers, veterans groups, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) providers and others. This group reviewed the current homeless Continuum of Care (CoC) to determine what resources - Federal, State and County - and strategies were needed to address veterans homelessness. These strategies required the redeployment of existing resources and the addition of new resources to reduce the length of time veterans remain homeless. The focus on ending veteran homelessness in 2015 was an extension of a system-wide embrace of the Housing First Model and on-going prioritization of veterans for housing.
Montgomery County's successful strategies to achieve functional zero for veterans experiencing homelessness included identifying specific targets for both the number of placements needed as well as types of housing required, development of a comprehensive list (by name) of all veterans experiencing homelessness, and the prioritization of veterans for available housing. Close collaboration with the Veterans Administration (VA) helped shorten the length of time for eligibility determination. Additionally, local commitment of funding to create additional housing options was critical to our success. The CoC strives to achieve the vision of making homelessness a rare, brief and non-recurring event for veterans in Montgomery County.