Four things you can do now to prepare for the 2016 Continuum of Care NOFA

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has recently announced the remaining awards from last year’s Continuum of Care (CoC) application. A lot of money was moved around showing how competitive this process has become. This has made us all aware of how important planning and making changes are for CoCs. Half the battle is trying to get ahead of the next grant application. Below is a checklist to help CoCs and homeless service providers start thinking about the next competition.

Here are four things you can be doing now

  1. Review your application from last year to identify places that need work.
    Much of the consolidated application is about showing HUD your goals and your progress toward those goals. These are not things you need to reinvent each year. The way to make goals work is to check your progress frequently and adjust them if necessary when they are too easy or too hard to reach.

    • Review your Objectives 1-3 in your application. Are there specific areas where you are struggling more than other areas in terms of ending chronic, family and youth or veteran homelessness? This is a good time to pick out those weak spots and advance any specific efforts you have outlined for those groups.
    • Target a key entity that has been more elusive, whether a Public Housing Authority, Emergency Solutions Grantee, employment board, or other, and strategize how best to coordinate with and engage them.
  2. Determine next steps with Coordinated Entry

    The registration notice released last month outlines HUD’s policy priorities for the next competition. The first priority is that CoCs create a systemic response to homelessness, which includes creating an effective coordinated entry process.

  3. Reassess your review and ranking process

    HUD’s second policy priority is that CoCs strategically allocate resources using data. During the last competition, we held a webinar highlighting a CoC that does not wait for the NOFA to drop to start their review and rank process. Start watching at around 30 minutes in to the webinar to hear Kelly King Horne, ED of Homeward in Richmond, VA talk about how it works.

    • Reconvene your review committees now to discuss the following questions:

      • Did your review and ranking criteria capture the information you needed to make good decisions about program capacity, performance, meeting local needs, and using best practices?
      • Are you going to reallocate any programs?
      • How will you determine what programs can ask for additional funding?
      • What programs will you put in Tier 2 and how might you fund these programs without CoC funding?
  4. Start gathering data now to evaluate system performance

    HUD has made it clear it will continue to focus on the performance of CoCs to determine how to allocate their funds.

    • Make sure your CoC is able to pull the HUD System Performance Measures from your Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). Some HMIS vendors are still working to update their reports, but your CoC should look at what they are able to do right now. Make sure your projects are set up correctly and work to correct any inaccurate data.
    • Review HUD’s criteria. HUD has released short videos explaining each measure. Every project applying for funding from HUD should watch them. It can help ensure that homeless service providers understand how HUD is evaluating them and their community.
    • Check in with programs that are not performing well – do they need additional support?

Resources to be aware of