The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance for both individual and community wellbeing as housing insecure populations are more vulnerable than ever. Many people experiencing homelessness are considered high risk for COVID-19 exposure and need access to immediate housing. To respond to this crisis, the Chicago Continuum of Care (CoC) developed the Expedited Housing Initiative (EHI) to support those who have been impacted by COVID-19.
The EHI is testing innovative approaches to speed the ending of homelessness in Chicago. By leveraging an unprecedented reduction of barriers and increase in federal funding, the EHI is improving system wide efforts and housing more people, faster than ever before. This initiative is a collaborative effort between the Chicago Department of Family & Support Services (DFSS), Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), All Chicago, the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), and the Chicago Continuum of Care.
Through the Expedited Housing Initiative, the Chicago CoC will:
- Minimize the health risks of COVID-19 for people experiencing homelessness;
- House 1,250 households in a 12-month period;
- Reduce the average length of time it takes to complete the housing process from 80 to 30 days;
- Streamline and centralize the identification of apartments for people experiencing homelessness;
- Reduce barriers to allow housing insecure populations speedy access to housing;
- And leverage COVID-19 funding to create lasting, sustainable change in Chicago’s efforts to prevent and end homelessness.
How does the EHI work?
The EHI uses federal funding to assist individuals and families experiencing homelessness to quickly obtain housing. This funding provides financial and support services to ensure success. The initiative focuses on community engagement, collaboration, and accountability to streamline the housing process and enact lasting change. The following components of the EHI play crucial roles in the initiative’s success.
Coordinated Landlord Engagement
Meeting the goals of the EHI requires engaging with landlords on a large, systematic scale. The CoC and the City of Chicago are calling on landlords and property owners across the city to participate in Chicago Rents by providing available rental units to support their fellow Chicagoans experiencing homelessness. Read this letter from the office of Mayor Lori Lightfoot to learn more about how the city is supporting this initiative.
Chicago Rents directly connects those in need of homes with service providers and landlords. The initiative facilitates rental relationships using designated funds for rental subsidies, unexpected costs, and compensation for landlords while they hold units.
Accelerated Moving Events
The EHI uses Accelerated Moving Events (AMEs) to expedite and improve the process of moving from homelessness into housing. These one-day events allow groups to complete several steps of the housing process at once. At AMEs, participants can view photos of available units, complete applications with onsite assistance, and select furniture from the Chicago Furniture Bank.
After the AME, All Chicago ensures the participating households stay connected with their support system and helps finalize the moving process. Chicago Rents staff contact the landlord to complete the application, approval, and move-in.
Collaboration for Sustainability
By partnering with case managers, CoC members, partners of the Emergency Solutions Grant, and other community members, the EHI connects participants with trained staff who provide ongoing support through the entire lease. These community partnerships lay the foundation for a positive tenant landlord relationship and streamline paths into permanent housing. The case managers also provide employment and income assistance to ensure the sustainability of the housing matches.
System Wide Accountability
As the EHI effectively changes the way we approach homelessness and housing services, the former System Performance, Data, and Research line of action developed several resources to manage these new programs and processes. This includes revised expectations for housing providers, a guide to the data elements being monitored, and plans to evaluate the EHI’s efficacy. The first evaluation plan focuses on the initiative’s impact on the Chicago CoC. Additional evaluation plans are in development.
EHI Accountability Plan
The EHI Accountability Plan identifies four data points to monitor projects’ adherence to EHI expectations and to verify participants are placed into permanent and transitional housing. The plan examines:
- Unit Utilization Rates;
- Need Status Timeliness Standards;
- Time from Match to Housing;
- and Openings without Match Requests.
Agency Technical Administrators (ATAs) receive reports on each of these data points to allow self monitoring. The Guide to Data monitoring and HMIS Reports explains how the data is measured and the frequency of reporting. All Chicago monitors the data on a system wide level and releases quarterly reports on performance within each metric while identifying opportunities to explore underperformance and offer technical assistance. Reports are posted three weeks after the end of each quarter.
Watch Our Accountability Plan Data Monitoring Webinar to train agency staff on project level data analysis and how to apply data to system level performance and expectations.
EHI Line of Action
The Expedited Housing Initiative is also a Line of Action (LOA) of the CoC Implementation Structure. The EHI LOA tests innovation to speed progress into housing and identifies opportunities to embed system change.
Stay informed on what’s happening with this Line of Action
For questions please contact CoCPrograms@allchicago.org
Watch our webinar, Going Deeper with the Expedited Housing Initiative, to learn more about the EHI. The documents referenced in the webinar are below.
All About EHI
Chicago COVID-19 Expedited Housing Initiative
Permanent Housing During COVID-19 Accountability Plan
Chicago Coordinated Entry Temporary Prioritization Plan
Housing Provider Interim Contact Protocols
EHI Data Monitoring and HMIS Reports Guide
EHI Evaluation of System Adjustments
Accelerated Moving Event Location Prioritization Criteria
Recommendation on Navigation Roles for Partners
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To support us in this effort, landlords can share their available unit openings using this survey.