Best Practice Programs
Continuum of Care (COC)
CoC is a regional or local planning body that coordinates housing and services funding for homeless families and individuals. There are 16 CoCs within the state of Virginia. The FHN is part of the Balance of State CoC. The Balance of State CoC is made up of 12 Local Planning Groups (LPGs) that each coordinate housing and services funding for their geographic area.
In 2014, Virginia elected to eliminate individual grant requests and instead required applications for the Virginia Homeless Solutions Program Grant to be submitted through each of the CoCs. FHN’s CoC planning process promotes coordination of local agencies and organizations and encourages a structural and strategic approach to housing and homeless services.
FHN is the LPG for the Continuum of Care in our region and is a program within the Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission.
Homeless Emergency Assistance & Rapid Transition to Housing Act (HEARTH)
Enacted into law in 2009, HEARTH redefined the national approach to homelessness, which has in turn influenced state policy. The US and Virginia have moved toward a regional, Housing First approach to homelessness, and FHN has adapted its homeless services system to align with emerging best practices.
Housing First centers on first helping individuals and families obtain and sustain permanent housing, and then offering services and resources as needed. The Housing First approach is based on the idea that people are more successful with treatments and services once they have stable housing.
Under Housing First, housing is not contingent upon sobriety, employment, or compliance with services. By providing housing assistance, case management, and supportive services after an individual or family is housed, communities can significantly reduce the time people experience homelessness and prevent further episodes of homelessness.
The McKinney-Vento Act is the primary piece of legislation that pertains to the education of children experiencing homelessness. The act requires public schools to designate an employee as a liaison to serve unhoused youth and to allow homeless students to enroll without documentation of residency. It also allows students to remain in their school of origin throughout the duration of their homelessness.