The HEARTH Act governs most of the federal assistance that communities receive to address homelessness. When the HEARTH Act was signed in 2009, it included a provision that communities would be required to develop and implement a coordinated access and assessment system for shelter, rapid rehousing, prevention, transitional housing and permanent supportive housing.
Successful coordinated access processes can help communities move toward their goal of ending homelessness by matching people with the housing and support they need and connecting them to those resources quickly. Coordinated access can:
- Help unclog the system by moving people more quickly through the referral process.
- Reduce duplication of efforts and help serve clients better.
- Assist communities with ending chronic homelessness by sparking conversations about targeting the most expensive resources to those that have been homeless the longest.
Successful coordinated access requires the participation of all housing and service providers in the community, making it critical that organizations involved in supportive housing projects:
- Participate in a designated community process to coordinate access to housing, including the use of coordinated referrals and triage, common applications, common entrance criteria and centralized wait-lists. If the community does not have coordinated access to housing, the supportive housing project partners clearly communicate the referral and application process to the entire community.
- Participate in or lead efforts to ensure that community application processes, documentation of eligibility and intake processes are streamlined and efficient, so that applicants are not asked for the same information on multiple occasions.
- Prioritize persons that community data identify as having a high need for services (such as a high vulnerability index score) or frequently utilizing crisis systems (frequent users) for all available units.