Running toward zero

Like many other graduates during these Coronavirus times, my anticipated summer design internship finally manifested as a fall design internship. For the past couple months I've had the pleasure of helping with the design load at a nonprofit called Community Solutions.

Through impactful organizing by their movement arm Built for Zero and in partnership with Tableau, they empower leaders to meaningfully assess homelessness in their community through a personal and data-driven methodology. The aim is functional zero. That means "fewer people are experiencing homelessness than can be routinely housed in a month." This measure is radical in that it boldly and rightly assumes that ending homelessness is possible.

The key tool used by Built for Zero is called a run chart. You can read more about their methodology on the Community Solutions blog.

Built for Zero's approach is methodological and "running towards zero" looks a lot more like a marathon than a sprint. They have had a number of considerable wins with 84 communities participating in Built for Zero and 13 ending chronic or veteran homelessness entirely. Caution is taken when announcing a new community that has hit functional zero—sustainability must be proven and the community needs to buy into an achievement we've been socialized to view as impossible. Data helps.

New communities are in line to hit functional zero, and I worked with one of their run charts and maps for the announcement. Whereas I pulled out the image trace function on Adobe Illustrator for the Baltimore City Health Department in my last post, I went manual with this map for Community Solutions—using the pen tool to get the crisp look they needed. I'm looking forward to that announcement, but for now I've been geeking out on election maps and noticing design choices their data visualizers made. For example MSNBC....maybe don't make the uncalled states on the U.S. map a darker shade of blue? It got me excited and then angry a bit prematurely.

#runcharts #Tableau #homelessness #elections2020 #BuiltforZero