Suburban Cook County Selected to Join National Campaign to End Veteran and Chronic Homelessness

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November 10, 2014 — The Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County announced today 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 comes 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.”

Nationally, Numbers Continue to Decline

On October 30, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released the results of the 2014 National Homeless Point-in-Time Count, which show homelessness continues to decline across virtually all major categories, including a 10 percent reduction in overall homelessness and a 25 percent drop in the unsheltered population since 2010. Veteran homelessness was singled out by the report for its particularly steep decline—33 percent in the last four years.

Local Partners in Suburban Cook County

In conjunction with these national initiatives, the Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC) and the Edward Hines Jr. VA have joined the Alliance’s efforts in putting a priority on housing for people experiencing homelessness. HACC has implemented homeless preferences in its public housing and voucher waiting lists, and it is currently involved in the “FLOW initiative,” an effort to extend housing supports for formerly homeless people who no longer need the help of the homeless system.

“This partnership will ensure that permanent housing opportunities are available to families and Veterans who have experienced homelessness. It is a critical piece in the Continuum of Care,” Richard Monocchio, executive director of the Housing Authority of Cook County, highlights.

Other Illinois communities selected to be a part of the Zero: 2016 initiative include the city of Chicago, Lake County, and the Rockford-Winnebago-Boone County Continuum of Care.

January 2015 Homeless Count

Suburban Cook County will launch its participation in Zero: 2016 with the Homeless Point-In-Time Count on the night of Wednesday, January 28, 2015. Teams of volunteers will canvass the region in an effort to count every unsheltered homeless person in suburban Cook County.  The results of the Count will serve as a baseline to track progress within the Zero: 2016 campaign. The Alliance will train volunteers on the night of the event in three locations in north, west, and south suburban Cook County. For more information on the event or to register as a volunteer, visit www.suburbancook.org/homelesscount.

National Zero: 2016 Contact Local Contact:
Jake Maguire Bethany Maynard-Moody
jmaguire@cmtysolutions.org bethany@suburbancook.org
(347) 266-0175 (708) 890-1004

The Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County is a nonprofit organization responsible for planning and coordinating homeless services and housing options for all of Cook County outside of Chicago. To learn more, please visit www.suburbancook.org