What is a Continuum of Care?
A Continuum of Care (CoC) is a regional or local planning body mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that coordinates housing and services funding for homeless families and individuals. HUD charges communities that receive funds under the Homeless Continuum of Care Program of the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act (HEARTH Act) with specific responsibilities:
- Promote community-wide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness;
- Provide funding efforts by nonprofit providers and state and local governments to quickly rehouse homeless individuals and families while minimizing the trauma and dislocation caused to homeless individuals, families, and communities by homelessness;
- Promote access to and effect utilization of mainstream programs by homeless individuals and families;
- Optimize self-sufficiency among individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
The Chicago CoC
The Chicago Continuum of Care (CoC) is a membership organization comprised of more than 100 organizations and individuals who work in partnership to prevent and end homelessness in the City of Chicago. Members elect a Board of Directors that is responsible for planning a coordinated and comprehensive approach to providing housing and services for people experiencing homelessness. The CoC’s Charter outlines the roles, responsibilities, and governance of the Chicago CoC.
The Chicago CoC carries out its mission through a set of core values that guide its governance:
- Clear and logical governance processes, structures, and lines of accountability.
- Transparent decision-making that makes the greatest possible use of data.
- Open, accessible, and inclusive CoC that includes all stakeholders and allies needed to achieve the goals of the strategic implementation plan.
- Compliance with federal requirements for CoCs.
- Communication between all members, committees, and bodies that make up the CoC.
- Flexibility to respond to emerging ideas and challenges through humanistic data-driven decision-making.
- Diversity and equity in its programs and funding.
- Housing First and other evidence-based practices.
Chicago CoC Implementation Structure
In 2019, the Chicago CoC adopted the Implementation Structure (IS), formerly known as the Action Agenda, to enact the strategic vision of the CoC. The IS of the CoC refers to the organization of the community’s work and goals. The IS aligns the work of the CoC with clearly established objectives and actions needed to prevent and end homelessness. The work of the IS is currently led by All Chicago and includes efforts from Community Lead Agencies, Lines of Actions, Affinity Groups, and People with Lived Experience. Use the button below to learn more about the Chicago CoC Implementation Structure.
All Chicago’s Role with the Chicago CoC
All Chicago serves as the Collaborative Applicant, Coordinated Entry System (CES) Lead Agency, and the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) Lead Agency on behalf of the Chicago CoC and as mandated by HUD’s CoC requirements.
Collaborative Applicant: The Collaborative Applicant is the eligible applicant designated by the CoC to collect and submit all the required CoC application information for all projects selected for CoC funding and apply for planning funds on behalf of the CoC. The Collaborative Applicant is also responsible for developing procedures to implement the policies established by the CoC Board.
HMIS Lead Agency: HMIS is a database that collects and organizes specific data on people experiencing homelessness and the housing and homeless services that they receive. Collecting standardized data helps us better understand homelessness and allows us to measure progress toward specific goals. All Chicago serves as the Lead Agency designated by the CoC to operate the HMIS and to ensure the HMIS is administered in accordance with the HEARTH Act.
CES Lead Agency: The CES is a process developed to ensure all people experiencing a housing crisis have fair and equal access and are quickly identified, assessed for, referred, and connected to housing and assistance based on their strengths and needs. All Chicago Serves as the CES Lead Agency designated to oversee the CES.
Each entity is governed by a Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) to inform and guide system work. MOUs outline the roles, responsibilities, and accountability structures for each Lead Agency, as established by the CoC. View MOUs here.