In 2009, Congress passed the HEARTH Act calling for greater coordination among housing and
homelessness programs. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grantees are now required to
apply and operate within localized Continuums of Care (CoCs). CoCs must also develop a coordinated
assessment (CA)1 process which seeks to create a process in which an appropriate match is made between
programs and people in an efficient manner with the ultimate outcome of ending homelessness within
communities. Each CoC has great latitude in how they implement CA, but many of these processes have involved
the collection and sharing of data – an element which has caused great concern on the part of domestic violence
(DV) advocates and victim service providers (VSPs).
In the past decade, DV advocates and VSPs have increasingly moved their focus from simply removing
victims from crisis situations to also ensuring victim have access to the socioeconomic resources needed to
maintain their safety over time. This shift has led more and more VSPs to provide not just emergency shelter but
also various housing assistance programs – programs that have not historically been funded through the DV
system – leading VSPs to seek funding in the homeless housing system. However, the move of agencies like HUD
toward system-wide collection of data conflicts with policies like within the DV system, such as the Violence
Against Women Act (VAWA), that prohibit sharing of personally-identifying information by VSPs. Although, these
data are ostensibly used only by system administrators for the purpose of measuring outcomes and efficiencies,
there is great concern by DV systems that system administrators with access to personal data might also be the
same individuals that victims are trying to escape. With the passage and implementation of the HEARTH Act, DV
shelter and housing providers increasingly found themselves trying to comply with two contradictory policy
mandates and state and federal DV policy advocates were tasked with understanding and explaining housing
and homelessness policies and regulations.
A Continuum Divided: Breaking Down Silos and Setting Up Tables Between Homelessness and Domestic Violence Services in HEARTH Act Implemenation.
Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
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