From the National Alliance to End Homelessness, a Comprehensive Assessment Tool

Photograph of a young woman filling out a form on a clipboard.

If your community has put in place a system for coordinating services for people experiencing homelessness, a new tool from the National Alliance to End Homelessness can help you share information across agencies and quickly get people the assistance they need.

The alliance's "Comprehensive Assessment Tool" was derived from the Prince George’s County, MD, Assessment Tool (PDF, 1.6MB) developed as part of the county's 10-year plan to prevent and end homelessness. The new tool covers:

Intake and Assessment: The tool integrates information so that referral agencies and the Department of Housing and Urban Devlepment's Homeless Management Information System will be able to communicate client information effectively. Another goal is for clients not to have to answer the same questions repeatedly if they deal with more than one service provider.

Prevention and Prioritization: The tool asks clients about other housing options to help divert those who do not need to necessarily enter the system. The tool also includes questions to help identify housing barriers and clients who may be considered "hardest to serve," as well as to determine the best intervention and level of priority to be placed on a specific client or circumstance. The tool encourages a housing first or rapid re-housing approach.

Referral and Placement: This section allows youth-serving professionals to implement a Positive Youth Development approach, working with clients to find out what interventions they feel most comfortable with and are willing to participate in. The tool also helps to determine how high a priority a client should be for receiving permanent supportive housing, using a component called "the dynamic waiting list process." The length of the waiting list for each intervention (transitional housing, rapid re-housing, or permanent supportive housing) will determine how many more people can be added. For example, if the list for permanent supportive housing is long, communities would add only the highest priority households to the list. If the list is short, communities would add lower priority households. This process ensures that waiting lists stay short, so that people who most need assistance can get it quickly and there aren't a lot of people waiting in shelters for long periods of time until their names come up.

Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of NCFY, FYSB or the Administration for Children & Families.

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