Four Things to Keep in Mind for the 2017 CoC NOFA

As just about everyone working on homelessness knows, HUD has released the Notice of Funding Availability for its FY 2017 Continuum of Care. Applications are due September 28 at 8:00 p.m. eastern time, with a series of intermediate deadlines leading up to that.

The Alliance will be conducting webinars and publishing blogposts and other materials, with one overarching goal: helping people use the NOFA application to move directions that will have the biggest impact on solving the problem of homelessness. You can find all of our NOFA resources here.

There are some particular areas to focus on:

The goal is to have a community where nobody who becomes homeless stays homeless for very long at all. The NOFA calls on communities to have a plan that works for everyone: all of the population-based groups covered in Opening Doors (chronic homelessness, homelessness among veterans, families with children, unaccompanied youth) as well as the many people who are homeless and not part of these four groups; with a focus on people with characteristics that leave them at higher risk of homelessness or of being stuck for a long time if they do become homeless: LGBTQ people, people with addictions or mental illness. Racial and ethnic disparities are called out.

Certain interventions and practices have proven their value.  Rapid re-housing, permanent supportive housing, targeted transitional housing for people with severe or specific needs, and a system that identifies people who are homeless, provides some safety to them and quickly provides them with the right interventions, focusing the more intensive and expensive interventions on those with the most severe problems: these are the right answer. While there is certainly room for continued innovation, these proven interventions need to be available, as close to scale as possible.

Resource allocation needs to be based on performance. Communities are increasingly using the data from their HMIS systems and point in time counts to evaluate how much impact each grantee is having, feeling that they owe it to people who are stuck in homelessness to get the most impact with the money they have. Reallocation from lower-performing programs has become a regular part of this process, and should continue to be so.

The entire community needs to be behind the effort, leading to leveraging of resources. The policy behind the Continuum of Care is to bring in other resources, including funding and services, but also including understanding of the community and leadership around making homelessness a priority. Many communities have found that the prospect of bringing in additional funding if they are successful, or of losing funding if they are not, is enough to get commitments to strategies and matching funding from a range of leaders.