Coordinated Entry: Meeting the needs of abuse survivors facing homelessness

Escrito por Erin Goodison

About 70% of people experiencing homelessness in Austin/Travis County report that past trauma or abuse caused their current homelessness.

In response to the overwhelming need, SAFE is working in close collaboration with Austin/Travis County homeless service providers to implement innovative strategies that best meet the needs of abuse survivors facing homelessness. One of these strategies is our Coordinated Entry system, which creates a centralized screening process to help survivors of violence find housing.

How Coordinated Entry supports survivors

After Angela was sexually assaulted by her roommate, she went to stay at a local homeless shelter. She hoped to save up some money and get help finding her own apartment. While experiencing homelessness, Angela was repeatedly harassed by local gang members trying to recruit her into sex trafficking. After so much harassment and violence, Angela was too afraid to leave the shelter.

She stopped going to work and hardly left her room. Shelter staff recognized that Angela seemed fearful and withdrawn, and they arranged to speak with her privately to provide a referral to SAFE. When she called our SAFEline, advocates worked with her to understand her needs, do immediate safety planning, and tell her about Coordinated Entry.

Angela was interested and we connected her with the SAFE Coordinated Entry staff member who took her information, talked with her about her housing needs, conducted the housing assessment, and provided additional safety planning for her while she remained at the homeless shelter. Luckily, Angela was prioritized for enrollment in a rapid rehousing program that helped her find an apartment quickly.

She was given rental assistance, food, help with moving arrangements, basic needs for the home, and support with finding a job. After a few months, Angela was finally feeling stable and was able to connect with a new support system. She was less afraid.

How Coordinated Entry works

All homeless service providers collaborate to screen and assess clients, and then work to connect them with housing when it becomes available. Through Coordinated Entry, anyone in need of housing now goes through one centralized screening process, is prioritized by level of need/danger, and connected with the type of housing that fits their current needs as it becomes available.

In practice, it means that anyone who is experiencing homelessness or fleeing abuse has a greater chance of getting into safe, secure housing and accessing a greater number of programs more quickly.

Prior to this collaboration, many people facing homelessness had to go from agency to agency, submitting housing applications and requests for assistance. Coordinated Entry allows a family or individual to complete a single screening, with a trained and certified assessor, and be considered for all available housing programs in the community.

To ensure that those facing abuse are treated with care and have access to confidential services, SAFE has two full-time coordinated entry staff who can screen and assess clients while keeping all personally-identifying information confidential.

Working to support survivors who face homelessness

SAFE operates emergency shelters, transitional and rapid rehousing programs, and a low-income apartment complex—but even this broad range of housing programs is not enough to meet the needs of abuse survivors experiencing homelessness in our community.

Austin’s Coordinated Entry program is at the leading edge of how to address homelessness, and, specifically, how to provide care for people facing violence. This collaboration of nonprofit organizations has become a model that other communities throughout the nation want to use. And it is serving survivors of violence and abuse better because the model is so strong.

We still have so much work to do to end homelessness and abuse, and we hope that you will join us in making Austin a safer place for everyone.

If you or someone you know is facing homelessness and abuse, we encourage you to contact our SAFEline. SAFEline advocates can connect you with Coordinated Entry, provide information about safety planning, and connect you with services at SAFE or in the community to help increase your safety.

More resources

We want to invite you to learn more about why ending homelessness is essential to helping SAFE achieve our mission to stop abuse for everyone.