Critical Success Factors in High Performing Rural Continuums of Care


National Alliance to End Homelessness

Solutions Brief | March 14, 2010

Files: PDF | 128 KB | 7 pages

Homeless assistance systems are as varied as the communities they serve. With nearly 20 percent of the homeless population represented in fully, mostly, or somewhat rural geographic areas, we must learn more about ways to improve our rural homeless assistance systems. The Alliance completed in-depth interviews with administrators and service providers in four rural Continuums of Care:

  • Maine Balance of State Continuum of Care
  • Utah Balance of State Continuum of Care
  • Wood, Seneca, Ottawa, Sandusky (WSOS) Continuum of Care
  • Lancaster County Pennsylvania Continuum of Care

The interviews revealed common themes that have contributed to the success of these systems, regardless of the geographic region or infrastructure in place. These themes, or critical success factors (CSF), have helped communities make progress towards ending homelessness, implementing their Ten Year Plans, and meeting the housing and service needs of their homeless families and individuals. The factors include:

  • An identified “Glue Person” that maintains both a high level understanding and detailed perspective of the continuum and its activities
  • A “Champion” for ending homelessness that has the trust and respect of community members, and the skills to build relationships both inside and outside of the homeless system
  • A high level of stakeholder involvement and leadership in the Continuum of Care planning process
  • Implementation strategies that reinforce inclusion, coordination, and collaboration across homeless system agencies and programs, both public and private
  • A willingness to think “outside of the box” to achieve key goals within the homeless system

This brief examines these five critical success factors. It also includes additional information on each of the four case study Continuums.