Montgomery County’s Interagency Coalition on Homelessness (ICH) has recommitted to ending homelessness for all groups by the end of 2025. The “Zero for All” campaign will be co-chaired by Bethesda Cares, a community nonprofit organization and member of the ICH.
In 2015, Montgomery County was one of the first four communities in the U.S. to reach functional zero for veterans’ homelessness. Through the Inside (not Outside) campaign, more than 450 adults experiencing chronic homelessness were housed. Between 2013 and 2022, there has been a 41 percent decrease in the number of people experiencing homelessness, including a 50 percent reduction in homelessness for households with children under age 18.
“Housing is a human right, and we must work to provide immediate access to housing without preconditions or barriers,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “While the goal of ending homelessness for all populations may seem audacious, we have already demonstrated our ability to quickly house adults and families and provide them supports that hopefully make their experience of homelessness as one-time only. A focus on housing first has helped us end homelessness for veterans in our County, and we can and must do the same for others.”
The County is partnering with Built for Zero (BfZ), an international movement of more than 100 communities working to end homelessness in a measurable and equitable way. Ending homelessness does not mean that no one will ever experience homelessness. It refers to all efforts being made to prevent homelessness whenever possible, and when prevention is not possible, people are rapidly connected to permanent housing that best meets their unique needs.
BfZ defines ending homelessness for all by reaching ‘functional zero’ for all groups.
“Functional zero” means that the number of households actively experiencing homelessness is less than or equal to the monthly rate at which households achieve stable housing. For Montgomery County, ‘functional zero’ means that by the end of 2025, no more than 89 people will be experiencing homelessness at a given time.
“We believe the Built for Zero campaign to end homelessness is the most important endeavor our community has ever initiated on behalf of persons experiencing homelessness in Montgomery County,” said John Mendez, executive director of Bethesda Cares. “Bethesda Cares is truly honored to work alongside SEPH and Community Solutions in leading this campaign and lending our expertise in this groundbreaking work. The goal of making homelessness in Montgomery County rare, brief and non-recurring is within sight and we are dedicated to ensuring our community functions to provide the permanent housing and healthcare support that all vulnerable residents deserve,”
In partnership with BfZ, SEPH and community stakeholders collectively gathered on Dec. 14 to reaffirm Montgomery County’s commitment to end homelessness. At the meeting, six-month milestones were set, which will be reviewed bi-annually. The first set of milestones, which have a completion deadline of June 2023, include:
- A fully operational coordinated entry system for youth.
- For families, a 45-day average length of time from identification to move-in.
- Decreasing the number of older adults entering homelessness each month by 50 percent (from six to three).
- For vulnerable adults, a 45-day average length of time from assigned to housed.
- No more than seven veterans experiencing homelessness (decrease from 10).
- Housing 350 adult-only households.
For more information about the Montgomery County Zero for All campaign, visit the County’s ending homelessness website. If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness or at risk of eviction, call 311 to be connected with DHHS services.