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Akron, Ohio

Akron Receives National Recognition for its Efforts to End Veteran Homelessness

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City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of Ellen Lander Nischt, Press Secretary
Published: 05-26-2017

Akron, Ohio, May 26, 2017 – Today, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan announces that the City has earned a functional zero designation from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The designation is the result of the work of the seven-member, community-wide Veterans Functional Zero Group that created a process to identify Akron-area homeless veterans and help find them housing. Akron is one of less than 50 communities in the nation to receive the designation.

In the work to reduce and end veteran homelessness, achieving “functional zero” means that, at any point in time, sufficient housing is available to meet the needs of all veterans experiencing sheltered or unsheltered homelessness in the community.

Led by Info Line, Inc. and Community Support Services, the Veterans Functional Zero group earned its designation by developing an effective, ongoing process that identifies all Akron-area homeless veterans (regardless of discharge status); tracks and monitors those experiencing and at risk of homelessness; and offers resources to help veterans obtain housing, if that is their wish.

“This designation is a significant achievement for the City of Akron and the Continuum of Care, and a milestone in our fight to end veterans’ homelessness in this community,” Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said. “Our community has come together and made thoughtful, ongoing use of our best resources, expanded services, and removed barriers that prevent the homeless in our city from accessing housing and care.  Our City is fortunate to have so many strong, supportive partners in this effort.”

The Veterans Functional Zero Group also includes members of the Akron/Barberton/Summit County Continuum of Care led by the City of Akron, Community Support Services, Family and Community Services Inc., Haven of Rest and the Veterans Administration.

The effort began in 2016 when HUD tasked its Continuums of Care (local and regional planning bodies that coordinate housing and homeless funding and services) across the nation to achieve “functional zero.” The local Veterans Functional Zero Group has placed more than 100 veterans in housing since it began meeting in January of 2016.

 “The idea behind ‘functional zero’ is not that all homeless veterans are in housing, but that there is a system to address veteran homelessness and provide them with the assistance they want and need,” explained Joe Scalise, vice president of access services at Info Line Inc. and chairman for the group. “It took a lot of time and energy to set up the system and make sure we have a process in place to keep it rolling. I’m extremely proud of the way these organizations work together to help our veterans.”

Criteria for the designation include:

  • The community has identified all veterans experiencing homelessness.

  • The community provides shelter immediately to any veteran experiencing unsheltered homelessness who wants it.

  • The community provides service-intensive transitional housing only in limited instances.

  • The community has capacity to assist veterans to swiftly move into permanent housing.

  • The community has resources, plans, partnerships and system capacity in place, should any veteran become homeless or be at risk of homelessness in the future.

The Veterans Functional Zero Group continues to meet monthly to review cases,  identify new homeless veterans and discuss ways to best assist those in need.

Contacts:  Ellen Lander Nischt
Press Secretary, City of Akron
330-375-2325
[email protected]

Joe Scalise
Vice President of Access Services, Info Line
330-671-1580
[email protected]

Jennifer Rich
Director of Communications, United States Interagency Council on Homelessness
202-205-4800
[email protected]

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