The goal of any coordinated entry system is to make sure dollars intended to provide intensive housing assistance are prioritized for those who have a high acuity of need. This kind of system can prove to be counter-intuitive for many of us and make for difficult choices when you are face to face with a person who is motivated and ready to find housing today, who will do whatever you ask to get into housing and yet is not a high enough priority client on the "by name" list. It is difficult to see a client who has found housing and needs assistance, not be able to receive rental assistance through intensive housing assistance programs like Rapid Re-Housing.
Data shows that helping those who are high priority saves communities in both dollars and lives. The longer a person is homeless, the greater the personal health risk for the person who is homeless and the greater the economic impact to the community in areas like health care, criminal justice and social service systems. HUD provides a road map for improving Continuum of Care system performance and it focuses on assisting those with the higher acuity of need Click here to see this document .
It is just those high priority clients that are the most difficult to find housing. They take a concerted effort and a community commitment. It takes landlords, housing case workers, the mental health and addiction treatment systems, employers and others working together to not only house that person, as soon as possible, but to wrap around services to better assure the person remains in their home.
Yet, we still have to face those who are "ready and willing". For these persons we need to learn more about and focus on diversion and early intervention. These clients are not only motivated for housing but have few barriers. A "lighter touch" recognizes that there are limited funds for intensive housing assistance and that statistically a great majority of persons facing homelessness or experiencing it for a short time do "self-resolve" without public dollars.
Our housing case management, then, focuses on those who have a higher acuity of need and who have been experiencing homelessness for a longer time. This will mean we may serve fewer overall with a greater investment per client in rental assistance, wrap around services and help with finding available and affordable housing.
For this reason we have begun bringing our case managers together in "housing case conferencing" to find effective solutions and collaborative strategies. We encourage all case managers to participate and help forge solutions for each client, one by one.