Let's Review the Basics of Effective Coordinated Entry

Tick. Tock. Time is passing as your community moves forward to being in compliance with coordinated entry requirements. Or you are a community in a jurisdiction other than the United States where you are doing coordinated entry not because you have to, but because you know it is the right thing to do.

The whole point of coordinated entry, in a nutshell, is to get the right youth, adult or family (including those that have experienced domestic violence) to the right support and housing program, in the right order, to end their homelessness permanently. 

Seems like a no brainer. But then there is confusion. So let us clear some of that up and go back to basics on a few things.

To make this happen, you will need to have a detailed inventory of all of the housing programs and services that exist in your community. You can watch a short video about that here.

You will also need to know what your community's priorities are so that you are investing your time get the targeted population document ready. For example, if your community says your top priority for PSH are those that are chronically homeless, been homeless 5 or more years, have tri-morbidity, are sleeping in unsheltered or unsafe places, and have a VI-SPDAT score of 13 or above, then that is the group that you want to focus your time and attention to first to make sure all of their paperwork ready so that they are on your priority list. We know there can be confusion between by-name lists, coordinated entry lists, and priority lists, so we produced a short video that you can watch here.

You will need an assessment tool. Whether that is the VI-SPDAT or some other tool, there are certain things you should look for in selecting and using your assessment tool. A good assessment tool should:

  • Be grounded in evidence and be rigorously tested.
  • Be easy to administer.
  • Assist with identifying different levels and types of housing supports.
  • Include the voice of persons with lived experience in its creation.
  • Be sensitive to culture, race, gender, and various types of homelessness.
  • Reinforce a trauma-informed approach to service delivery.
  • Transcend different population groups.
  • Work for YOUR community, YOUR principles, and YOUR prioritization process.

The results of the assessment tool should inform part of you decision-making process, but should not be the ultimate decision-maker. (As we note frequently with the SPDAT suite of products, that last three letters of the acronym stand for Decision Assistance Tool, not Decision Making Tool).

You will need to determine access points of when and how the assessment is administered. These can be fixed sites or mobile or a combination thereof, and can include virtual access points or portals. Both your assessment tool and your access points should reflect what your community's top priorities are so that you increase the likelihood of reaching them and addressing their needs. For example, it would make no sense to have one fixed access point with very limited access that requires potential candidates to show up in person if your intention is to serve very vulnerable people living unsheltered as your top priority for PSH.

Finally, in terms of the basics, you will need to pick the Coordinated Entry model that works best for your community and your priorities. There are three main types of coordinated entry models, each with their own pros and cons. You can see a brief overview of them in this video here.


We hope this "back to basics" blog is helpful for those of you in the home stretch on coordinated entry. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out and let us know. Or, if you need more detailed consulting assistance to help you reach the finish line, please also reach out. info@orgcode.com 

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The Importance of Lifelong Learning

One of the great privileges of my work is the ability to strengthen lifelong learning within myself, and to share the knowledge that I have with others. As you know, we deliver a lot of training at OrgCode, and when we have the chance to revisit communities after training - often months or even years later - we can see if what was learned translated into action. Sometimes we have multi-year engagements with organizations or communities and we can see growth incrementally over time. And then there is the conference circuit - especially state conferences - where I will complete my 9th in just the past few months later this week. All of this comes down to the importance of lifelong learning. Why do we need it? What should it look like?

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What's Your Motivation?

Why do you still do this work? 

Not what brought you into it 10 years ago or 5 years ago or 6 months ago or whatever. Why do you still do this work TODAY?

This work is generally thankless, yet critically important. While everyone else is running out of the proverbial fire, you wake up each morning and decide to run into the fire. You believe the people you serve are worthiest of your highest esteem. You believe that biography does not equal destiny. You believe that people can have a better life and housing situation than their current circumstances suggest today. 

But why are you still motivated?

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An Introduction from Ann on Her Role With OrgCode - Why Leadership?

Ann takes over the blog this week to outline her role as "Leader in Residence" with OrgCode and outline her passion to improve and develop leaders working to end homelessness.

Since Iain announced last week that I am coming on board with the team at OrgCode as a Leader in Residence, lots of people have taken time to welcome me back to the work of ending homelessness and to ask about what I might be working on.  After a few months off, I found that I am eager to start working on projects that have two non-negotiable components:  that the project is impactful, and that the project itself allows me to feel joy in my work.  It has been a while since I have had the chance to actively choose projects that meet both of those criteria, and I am taking full advantage of the opportunity.

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Ann Oliva is OrgCode's Leader in Residence

At our first Leadership Academy in 2015, OrgCode brought together a cohort of professionals dedicated to ending homelessness to learn more about how to be authentic, thoughtful and successful leaders in their communities.  In addition to two days of content presented by Iain, we heard from a couple of guest speakers – including Ann Oliva, who took time away from her day job at HUD to talk to the cohort about her leadership journey. In 2016, Ann came back to talk to the new group, and in those two years she fell in love with the idea of helping other professionals hone their leadership skills and therefore get one step closer to reaching their goals.  Earlier this year, Ann announced she was leaving HUD to decompress and reflect for a few months before rejoining our collective work towards ending homelessness.

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An Alternative Perspective on Operation Rio Grande & the Criminalization of Homelessness

Anybody else remember when Utah was the envy of the country as they implemented Housing First? A relatively conservative state brought Housing First to life on scale. You may remember Lloyd Pendleton at national conferences touting their achievements and approach, or The Daily Show’s feature on Housing First in Salt Lake City. And while there has been healthy debate on whether Salt Lake and Utah as a whole was achieving what they said to have achieved, the progress they made and the strategy to get there was still enviable.

Those. Days. Are. Gone.

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Bigger Facilities or Better System?

I have been thinking about a question recently posed by Deb DeSantis, who is the President & CEO of CSH (which I am paraphrasing): How do we move the collective thinking from having bigger homeless facilities to better systems of care with housing at its foundation?

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Better By-Name Lists

This week's blog comes from David Tweedie on the OrgCode team (David@OrgCode.com):

If you're a street outreach worker, you've likely struggled to locate people referred to you through your community's Coordinated Entry system.  You have their name, and where they were last surveyed, but knowing where someone surfaced two or twelve or twenty days ago seems a lot less helpful than where they're staying now.

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Ending Youth Homelessness

Erin Wixsten is the youth lead with OrgCode and provides this week's blog. You can reach her at ewixsten@OrgCode.com

Can we get a collective ‘Huzzah!’ (sorry, it’s Renaissance Festival season here in Minnesota) for youth homelessness finally getting some attention -- and by attention, I mean new resources -- thirty three million dollars to be exact.  I know I’m not alone in my eagerness to see how the 10 communities who were recipients of the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP) funds are going to allocate their awards, and while likely not enough to end homelessness for all young people experiencing it in those communities, it represents a significant gain in what is needed to support systems planning, innovative solutions, and an increase in supportive services and programs that work to end youth homelessness.

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Car Dealerships & Homeless Facilities

Car dealerships try to get you to do three things:

1. Buy/lease from them

2. Finance through them

3. Service your vehicle with them

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