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Co-ordinated Access System details

Co-ordinated Access Systems (CAS) help cities or towns design, streamline and bring consistency to the way people experiencing homelessness access housing and services. A strong CAS uses a Housing First approach along with a standardised and co-ordinated process for access, assessment, prioritisation and referral for housing and other services across all the agencies and organisations providing these in a local area. A CAS also allows cities or communities to establish partnerships between funders, service providers and the private sector to provide co-ordinated services that produce more positive results for homeless people.

Developing an effective system requires engagement with stakeholders in your area. In the most successful cities, stakeholders design the local system together to achieve a shared goal. While this process may be challenging and time-intensive, no CAS can help sustain reductions in homelessness without strong buy-in from local stakeholders.

The table below uses four common issues to illustrate some of the ways a strong CAS can shift a community’s approach to ending homelessness.

1.   Access in an Unco-ordinated System Access in a Co-ordinated System
  • No co-ordinated outreach or access points
  • Fully co-ordinated outreach and access points
2.   Assessment in an Unco-ordinated System Assessment in a Co-ordinated System
  • Each programme or service provider has own assessment
  • One city-wide initial assessment
  • Each programme or service provider keeps own data on clients
  • One city-wide By Name List with data on each client as they move throughout the system
3.   Prioritisation in an Unco-ordinated System Prioritisation in a Co-ordinated System
  • No way of prioritising clients, or priority given on a ‘first-come, first served’ basis
  • Community-wide prioritisation protocol based on highest level of need, best fit and the community’s other priorities
  • Some programmes use a Housing First approach
  • The entire system uses a Housing First approach
4.   Referral in an Unco-ordinated System Referral in a Co-ordinated System
  • Every permanent housing programme has its own application
  • One community-wide application for housing (and rapid rehousing)
  • Funding conditions reinforce working in silos and competition amongst providers
  • Funding reinforces a co-ordinated system and collaboration or integration amongst providers
  • Programme-centric view of addressing homelessness
  • Client & system-centred view of ending homelessness
  • My clients/my resources
  • Our clients/our resources

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