Here are 3 Big Takeaways from the FY 2015 CoC NOFA

This post is the first in a series examining the Department of Housing and Urban Development's recently released Notice of Funding Availability for the Fiscal Year 2015 Concntinuum of Care Competition. You can find the full series here: FY 2015 CoC NOFA.

As many readers of this blog are no doubt already know, last week the Department of Housing and Urban Development Continuum finally released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Continuum of Care (CoC) Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA). If you’re applying for funds through the NOFA, you should pay close attention not just to the big picture, but to all the details. That’s why over the next few weeks, we will be releasing more detailed information on the NOFA.

For now, though, here is a quick look at the NOFA’s three big-picture trends just to get you started.

  1. This is the most competitive NOFA ever. After several years of preparation, HUD is using this NOFA to implement a strong preference for performance and effective practices that Congress originally included in the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act. Depending on the strength of a community’s Continuum of Care and of individual projects, a high-performing community could increase its capacity by as much as 15 percent through the addition of new projects; a low-performing community, on the other hand, could lose as much as 15 percent in low-performing projects that are defunded. While it’s unlikely that many communities will reach either of those extremes, this preference means that communities that do the most for homeless people will receive the most funding.
  1. Reallocation is important. The competition will reward communities that carefully evaluate their existing programs and allocate funding accordingly. Communities that favor allocating funding to program models that are proven to achieve more progress will, as a consequence, be favored in the NOFA competition.
  1. All four Opening Doors time frames are important. The NOFA awards 15 points each for the strength of a community’s strategy and approach to ending homelessness for people experiencing chronic homelessness, veterans, youth, and families with children.

And finally, one last technical point: CoC planning grants do not compete against funding for programs. They are awarded outside of the “tiering” process. The work of the Continuum of Care is essential in creating efficiency, i.e. rehousing the largest number of homeless people possible with the money that is available. CoCs need funding for staff and/or consultants to do this work, and the CoC planning grants make that available.