Writes TAC, “For several years TAC consultants have been on a journey with communities to create effective, sound Coordinated Entry (CE) systems and processes that contribute to their larger goal of ending homelessness. As the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) January 23, 2018 deadline for Coordinated Entry compliance nears, we want to share some planning tips that we have seen contribute to creative and efficient systems.”
TAC’s advice is to align your local goals to end homelessness with HUD’s goals for coordinated entry.
TAC’s Ashley Mann-McLellan writes, “We often see communities concerned about the compliance aspect of Coordinated Entry, which leads them to direct planning efforts toward the goal of “checking off the boxes” of Coordinated Entry requirements. We challenge communities instead to consider Coordinated Entry a powerful tool in their efforts to end homelessness. HUD promotes some key strategies that really are essential in reducing and ending homelessness, such as ensuring that all processes are as low-barrier as possible, implementing uniform assessment to ensure uniform decision-making across systems, and prioritizing assistance to the most vulnerable.”
Some planning activities that might be especially helpful include:
Integrate change management strategies into planning. This includes:
Continually acknowledge the change that is happening
Engage the stakeholders in creating the system and problem-solving
Work to create a culture of innovation and “failing forward”
Promote fidelity to housing first
Incorporate consumers in the planning process
Continually assess programs’ fidelity to Housing First
Get funders trained in Housing First
Housing First is an evidence based best practice designed to end homelessness and support recovery by housing individuals as quickly as possible and then wrapping services around them as needed. This housing model has proven effective in housing a wide variety of homeless population subsets including chronically homeless households and families and the general homeless population.
Within this model, housing is not contingent upon participation in services and services provided are designed to promote housing stability.
In Middlesex County, more than half of the 33 Housing First vouchers that NJ DCA awarded to Coming Home Middlesex, a non-profit organization, have already been leased up or will be issued to eligible chronically homeless persons.
Centralized and/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 all populations. Systems may accomplish coordinated assessment through 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.