Coordinated Entry Models in Washington State

Published: January 1, 2013

NOTE: This toolkit was published by Building Changes in 2013 to help counties meet a 2014 state mandate that all counties have a coordinated entry system for clients entering the homeless system. It has not been updated since then and does not necessarily reflect current or best practice.


As detailed in the Planning section, counties select a coordinated entry model based on many factors to determine which model will best realize expected outcomes. Similarly, staffing levels of a coordinated entry system are determined by a variety of factors:

  • Type of coordinated entry model selected: centralized, decentralized, or combination
  • Population(s) to be served and its demographics
  • Region’s overall characteristics: geography, existing service levels and integration of those services, infrastructure (transportation and technology), etc.
  • Budget considerations

The coordinated entry design is the primary determinant of staffing models. Two models were profiled in the Planning section: centralized and decentralized. The following examples from Washington state will show that lines can blur between these two system models.

As planning concludes and implementation begins, coordinated entry stakeholders must manage the tensions between the purpose of coordinated entry—its goals and expected outcomes—with environmental realities, e.g., geography, political will, service providers’ buy in, community resources, and financial capital. A firm grasp of these tensions provides a clear picture of staffing levels needed to implement a coordinated entry system.

What follows is a breakdown of coordinated entry models currently in use in Washington state. The counties represented demonstrate a variety of population sizes and geographic areas. Each county designed a system responsive to their unique characteristics while still adhering to proven best practices. These are examples of initial coordinated entry implementation in Washington state counties. Specific details of a county’s process may have changed in the interim.

Washington State At A Glance

Centralized Intake Model County
Centralized phone hotline and/or physical location for screening; referrals to housing agencies Clark, Spokane, Whatcom
Single physical point of assessment
Decentralized Intake Model County
Centralized telephone and/or lead agency(s) with various office locations for assessments and referrals to housing providers King, Pierce, Snohomish
Regional locations
Different phone numbers
Lead agency for intake and referral to various partner housing providers; partner agencies use the same assessment tool Kitsap, Clallam

Specifics of Centralized Coordinated Entry Process and Staffing Model

Clark County
pop: 433,418; area: 656 sq. mi.; budget: $115,000
Lead fiscal agency County
Lead implementer Council for the Homeless
Focus population All homeless populations except domestic violence (DV). DV cases are referred to specific DV (phone) line for shelter access or a DV-specific rapid re-housing program.
Referral process Clients call into Council for the Homeless Emergency Shelter Clearinghouse, the central call-in center for intake and screening. They are then referred to shelter or an appropriate housing provider for a comprehensive needs assessment. All providers use common assessment forms.
Data system HMIS
Staffing Two paid staff (one FTE and one .8 FTE); 30+ volunteers
Phone staff: Answer phones and perform initial screening to refer eligible clients to partner housing agencies in the county; if no openings at housing agencies, callers are told to call the line again (and are not referred to a housing agency). No waitlist.
Spokane County
pop: 475,600; area: 1,781 sq. mi.; budget: $270,000
Lead fiscal agency City of Spokane (county seat)
Lead implementer Salvation Army
Focus population Homeless families
Referral process Planning started with a four-month pilot project to develop a common assessment tool; coordinated entry system rolled out October 2012. The Homeless Families Coordinated Assessment (HFCA) program is housed at the Salvation Army. Families can access HFCA directly—in person or over the phone—and are also referred to the site or intake line if they call 2-1-1 or other service providers. Families are screened for services only by contacting HFCA; after intake, they are referred to appropriate housing agency. The coordinated entry system will be evaluated by Spokane Low Income Housing Consortium.
Data system HMIS
Staffing Three FTE at Salvation Army perform initial screening then make referral to partner agencies if there is a vacancy; if no vacancies, clients are put on a waitlist.
Whatcom County
pop: 203,500; area: 2,120 sq. mi.
Lead implementer Whatcom Homeless Service Center (WHSC) partnered with Opportunity Council (Community Action Program (CAP) agency)
Focus population All homeless populations
Referral process WHSC sister department, Community Resource Center (CRC), performs intake and assessment. Clients are referred to 13 different housing programs; a waitlist is used. Additionally, agency partners are trained on the data system, screening and assessment policies, and procedures. WHSC staff input client applications into database and also manage client check-ins and referrals to partner agencies.
Data system HMIS is used to collect data at entry and shared among agencies depending on consent from households; FileMaker database created specifically for waitlist (Housing Interest Pool), client check-ins, and referrals to partners.
Staffing Community Resource Center staff: Four intake specialists (part-time); varies from agency to agency. Provider staffing is dependent on location of agency (urban vs. rural) and demand for services.

Specifics of Decentralized Coordinated Entry Process and Staffing Model

The following examples from Washington state counties are a hybrid of decentralized and centralized models using centralized phone systems for initial eligibility screening, followed by referral to lead agency(s) with various locations for assessment and then referral to housing providers.

