Best Practices in Addressing Homelessness
The Chatham County Continuum of Care uses a variety of best practices to address homelessness.
The Chatham County Continuum of Care (CoC) is committed to using practices that are effective at preventing and ending homelessness. These practices include:
Prevention and Diversion
Preventing homelessness is the best way to address homelessness. The Chatham County CoC service providers and stakeholders help prevent homelessness by providing rental assistance and support services that keep individuals and families in their homes. These services include case management, budgeting classes, workforce development, legal advocacy, and housing placement services.
Diversion services are provided to individuals and families who are facing immediate homelessness. Services such as rapid re-housing and rent or mortgage assistance may divert persons from ever entering a homeless program or emergency shelter and prevent unsheltered homelessness (i.e., “living on the street”).
Coordinated Entry is a process that ensures all people experiencing a housing crisis are quickly identified, evaluated, and connected to housing and support services that meet their unique needs. Through an in-depth interview at a single source of entry (Division of Family & Children Services), a case manager works to match individuals and families with appropriate services across multiple agencies. Service providers also help to coordinate those services to ensure easier access.
The Housing First approach aims to end homelessness by providing individuals and families with permanent, affordable housing as quickly as possible. Once individuals are safely housed, they are then offered (but not required to use) social services such as workforce training, health care, or case management. The Housing First approach is guided by the belief that housing is one of the most basic human needs and without it, people are unable to address other less pressing concerns.
Low-barrier policies ensure that persons experiencing homelessness do not have to overcome barriers to accessing shelter, housing, or support services. Policies that present a barrier include requirements to be sober, comply with mental health treatment plans, or agree to participate in social services. The Chatham County CoC encourages all shelters to implement low-barrier policies such as allowing pets, partners, and families to stay together; accepting individuals without drug or alcohol testing; and admitting individuals without identification.
Homelessness is a traumatic experience and the best way to help those who have experienced homelessness is through trauma-informed care. This evidence-based approach ensures individuals receive care in an environment that accounts for possible triggers, promotes healing and recovery, and reduces re-traumatization. By providing trauma-informed care, the Chatham County CoC service providers are better able to connect individuals with housing and support services that lead to long-term stability.