Without a Home: Coordinated Entry Streamlines Assistance

The article below is from a series entitled “Closer Look: Homelessness in Carlisle”.

Just getting into the system to get assistance in dealing with homelessness was a challenge prior to the beginning of this year.

A person had to go from agency to agency to have their name placed on waiting lists. Those lists worked on a first come, first served basis.

“It didn’t matter the severity of the need or how vulnerable the person was. Whoever showed up first got the help first, which generally meant that the most vulnerable people who had the most issues were falling through the cracks,” said Chris Kapp, coordinated entry system manager at Cumberland County Housing and Redevelopment Authorities.

Coordinated Entry started in January 2018, creating a single portal to an array of services.

Now, a person facing homelessness either calls 211 for an assessment or goes to an access site for intake. Locally, Community CARES serves as an access point, and people do not have to be part of CARES programs to use the access point.

Calling 211 or stopping at the access point sets in motion an assessment analogous to a visit to an emergency room, Kapp said. The person seeking assistance would be asked a number of questions on issues ranging from where they are staying to mental health issues to their risk of harm. Each of the questions requires a simple yes or no answer, and Kapp said it is vital that individuals are honest about their answers. People have a tendency to present their best selves, but that doesn’t help in this situation and could set the person up for failure.

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