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All About: Continuums of Care

What is a Continuum of Care (CoC)?

A Continuum of Care (CoC) is a local planning body where organizations work together towards ending homelessness, including: nonprofit homeless providers, victim service providers, faith-based organizations, businesses, governments, advocates, school districts, public housing agencies, social service providers, hospitals, universities, mental health agencies, affordable housing developers, individuals with lived-experience of homelessness, law enforcement, and organizations that serve homeless and formerly homeless veterans. Agencies involved in the CoC can be awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to be used towards efforts to end homelessness such as providing access to housing resources, and helping individuals become housed.

There are CoC’s all over the United States. Our local CoC covers Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Roles within a CoC:

Governance and Policymaking:

Each CoC has a Governance Board which is responsible for the following: reviewing data and feedback, determining populations that have needs that are not being met, creating strategies and policies to respond to challenges, and adapting policies and service delivery due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our CoC allows individuals to nominate themselves or be nominated by someone else, if they meet one of the following categories:

  • Collaborative Applicant

  • Department of Social Services (DSS)

  • New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH)

  • Nassau County (ESG representative)

  • Town of Brookhaven (ESG representative)

  • Town of Islip (ESG representative)

  • Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

  • Public Housing Authority

  • Homeless service providers

  • Other funders (foundations, philanthropists, and others supporting homeless response on Long Island)

  • General community stakeholders.

  • Persons with lived experience of homelessness

  • Youth or young adult with lived experience of homelessness

  • Person with lived experience of homelessness as a single adult

  • Person with lived experience of family homelessness

  • Survivor of domestic violence

​The Governance Board is currently being revised and an Elections Committee will be determining the new process, with the new Board set to begin effective March 2024.

Coc Governance Charter, Updated September 2023

CoC Annual Competitive Funding Process:

Each CoC has one Collaborative Applicant, and ours is Long Island Coalition for the Homeless (LICH). The Collaborative Applicant submits an annual regional application on behalf of the CoC. This application reviews many different aspects for each year, including:

  • Did homelessness increase or decrease?

  • How long does the average person experience homelessness?

  • Local strategies and plans to address homelessness.

  • Steps to create a system in which people are treated equitably.

  • The CoC’s ability to partner with other resources.

  • Addressing needs in that specific population such as responding to Veteran, family, or youth homelessness.

Recently, the CoC has obtained about $3 million in extra funding that was used to expand housing programs (both permanent supportive housing and rapid rehousing) for youth, and survivors of domestic violence.

Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Annual Funding:

HUD provides a funding opportunity for emergency use in the homeless response system, for resources such as: shelters, street outreach and homelessness prevention programs. These funds are given to each CoC who can decide how to spend them, based on the needs of their area and local feedback.

Currently, Nassau County, Suffolk County, the Town of Islip, and the Town of Brookhaven receive ESG funds. In the past, they have used the funds for the following:

  • Nassau County used their ESG funds for emergency shelters and homelessness prevention.

  • The Town of Islip used their ESG funds for shelter, rapid rehousing, and homelessness prevention.

  • The Town of Brookhaven used their ESG funds for street outreach, rapid rehousing, and homelessness prevention.

Coordinated Entry System:

HUD requires every CoC to have a Coordinated Entry System, which aims to identify and outreach to individuals experiencing homelessness, assess their housing needs and preferences, provide them with resources, and refer them to housing. People are referred to housing based on the length of time they have been experiencing homelessness, and circumstances that may prevent them from being able to exit homelessness on their own.

Currently, there are 2 agencies that are access points for the Coordinated Entry System on Long Island: Long Island Coalition for the Homeless (LICH), and The Safe Center Long Island (TSCLI).

  • LICH is the access point for people living on the street or in shelter.

  • TSCLI is the access point for individuals and households who are actively fleeing domestic violence, don’t have anywhere else to go, and have no other resources.

