Let's Review the Basics of Effective Coordinated Entry

Tick. Tock. Time is passing as your community moves forward to being in compliance with coordinated entry requirements. Or you are a community in a jurisdiction other than the United States where you are doing coordinated entry not because you have to, but because you know it is the right thing to do.

The whole point of coordinated entry, in a nutshell, is to get the right youth, adult or family (including those that have experienced domestic violence) to the right support and housing program, in the right order, to end their homelessness permanently. 

Seems like a no brainer. But then there is confusion. So let us clear some of that up and go back to basics on a few things.

To make this happen, you will need to have a detailed inventory of all of the housing programs and services that exist in your community. You can watch a short video about that here.

You will also need to know what your community's priorities are so that you are investing your time get the targeted population document ready. For example, if your community says your top priority for PSH are those that are chronically homeless, been homeless 5 or more years, have tri-morbidity, are sleeping in unsheltered or unsafe places, and have a VI-SPDAT score of 13 or above, then that is the group that you want to focus your time and attention to first to make sure all of their paperwork ready so that they are on your priority list. We know there can be confusion between by-name lists, coordinated entry lists, and priority lists, so we produced a short video that you can watch here.

You will need an assessment tool. Whether that is the VI-SPDAT or some other tool, there are certain things you should look for in selecting and using your assessment tool. A good assessment tool should:

  • Be grounded in evidence and be rigorously tested.
  • Be easy to administer.
  • Assist with identifying different levels and types of housing supports.
  • Include the voice of persons with lived experience in its creation.
  • Be sensitive to culture, race, gender, and various types of homelessness.
  • Reinforce a trauma-informed approach to service delivery.
  • Transcend different population groups.
  • Work for YOUR community, YOUR principles, and YOUR prioritization process.

The results of the assessment tool should inform part of you decision-making process, but should not be the ultimate decision-maker. (As we note frequently with the SPDAT suite of products, that last three letters of the acronym stand for Decision Assistance Tool, not Decision Making Tool).

You will need to determine access points of when and how the assessment is administered. These can be fixed sites or mobile or a combination thereof, and can include virtual access points or portals. Both your assessment tool and your access points should reflect what your community's top priorities are so that you increase the likelihood of reaching them and addressing their needs. For example, it would make no sense to have one fixed access point with very limited access that requires potential candidates to show up in person if your intention is to serve very vulnerable people living unsheltered as your top priority for PSH.

Finally, in terms of the basics, you will need to pick the Coordinated Entry model that works best for your community and your priorities. There are three main types of coordinated entry models, each with their own pros and cons. You can see a brief overview of them in this video here.


We hope this "back to basics" blog is helpful for those of you in the home stretch on coordinated entry. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out and let us know. Or, if you need more detailed consulting assistance to help you reach the finish line, please also reach out. [email protected]

About Iain De Jong

Leader. Edutainer. Coach. Consultant. Professor. Researcher. Blogger. Do-gooder. Potty mouth. Positive disruptor. Relentless advocate for social justice. Comedian. Dad. Minimalist. Recovering musician. Canadian citizen. International jetsetter. Living life in jeans and a t-shirt. Trying really hard to end homelessness in developed countries around the world, expand harm reduction practices, make housing happen, and reform the justice system. Driven by change, fuelled by passion. Winner of a shit ton of prestigious awards, none of which matter unless change happens in how we think about vulnerability, marginality, and inclusion.

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