Guide to receiving housing and homeless services

Where do I start?

Call or stop by your local Coordinated Entry service provider. They'll ask you a series of questions to determine what housing and services you may be eligible for. 

What is Coordinated Entry?

Coordinated Entry is a process developed by your local housing and homeless services providers to ensure that you receive access to ALL of your local resources when you apply through ANY service provider. 

When you apply, you'll work with a case manager to fill out a questionnaire about your current situation. That questionnaire is called the VI-SPDAT (pronounced "vee-eye-spidat"). Some of the questions can be challenging, but it's important for you to answer honestly and completely; your answers will determine which resources you can access, and how quickly.

What am I eligible for?

It depends on several things: which resources are available locally, your current housing situation, whether you're a member of a prioritized population. In general, though, CoC resources are divided between two buckets: resources for people experiencing literal homelessness and people who are at risk of homelessness. 

Resources: literal homelessness

Eligibility: You may qualify for assistance if you/your family meet ANY of the following criteria:

  • You're currently living in a place not meant for human habitation, like your car or on the streets;
  • You're currently living in temporary housing, like an emergency shelter, transitional housing program, or a hotel/motel;
  • You're exiting an institution (like a jail or hospital) where you've lived for 90 days or fewer, AND before you entered the institution, you were living in a place not meant for human habitation or an emergency shelter; or
  • You're fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, AND you have no other residence, AND you don't have the resources or support networks to find a new residence.

Resources: You may be eligible for assistance at an emergency shelter, through a transitional housing program, or through a rapid re-housing program. If you have also been diagnosed with a severe and persistent disability, you may be eligible for assistance through a permanent supportive housing program. All of these programs include staff who can help you access supportive services, including case management, outpatient physical and mental health services, and education and job training. Note that program bed/voucher availability can vary widely.

Resources: at risk of homelessness

Eligibility: You may qualify for assistance if you/your family meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • You'll lose your current residence within 14 days;
  • You don't have anywhere to go once you lose your residence; and
  • You don't have the resources or support networks to find a new residence.

Resources: You can be assisted in connecting with mainstream resources not specifically dedicated to homelessness. You can receive homeless prevention resources, including homeless prevention resources dedicated to veterans and their families. NOTE: homeless prevention resources are scarce and often limited to members of prioritized populations. 

When will I get housing/ services?

When applying for housing or homeless services, you should know two important things:

  • We are not able to provide housing/services on the same day you apply (except for emergency shelter, and only in certain places depending on bed availability); 
  • When housing/services become available, they go to the people with the highest need based on their Coordinated Entry assessment, NOT the people who have been waiting the longest or who applied first.

Housing program slots become available as people who were using them achieve permanent housing.

When a service provider has an open housing program slot, that provider will begin contacting people who have applied through Coordinated Entry. They will contact people with the highest need first. Need is determined using the VI-SPDAT questionnaire when each individual/family applies through Coordinated Entry.

Am I still on the waiting list?

There is no waiting list.

Housing and homeless services go to people with the highest need first. A person with high need who applies today will receive housing/services before a person with low need who applied last month.

Your application through Coordinated Entry expires after 6 months. After 6 months, you can renew your application by contacting your local Coordinated Entry service provider and completing an updated VI-SPDAT.

You can request an updated VI-SPDAT in fewer than 6 months if your situation has significantly changed. Updating your VI-SPDAT in fewer than 6 months is entirely at your local Coordinated Entry service provider's discretion. Valid reasons to update your VI-SPDAT might include: someone in your household now qualifies as disabled; your household composition has changed; you are fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence.