The Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County announced yesterday that it has been selected, along with 66 other U.S. communities, to participate in Zero: 2016, a national campaign to end veteran and chronic homelessness. The announcement, which came a day before Veterans Day, affirms the local and national commitment to end both veteran and chronic homelessness. The campaign is being spearheaded by the national nonprofit Community Solutions which will work with suburban Cook County to meet the federal goals set by President Obama to end veteran homelessness by December 2015 and chronic homelessness by December 2016. Chronic homelessness is when people experience long-term or repeated homelessness.
Zero: 2016 will formally launch in January 2015, when communities nationwide will enlist volunteers to walk their streets block by block to survey each of their homeless neighbors during the national 2015 Homeless Point-in-Time Count. The Zero: 2016 campaign is a rigorous follow-up to the nation's recent, successful 100,000 Homes Campaign, which announced in June that it helped communities house 105,000 chronically homeless Americans in less than four years. That number includes more than 30,000 veterans and represents an estimated annual taxpayer savings of $1.3 billion.
Jennifer Hill, executive director of the Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County, explains, "Through the 100,000 Homes campaign, suburban Cook County set out to find and house 150 of our most vulnerable homeless neighbors in two years. I am happy to report that through the initiative, the Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County housed 442 vulnerable individuals experiencing long-term homelessness-nearly three times our original goal."
"By participating in the Zero: 2016 initiative, we are affirming that we can work toward the goals of ending both Veteran and chronic homelessness in the next two years," states Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, who in August signed onto the Mayor's Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, a national partnership aimed at ending Veteran homelessness in 2015.
"Chronic and Veteran homelessness are urgent, solvable problems," says Zero: 2016 director Beth Sandor of Community Solutions. "These communities represent a potential tipping point. If they can show that getting to zero is possible, we think it will become untenable for other communities not to follow suit."