Homelessness is a severe threat that many people experience for a variety of reasons. It comes as no surprise that the general financial condition has not improved so much since the COVID-19 breakout. However, even before the crisis, a substantial number of people were struggling to find a place to live. Domestic violence and sexual assault, immigration, drug addiction, and mental health issues are among the reasons why people become homeless.
To give you some hope, this article will tell you everything you need to know about one of the most prominent anti-homelessness programs, the Continuum of Care (CoC) Program.
What is the Continuum of Care (CoC)?
The Continuum of Care (CoC) Program is designed to help individuals and families that are experiencing homelessness. It provides the proper assistance to these individuals and families in their transition to permanent housing with the goal of long-term stability. Above all, the CoC Program aims to promote community-wide planning and resource management in the fight against homelessness. It also works on enhancing collaboration with mainstream resources and other programs for homeless people.
There are about 400 CoCs in the United States. Each CoC is frequently made up of nonprofit service providers and local government agencies such as health and human services and public housing. This is in collaboration with other stakeholders such as charities and local businesses. In general, a CoC serves every community, and an individual CoC’s territory can include a city, county, metropolitan area, or even an entire state or the “balance of state” that no local CoC serves.
One of the most vital duties of CoCs is the bi-annual census of the homeless population. This is along with an annual examination of the homeless assistance services’ emergency systems, transitional housing units, and beds. These numbers provide an overview of the homeless situation in a CoC. They also provide the data required to change services, funding, and resources as needed. The CoC also manages these services, which include both prevention measures and homeless assistance programs for those at risk of or are currently experiencing homelessness.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements of CoCs?
The only requirement for you to be eligible for this program as an individual or a family is to be homeless or at risk of losing your home. However, you do not normally apply for CoC directly. In case you wish to take advantage of the program’s benefits, you must apply through one of the participating entities. Under the interim CoC Program rule, eligible applicants include nonprofit organizations, state and local governments, local government instrumentalities, and public housing agencies.
A qualifying applicant must be designated by the Continuum of Care in order to apply for HUD grant assistance. If the Continuum is designating more than one applicant to apply for money, the Continuum must specify which applicant is the Collaborative Applicant. A Continuum of Care with only one funding applicant must identify that applicant as the Collaborative Applicant. For-profit entities are not eligible to apply for grants or to be sub-recipients of grant funds.
You can refer to the paperless Continuum of Care (CoC) Program Application and Grants Management System as “e-snaps“. It is the system used by HUD’s Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs (SNAPS) to manage CoC Program funding applications and grant awards.
What Are the Main Components of CoC?
According to the interim rule for the CoC Program, funds from the program may be used for one of five types of projects:
- Permanent housing
- Transitional housing
- Supporting services only
- Homeless Management Information System (HMIS)
- Homelessness prevention.
Permanent housing (PH) is community-based housing with no limit for staying. Formerly homeless individuals and families can live as independently as possible in this type of housing. A participant in the program must be the tenant on a lease (or sublease) that is renewable for at least one year and can be only terminated for cause. Also, leases (or sublet contracts) need to be renewable for at least one month.
The CoC Program provides funding for two types of permanent housing: Rapid re-housing and PSH for people with disabilities. Permanent supportive housing (PSH) is long-term housing that includes an indefinite lease or rental assistance as well as supportive services. Its goal is to assist homeless people with disabilities or families with a disabled member in achieving housing stability.
Rapid re-housing (RRH), on the other hand, prioritizes home search, relocation services, and short- and medium-term rental assistance. Its purpose is to get homeless people into permanent housing as soon as feasible.
Transitional housing (TH) provides homeless people and families with temporary stability and support. Consequently, this allows them to successfully relocate to and maintain permanent housing. TH can cover the costs of up to 24 months of subsidized housing. Participants in the program must have a lease (or sublet) or occupancy agreement in place when staying in transitional housing.
Supportive Services Only
The program component supportive services only (SSO) allows recipients and subrecipients to provide services to homeless people who do not live in the recipient’s accommodation. SSO beneficiaries and sub-recipients may use the funds to:
- Conduct outreach to people experiencing homelessness,
- Connect them with housing or other essential resources,
- And provide ongoing help.
Homeless Management Information System
Only HMIS administrators may use funds from this component to lease a structure where the HMIS operates. The goal of this component is to run the framework that houses the HMIS. Another goal is to cover the costs of developing, monitoring, and modifying a CoC’s HMIS.
Other beneficiaries and sub-recipients are ineligible to apply for funding through the HMIS program component. They may, however, include costs associated with providing data to the CoC’s HMIS in their project under another program component.
Individuals and families at risk of homelessness may receive homelessness prevention assistance from HUD-designated High Performing Communities (HPCs) grantees and sub-recipients. In order to save people from becoming homeless, this component may include services like:
- Stabilization and relocation of housing
- In addition, short- and medium-term rental assistance.
Beneficiaries and subrecipients can use this component to help people and families at risk of homelessness stay in their current residence or transfer to new permanent accommodation. Homelessness prevention must be carried out in compliance with 24 CFR part 576.
Other Homeless Programs and Resources
Other than the CoC program, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides helpful grants and programs that aim to help homeless people, among which:
- Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH).
- Grants for the Benefit of Homeless Individuals (GBHI).
- Treatment for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness (TIEH).
- Cooperative Agreements to Benefit Homeless Individuals (CABHI).
In short, being homeless, regardless of how long it lasts, is a life-altering traumatic event. It causes significant stress in anyone’s life, regardless of age. Preventing such a disaster is a significant responsibility that governments take very seriously.
In fact, the CoC program is a crucial step toward reducing homelessness. The program works by paying non-profits, charities, and public housing agencies, among other entities. Consequently, these organizations use the funds they receive to help homeless people find an adequate place to stay.
- With more than half a million Americans unhoused, the U.S. is still struggling to solve the homelessness crisis
- Understanding America’s homelessness crisis | The Week
- CoC: Continuum of Care Program – HUD Exchange
- Continuum of Care (CoC) Program Eligibility Requirements – HUD Exchange.
- What is a Continuum of Care? – National Alliance to End Homelessness
- e-snaps : CoC Program Applications and Grants Management System – HUD Exchange
- Homelessness Programs and Resources | SAMHSA