WHAT IS COORDINATED ACCESS?
Coordinated Access is a standardized method for accessing housing/homeless services from the point that a household experiences homelessness to the point that they are again stably housed. It requires standardized and written protocols, assessment tools, and agreed upon priorities among the community who serve those experiencing homelessness.
The State Department of Housing (DOH), with partners from CT Coalition to End Homelessness, Partnership for Strong Communities, and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), designed a system of eight Coordinated Access Networks (CANs), or regions, based on the transient movement of people experiencing homelessness. Contiuums of Care (CoC’s) and towns within these CAN regions worked to design very specific Coordinated Access protocols and procedures for access to housing and shelter services, that would link up to the statewide Coordinated Access framework operated by 211 and funded by the state Department of Housing.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Shelter: From November 17, 2014 on, in order to access emergency shelters, households in need and/or their advocates/service providers must call 211 (1-800-203-1234 for SafeLink users) to enter the Coordinated Access Network service system. Callers should select 3 then 1 to be patched through to a housing specialist.
- 211 will briefly interview the household and seek to refer them to existing prevention or diversion programs (i.e. Utility assistance, security deposit assistance, domestic violence programs, etc.)
- If diversion and referrals are not possible and the household is within 48 hours of becoming homeless (on the streets or in a shelter), 211 will schedule a GH-CAN Assessment appointment with one of the GH-CAN providers, this appointment is typically the same day, or the next day.
- The GH-CAN assessment will provide more robust diversion assessment and will explore any safe options to avoid entering emergency shelter. If shelter is deemed necessary the household will then be added to our regional shelter priority list.
***Exception*** During the cold period from December 15 through March 15, the Cold Weather Protocol will be activated and households will be placed into available overflow solutions. In Greater Hartford and Central CT when the Governor activates the Severe Cold Weather Protocol, some shelters will remain open 24 hours and towns may open warming shelters during business hours. Every attempt will be made to shelter individuals with the resources available.
Housing: Housing programs, including both rental assistance and services components, are an expensive and valuable resource to the community. Coordinated Access is designed to screen and assess all those in need, to determine what type of housing assistance they might best be suited for. Instead of program by program waitlists on a first come, first served, basis, there will now be one community-wide referral list known as the By Name List in CT HMIS. Each different type of housing intervention will have its own prioritized referral list. Highest priority for the most intensive intervention, permanent supportive housing, will go to those who are experiencing chronic homelessness (long term homelessness with a disability) with high service needs. Others, who may face fewer obstacles to stable housing and have shorter experiences with homeless, may be prioritized for Rapid Re-housing programs.
The community-wide housing program referral list will be generated from the Connecticut By-Name List in CT HMIS. This is an online system accessible to trained service providers. Currently, trained end users exist at many area shelters, several soup kitchens, and some healthcare providers within the region. This shared list is used in all regional housing matching meetings to prioritize households for any housing program openings.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF COORDINATED ACCESS?
• It is a centralized and coordinated system that is transparent to the community.
• It will allow us to establish an unduplicated count of those who seek and need housing/homeless assistance services allowing us to advocate for needed resources in an informed manner.
• It will allow us to target existing and future resources in the most effective way.
• It will create a culture change where all those involved in Coordinated Access are focused on the outcome of getting people rapidly into housing.
• It is flexible. This process is new and it is anticipated adjustments will be necessary