What is a Continuum of Care?

A Continuum of Care (CoC)  is a collaborative approach to planning and funding for services related to homelessness. “Continuum of Care” refers not only to Housing and Urban Development’s program, but also the geographical location covered by a CoC program, and the body of people that participate in homeless services within that geographic area, including service providers, advocates, local government officials, and community members. This Prezi is a great overview of HUD’s CoC program.

What is the Balance of State Continuum of Care?

Most CoCs are established to plan services in metropolitan areas. Balance of State CoCs cover the areas of a state that do not have the resources to establish their own CoC. For this reason, the Texas Balance of State Continuum of Care (TX BoS CoC) is the largest of the 11 CoCs in Texas, and covers 215 of Texas’ 254 counties.  

The Texas Balance of State CoC (TX BoS CoC) is made up of all service providers, advocates, local government officials, and citizens who work to eliminate homelessness.

Goals of the Texas Balance of State Continuum of Care (TX BoS CoC)

The TX BoS CoC has adopted the following goals in accordance with the HUD’s stated purpose for the CoC Program:
    • Promote community commitment to the goal of ending homelessness
    • Provide and/or facilitate funding to re-house people experiencing homelessness
    • Assist individuals experiencing homelessness to access and maintain mainstream benefits
    • Optimize self-sufficiency to prevent recurrence of homelessness

The TX BoS CoC adopted additional goals related to the evaluation of project and system performance in accordance with the HEARTH Act:
    • Reducing the length of time homeless
      • Goal of 30 days or less average length of time spent homeless
    • Reducing the number of people experiencing homelessness
    • Reducing the number of newly homeless
    • Reducing returns to homelessness
    • Increasing exits to permanent housing
    • Increasing income and employment
    • Increasing access to the utilization of mainstream benefits.

Texas Homeless Network’s Role in the TX BoS CoC

The TX BoS CoC has selected Texas Homeless Network (THN) to serve as the lead support agency. Through a Memorandum of Understanding between the TX BoS CoC Board and the THN Board, THN helps CoC members to meet requirements, develop housing crisis response systems, implement best practices, and improve performance. THN does this by assisting the CoC with completing activities legislatively mandated by the CoC Program Interim Rule, including:
    • Establishing a planning body and leadership structure for the CoC
    • Administering and operating HMIS
    • Conducting CoC planning and operations
    • Facilitating the application for federal CoC Program funding

How We Function

The TX BoS CoC, in collaboration with THN, has established governance to assist with planning for the CoC. The structure is made up of committees that act under the direction of a board. The TX BoS CoC board also oversees planning activities on a local level through Local Homeless Coalitions (LHCs) and Coordinated Entry Planning Entities (CEPEs). Click here for a list of TX BoS CoC Meetings.

CoC Board

The CoC Board is the main decision-making body of the CoC. The CoC board’s main function is to review and approve policies and procedures suggested through the actions of CoC committees, on behalf of the CoC general members. 

CoC Committees:

Committees within the TX BoS CoC governance structure are designed to carry out the high-level work of the CoC, ensuring that the CoC fulfills all of the requirements established by HUD. Committees are an opportunity for CoC general members to be directly involved in CoC-wide decision making. 

Local Planning Bodies:

There are two types of planning bodies that serve CoC members on a local level: 

Each has a relationship with the CoC lead agency and regularly communicates their activities to the CoC staff. 

The CoC also works with Consolidated Planning Jurisdictions (CPJs), to assess communities’ needs when they are developing their Consolidated Plans.

Leading Homelessness Data

Because Texas Homeless Network is designated as the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) lead agency for the TX BoS CoC, it is responsible for operating an HMIS system on behalf of the CoC. THN receives grant funding from HUD to operate the CoC-wide HMIS system. HMIS is a system that allows agencies to keep track of the numbers, characteristics, and needs of people in their community that are experiencing homelessness. It is intended to decrease duplication of services and increase collaboration between service providers in a community, by allowing different agencies to share data about their clients. It is also a tool for gathering data about the state of homelessness in the community, which can allow agencies to understand which efforts are most effective, and target supportive services where they are needed most. This data is also used at the city, state, and federal levels to understand changes in homelessness over time.  Programs receiving CoC Program funding and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program funding, among others, are required to use HMIS. As the HMIS lead agency, THN is responsible for administering HMIS in accordance with HUD requirements and supporting agencies and staff to use HMIS. For information, visit the HMIS sections of our website.

Building a Brighter Future

As the lead agency, Texas Homeless Network supports local homeless coalitions, agencies, projects, and communities in planning by helping them:

CoC Program Funding

THN serves as the “Collaborative Applicant” for the TX BoS CoC and leads the HUD CoC Grant process. THN provides technical assistance and guidance to agencies and communities applying for funding to create new housing and service programs. Applicants must submit proposals through THN in the annual CoC Program Competition. For more information visit the Continuum of Care Program section of our website.

Planning

The geographic area of the TX BoS CoC includes 215 counties throughout the state of Texas. Within those counties, approximately 25 Local Homeless Coalitions (LHCs) conduct local CoC planning, housing and service development and delivery, and evaluation, as well as CoC-wide activities through the LHC Chairs, the CoC Board, and CoC committees.

As the lead agency, Texas Homeless Network supports LHCs in planning by assisting communities to:
    • Identify trends and assess changes in the homeless population for community planning
    • Develop program designs to address gaps in shelter and/or services
    • Assist agencies with data needed to apply for additional funding through governmental, community, or private sources
    • Measure system performance and establish performance standards
    • Conduct a Point-in-Time (PIT) Count
    • Establish a Coordinated Entry System (CES)
    • Advocate for local leadership to effect policy change
    • Accomplish CoC-wide goals
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