Community becomes the third in Canada to reach Functional Zero Veteran Homelessness
(Fort McMurray, AB – Aug. 21, 2023) – The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness has recognized Fort McMurray as the third community in Canada to reach Functional Zero Veteran Homelessness. This milestone would not have been possible without the work of 14 community organizations supporting the program and serving the homeless sector, the Royal Canadian Legion and Veterans Affairs Canada.
Fort McMurray, Alberta join London, Ontario, and St. Thomas-Elgin, Ontario, as the three communities that have ended veteran homelessness.
What is Functional Zero Veteran Homelessness?
Achieving Functional Zero Veteran Homelessness means the number of veterans experiencing homelessness is less or equal to the number of veterans a community has proven to be able to house in a month, with a baseline of no more than three veterans per month experiencing homelessness.
Fort McMurray went through a rigorous third-party verification process led by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness to be recognized as reaching Functional Zero Veteran Homelessness.
How was this milestone achieved?
Working with Built for Zero Canada (BFZ-C, a program of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness) and its partners, the community developed tools to ensure that veterans experiencing homelessness are quickly identified and matched with the most appropriate housing and services.
The Municipality along with community agencies and partners worked together to implement a system to acquire real-time data on every veteran experiencing homelessness, with a By-Name List, and built a Coordinated Access system. This ensures the community can respond quickly and prevent veteran homelessness whenever possible, making homelessness for veterans rare, brief and non-recurring.
Addressing homelessness in other populations
Although the number of veterans housed through this work is relatively small, solving homelessness for veterans serves as a framework for reducing and ending homelessness in other populations. Fort McMurray is already putting these lessons into practice and, as of May 2023, have reduced the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness by 58 per cent of their baseline, moving 391 people into housing.
Federal and Provincial funding supporting this work
This achievement would not have been possible without funding from the federal government through Infrastructure Canada’s Reaching Home program and Veteran Affairs Canada’s Veterans and Family Well-Being Fund; and from the Government of Alberta through the Outreach and Support Services Initiative.
To learn more about how Fort McMurray ended veteran homelessness, read the case study here.
Find more information about the community response to all homelessness on the Municipal website.
“Achieving deep reductions in chronic homelessness and ending homelessness for veterans in the face of a wave of new homelessness being experienced across the country is a huge accomplishment. Fort McMurray is demonstrating incredible national leadership by proving that homelessness can end and showing how to do it. They are giving hope to communities across the country.” – Tim Richter, President and CEO of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.
“These communities’ achievements are a testament to their care and hard work — and are in recognition of veterans’ service to Canada. Everyone deserves a safe place to call home and Fort McMurray shows us, once again, that when we put a laser focus on our goal, we can end homelessness.” – Marie Morrison, Director of Built for Zero-Canada, Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.
“We have such tremendous gratitude and respect for the people that have served our country, and this achievement demonstrates what can happen when we all work together to fully support community members experiencing homelessness. My deepest appreciation goes out to all of the community organizations and other levels of government that collaborated with us to make this a reality. While there is much more work to be done, my hope is that there will be lessons learned from this positive step that can applied to how we best serve those continuing to experience homelessness in our region.” – Mayor Sandy Bowman, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
“Alberta’s government is committed to supporting people experiencing homelessness, especially those who have bravely served our country. Affordable housing linked with supports is a critical part of a successful response to homelessness and I am proud to work with leaders in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo to move Albertans in need into appropriate housing options.” – Jason Nixon, Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services
“We owe veterans a debt of gratitude and to look after them by providing them with a safe and stable place to call home, like they ensured we had too. Our work with the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo exemplifies a strong collaboration aimed at supporting veterans. It underscores our unwavering dedication to those who have served our nation. Achieving the milestone of Functional Zero Veteran Homelessness is a significant achievement.” – The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities