The Greater Richmond Continuum of Care serves as the Continuum of Care (CoC) for its geographic area of the city of Richmond, and the counties of Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico, Powhatan, Goochland, New Kent and Charles City. The Continuum of Care (COC) was designed to address homelessness through a coordinated community-based process of identifying needs and building a system of housing and services to address those needs. The Greater Richmond CoC seeks to prevent, reduce, and end homelessness through effective and coordinated community-wide efforts and services.
Each year, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) solicits applications from communities to address the needs of those experiencing homelessness. This process, known as the Continuum of Care Program (CoC), facilitates grants designed to address the problems of homelessness in a comprehensive manner with other federal agencies.
Since 1994, the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has encouraged communities to address the problems of housing and homelessness in a coordinated, comprehensive, and strategic fashion. With input from practitioners throughout the country, HUD introduced the Continuum of Care concept to support communities in this effort. This concept is designed to help communities develop the capacity to envision, organize, and plan comprehensive and long-term solutions to addressing the problem of homelessness in their community.
The Greater Richmond Continuum of Care (CoC) has been active for over fifteen years and Homeward has served as the lead agency for that time period. Public and private homeless service providers have been working together to address the needs of people experiencing homelessness in the Richmond region since the mid- 1990’s. In the late 1990’s, a diverse group of stakeholders came together under the auspices of the Richmond Task Force on Homelessness to create Homeward as a planning and coordinating entity. The group that was to become Homeward submitted the first regional funding application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 1997. Homeward was officially formed in 1998 as a way to better understand the needs of Richmonders experiencing homelessness.
Homeward continues to serve as the lead agency (or collaborative applicant) and as the Homeless Management Information System lead for the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care. The Greater Richmond CoC has benefited from a strong focus on data and the Homeward Community Information System (HCIS) and a robust and collegial network of service providers. This collegial network has allowed our CoC to make significant changes in our system of care as part of our regional Ten Year Plan.
Under the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009, HUD has asked communities to formalize their community planning processes and to establish a CoC board in order to guide the operations of the CoC. We have shifted our CoC program funding to focus more on permanent housing and have expanded the number of agencies participating in HCIS. We have had broad acceptance of rapid re-housing as a better way to serve homeless families.
For more information on the Continuum of Care Planning activities, please visit the Continuum of Care webpage.