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How close are we to ending homelessness?

Ever heard of ‘functional zero?’

a line graph showing a downward trend
(not real data, obviously)


If you guessed it’s the temperature that freezes your car engine in the dead of winter, you’d be wrong.

But if you guessed it’s the number that tells us we’ve ended homelessness, you’d be right.

We’re talking about it now because the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness 20,000 Homes Campaign Progress Report was released earlier this summer, and functional zero is a key concept.


Here’s what we mean:


Let’s say you got 15 emails yesterday, and you dealt with all of them plus two from the day before. Kudos on the email management! You’re at functional zero.

In the housing sector, it’s the same principle. Functional zero means that at the end of every month, more people were housed than became homeless.

While clearing your inbox may seem like a pipe dream, the 20,000 Homes Campaign believes that reaching functional zero to end homelessness is anything but.


The first step: build your waitlist


The Region of Waterloo has been getting to know the people who need housing the most by creating a ‘by-name list’ or BNL.

The list does two important things. One, it identifies the people who need housing with supports the most. Two, it tells us how close we are to functional zero.

Right now, Waterloo Region’s by-name list has one of the highest ratings in Canada, according to the folks at the Community Solutions BNL Scorecard.

For more info about the progress Waterloo Region is making, check out the report.


Still not crystal clear?


If the concept still isn’t resonating, take a few minutes to view this fabulous video created by Community Solutions :



UPDATE: Sept. 20, 2017

We just received word that Waterloo Region is the first community in Canada to receive an 11/11 rating on its By-Name List. Well done!