Montgomery County Reaches ‘Functional Zero’ in Number of Homeless Veterans

Montgomery County Reaches ‘Functional Zero’ in Number of Homeless Veterans

'Functional zero' means county thinks it has enough supportive housing spots for any veterans who might become homeless in the future

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A former homeless veteran working with Bethesda Cares moves into a new home earlier this year

Via Bethesda Cares

Montgomery County says it’s one of about 25 jurisdictions across the country to house or have housing available for all of its known homeless veterans.

The county’s Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday announced it has reached what’s called “functional zero” when it comes to the number of homeless veterans. Functional zero accounts for the fact the county has funding and other resources in place to quickly house homeless veterans who may be identified in the future.

The announcement came almost a month after Bethesda Cares, a homeless outreach organization based on Woodmont Avenue, announced it had reached “absolute zero” in terms of homeless veterans living on the streets of Bethesda.

“For the first time in decades, there are no veterans experiencing the tragic ills of homelessness on the streets in Bethesda,” Bethesda Cares announced. “Year by year, we’ve coordinated referrals, advocated for housing resources, and we set an expectation to eliminate veterans’ homelessness.”

Related: Housing homeless veterans remains a priority for local outreach group

Much of Bethesda Cares’ recent progress came thanks to a rapid rehousing initiative that provides rent and supportive services including job training. Bethesda Cares housed nine formerly homeless veterans during a six-week period of October and November.

Helped in part by $500,000 in county funding for the fiscal year that started in July, the county said it, along with outreach groups such as Bethesda Cares, housed 53 formerly homeless veterans in 2015.

The county’s targeting of homeless veterans was spurred in part by the national Zero: 2016 initiative, which encouraged jurisdictions to house all homeless veterans by the end of 2015.

The county’s plan also included using federal vouchers for homeless veterans and coordinating services with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

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