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Maine implements nationwide initiative to help curb homelessness

More than 4,000 people in Maine do not have a place to stay, according to MaineHousing's latest numbers from January.

MAINE, USA — Across some communities in Maine, it's common to see people and families living without a roof over their heads.

It's something the state is working to reduce by joining a national initiative, Built For Zero.

Part of the idea is to move to a real-time data system, so the state knows who needs help and where. To do that, the state set up nine hubs to chip away at the issue with the goal of functionally ending homelessness.

Built For Zero's goal is to achieve functional zero, which means the number of people experiencing homelessness does not outpace the community's record to house that number of people.

Credit: Community Solutions

A total of 105 communities across the U.S. are participating in Built For Zero, and 14 have functionally ended homelessness.

"Part of getting there is believing that it can be done. So, I think the team that's working on this really knows that this is a proven strategy," Scott Thistle, MaineHousing communications director, said.

Maine's goal by June 30, 2025, is to reach a level of functional zero for the state's homeless veteran population. By June 30, 2026, Maine's goal is to reach functional zero statewide for chronic homelessness.

Hub 7's coordinator, Jen Weatherbee, said the hub's command team is piloting a program to help the team communicate more effectively.

"As well get an idea of who's experiencing homelessness, being able to talk about them, connect them to resources, match them to resources," Weatherbee said.

Colorado was the first state to try the Built For Zero program. After a year and a half, it said the number of people experiencing homelessness dropped in several areas across the state.

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