King County
pop. 1,969,722; area: 2,126 sq. mi.; budget: $2.2 million over three years
Lead planner King County
Lead implementer Catholic Community Services program: Family Housing Connection (FHC). FHC is funded through three contracting agencies: King County, United Way, and Building Changes.
Focus population Homeless families; DV calls for shelter are referred to DV shelters. After placement into a DV shelter, clients can be screened into coordinated entry for housing placement.
Referral process Utilizes 2-1-1 for initial screening; homeless families are given an appointment time for an assessment at one of nine FHC locations. Specialist conducts uniform assessment; waitlist (placement roster) is used. Families are on the placement roster until a housing resource that best matches their needs becomes available. Once matched to a housing resource at a partner agency, the partner agency completes the deep assessment and develops an action plan.
Data system HMIS; add-on platforms (parallel systems) to HMIS allow the system to track scheduling, appointment results, assessment data, placement roster, housing vacancies, and referral network.
Staffing Nine FTE, one .875 FTE, one .25 FTE; total of 11 paid staff:
Program Director—oversees all aspects of operation; focus on building collaborations
Program Manager—oversees waitlist and referral process
Family Coordinator—oversees assessment team; assists with Spanish-speaking families at initial assessment (e.g., returning calls, e-mails, secondary screenings)
Referral Coordinator—implements the referral process
Operations Coordinator—provides operational and logistical support for staff and clients
Immigrant and Refugee Family Coordinator—provides outreach, advocacy, and support to the immigrant/refugee communities and agencies serving this population
Domestic Violence Specialist—works directly with families in DV shelters to complete assessments and help navigate coordinated entry system
Housing and Referral Specialists (4)—perform in-person assessments with families; can travel between assessment offices as needed
Pierce County
pop: 808,200; area: 1,806 sq. mi.; budget: $750,000
Lead fiscal agency County
Lead implementer Associated Ministries (AM)
Focus population Homeless families; other populations referred to diversion services.
Referral process Clients call Access Point for Housing (AP4H) for 15-minute screening interview over phone. If eligible, in-person interviews are scheduled in one of five offices (one urban, four rural) within two days. Based on assessment, family is referred to appropriate housing program. No walk-ins permitted at the AP4H offices. Clients are put on a waitlist for those who can’t be housed immediately; accommodations are made for those who can’t access call-in center. Also, assessment slots are set aside for crisis needs, e.g., medically frail/fragile families.
Data system HMIS is used to capture data and track housing unit vacancies.
Staffing Eight FTE, two part-time staff, one .80 FTE; other positions shared between other programs
Housing Specialists, screening (three FTE)
Housing Specialist, assessment (three FTE)
Housing Specialist, referral and placement roster (one FTE + one half-time)
Program Supervision (1.1 FTE, portions of multiple positions)
IT, Reporting and Quality Assurance ( .75 FTE, portions of multiple positions)
Reception and Support (.80 FTE)
Snohomish County
pop: 683,655; area: 2196 sq. mi.; budget: $120,000
Lead fiscal agency County; Workforce Development Council
Lead implementers Catholic Community Services Western Washington (CCSWW) and Volunteers of America (VOA)
Focus population Homeless families
Referral process Using an urban and a rural location, screening is performed by phone or in-person; families are categorized into low (Path 3), medium (Path 2), or high (Path 1) needs. Path 1 families receive a facilitated referral directly into a program or programs offering case-management services. Path 2 families are referred to the Housing Specialist for immediate housing needs and to the assigned Navigator for all other services needs. Path 3 families receive referrals to other resources they could access on their own. System also secured Family Unification Vouchers (FUP) from county housing authority to place eligible families into housing. Future plans include: “no wrong door” entry sites, street outreach teams, increasing Navigator staffs that are supported by the Housing Resource Specialist, and an Assertive Engagement Specialist.
Data system ClientTrack can be accessed by providers participating in the program for data entry.
Staffing Housing Resource Specialist (one FTE; team lead)
Coordinated Entry Staff at several agency sites; incorporated into current staff positions
Coordinated Entry Navigator (five staff )
Assertive Engagement Specialist (one FTE)

Rural Decentralized Coordinated Entry Examples and Staffing Models

Kitsap County
pop: 254,500; area: 566 sq. mi.; budget: $315,000
Lead fiscal agency County
Lead implementer Housing Solutions Center (HSC)
Focus population All homeless households
Referral process Service seekers for all housing issues are directed to HSC co-located at Kitsap Community Resources, the Community Action Partnership agency. Provider has four locations offering a variety of services for vulnerable populations. Homeless clients are screened; data on housing openings are tracked by the HSC and clients are either referred or put on a waitlist. HSC performs basic assessment and partner agencies do specific assessments based on their specialty or services offered (domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health, etc.).
Data system HMIS is used to collect data and is shared between partner agencies; HMIS is also used for referrals, to maintain waitlist, and track outcomes.
Staffing Program Manager at HSC (one FTE)
HMIS Data Coordinator (one FTE)
Navigators (two FTE)
Receptionist (one FTE)
Partial salaries for staff at three satellite locations
Clallam County
pop: 72,000; area: 2,670 sq. mi.
Lead fiscal agency County
Lead implementer Serenity House
Focus population All homeless and at-risk households
Referral process Serenity House leads a network of partner agencies (Clallam County Shelter Provider Network) and staffs three satellite offices, acting as a portal for services. Clients can also seek assistance directly from any network agency by phone or in person. List of housing resources can be accessed by connecting to; clients can come to a client center for free Internet access. Client centers are part of the Shelter Provider Network. Partner agencies use a common intake and assessment tool.
Data system HMIS
Staffing Three different locations: one FTE Deputy Director to oversee all locations:
Port Angeles: Housing Specialists (two FTE); Housing Locator and Intake Specialist (1.75 FTE); Veterans Benefit Coordinator (one FTE); Veterans Case Mgr. (1.75 FTE); and one FTE Vista worker for veteran employment services
Sequim: Housing Specialist (one FTE)
Forks: Housing Specialist (1.75 FTE)

Next: Coordinated Entry Systems Management

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