Built for Zero


Rockford, Illinois, USA



Growth Rate


Key Stakeholders

  • Homeless People

Homeless People

Other Stakeholders

  • Local NGOs, CSOs, CBOs

  • Faith Groups

  • City Authorities

  • Other Service Providers

  • State / Federal Actors

  • Private Sector

  • Donors

Local NGOs, CSOs, CBOs Faith Groups City Authorities Other Service Providers State ; Federal Actors Private Sector Donors

Relevant SDGS

  • 1 No Poverty
  • 10 Reduced Inequalities
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities


City and Sector

City and Sector





A movement of more than 80 communities in the USA redefining what is possible in ending homelessness.


  • On any given night in the USA, an estimated 500,000 people are experiencing homelessness.


  • The vast majority (up to 70%) of people experiencing homelessness are able to self-resolve this situation with another 15-20% requiring short-term or temporary external support only.


  • However, almost one in four of all homeless individuals experience chronic patterns (typically one year or more) due to extreme vulnerability and serious underlying health or disabling conditions. This is on the rise.


  • People of colour are over-represented: Black people are five times more likely, and Native Americans four times more likely, to experience homelessness than White people.


In this interview, Jake Maguire, who co-directs the Built for Zero campaign, tells us the secrets to its successful innovation, impact and scale in bringing homelessness down towards zero in more than 80 cities in the US; and how they are both inspiring, and in turn inspired by, their international partners scaling the approach in other countries around the world.

You need many many different actors working together to solve a problem this complex… but we don’t have good models for telling stories about these kinds of coalitions – compound heroes.

Jake Maguire

Co-Director, Built for Zero

Key Programme Activities

  • Community engagement

  • Data/technology

  • Community infrastructure

  • Organisational training/skills building

  • Policy/advocacy

  • Research

  • Improved service delivery

  • Stakeholder co-ordination, network-building

  • Technical support

Key Outcomes

Since 2015, Built for Zero has:

  • Scaled to 80 communities in the USA and, with international partners, to multiple cities in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

  • 13 communities which have ended military veteran or chronic homelessness. In January 2017, Rockford became the first community in the USA to end homelessness for both chronic and military veteran populations.

  • Almost 60% of communities which have achieved a measurable reduction in homelessness. 99% have achieved quality real-time data on homelessness.

  • Housed more than 125,000 people by Built for Zero communities.

  • Photo Credits
  •  – Community Solutions

Innovation Report     2020