"Reaching Home: Missoula's 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness" is the result of more than a year and a half of research by a volunteer working group appointed by Missoula Mayor John Engen and County County Commissioner Jean Curtiss.
Missoula has a Coordinated Entry System
On June 1, 2017, Reaching Home and its partners launched Missoula County's Coordinated Entry System, with clear access points for people experiencing homelessness, a standardized community assessment process, and a community-level referral system that ensures the most vulnerable households are prioritized for housing and service openings.
This is a major shift in the system that serves individuals experiencing homelessness. This is Phase 1 of the Coordinated Entry System in Missoula County, and we anticipate many refinements based on our experience. Phase 1 includes several of our primary housing and homeless service providers, including The Poverello Center, YWCA Missoula, The Salvation Army, Human Resource Council, Mountain Home Montana and Missoula Housing Authority. Phase 2 (launching in several months) will be an expansion of the Coordinated Entry System based on our local learning, and our goal is to include all willing and interested housing and homeless service providers.
The At-Risk Housing Coalition officially launched phase 1 of the Missoula Coordinated Entry System on June 1, 2017. See the flyer specifically geared toward agencies, as well as the flyer for clients in English and Spanish. The coordinated and streamlined effort is better serving people experiencing homelessness, reducing duplication of services, and providing system-level data contributing to enhanced efforts around our ultimate goal to establish a strong "Coordinated Entry System" that makes homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring for people in our community.
Why is the Missoula Coordinated Entry System important?
- Reduces the burden on people in a housing crisis
- Identifies the most appropriate housing resource to facilitate a rapid and permanent exit from homelessness
- Prioritizes the most vulnerable households for housing (i.e. people experiencing chronic homelessness)
- Collects system-wide data to inform necessary shifts in resources, identify gaps, etc.
- Projects work together as a housing and service system (often reducing duplication of services)
- Full understanding of housing barriers, and the opportunity to use data to promote change
- It's a systematic response that ensures homelessness is prevented whenever possible or is otherwise a rare, brief, and non-recurring experience
- If your agency would like to get more involved with MCES, please stay tuned for plans for the phase 2 launch.
Can we really end homelessness? Yes, we can!
We know that people are skeptical about the idea of ending homelessness. What does it even mean? Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness has provided this operational definition that Reaching Home endorses:
“An end to homelessness does not mean that no one will ever experience a housing crisis again. Changing economic realities, the unpredictability of life, and unsafe or unwelcoming family environments may create situations where individuals, families, or youth could experience, re-experience, or be at risk of homelessness.
An end to homelessness means that every community will have a systematic response in place that ensures homelessness is prevented whenever possible or is otherwise a rare, brief, and non-recurring experience.
Specifically, every community will have the capacity to:
- Quickly identify and engage people at risk of and experiencing homelessness.
- Intervene to prevent the loss of housing and divert people from entering the homelessness service system.
- Provide immediate access to shelter and crisis services, without barriers to entry, while permanent stable housing and appropriate support are being secured.
- When homelessness does occur, quickly connect people to housing assistance and services—tailored to their unique needs and strengths—to help them achieve and maintain stable housing.”
On February 21-22, 2017, Reaching Home and the Office of Housing and Community Development convened over 35 key homeless system stakeholders for a Coordinated Entry Re-Design Workshop. The stakeholders discussed local, statewide and national best practices and made proposed decisions on the future of Coordinated Entry in Missoula County for the ARHC Board to consider and adopt. At the core of Coordinated Entry, the goal is to address the barriers that people experiencing homelessness encounter when they attempt to address their housing crisis. Coordinated Entry streamlines and reduces duplication of housing and service provider efforts, provides system-level data to assist with strategic planning and decision making and results in an intentional process of targeting and prioritizing limited resources for people who are identified as the most vulnerable. We hope that we will fully implement the new Coordinated Entry components by January 23, 2018.
For more information, please visit the following web links:
Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness
SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR)
Missoula, Montana/Housing Community Development
Montana Homeless Data
Missoula Homeless Persons' Memorial
Click here for the 10-Year Plan
Want to know more? Contact the Reaching Home coordinator Theresa Williams. You can reach
her at WilliamsT@ci.missoula.mt.us or by calling 549-6104.