USICH notes on the FY17 CoC Competition

Lindsay Knotts, USICH Policy Director, provides some early information about the CY17 CoC Competition:

On April 10, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released its FY17 Notice of Opportunity to Register and Other Important Information for Electronic Application Submission for the Continuum of Care (CoC) Program Competition. Registration closes on May 1 at 8 p.m. Eastern.

I’m sure you’ve combed through the Notice already and are beginning the process of registering. As you prepare to do so, we want to offer our quick analysis of what’s included. There are a few changes that may have caught your eye:

  • The addition of a new Joint Transitional Housing and Rapid Re-housing Component project type
  • New opportunities for reallocated projects
  • Emphasis on merging CoCs to address funding challenges and create efficiencies
  • A new Grant Inventory Worksheet process

New Joint Component Project Type

HUD created a new Joint Transitional Housing and Rapid Re-housing Component (“Joint Component”) project type to allow communities to provide low-barrier, temporary housing while individuals and families are being quickly and seamlessly connected to permanent housing through a rapid re-housing intervention. Current HUD funding for transitional housing does not allow recipients to use grant funds to pay for financial assistance, including short- or medium-term rental assistance to help households residing in transitional housing move into permanent housing. By allowing CoCs to create a project that combines transitional housing and rapid re-housing, individuals and families will have access to low-barrier temporary housing and the financial supports necessary to help them quickly move into and sustain permanent housing.

We believe that this new project type enhances rapid re-housing and supports our shared vision for developing flexible systems that can offer housing opportunities tailored to the distinct and varied needs of households. Joint component projects may be particularly impactful in high-cost communities with high numbers of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. In such communities, it can be difficult to quickly connect households to permanent housing opportunities because rents are high and affordable housing units are limited. Providing such connections is further complicated where emergency shelter bed space or other crisis housing resources are limited.

The joint component project type is aligned with an overall emphasis on building systems that are oriented toward Housing First approaches. Programs cannot impose preconditions to entry or participation in services in either the transitional housing or the rapid re-housing portion of the project. In addition, the search for permanent housing must begin as soon as the household enters the transitional housing portion of the project, and providers should connect participants to rapid re-housing as soon as they express a desire to do so.

Because this joint program component project is available to any individual or family experiencing homelessness, it can be an important tool to target resources for specific populations, such as: survivors of domestic violence; unaccompanied youth, including pregnant or parenting youth; or individuals in early recovery from a substance use disorder who may desire more intensive supports. The joint component project is particularly well-suited for addressing the housing needs of survivors of domestic violence and their families who have higher safety and security needs or who are navigating significant legal or financial challenges. Creating joint component projects will allow providers to offer seamless, tailored wrap-around services and supports to participants as they move from temporary to permanent housing.


In the FY17 Competition, HUD plans to allow the use of reallocation to create the following new projects:

  1. Permanent supportive housing projects that will primarily serve individuals and families experiencing chronic homelessness, including unaccompanied youth
  2. Rapid re-housing projects for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, including unaccompanied youth, coming directly from the streets or emergency shelter, or persons fleeing domestic violence situations and other persons meeting the criteria of paragraph 4 of the definition of homelessness
  3. Joint component projects, as described above
  4. Dedicated HMIS projects
  5. Supportive Services Only (SSO) projects for centralized or coordinated assessment systems

This range of options for reallocating funding increases a CoC’s flexibility in creating the types of programs that meet the distinct needs and strengths of communities.

CoC Mergers

HUD puts additional emphasis on merging CoCs in this Notice. We believe their intention is to provide a mechanism for smaller CoCs across the country to come together to implement broader system-level efforts, such as improving data collection through HMIS and the Point-in-Time Count, and developing and implementing coordinated entry processes. While the merger process may be challenging, there are likely to be benefits for small CoCs that have historically not fared as well in the CoC Competition. Note that requests to merge must be submitted to no later than 5 days before the end of the CoC Program Registration Period on May 1. You should refer to the Notice for additional instructions.

Grant Inventory Worksheet

HUD has implemented a new Grants Inventory Worksheet (GIW) process as part of this year’s Registration. This year, the GIW will be pre-populated by HUD and posted to the Exchange instead of emailed directly to CoC points of contact. This allows CoCs and all recipients of CoC Program funding to simultaneously review the information. Any changes that need to be made must be completed on the GIW Change Form and submitted to your local field office for review. This will hopefully make your jobs a little bit easier throughout the Competition process.

As always, if you have technical questions about the registration process, contact the HUD Exchange Ask A Question. Once the NOFA is released, we’ll follow up with more in-depth analysis and our annual webinar to highlight key strategies for success.


INVITE: Built for Zero Team Learning Session, April 25-26, Wash.,DC

In 2017, Community Solutions will be coaching Built for Zero communities (like ours!) through 4-month Action Cycles. Based on the model of the Rapid Results Institute, the cycles will consist of learning-planning-doing-assessing.

