Supporting Coordinated Access to housing for people who are homeless can pose procedural and logistical challenges to communities. The Open Path Coordinated Access System (CAS) is a tool that facilitates matching individuals with housing opportunities, and supports the intra-agency communication necessary for successful move-in. As a stand-alone system, or tightly integrated with the Open Path HMIS Warehouse, the Open Path CAS brings structure and efficiency to an often complicated process.
The Open Path CAS is a tool for communities to match homeless individuals with available housing assets in a way that:
Provides transparent logic for individual and housing prioritization
Handles the communications and logistics of coordinating a successful move-in
Preserves client privacy while meeting data confidentiality laws
Can be used as a standalone system or integrated with HMIS
When a housing vacancy arises (either a voucher or physical unit), Open Path CAS generates a prioritized list of eligible people. A user with permission can manage the organization of service programs, funding sources, and specific project units—each of which can have eligibility criteria. This function allows housing opportunities that come from a given funding source to be limited to veterans, for example, or women under 25 years old.
When a housing opportunity is marked available, the system identifies people who are currently homeless who meet the preset eligibility rules. It then prioritizes that list based on several factors and suggests who might best fit that particular housing chance. This prioritization logic can be customized in a variety of ways: to reflect how a community prioritizes housing; for legal restrictions; to account for the available data; to weight the length of homelessness, or degree of "chronicity" or vulnerability; the size of the eligible population; and even the predicted chance of long-term success.
In an ideal world, a CAS can be used to identify the best match by incorporating readily available data. The complex reality is that the full context of someone's circumstances often is not documented rigorously within a database system. In these cases, the Open Path CAS streamlines the process by providing a list of potential matches, based on the available data to develop a prioritized list, from which someone—a housing navigator, say—can select.
Much of the coordination of Coordinated Entry housing services is communication between people. Once a housing match is selected, Open Path CAS provides a (customizable) email-based workflow to bring everyone—the homeless person, municipal staff, service provider administrators, caseworkers—into the process. Notifications containing time-expiring links provide status information and decision making capability without exposing personal identifiable information. The system also has overrides to prevent a non-responding party from delaying a housing process.