Coordinated Entry

What is CARS?

Coordinated Assessment and Referral System – CARS also known as coordinated entry is a consistent, community-wide process to match people experiencing homelessness to community resources that are the best fit for their situation. In a community using coordinated entry, homeless individuals and families complete a standard triage assessment survey that identifies the best type of intervention for that household. Participating programs accept referrals from the system, reducing the need for people to travel distances seeking assistance at every provider separately. When participating programs do not have enough space to accept all referrals from the system, people are prioritized for services based on need.

What is VI-SPDAT?

All homeless individuals and families entering the CARS system complete a standard triage assessment survey that considers the household’s situation and identifies the best type of housing intervention to address their situation. The standard triage assessment survey used is the Vulnerability Index-Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT). The VI-SPDAT is integrated into the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) for people who are homeless, and conducted at CARS partner agencies, including shelters, service centers, transitional housing programs, permanent housing programs, and outreach programs, or wherever people who are homeless first encounter our system of care.

Homeless housing programs, including permanent supportive housing, rapid rehousing, and transitional housing, fill available spaces in their programs from a master list of eligible households generated from the HMIS. To ensure the most needy are housed first, the master list is prioritized based on VI-SPDAT scores, length of time homeless, the severity of need, and local population priorities. This coordination improves the targeting of housing resources CoC-wide and reduces the need for people to travel distances seeking assistance at every provider separately.

CARS uses a decentralized “any door” system of access so that persons in need can contact the system at any one of multiple participating programs in different geographic locations. CARS coordinated entry is inclusive and known to street outreach teams, homeless service providers, institutions (hospitals and jails), public service institutions (health departments, county clinics, human services), faith-based organizations, emergency and crisis support groups (including domestic violence groups), and intake systems such as 211. These groups and institutions either serve as access points or have the ability to make referrals to access points.

Who do we serve?

Interested in Becoming a Phase II Referring Agency?