The Lancaster coalition to End Homelessness is funded and hosted by Lancaster General Health and is one of the impact partners of United Way of Lancaster. It is a coalition of community leaders and human and health service providers who work together to alleviate the issue of Homelessness in Lancaster County. The Coalition addresses the systemic barriers for families and individuals who are homeless. Some of the services they provide include rental assistance, rapid rehousing locators, and coordinated assessment and outreach. The network brings together systems and providers for a wider impact on homeless families and individuals, with the aim of eradicating Homelessness in Lancaster County. The eradication of Homelessness among veterans in the county is one of the ways in which the power in unity has been demonstrated by this collaboration.
In 2008, President Barack Obama signed the Hearth Act into law, and this created the building blocks for communities to functionally eliminate Homelessness. The federal government initiated a call to action to create wider reaching coalitions. This move was unprecedented since no such partnership had ever been pursued in history. In 2008, Lancaster County implemented a ten-year plan to eliminate Homelessness. Starting from 2004 up to the implementation of the ten-year plan, community members, Service providers, housing providers, business leaders, and local government officials had worked together to develop the plan. The contingency of providers met regularly to triage challenges and write a grant-interagency council for the Homelessness. There was no lead agency at the time, and this made the 10-year plan a community process. This had the benefit of getting several stakeholders to buy-in. All the group members who participated in developing the 10-year plan continued to get involved in the Lancaster Coalition to End Homelessness.
The Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program was linked to the goals of the 10-year plan, and following the program’s success, the County Continuum of Care increased the focus of its efforts on prevention. The Lancaster County Housing and Redevelopment Authorities was responsible for administering Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program’s funds. The total funds were $2,120,286 and were allocated to the City of Lancaster, and County of Lancaster as $738,012, and $1,382,274 respectively. Following HUD’s announcement of the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program, Lancaster County Coalition to End Homelessness established a planning committee of service providers and funders. Lancaster was well-positioned for the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program due to it’s recently approved 10-year plan, which focused on prevention activities, development of a common intake and a housing-first approach. The aim of developing a common intake was to ensure that the program and services which varied widely between the City of Lancaster and its outlying areas have uniform access. During this time, there were two operational prevention programs running in the community administered by two service providers. These experiences influenced providers to adopt national best practices, and they used their existing case management tools and Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program’s guidance to design their programs. As a result, the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program was a design largely integrated with prior experiences. The program, designed by the planning committee, had a key focus on people facing the most imminent risk of Homelessness–In other words, those that would become homeless if they didn’t get any assistance. For clients to be eligible for this program, they would have to be earning less than 30% of AMI and have a court-ordered eviction with a lockout date of fewer than two weeks.