The Cincinnati/ Hamilton County Continuum of Care (CoC) was built on a framework of collaboration, community process, and shared decision-making. Strategies to End Homelessness, as the CoC lead, is responsible for upholding the shared vision of the community and facilitating a system where no one entity determines our path.

Expertise lives at every level of the system – in direct service to our clients, in data collection and evaluation, in project administration, in compliance, and in macro-level system planning. And the uniqueness of our community is that all expertise is valued and no single person or agency’s perception is more important than another. The system only works because of the variety of skills we hold.

Community process happens at Strategies to End Homelessness on a regular basis via open work groups, community strategic planning sessions, and most notably, annual funding allocation processes. On Friday, June 30th, STEH facilitated our annual Large Group Scoring event; a full-day of prioritizing housing and service projects for inclusion in the annual Continuum of Care application.

Nearly 150 community members invested in the homeless service system came together to review project performance, hear presentations, and rank more than 30 separate projects to determine a community prioritization list which will result in the allocation of almost $17 Million.

While I know that the Large Group Scoring event can cause some anxiety among the people responsible for making presentations, I hope they see the value in the transparent prioritization process. Personally, it’s one of my favorite days of the year! In 8 hours, we are afforded the opportunity to hear about all of the amazing work that is happening in our community. And in a system where the need for our services is so abundant, accomplishments can often be overlooked. Thank you to all of the CoC service providers for the work that you do every single day and for participating in our community processes to make our system work. Your participation is invaluable to the success of our community.

As the CoC Director for STEH, I look at all of our work with a critical eye on how to build in community process. This is something that I find somewhat challenging to explain to other communities because quite frankly, it would be simpler to identify a small group of decision-makers to decide the next steps of the CoC. But, community voice builds investment in the system, and keeps us progressing.

While Large Group Scoring only happens once a year, the philosophy of collaboration is interwoven in all of the work that we do and will always be the framework for the success of our homeless service system.

And finally, thank you to the American Red Cross for use of their great community space, Cincinnati Cooks for catering a delicious lunch, and all of the Strategies to End Homelessness staff for your work to make our largest event of the year run so smoothly!

Jen Best, CoC Director