Written by: Chrissy Ficks, Skyline Technologies & Audra O’Connell, Impact, Inc.
IMPACT, Inc., United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County, and Skyline Technologies have combined efforts to develop a centralized application that will provide coordinated entry of homeless individuals into available Milwaukee County shelters.
The Coordinated Entry system emerged amid strong support to transition from 'first come - first served' to a 'needs-based' service access approach. Now, individuals and families experiencing homelessness or potential homelessness, and organizations providing housing or diversion services, connect with each other in a systematic and efficient manner.
In most cases, access to emergency shelter requires a referral via IMPACT 2-1-1. IMPACT’s Community Resource Specialists conduct housing crisis assessments and then prioritize placements based on most critical need. Due to very limited resources within Milwaukee County's emergency shelter system, not everyone is granted a shelter bed when they need one. The Community Resource Specialists' role is to offer referrals to other programs and resources that may help alleviate or end the client's housing crisis.
In 2014 IMPACT received 58,217 housing related calls. Of those 58,217 calls, 30,190 were from individuals or families seeking shelter. These calls equate to a tremendous amount of staff time. The new mobile app will not only reduce the time spent by IMPACT staff in screening and assessing these calls, it will also reduce the time spent by third party professionals (such as hospital social workers, Milwaukee Police officers and street outreach workers) to help clients complete the assessment and send it directly to 2-1-1, all without a phone call. The mobile app will allow staff to spend more time taking calls for things like food services and legal advice while still serving the population that is seeking emergency shelter.
Thirty-three Skyline Technologies associates kicked off the development of the project on April 11 by participating in the Skyline Technologies Give Camp. The associates will continue to work on the project on their own time until early June when they deliver the application to IMPACT to implement in the 2-1-1 call center. "Skyline is so proud to be working with IMPACT 2-1-1 on their coordinated entry for homeless services program. Our Give Camps are designed to allow our associates to work with the latest technology while supporting a worthy cause."