In order to effectively end homelessness, Clackamas County has joined the nationwide Built for Zero movement – that is, zero homelessness on a sustained basis. Built for Zero is an evidence-based methodology that has so far helped 14 U.S. cities and counties virtually eliminate homelessness.
A key part of the Built for Zero implementation in Clackamas County was the launch of our first-ever coordinated homeless outreach program in November 2022. Six organizations are conducting this outreach on a daily basis across the county, offering a variety of outreach and safety services through pop-up and mobile methods and through visiting encampments.
Outreach workers meet with people who are experiencing homelessness, provide essential survival gear and services, and match them to shelter and permanent housing. During severe weather this year, outreach workers offered life-saving supplies and identified highly vulnerable people for emergency shelter placement.
All outreach workers are trained in Coordinated Housing Access (CHA) assessments, which are used to create a by-name list of each person experiencing homelessness in the county.
"The by-name list is a critical part of our Built for Zero work,” says county outreach coordinator Gelinda Chernault. “We don’t want anyone to only be contacted once or get lost in the system. Through our outreach work, weekly collaboration across agencies, strong data collection and an updated by-name list, we are now getting to a place where we can build real relationships with every single person experiencing homelessness. When that occurs, we can provide each person the unique support that they need. This program is helping the county make visible progress, and it’s bringing hope to our friends on the street.”