Early Analysis of CAN Diversion Data
Shelter Diversion is a strategy that prevents homelessness at the front door of the homelessness response system by helping people identify immediate alternate housing arrangements and, if necessary, connecting them with services and financial assistance to help them return to permanent housing. Shelter Diversion programs can benefit the homelessness response system by reducing the number of families and individuals becoming homeless, the demand for shelter beds, and the size of program wait lists. Connecticut’s initial data reflects increasing success at implementing shelter diversion to meet the needs of clients facing housing crises, and low rates of these clients returning to the homeless system to access shelter (fewer than 2 of every 10).
Increasing Rates of Shelter Diversion
Overall, Connecticut’s Coordinated Access Networks (CANs) diverted through the first half of 2017 nearly 17% of the people seeking homeless assistance (individuals and families). The number diverted continues to increase as communities embrace this approach, more front-line staff are trained, and resources are made available to help with emergency financial assistance needs central to diversion. Some communities are diverting as many as 80% of families presenting for CAN intake. (For more information about the rates of diversion across CANs, please take a moment to visit the CAN Comparisons Data Dashboard Page at: https://cceh.org/data/interactive/cancomparisons/. )
We know that increasing our rates of effectively diverting individuals and families to other housing solutions is an important part of advancing toward our goal of ending all forms of homelessness. CANs across the state are actively working to increase their rates of shelter diversion.
Low Rates of Return to Seek Homelessness Assistance
Our aim is to help people resolve their housing crises at the front door of shelter in a way that helps them to stay permanently housed. One way we can understand this is by measuring how many clients served in shelter diversion ultimately enroll in a shelter.
Of the 4,565 households who have been diverted July 14, 2014 through July 31, 2017, 3,953 households (87%) did not subsequently enter shelter. Of those clients served in 2015 (at least 18 months prior) rates of return were less than 20%. Across all cohorts, families tended to be slightly more successful than individual adults. The chart below provides an overview of the success rates by household type.
Returns within 90 Days for the Majority of Those Who Return
Preliminary findings from analysis done on the households who ultimately entered shelter may help us to continue to improve our work to successfully divert clients from homelessness to effective housing solutions. From July 14, 2014 through July 31, 2017, 51% of the people who returned to seek assistance and entered shelter did so within 90 days. This suggests that we may have an opportunity to help more clients succeed if we can connect them quickly to other mainstream resources and supports (including food banks, mental health treatment, benefits like SNAP and Medicaid, employment assistance, and budgeting help) in tandem with their shelter diversion plan.