The U.S. Department of Housing And Urban Development (HUD) establishes programs across the spectrum to create livable communities with both homeownership and affordable rental apartments. Its wide array of programs has not always resulted in an organized system of care. Thus, HUD established the Continuum of Care (CoC), named for its mission to push local communities to collect data, identify needs and set priorities. Over time communities have been gathering data to know where the worst gaps in the services, then putting plans in place to meet them. HUD even began offering bonuses to well organized CoCs they could reinvest in new programs.
Most simply, every community seeking Continuum of Care (CoC) funds must have a council charged with creating and implementing a strategic plan to end homelessness in the next ten years. HUD holds the council accountable for responsible use of CoC funds that lead to measurable improvements in homeless service outcomes.
This blog is part of a series to help you advocate for more housing serving clients in the service system for domestic violence. This means learning everything you can about your local Continuum of Care. Your CoC council can direct you to information about the housing programs HUD funds in your community for homeless families. Ask to read a copy of the strategic plan. Your council should also have a directory or index of programs with CoC funding, what they provide and who is eligible.
HUD makes it easy to find your contact. HUD posts a map and index of local councils. You will find contact information for your community’s lead agency managing the Continuum of Care.
The chart below shows how the money flows from HUD through to providers. Each year HUD issues a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA). The Collaborative Applicant is the pipeline between HUD and individual agencies and programs with requests for funds.
Homeless assistance providers in a defined geographic area work together to apply for federal funding. Taken as a whole the project applications should demonstrate a community-wide effort to address homelessness among all those who need the support. Although individual agencies submit their applications to it, the CA in turn submits one application to HUD. The Collaborative Applicant assembles the project applications, ranks them and submits them. When the funding is awarded it goes directly to agencies. However the Collaborative Applicant remains the oversight agency monitoring outcomes and maintaining quality control. unding can be used for permanent and supportive housing, and transitional housing.
Collaborative Applicants (CA) are mechanisms to knit together all of the programs to end homelessness. Simply put, the CA submits the CoC grant for all the agencies and programs in your community. In some places a consultant or volunteer will write the grant for everyone. Other counties may create its Unified Funding Agency. Its job is much the same except that it has been established as a separate 501 c 3 to manage the CoC. Its role is to plan, execute and monitor outcomes for its service area’s plan to end homelessness.
Your immediate mission is to get to know your local council for managing the Continuum of Care using the shortcut above. Ask how your CoC operates. Ask who sits on the council and how often it meets. Who is the Collaborative Applicant?
The 2012 application is pending right now so it’s a great time to find out what your community is requesting. There are many established programs – learn who they serve and who they need to serve to meet HUD goals. Finally, ask how you can join the conversation so you can help your clients get the most out of current programs and to insure the planning process includes meeting the needs of DV surviviors.