Coordinated Entry for Homeless Services and Housing Navigation reduces homelessness

In 2015, Milwaukee Continuum of Care (CoC) selected IMPACT as the lead agency to conduct housing assessments and then prioritize placements based on most critical need, which is a function of Coordinated Entry. The Coordinated Entry team at IMPACT follows U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) policies and the CoC’s procedures for assessment, referral and prioritization in order to direct a standard process for identifying those at highest risk, and reducing the length of time they’re in unstable housing. Housing resources are provided during the initial assessment. Often, people are able to re-house themselves with the referrals and support we provide including housing navigation and case management.

In most cases, access to emergency shelter and placement in housing requires a referral. To access Coordinated Entry, people can call 211 or go to an in-reach site (Repairers of the Breach and St. Ben’s.) By having clients who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness call IMPACT 211, the community resource specialists can offer referrals to additional resources that may help alleviate or end the client’s housing crisis.

A HUD housing voucher is based off of need/vulnerability which influences priority. For example, someone who is employed and has just become homeless will be supported in their efforts to re-house themselves because, in the current landscape, they will likely not receive a HUD voucher for housing. Someone else with a severe and persistent mental illness who has been living in conditions not meant for habitation for an extended period of time will have a higher priority and be given access to HUD housing resources sooner.

Representatives from various parts of the system convene bi-weekly to review the list of people in consideration for a housing voucher. They consider indicators such as if there are children living outside; if they are fleeing a domestic violence situation; if there are physical or mental health issues; if there are special needs; if the homelessness is re-occurring; how long they have been homeless in the past three years; the size of the family, etc.

In 2022, the average length of time to housing was 43 days from voucher acquisition. It takes time to find an available unit that suits the client’s needs and has a cooperative landlord. However, the time between a person becoming homeless and receiving a voucher ranges from one week to one year for 70 percent of our clients. (The majority receive a voucher within six months of their first occurrence of homelessness.) One way to support our efforts is to advocate for local and federal governments to allocate funding for housing vouchers, prevention navigation and case management in their budgets.

Program Highlights

Erika Olson has been promoted to the position of Coordinated Entry Manager. She leads an eight-person team and is responsible managing the housing and shelter referral process in Milwaukee County.  

IMPACT’s Emergency Housing Facilitator has successfully navigated the first prioritized staffing and gained consensus for client placement with Safe Havens, specialized shelters for those with significant mental health issues. This achievement required planning and negotiation with the Safe Haven providers and outreach teams; and coordination with our technology partner to create and implement a prioritization list. As a result, individuals with the highest need who require specialized services benefit from an improved process build on collaboration.

Elly Santiago, IMPACT's Prevention Navigator with Coordinated Entry, helps problem-solve with clients at risk of becoming homeless. Of those with whom she worked during the second half of 2022, 100% avoided homelessness, achieving the highest prevention rate in the history of Coordinated Entry.

In 2022, IMPACT coordinated the placement of 150 households through the Housing is Health program launched by the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership for homeless and vulnerably-housed patients receiving care at Milwaukee-area health systems and safety-net clinics. Jazmine Mora-Moreno serves as IMPACT's Health System Liaison for the program, providing assessments and working to connect people to housing. Funders are eager to continue this program because of the successful outcomes. Kudos to Jazmine and the team.

Read more: Screening and Connecting Patients to Safe and Stable Housing: Housing is Health Program Expanded

Coordinated Entry in the News:

Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service | January 17, 2023

Should we provide tents to people living outside? A public debate takes a turn

Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service | December 27, 2022

Calling 211: Honesty is the best policy to find shelter from the cold

FOX6 Milwaukee | December 22, 2022

Winter storm brings dangerously cold temperatures, how to stay warm

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | December 20, 2022

Milwaukee officials recommend walk-in warming sites for the homeless population during blizzard conditions

TMJ4 | December 5, 2022

Milwaukee Continuum of Care aims to help the homeless find a warm place to sleep

Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service | October 5, 2022

Can Milwaukee become the first city in the nation to end long-term family homelessness? These leaders think so.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | September 23, 2022

Milwaukee’s Housing First programs shows how lifting people out of homelessness can improve health and cut costs

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