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PA 2-1-1 Helps "Connect to Home"

Updated: Mar 26, 2019

Homelessness is a problem across Pennsylvania, and 2-1-1 is connecting people in need to shelters and finding homes.

Photo Credit: Phillip Whitley, MrPhab Photos.

An excerpt from the article "Connect to Home" written by Kristen Rotz, President of United Way of Pennsylvania. Read the full article here.

An elderly woman experiencing homelessness had been living in her car for two years before the development of Coordinated Entry. When Coordinated Entry started, a Cumberland County Housing Authority staff member reached out to the woman and encouraged her to call 211 to complete the intake process to be placed on a list for subsidized housing based on her vulnerability. Within a matter of days, a case manager used this list, called the Community Queue, to enroll the woman into a program called Rapid Re-Housing. Sixty days later, the woman moved into her own apartment in Carlisle and is no longer homeless.

Sixty days later, the woman moved into her own apartment and is no longer homeless.

PA 2-1-1 has a team of housing specialists who are trained in Coordinated Entry assessments. They all use a common, statewide database and housing intake tools. The 2-1-1 housing specialists are located at three PA 2-1-1 centers and answer calls from all 33 counties in the Eastern Continuum. Staff at the 2-1-1 centers work with the regional queue managers and attend local housing meetings to stay abreast of housing needs and to work collectively to make the system as responsive as possible. When an individual calls 2-1-1 during Coordinated Entry intake hours (9-4, weekdays), the call is answered by a housing specialist in one of the three regions. Using a cloud-based phone system, 2-1-1 is able to route the call to the first available housing specialist to reduce

waiting time.

The Coordinated Entry work that 2-1-1 is doing dovetails with the work that 2-1-1 has always done, every day to answer calls and texts from individuals and families who need help with basic needs, whether that be finding shelter, or paying rent or a utility bill. The

issues related to housing have long been a major focus of the work done by 2-1-1 staff: 75 percent of the calls to 2-1-1 are related to basic needs.

“Now we are able to promptly assess the immediate housing needs of the caller and to place them on the Community Queue so that the housing agencies can work with them to resolve their housing needs. It saves time for the person who needs immediate help when they are literally homeless and do not know where to turn. Any time we can make the process easier for people we increase the likelihood that they will stay engaged and get the help that they need,” says Anne Fogoros, PA 2-1-1 Statewide Operations Director.

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