“I’m Homeless….Where do I go? Who do I call? What do I do?”
Whether it is a person’s first time becoming homeless or their tenth time, homelessness is a chaotic, confusing and stressful experience. “Coordinated Entry” is an answer to these questions, providing a quick pathway out of homelessness. Coordinated Entry is the process by which people experiencing homelessness are able to access housing and assistance based on their level of need and resources available in Greater Cincinnati.
This journey starts at the front door to Cincinnati’s homeless services system: the Central Access Point (CAP)
helpline. CAP is a single phone number anyone experiencing homelessness or who is at risk of homelessness can call to check for space in shelters and other homeless programs. For someone in crisis, being able to call one single number to get answers instead of calling around town, being told ‘no’ over and over, again can mean the difference between losing hope and moving forward.
Once the person reaches a shelter or is encountered by a street outreach worker, a housing survey is completed that helps them and the agency identify their strengths and potential barriers to stability. The majority of people who become homeless in our community are actually able to self-resolve their homelessness with a little support and guidance from shelter staff. For those who are not able to exit on their own, our Coordinated Entry Specialists match them to appropriate programs and resources as space becomes available, ensuring those with the most severe needs are served first.
Once individuals and families are re-housed and stabilized in their own homes, case managers help them develop an exit plan that will focus on continued stability. STEH has developed an exciting relationship with Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority to assist these households in moving on, or “graduating,” to the next step. If the client is stable in their unit but may still need ongoing rental assistance due to lowpaying jobs and/or a high cost of living, CMHA is able to offer qualifying households a Housing Choice Voucher for ongoing support. This program turns over various housing programs more quickly, thereby giving people new housing access and assistance out of homelessness.
Coordinated Entry in Cincinnati is just over a year old, and so far has made more than 1,000 housing matches, resulting in hundreds of families and chronically homeless individuals being housed. But it is not without its challenges. At any given time, there are over 100 households in the community who have been identified as the most vulnerable in our system but remain homeless because they can not find a landlord who will give them a chance and rent to them. In addition, Coordinated Entry on its own does not create more affordable housing for those in need. But what it does do, for the first time, is give us a full and accurate picture of the need in our community, which in turn can help to create new and creative funding streams coming into the system to reduce and eventually end homelessness in Cincinnati.