Are you ready the FY 2014 CoC Competition?

written by Anna Blasco
July 17, 2014

Yesterday, Ann Oliva, Director of HUD’s Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs (SNAPS), sent a letter indicating HUD would open registration for the FY 2014 portion of the FY 2013 - FY 2014 CoC Program Competition shortly. The NOFA released in November 2013 covers two years, 2013 and 2014, so CoCs will not need to complete a full application, but they will need to submit new project priorities and project applications soon.

While Oliva’s letter did not include anything we haven’t heard before, it is a helpful reminder of HUD’s priorities and how communities should prepare for the next competition. I’ve highlighted three things below that your community should be working on now to prepare.

1. Get Ready to Rank

Once again, CoCs will have to rank and tier their projects. This should be a transparent and strategic process. To do this, we have some excellent tools you can use from the Community Alliance for the Homelessness in Memphis, including policies and procedures for program eligibility and performance, and a scorecard to measure performance and rank projects within their continuum of care. For an in-depth reading of ranking and tiering, check out this blog post.

2. Get Ready to Reallocate

Reallocating is challenging for a number of reasons, but the message in Oliva’s letter is clear: “Many CoCs chose to reallocate funds in FY 2013 to create rapid re-housing for homeless households with children coming from the streets or emergency shelter. CoCs will have this option in FY 2014 as well, and we strongly encourage them to do so.”

There are some very good reasons to take her advice. Points are available for CoCs that demonstrate that they are increasing the number of units of rapid re-housing for families with children. Rapid re-housing for families projects are prioritized highly by HUD in their ranking process and will be funded before transitional housing, supportive services only, and other types of projects. Finally, rapid re-housing is an effective strategy for reducing homelessness, which is another area where extra points are available. For more information on reallocation, check out this blog post.

3. Get Ready to Act as a System

It is clear that even the most effective homeless service provider cannot end homelessness in their community alone. To do so, homeless service providers need to work together as a system. This message came across again and again in the letter. I think it is summarized best here: “A first-come, first-served approach to serving people should be replaced with a strategy that covers the CoC’s entire geographic area where projects use a standardized assessment to prioritize people for assistance, with the goal of helping people, especially those with the greatest needs, move into housing as quickly as possible.”

Successful implementation of coordinated assessment, community-wide prioritization, and performance-based funding decisions require a systemic outlook and a strong governance structure. This may be the most difficult recommendation to implement, but it is the key to accomplishing all of the others. Effective governance is the glue that holds all of the essential elements of a high performing system together. We’ve recently launched a training that helps communities move from a collection of programs to a crisis response system, and you can learn more about it here.