Abilene, Texas Ends Veteran Homelessness as Part of Built for Zero

At Quicken Loans, we believe that if you sacrifice to keep our country strong and safe, you deserve a place to call home. That’s why we’re proud to support Built for Zero, a national initiative to end veteran homelessness.

Through Built for Zero, more than 70 communities have housed more than 65,000 veterans. Even more impressive: eight communities have ended veteran homelessness. Today, we’re proud to share that this number is increasing to nine as Abilene, Texas has joined this list!

Abilene’s success is a testament both to the passion of that community and the success of Built for Zero. Keep reading to learn how Abilene became the fastest community to reach functional zero for veteran homelessness, achieving this remarkable milestone in only 10 months!

They Accounted for Everyone

For John Meier, ending veteran homelessness is personal. After serving in the U.S. Marines Corps, Meier experienced a layoff and then lost his own housing through eviction. With no other housing options, he slept in his car for three months. Fortunately, Meier was able to escape homelessness through the support of the Veterans Affairs and a dedicated case manager. Since then, Meier’s been working hard to provide this same support for other veterans through the organization Home Again West Texas.

 Making the problem of homelessness personal is key to the success of Built for Zero. The Abilene team set out to meet each person experiencing homeless in their community, learned what challenges they were facing and collected this information in a by-name list. With a regularly updated by-name list, they kept track of each person who entered or exited homelessness and received the information they needed to provide the right solution for them. 

They Worked Together

Having a shared goal is essential to success, which is why all the agencies focused on homelessness in Abilene formed a command center to meet regularly and discuss their strategies. With a common mission to end veteran homelessness, the group met twice a month to develop strategies on reducing the by-name list. With each meeting, they would report on how many veterans were experiencing homelessness and what actions they could take to help them into housing – this created shared accountability and drove momentum. The more the numbers dropped, the more excited the group became to reach zero.  

They Tried New Things

 With a problem as complex as homelessness, there’s no single strategy that’s right – which is why it’s important to try new things. The Abilene community collaborated on a mix of strategies and measured their impact on reductions. Some ideas focused on preventing veterans from losing their homes. Other ideas were focused on housing veterans actively experiencing homelessness. Whatever strategy they tried, the team made sure to track their progress to find out what worked best. 

Eventually, they hit on the right mix of strategies that allowed them to house veterans more quickly, reducing the average length of time from more than 40 days down to 26 days. To help get Abilene over the last mile, they even held a 100-Day Mayor’s Challenge to motivate the community even more. With these strategies in place, Abilene is now focused on maintaining this achievement and moving on to chronic homelessness.

To learn more about how Abilene and other communities have ended veteran homelessness, check out the Built for Zero website or read this interview with Rosanne Haggerty, the President and CEO of Community Solutions.

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. As a Marine veteran, I applaud the work of those spearheading the Built For Zero campaign as one solution to the homeless veteran situation. The issue is more complex than any one reason for anyone experiencing homelessness but it is an issue worth working to solve or, at the least, offer hope to those seeking it.

    1. Hi Mark:

      Thank you for your comment. One of the things that makes Built for Zero effective is how it provides communities a framework for identifying individuals experiencing homelessness quickly through a coordinated point-of-entry system. That way, a community can understand the drivers of homelessness in real-time. While it is still possible that people are missed, it is far less likely in a system where these measures are in place. If you know a veteran who could benefit from assistance, we would love to get that information to our partners at Community Solutions. I’m going to reach out to you via email and we can pass along any information you have to the team. You can also connect with Home Again West Texas, which coordinates the work locally.

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