Continuum of Care

The Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Continuum of Care Program Competition
 has been posted to the FY 2015 Continuum of Care (CoC) Program Competition: Funding Availability page on the
 HUD Exchange. The FY 2015 CoC Consolidated Application and Project Applications are now available in e-snaps. 

Continuum of Care
The lead entity for Roanoke’s Continuum of Care planning process is the Roanoke Regional Task Force on Homelessness. This leadership group includes 21 members, drawn from the general public, 3 local governments, mental health programs, state and federal programs, non-profit organizations, businesses, and colleges/universities throughout the Roanoke region, including a formerly homeless person. The Task Force serves as the facilitator and coordinator of our community’s efforts to prevent, treat, and end homelessness.

Members monitor the characteristics, situations, and needs of the homeless population, recommend the continuation of programs and/or development of new ones, and identify strategies on how to best coordinate and maximize our use of all available resources. This team is also responsible for implementing the process used to research, write and approve Roanoke’s CoC strategy. They monitor its accomplishments and ongoing revisions as well. The Task Force meets on a regular basis and ensures that the CoC planning process continues year round. Minutes of every Task Force meeting have been filed and are available in Roanoke City’s Office of the Director of Human Services. The City’s website also lists the Continuum of Care strategy and is available for viewing by the public. The City’s Human Services Coordinator has served as staff liaison for the Task Force since its inception in 1987.

Roanoke’s Continuum of Care planning process is widely recognized as the community’s primary tool for addressing homelessness as evidenced by the active participation of numerous organizations and implementation of year-round planning sessions and activities. In addition, the CoC works on other planning strategies, such as our Consolidated Plan, ESG and CDBG allocations, and the United Way priority setting process. Currently, the Task Force uses 3 committees to help complete the ongoing work of the CoC planning process and maximize the involvement and talents of as many stakeholders as possible (see CoC Organizational Chart). They include the CoC Planning Committee, the HELPS committee, and the CoC Ranking Committee. The Task Force and each committee represent a different combination of stakeholders and focus on specific areas of the CoC strategy.

Our goal for each committee is to utilize the expertise of a variety of community organizations, and include cross representation from the Task Force and other committees. This approach allows us to include more people/perspectives, and to strike a balance between the distribution of work/activities and developing an integrated system of care understood and supported by the community at large. Roanoke City’s Human Services Coordinator provides staff support to all the committees promoting focus and consistency throughout the overall process. Listed below is a brief outline of each component of the planning process.

The Roanoke Regional Task Force on Homelessness
The role of the Task Force is to manage and coordinate the CoC planning process year-round, and approve and submit Roanoke’s CoC Strategy each year. This group includes our broadest representation of valley-wide decision makers who have the ability to promote and implement our CoC strategy. Their responsibilities and activities include conducting/publishing annual shelter/street surveys; reviewing the shelters’ operations and client outcome reports; identifying needed improvements among current services and development of new programs; organizing education and advocacy events; and facilitating ongoing coordination among federal, state and local programs.

Over the years, the Task Force has brought together service providers and utility company representatives to address concerns of homeless people trying to establish permanent housing; partnered with Radford University to conduct shelter surveys and a special study on shelter accessibility issues; and served as the review committee offering recommendations on the allocation of ESG, HOME and CDBG funds. The Task Force was the energy behind Roanoke’s success in establishing a local Shelter Plus Care (SPC) program and the Homeless Assistance Team (HAT) which aggressively addresses needs and services to the homeless and provides outreach and access to permanent housing. The Task Force meets on the second Friday of each month at 9 am, with the exception of July and August, at the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission office located at 313 Luck Avenue in downtown Roanoke.

Because of vacation schedules, during these months, Task Force work groups meet and make presentations at the September meeting. Seventy percent (70%) of the members regularly attend the monthly meetings and 90% serve on work groups.

The Continuum of Care Planning Committee
The CoC Planning Committee is charged with writing the CoC. Team members review current homeless data and trends; conduct the gaps analysis surveys; assess current services compared to community goals and strategies, and recommend future strategies and use of resources. This committee reviews policy changes at area shelters and provides this information to case managers.

The majority of members are Executive Directors of homeless service providers. As such, they have the greatest knowledge and wisdom of what programs have been successful and reasonable expectations for increases/changes in services given available community resources. Their participation ensures the strategies included in the CoC will be supported and implemented by direct service providers. Two formerly homeless persons were added to the planning committee in March 2003 and have attended monthly meetings since that time.

These individuals add a unique perspective to our planning committee. The group meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 9 a.m. at the Blue Ridge Independent Living Center located at 1502-D Williamson Road NE. Fifty-5 percent of the members regularly attend the monthly meetings and 100% serve on work groups.

Homeless Educators Linking Providers and Services (HELPS) Committee
The HELPS committee is comprised of front-line staff who work directly with homeless individuals and families and primarily serve as case managers and engage the clients from the onset to verify homelessness, conduct intakes and make referrals. The purpose of this committee is twofold. First, the committee provides a forum for the exchange of information so service providers remain up-to-date on available services, resolve issues around referrals and hard-to-serve clients, and transition as many homeless persons as possible to permanent housing. Secondly, this committee helps to facilitate partnerships among service providers that concentrate on the unique needs of homeless sub-populations.

Through these efforts, we maximize our use of available resources while avoiding duplication of effort. Members review program data on client needs and outcomes, and identify gaps in services, ways to improve the effectiveness of current services, and strategies for securing adequate financial resources to sustain their programs. The HELPS Committee reports its findings and recommendations for services to the CoC Planning Committee and Task Force, which use them to help develop our CoC goals, priorities and strategies. Additionally, this committee has worked toward the establishment of agreements among all providers that identify referral patterns, specialized services, collaborative case management services, and system-wide client outcome measures. They also provide leadership for our ongoing public relations efforts that explain the needs of the homeless and advocate for programs and activities that alleviate chronic homelessness.

Currently the HELPS committee is working with the Council of Community Services Information and Referral System (IandR) to design and manage the proposed HMIS. This effort will facilitate more effective inter agency collaboration and knowledge about the needs of homeless clients, services they are receiving, and long-term outcomes. Ten to 15 service providers attend the monthly committee meetings, which are held on the fourth Wednesday of each month at 9 am. The meetings are open to any interested persons, and staff from various agencies/programs often attend the meetings to participate in specific discussions and presentations. At each meeting structured programs and impromptu announcements inform and report individual organization’s activities and issues confronting their clients. Members exchange information by email as well. Fifty-5 percent of the members regularly attend the monthly meetings.