Coordinated Entry One Way to Prevent and End Youth and Family Homelessness
The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness has released “Building Up Local Solutions,” criteria and benchmarks providing a roadmap of what communities need to strive for to prevent and end youth and family homelessness.
The guidance emphasizes developing and implementing a coordinated entry process, working with other systems, leveraging resources,
“There has been an unprecedented increase in collaboration both among federal agencies and between the government and locally-driven efforts to end homelessness among unaccompanied youth under age 25.”
Centralized or Coordinated Assessment, also known as coordinated entry or coordinated intake, paves the way for more efficient homeless assistance systems by:
- Helping people move through the system faster (by reducing the amount of time people spend moving from program to program before finding the right match);
- Reducing new entries into homelessness (by consistently offering prevention and diversion resources upfront, reducing the number of people entering the system unnecessarily); and
- Improving data collection and quality and providing accurate information on what kind of assistance consumers need.
Coordinated assessment is ideally a system-wide process and can serve any and all populations. Systems may accomplish coordinated assessment through:
- the use of a centralized phone hotline (e.g. a 2-1-1),
- a single physical point of assessment (through an emergency shelter or a dedicated assessment center, for example) or
- a decentralized coordinated system (with multiple assessment points all employing the same assessment and referral process).
In Middlesex County, the Coordinated Assessment System has helped Coming Home of Middlesex County and its partners identify and successfully apply for almost all available slots.
On a related note, communities across New Jersey and the country recently conducted their point in time counts of the homeless.