Crisis Response

A crisis response system helps people exit homelessness quickly.

What is a Crisis Response System?

The goals of an effective crisis response system are to identify those experiencing homelessness, prevent homelessness when possible, connect people with housing quickly and provide services when needed. An effective crisis response system achieves those goals through the following:

  • Outreach: Outreach workers connect people at risk of or experiencing homelessness to coordinated entry, emergency services, and shelter. They work with other programs in the system to connect people to stable, permanent housing.
  • Coordinated entry: Coordinated entry is a process designed to quickly identify, assess, refer and connect people in crisis to housing and assistance and services.
  • Diversion and prevention: Prevention and diversion are important components of a community’s crisis response and can help it reduce the size of its homeless population. Prevention assistance can aid households in preserving their current housing situation while diversion prevents homelessness for people seeking shelter by helping them identify immediate alternate housing arrangements and, if necessary, connecting them with services.
  • Emergency shelters and interim housing: People experiencing a housing crisis or fleeing an unsafe situation need to find a place to stay, quickly. Emergency shelter and interim housing can fill this role in a crisis response system. These interventions should be low-barrier and align their goals and program activities with the larger system’s goals.
  • Permanent housing: A crisis response system must have the capacity to connect people experiencing homelessness with permanent housing programs, such as rapid re-housing and permanent supportive housing, and other stable housing options.

How a Crisis Response System Can End Homelessness

An effective crisis response system is able to identify and quickly connect people who are experiencing or are at risk of experiencing homelessness to housing assistance and other services. It works because it aligns a community, its programs and services around one common goal — to make homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring.