The Vision

Zero Returns to Homelessness is a national movement with an ambitious goal: secure housing for every person reentering their community from incarceration.

Just as the “functional zero” concept is used to measure if a community has sustainably ended homelessness for a population, the concept of Zero Returns to Homelessness challenges states and communities to drive toward a future where all people have a safe, permanent place to call home upon reentering  the community after incarceration whether they are coming back home or coming home for the first time. It is an ambitious, but critical goal that can help break the cycle between homelessness and incarceration and “move the needle” on one of the most challenging issues in the reentry field. While episodes of homelessness will still occur at times, by following the strategies in thisis Call to Action, these episodes will be rare, brief, and non-recurring. 

In practice, Zero Returns to Homelessness entails elected officials, providers, and community leaders working together across systems and sectors— sometimes in new ways— to ensure there are sufficient housing and support service resources to make this goal a reality. It also requires the involvement of a wide range of people, from the decision makers who allocate resources, to the program managers who make meaningful coordination happen, and especially the people with lived experience in homelessness and the criminal justice system to lead and inform all aspects of the work.

Making this goal a reality will require the inclusion of a wide range of partners across agencies and sectors, including (but not limited to): 

  • State departments of correction
  • Sheriff’s departments and other local corrections agencies
  • Parole and probation departments
  • Continuums of Care (CoCs)
  • Public Housing Authorities (PHAs), affordable housing providers, and landlords
  • State housing finance agencies
  • State and local officials
  • Behavioral health and other service providers
  • Leaders/staff from key planning bodies such as Criminal Justice Coordinating Councils


Homelessness is a cross-systems problem in need of cross-systems solutions [That] means working closely with the criminal justice system to make sure that no one ever leaves jail or prison only to end up in a shelter or an encampment.United States Interagency Council on Homelessness Executive Director Jeff Olivet

The research is clear: connecting people with housing works and is fundamental to reentry success.