Coordinated Entry / Diversion
Coordinated Entry is the first step in ending homelessness.
The Coordinated Entry system can be accessed three different ways:
- Call 2-1-1 for live, on-demand support or to schedule an appointment.
- Speak to a Mobile Outreach team in the community.
- Drop-in to any of these facilities for a same-day conversation.
In 2014, Pierce County Human Services engaged Focus Strategies to assist with the refinement of the existing intake and assessment tools used by the community's Centralized Intake (CI) system, Access Point for Housing (A4PH). To inform their recommendations for system improvement, Focus Strategies conducted an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of that system. The analysis focused on the effectiveness of the AP4H system in conducting intake and assessment and making referrals to housing programs. Followed are key results of that system:
- The Centralized Intake assessment tool was inefficient and often duplicative of the intake processes used by program providers.
- Centralized Intake did not utilize objective criteria to prioritize access to housing programs.
- Provider-imposed eligibility criteria created access barriers for higher need households.
- Homeless system objectives were to fill provider vacancies using the criteria for acceptance defined by the providers (i.e. the clients the providers want to house), rather than to find an appropriate placement for every household that goes on the wait list.
- Centralized Intake data was not integrated with HMIS, making it very difficult to track what happens with clients from the time they contact CI until they enter housing.
- There were side doors and parallel system was not right sized to meet the need, relying too heavily on temporary housing and not enough on permanent housing options.
Diversion is a "light touch" approach to ending homelessness that encourages and helps households to come up with their own solutions to housing crises. In a recent pilot with Building Changes, more than half of Pierce County families that participated in Diversion found safe housing through the process. Because Diversion doesn't require intensive case management or other system resources, it's quicker and more cost-effective than other approaches, which frees up resources for more families in need. In April 2018, Building Changes released its initial evaluation of the process in Pierce County.