People are hard at work on the NOFA for Continuum of Care funding for 2018, and this blog post kicks off a set of tools the Alliance will produce to help. We encourage all readers to also review resources from other partners, including HUD and USICH. Both organizations are producing resources to answer questions about the specifics in this year’s NOFA, and HUD’s Ask-A-Question feature will be hard at work.
The Alliance’s materials start with the idea that the NOFA is more than an announcement about available funds. It can be a tool for helping a community build a better system for ending homelessness. Over the course of this blog series, we will flesh out some of the most important ways to take on this challenge, including:
Performance, performance, performance
This year’s NOFA focuses more than ever on performance. Specifically, it is geared towards a community’s coordinated system for moving people quickly into housing. System performance is achieved through program outcomes, and demonstrated with data.
The NOFA calls on communities to figure out what’s working best and prioritize that. This means prioritizing models that are working best around the country, as well as prioritizing individual programs that are working best in that community. This represents an important opportunity for each community to come together, document its performance, and show what it can do.
Planning for outcomes
Even with the greater focus on outcomes, HUD still gives points for planning. These points prioritize populations based on need, and the ability of best practices to create an impact. They prioritize families, youth, people experiencing chronic homelessness, and veterans. But that does not mean that there is no benefit to careful planning to end homelessness for other populations. In fact, planning and skillful execution will be rewarded because they will mean better performance.
In this NOFA, there is also scoring for quality plans aimed at racial equity. If communities haven’t already begun to work toward this goal, the preparation for this NOFA application provides a good incentive to start.
The whole community
Finally, work to end homelessness requires buy-in from the entire community. This year’s NOFA provides incentives for this by rewarding mainstream program participation. For example, this year, there is a new emphasis on Public Housing Agencies and their federally funded housing resources.
There is a lot of detail in the NOFA, and we are here to help. Please keep a look out for new installments in this blog series, as well as webinars and other tools that are currently in development. We look forward to being your guide and resource during this very important opportunity.