Focusing on the Achievable: Absolute to Functional Zero
When the City of Calgary launched its 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness on January 29, 2008, its primary goal was Absolute Zero, or the complete elimination of homelessness. As part of this initiative, Calgary Homeless Foundation helped house almost 10,000 people and built nearly 600 units of permanent housing.
However, it became clear that achieving Absolute Zero would be a challenge without corresponding changes to housing, income supports, justice, children’s services and health
In 2018, we worked with our partner agencies to release an updated plan outlining a new goal: Functional Zero.
This revised objective represents a major shift in focus. Instead of seeking an end to homelessness, Functional Zero is about preventing homelessness or making it a rare, brief, and non-recurring experience in a person’s life.
Today, we acknowledge that homelessness may never disappear entirely, but we envision the day when homelessness is merely an episode in someone’s life, rather than a condition that defines it.
How does Functional Zero work?
The goal of Functional Zero is to create housing spaces that exceed the people who need them. That way, people can move quickly into housing and out of homelessness.
To reach this goal, two groups must work together:
Government ministries, like housing, income supports, justice, children’s services and health
The network of agencies known as Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care
Functional Zero envisions the following web of cooperation:
Step 1: government ministries stop people from experiencing homelessness in the first place through measures such as affordable housing, increased income support, and mental health services.
Step 2: if people fall through the cracks, Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care reconnects them to programs and services offered by government ministries.
Step 3: meanwhile, government ministries and Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care collaborate to increases housing spaces and emergency shelter beds, so people experiencing homelessness can move into a home quickly.
What are the advantages of a Functional Zero end to homelessness?
Functional Zero safeguards the health and well-being of vulnerable individuals by helping them move into a home quickly.
Functional Zero also reduces the costs that arise when people without homes use emergency services, such as shelters, hospitals, police services and the criminal justice system.
Finally, Functional Zero keeps all of us in Calgary focused on the unified fight against homelessness.
Together to Zero: Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness