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Homeless Initiative

Glossary (Homeless Initiative)

Built for Zero
The Built for Zero nationwide collaborative represents more than 90 communities that have committed to measurably ending homelessness, one population at a time.

Chronic Homelessness
People experiencing chronic homelessness are entrenched in the shelter system, which acts as long-term housing for this population rather than an emergency option. They are likely to be older, underemployed, and often have a disability. They must be experiencing homelessness for a certain length of time and have a disabling condition such as physical, mental, or behavioral health.

Congregate shelter
A congregate shelter is a shared living environment combining housing and services such as case management and employment services. Often in congregate shelters, people sleep in an open area with others. They are typically separated by gender and have set hours of operation

Continuum of Care
The Continuum of Care (CoC) program promotes community-wide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness. The program provides funding for efforts by nonprofit providers and state and local governments to quickly rehouse homeless individuals and families. At the same time, minimizing the trauma and dislocation caused to homeless individuals, families, and communities by homelessness. Metro Denver Homeless Initiative (MDHI) is the appointed CoC lead for the greater Denver region.

Douglas County School District McKinney-Vento Program
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is the primary piece of legislation related to the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness. Specific provisions ensure enrollment, accessibility, and educational stability for students lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. For more information on McKinney Vento services offered through the Douglas County School District.

Emergency shelter
A facility with the primary purpose of providing temporary shelter for homeless people. For example, cold and hot weather shelters that open during extreme temperatures are considered emergency shelters.  Emergency shelter is currently provided through limited hotel vouchers provided by non-profit agencies and during the winter, through Winter Shelter Network.

Functional Zero
The definition for ending chronic homelessness accounts for the long-lasting nature of chronic homelessness, which can be more readily anticipated and prevented.  As a result, functional zero for chronic homelessness means there are fewer than 3 people experiencing homelessness at any given time (or .1% of the total number of individuals reported in the most recent point-in-time count, whichever is greater).  Functional zero sustains the incidents of homelessness to rare, brief, and infrequent.

Generational Opportunities to Achieve Long-term Success (GOALS)
The GOALS program is a Two-Generation (2Gen) housing program for families experiencing homelessness in Aurora and Arapahoe County. GOALS provides families with a private room while they develop long-term goals for stability and self-reliance. Families are provided a safe space for four to nine months, and one-year of follow-up support.  Families are able to secure safe and stable housing; increase their overall health and well-being; improve employment situations and economic assets; better position children for academic success and enhance connections for these families within their community.

Hidden homelessness
Hidden homelessness refers to people who aren’t part of official counts. They might be couch surfing at a friend’s or a relative’s house.

The Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) collects and reports data on the characteristics of people experiencing homelessness and their service use patterns.

Literally homeless; unsheltered; emergency, temporary, or transitional housing; hotel voucher paid by the agency; in a vehicle with no other option; imminent risk of homelessness; fleeing domestic violence or human trafficking; doubled up with no other option and/or temporarily housed in an institution or care facility.

Imminent risk of homelessness
It applies to individuals and families on the brink of being unhoused. They typically have a late notice, pending count date or have been issued an eviction notice. They don’t typically have sufficient resources or support networks needed to maintain their housing or find other permanent housing solutions.

Metro Denver Homeless Initiative-(MDHI)
Metro Denver Housing Initiative
(MDHI) is the Metro Denver’s Continuum of Care (CoC) system that coordinates services and housing for people experiencing homelessness in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson Counties.  They work closely with the regional communities to build a crisis response system aimed at getting people housed as quickly as possible.

Navigator / Homeless Engagement, Assistance & Resource Team (HEART)
The HART provides collaborative support to individuals and families experiencing homelessness through whole family case management, making connections to stabilization services, and providing information on community-based resources.

Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)
This housing model provides housing assistance and supportive services on a long-term basis to people who formerly experienced homelessness. PSH is funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Continuum of Care program and requires that the client have a disability for eligibility.

Point-in-Time Count
This count is a one-night estimate of both sheltered and unsheltered homeless people nationwide. Local groups conduct one-night counts during the last week in January of each year. Douglas County participates with the local CoC to survey homelessness in the region. Data from the 2020 count shows that 53 individuals were experiencing homelessness in Douglas County on the night of the count. The full report can be found hereData from the 2022 PIT is expected in the early summer.

Transitional Supportive Housing
Transitional housing provides people experiencing homelessness a place to stay combined with supportive services for up to 24 months. Douglas County Cares partners with local non-profits and the Douglas County Housing Partnership to provide support to families living in supportive housing in Douglas County.

Unsheltered & Sheltered homelessness
Unsheltered homelessness refers to people sleeping outdoors in places not designed as a regular sleeping location, such as the street, a park, under an overpass, tent encampments, or abandoned buildings, or in their vehicles with no other safe, permanent place to live. Sheltered homelessness includes people staying in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs or living in a hotel or motel paid for by a non-profit agency.  In Douglas County, we also include those who are fleeing domestic violence or human trafficking, those doubled up with no other option, and those who are temporarily housed in an institution or care facility and would otherwise be homeless when considering the impact of homelessness on our community.