A Place To Call Home: Built For Zero / Homeless Hubs

Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 9:44 AM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -Recently we told you about Maine’s Homeless Hub initiative, which helps connect local stakeholders and helps those stakeholders provide services to people experiencing homelessness through the Built for Zero Model. In this segment of “A PLACE TO CALL HOME” Corey Bouchard takes a closer look at the Hub initiative and Built for Zero

Erin Healy - State Strategy Lead - Built For Zero " Built for Zero is a national initiative of over 100 communities nationwide that are working towards an equitable and measurable end to homelessness”

Erin Healy is the State Strategy Lead for Built For Zero, she says the goal of Built For Zero is two part, the first is a concept not new to Aroostook county when it comes to this issue ; collaboration between area stakeholders.

Erin” The way that we’re doing that is helping communities create collaborative teams across multiple agencies that together can improve their system performance so they can reach something a measurable end state we call functional zero”

The second part involves collecting as close to real time data as possible on those experiencing homelessness.

Erin " If you cant measure a problem, you cant solve it... The first thing these teams need to do with the support of MaineHousing is to try to get quality data”

All of the data collected is entered into the Homeless Management Information System, which is managed by the Maine State Housing Authority. As of February, Maine Housing also was able to fund Homeless Hub Coordinators to lead the data collection and planning efforts in their region to reach functional zero

Scott Thistle - Communications Director - MaineHousing " the Hub coordinators in each of the 9 regional hubs, their role is really to make sure that when someone is experiencing homelessness or is at risk of experiencing homelessness that they are rapidly connected with the resources in that area either to get into emergency shelter, or supportive housing if they need supportive housing or eventually get into long-term stable housing....the housing crisis that Maine is facing is not unique to Maine, It’s a national crisis, the shortage of affordable housing, these things are all interconnected in some ways "

One community that has come up with a plan to reduce the amount of unsheltered homeless on their streets is Burlington Vermont, who recently signed off on a project to build a 30 pod community. The Pods are individual one room shelters with a shared kitchen and bathroom area as well. Healy thinks the pod style communities could be one of many different solutions that could work to reach functional zero

Erin”I do think, I will say generally that the idea of the smaller density and economy of scale in the smaller unit i think is a great sign of the future, we’re not gonna build our way out of this with single family homes and those kinds of apartment buildings have a community built in”

Community, Healy says is very important to people recovering from homelessness, because having a strong support system can make the difference between successfully recovering, or continuing to struggle with homelessness, Corey Bouchard, NS8.