The first Action Cycle will kick off with a two-day team learning session in Washington, DC on April 25-26. CoCs are encouraged to send teams of 4-8 people to the learning session to create the CoC’s action plan for May through August.

Should you be part of the Springfield-Hampden County team? Take a look at the built-for-zero-informational-calls materials to learn more. Community Solutions suggests the following possible team members:

  • CoC Representative or Key Leader
  • Data Collection & Sharing Person
  • Potential Chronic Team Participants
    • Homeless service provider that serves chronically homeless
    • Street outreach program administrator
    • Permanent supportive housing provider
    • Housing authority representative
  • Potential Veteran Team Participants
    • VAMC homeless service provider
    • HUD-VASH program manager
    • VA outreach/social worker
    • SSVF provider
    • Veteran service provider
    • Housing authority representative

Community Solutions will pay for at least two individuals to attend, and the CoC expects to be able to sponsor others (not sure how many yet, but we’re working on it!). If you are interested in being part of our CoC’s team, please contact to discuss.

We’ve done great work in the last year–this is a terrific opportunity to push ourselves to the next level. Come join our team!

New Massachusetts Report: The Growing Challenge of Family Homelessness

The Boston Foundation has released its report analyzing family homelessness in Massachusetts FY20018-FY2016.

Key findings from the report:

  • Since FY2008, Massachusetts has experienced one of the largest increases in family homelessness in the country.
  • Recent data suggest that the number of new entrants to the system as well as returns to homelessness may be declining.
  • Length of stay in shelter, however, continues to increase, with recent estimates averaging nearly a year state-wide and longer in Boston.
  • Families struggling the most in both exiting shelter and staying outside the system tend to be larger in size and headed by a female who is African American and/or Hispanic.
  • About half of families in shelter also receive other homeless and housing assistance, including RAFT, HomeBASE, and other assistance.

Recommendations, from the Executive Summary:

Findings suggest that focusing additional resources on larger families and those headed by younger females of color and Hispanic origin may be instrumental in helping them leave shelter earlier and avoid returning. Although these families appear to be a priority for HomeBASE assistance, it is not clear when they are offered the assistance. Targeting assistance to families earlier in shelter stays may help to decrease time spent in shelter. Areas to emphasize in order to help families leave shelter more quickly and with a greater chance of stability might include: 1. understanding the resources a family has and how they might be built upon (such as helping families save money while in shelter); 2. assessing job skills and how a family might benefit from job training; and 3. offering them more intensive housing location assistance.

The full report is available at:



RFP for Springfield’s Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program available

The City of Springfield Office of Housing has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program for the operating year July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018.

The RFP is available for pick up at the Office of Housing, 1600 E. Columbus Ave., Springfield, MA, Monday through Friday, 8:30 am -4 pm. You can request an electronic copy by emailing a request to Gerry McCafferty. Proposals are due back to the Office of Housing no later than noon on March 1, 2017.

From the Zero 2016 national team

Hey friends,

Heads up: This email offers a chance to win free stuff! Keep reading 😉

CES is hard work, and you need an easy way to know how you’re doing. That’s why Zero: 2016 communities, federal partners, and technical assistance providers helped inform the development of our CES Scorecard. We also worked hard to align the scorecard with the priorities laid out in HUD policy briefs.

The scorecard covers system components for both chronically homeless individuals and veterans. That’s a tall order! But remember, the score provided by this tool is not a judgment— it’s a baseline to help you target and measure improvements.

Most of you are still in the early stages of developing a comprehensive system, but you may have made a lot of progress on one population or another. Please celebrate that! YOU ARE AWESOME!

In fact, we’re entering every community who has completed the scorecard by December 15th into a drawing to win one of five prizes:

  1. One registration for the 2017 National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference in DC
  2. One registration for CSH’s 2017 Housing Summit
  3. One registration for an OrgCode Learning Clinic of your choosing
  4. An inspiring visit from our own Linda Kaufman to your community
  5. A CES Action Camp in your community led by the Zero team

Has my community taken the CES Scorecard? Check here

Who should complete the CES Scorecard and how long will it take? The group of people within the CoC leading Coordinated Entry efforts can complete the scorecard together in about 30 minutes to an hour.

How will my community’s CES Scorecard be used? The sole purpose of the scorecard is improvement. Once you complete the scorecard, your Performance Management Tracker will show you your community’s specific “Areas for Improvement” and “Areas of Awesomeness.”

We’ve taken the CES Scorecard, what next?

  1. Celebrate and appreciate your areas of awesomeness as well as the people who helped create them.
  2. Identify your areas for improvement, set short term improvement goals with your coordinated entry team.
  3. Work with your collaborative lead and/or your coach for additional support, and don’t forget to retake the scorecard whenever you make progress to re-establish your baseline.

Building better systems is hard, but by leaning into the data, we can all get there together.