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.
When talk of change to social systems emerges, money quickly moves to the forefront of the conversation, and with good reason. Moving away from an uncoordinated social service system to a coordinated system demands that governments (local and federal) change their funding guidelines, performance requirements, and outcome expectations.
Historically in Washington state, there have been various funding programs directed toward the emergency housing assistance continuum. In 2012, the state created the Consolidated Homeless Grant (CHG), which effectively pooled those dollars. Washington also adapted funding guidelines and performance requirements to align with federal mandates emerging from HEARTH (Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act of 2009).
The state CHG and federal HEARTH funds both mandate that for a region and its subgrantees to receive funding for emergency-housing-assistance services, it must have a coordinated entry system with sub-grantees participation in the system.
Counties in Washington state convened funding task forces to align local funders with state and federal rules. Regions connected with local philanthropic foundations, faith-based communities, and private-community donors to shore up funds to support the planning and implementation of their coordinated entry systems. Before coordinated entry funds can be secured, funders must be brought together to address any inconsistencies between current funding guidelines and the goals of the new system, as well as associated support services and further systems change.
The two primary funds that affect Washington state counties are CHG and the federal HEARTH funds. Here is a brief review of their requirements.
Washington State Department of Commerce—Consolidated Homeless Grant (CHG)
Each lead grantee must have (and coordinate with subgrantees) a uniform method of client intake, which may be customized for families or single adults, etc. There must at the very least be a common tool at intake that consistently screens for eligibility and housing and services needed—including type and intensity.
A lead grantee may phase in their coordinated entry; however, all lead grantees and subgrantees must have a system in place by December 31, 2014. Full detail of CHG administrative requirements can be found here.
HEARTH: Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) and Continuum of Care (CoC)
HEARTH Act Regulations: All communities funded through ESG and CoC grants must have a coordinated entry system (see Interim Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) regulations).
The Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009, S. 896, Public Law 111-22, May 20, 2009, 123 Stat. 1632
Consultation with Continuums of Care. The recipient must consult with each Continuum of Care that serves the recipient’s jurisdiction in determining how to allocate ESG funds each program year; in developing the performance standards for, and evaluating the outcomes of, projects and activities assisted by ESG funds; and in developing funding, policies, and procedures for the administration and operation of the HMIS.
Coordination with other targeted homeless services. The recipient and its subrecipients must coordinate and integrate, to the maximum extent practicable, ESG-funded activities with other programs targeted to homeless people in the area covered by the Continuum of Care or area over which the services are coordinated to provide a strategic, community-wide system to prevent and end homelessness for that area. HUD’s rule and a comprehensive list of homeless/housing programs affected can be found here.
System and program coordination with mainstream resources. The recipient and its subrecipients must coordinate and integrate, to the maximum extent practicable, ESG-funded activities with mainstream housing, health, social services, employment, education, and youth programs for which families and individuals at risk of homelessness and homeless individuals and families may be eligible.
Centralized or coordinated assessment. Once the Continuum of Care has developed a centralized assessment system or a coordinated assessment system in accordance with requirements to be established by HUD, each ESG-funded program or project within the Continuum of Care’s area must use that assessment system. The recipient and sub-recipient must work with the Continuum of Care to ensure that the screening, assessment, and referral of program participants are consistent with the written standards required by paragraph (e) of this section. A victim service provider may choose not to use the Continuum of Care’s centralized or coordinated assessment system.
Funding Sources (with Acronyms) Used by Washington State Systems
Washington state funds
Consolidated Homeless Grant (CHG)
Homeless Housing Grant Program/Document Recording Fees (2163, 2060, and 1359)
Specialized public funds
United Way King County (UW)
King County Human Services (KCHS) – housing levy funding
Building Changes (BC) – intermediary for private foundations and county, state, and city funds
Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)
Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH)
Community Services Block Grants (CSBG)
City of Spokane; private foundation; CHG
2163; 1359; CHG; CSBG; faith-based; private community donations