Housing First

Housing First is an evidence-based practice that removes barriers to entering housing programs. This means that individuals are not required to increase their income, become sober, participate in available services, and/or any other conditions to enter housing. It has been shown that housing programs which have these requirements prevent people from accessing housing, leaving them to remain homeless. All housing programs that receive CoC-funding are required to utilize a Housing First approach.

Homeless Reporting & Homeless Information Management System (HMIS)

Each CoC must track and submit detailed reports on the following:​

  • Demographics

  • Disabilities

  • Household type (single, family)

  • Racial equity

  • Who is experiencing homelessness in their area?

  • Who is most likely to become homeless?

  • Who is most likely to remain homeless longest?

  • Who is successfully exiting homelessness?

  • How people are successfully exiting homelessness

On Long Island there are significant racial disparities between those who experience homelessness and who experience homelessness the longest. Systemic racism and housing discrimination are leading factors contributing to homelessness on LI.

Homeless Information Management System (HMIS) is a HUD-required database that tracks homeless individuals living in shelter or on the street. Individuals who are actively fleeing domestic violence and enter the Coordinated Entry System through TSCLI are not entered into HMIS, as they have their own secure database. This system is used to track the length of time homeless, needs of each individual, and to measure success in connecting each individual to housing. LICH is responsible for homeless reporting and administering HMIS.

Committees and Working Groups

Committees and working groups aim to address homelessness by focusing on specific attributes of the homeless population, such as: Veteran homelessness, street homelessness, race equity, domestic violence, and youth homelessness.

The CoC has the following standing committees:

  • CoC Ranking Committee

  • Coordinated Entry Steering Committee

  • Elections Committee

  • HMIS/Data Committee

  • Legislative Committee

  • Equity Committee

  • Monitoring Committee

The CoC currently has a CoC Governance Workgroup. There are also the following subcommittees:

  • Persons with Lived Experience Advisory

  • Coordinated Entry System Case Conference

  • Racial Equity Committee

In 2016, resources were made available to focus on Veteran homelessness. A “Priority 1” Veteran Committee worked on this matter, and Long Island was recognized as effectively ending Veteran homelessness on Long Island (less than 3% of the overall homeless population). There are resources in place to prevent Veteran homelessness, provide immediate shelter if they do become homeless, and quickly connect them to permanent housing options to exit homelessness.

Misconception of CoC as Government or a Closed Group

There can be confusion that the CoC is part of the government or an exclusive group that gets all the funding. However, the CoC is a group of local representatives that make decisions on what is best for their community. CoC participation is open to anyone, free, and a great way to voice concerns.

It is quite difficult to spend CoC funds locally. When funding becomes available, there are typically few new applications. On Long Island, most non-profits/agencies/groups have programs that focus on providing essential items to individuals experiencing homelessness, such as food and clothing. Oftentimes, these programs do not operate permanent housing programs.

Our main goal as a CoC is to be as effective as possible with the scarce resources we have. We aim to do this in an equitable way and minimize the number of people who experience homelessness. When they do, we aim to quickly get them re-housed. We know that the solution to end homelessness is permanent housing. However, there are currently more shelters than permanent housing programs on Long Island.

Our CoC is comprised of local people who care about our Long Island community, not people in D.C., making decisions from afar. We invite you to join us as we continue to do this work to end homelessness.


The number one goal of the CoC is do the best we can with scarce resources for the community we serve, in a way that is equitable, and have as few people as possible become homeless, or when they do, quickly get them back into housing, and remain housed. We are local people not people in DC, and we are thinking of our local people, not looking at numbers from a distance. We know that the solution to homelessness is permanent housing. When there are significantly more shelter programs than permanent housing programs on Long Island however, people will remain homeless longer and have a harder time getting out of shelter with limited housing options and ongoing discrimination against people of color, people with disabilities, and general stigmatization around anyone connected to a social service safety net support, such as DSS. 



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