Many communities have worked hard on coordinated entry. This has been transformative in many communities. Side doors are closing. Access to housing with supports is becoming better defined. Priorities are being established at the community level. These are all good things.
But coordinated entry is just one part of the process. An important part, but not the whole picture. My fear is that so much effort has been placed upon entry that communities are creating and generating wait lists to nowhere. That is a problem.
So, when we think about designing and implementing coordinated entry, we must also think of two other aspects of the process: coordinated passage, and, coordinated exit.
Coordinated passage is the art and science of journeying with the individual or family to take care of all of the tasks that make housing possible. Paperwork. Documentation. Identification. Income supports and benefits. All of these require careful and skilled navigation and an eye to administrative accountability and necessity. Rarely are these linear, short in duration to attain, or easy. But if someone or some family is entering your system but is not navigated through the system, something is wrong. You will end up with a number of names of people you wish you were housing but cannot because their administrative tasks are incomplete.
Coordinated exit is the prize at the end of the coordinated passage. It is the acquisition of a place to live. Once people are “paper ready” there has to be results in moving from homelessness to housing. The measure of success of coordinated entry is not how many people are on a list or assessed, it is how many people actually move into housing. Without outflow, the entire system gets gummed up. Many communities we work with have come to realize that they don’t teach real estate in social work school. There can be a different set of skills necessary to get housing units available at scale, especially in expensive rental markets with low vacancy rates. Having the right staff with the right skills to find units to ensure coordinated exit is critical.