Services: Coordinated Access

A Coordinated Access System is a way for communities to bring a consistent, person centred approach to how service providers help people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. The community of Whitehorse, under the direction of Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy, have been working on implementing a Coordinated Access System since 2017. Turning housing supports from many individual programs into one streamlined structure is not easy but communities across Canada are proving it is the most successful approach to reducing homelessness.

Through the Coordinated Housing Access Team (CHAT), service providers who work with people experiencing or at risk of homelessness meet twice per month to match clients with the best services and/or housing units available. This process streamlines service provision among agencies, ensures clients are supported throughout the housing navigation process and helps reduce returns to homelessness by providing the needed supports for people to stay housed. People who do not have permanent housing or the means to secure it can complete an intake assessment to be considered for upcoming supports and/or accommodations.

After the traumatic experience of falling into homelessness someone should not then have to share their personal story to multiple agencies to receive support. Members of CHAT agree to a “no wrong door” policy whereby a client can contact any of the participating agencies and request to be added to the By-Name List (BNL). The BNL is one of the essential tools for creating a Coordinated Access System. Everyone on the BNL is currently experiencing homelessness and has provided informed consent for CHAT members to prioritize them for services/housing units based on a common assessment to determine individual vulnerability. This is not a first come, first serve system.

CHAT members occasionally change to meet the needs of the community. The goal is to ensure all organizations where someone experiencing homelessness might reach out are connected through our Coordinated Access System. New members are able to join once every three months and clients who have provided informed consent to be part of the BNL/CHAT process can request an updated list of members anytime. All CHAT members are able to support getting clients added to the BNL either by completing the Intake Process with the client or referring them to someone who can. The service providers that are bolded are able to complete the Intake Process with anyone:

  • Blood Ties Four Directions
  • Whitehorse Emergency Shelter (YGHSS)
  • Safe at Home Society
  • Kwanlin Dun First Nation (KDFN)
  • Income Support Services (YGHSS)
  • Emergency Youth Shelter – Skookum Jim Friendship Centre
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Society (FASSY)
  • Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre (VFWC)
  • Yukon Women’s Transition Home Society
  • Community Outreach Services (YGHSS)
  • Connective (once John Howard Society Pacific)
  • Queer Yukon Society

Core components of a strong Coordinated Access System include a Housing First approach; real-time data about the supply of and demand for housing resources; a standardized workflow for triage and assessment; prioritization; and vacancy matching and referral. These systems have been implemented across the US and Canada as a successful tool for ending and preventing homelessness. To learn more about Coordinated Access in Canada, visit Built for Zero Canada. To learn more about Coordinated Access in Whitehorse, get in touch with the Coordinated Access Coordinator at cacoordinator@safeathomeyukon.ca or 867-332-6201.

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