ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The City of Rockford says it is making large strides toward improving the issue of homelessness in the community.

Since 2015, Rockford has partnered with the national non-profit, Community Solutions, and has been recognized as one of only three communities in the United States to reach a “function zero” level for housing veterans and those experiencing chronic homelessness.

Angie Walker, Rockford’s homeless program coordinator, says collaborations, nationally and locally, are essential to furthering their improvement.

“It’s really important that we work in conjunction with our partners,” she said. “There’s [sic] quite a few really good agencies around Rockford…[that] touches the homeless population. We try to work with them and build those relationships. It helps us better serve the clients and just helps us better figure out what’s going on in their situation and get them to places that will work for them.”

The city and its homeless shelters are now focused on reaching even more people, saying the need for help is in high demand.

“We see an increase of homelessness, we see an increase of mental health [disease] through homelessness. We see a huge increase in families. Most of the families that come in here are single parents, mothers with 3,4,5 [children],” Walker said. “So, it’s very difficult, without services like what we offer, or the city or some of the other agencies we partner with, without those services they would not be able to make it.”

Walker says the city has plans in place to continue to decrease the homeless population.

“We are working on a winter warming center plan to make sure people are safe throughout the winter, thats number one. It’s too dangerous out there for our folks to be outside, so we have to have a plan for them to make sure they’re safe throughout the winter. Otherwise, just working one-on-one with those folks who are unsheltered, getting them housed and off the streets and continuing to get as many people housed as we can,” she said.

World Homeless Day is Tuesday, October 10th.