There’s no single law or policy alone that’s going to end homelessness. We also need an effective operating system for homelessness. Communities are proving we can build new ways of working together to see problems in real time, and even manage them down to zero.
Operating System for Homelessness: Four Changes That Can Help Every Community End Homelessness
- Create accountability and a shared aim — The antidote is a shared aim: zero homelessness, with equally good and racially equitable outcomes for everyone. There may be dozens of groups that all touch homelessness in some way in your community, but it’s usually no one person’s job to make sure it all adds up to something.
- Establish a feedback loop — Homelessness changes every day, but most communities only measure it once a year. Nearly all Built for Zero communities are now measuring homelessness comprehensively and in real time, allowing them to see whether all those programs are adding up to a result. And if they’re not, they have quality information that can help them decide what to do about it.
- Develop a rapid response discipline — Data can show all kinds of problems, allowing us to zoom in to the most important leverage point for getting to zero. Most often, better data reveals problems with the housing process itself. Being able to see the system allows us to improve it.
- Use flexible resources strategically — Without a shared aim, a reliable housing process, and regular data to help monitor progress and course-correct, it’s basically impossible to implement resources effectively. We can’t just pump more money into a bad system and expect different results.