What is a Continuum of Care?

A Continuum of Care (CoC) is a regional or local planning body that coordinates housing and services funding for homeless families and individuals. In 2007, 461 CoCs submitted application for federal homeless assistance funds in all 50 states, plus DC, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Continuum of Care service areas run across the Commonwealth as shown on this map:Continuum of Care service areas pdf format of cocmap.pdf

Continuum of Care (CoC) Programs combine state funds with federal funds obtained from HUD through an annual competitive application to provide homeless assistance services and supported housing programs for primarily long-term homeless individuals and families with one or multiple disabilities. Across the Commonwealth there are 16 CoCs eligible to apply for HUD homeless Assistance Funds. Each of the 19 CoCs serves a unique geographic area with HUD asking the state (DHCD) to be responsible for addressing homeless gaps in services in all cities and towns not served by another CoC. 

DHCD manages 1 of the 16 HUD approved Continuums of Care across the Commonwealth and applies for homeless assistance funds annually in what is known as the Balance of State CoC.  CoC membership is open to anyone interested in ending homelessness in the CoC’s geographic area.  Members include other state agencies, many private non-profit homeless service provider organizations, other private non-profit organizations, and individuals.

About Our Continuum of Care

Each year DHCD analyzes the data on homeless persons reported by homeless service providers together with the data collected by local police departments which participate in our annual Point in Time Count of homeless unsheltered persons in the 75 Balance of State communities to identify the most critical needs for services and types of housing.  Generally, the most critical need identified is determined to be the ongoing need to move homeless people from the streets and emergency shelters into safe permanent housing with ongoing support services.

Through the CoC, DHCD and its partners in endeavoring to end homelessness:

  • fund permanent supported housing for over 600 formerly homeless individuals and families;
  • conduct street outreach to homeless people living in a place not meant for human habitation in an effort to get them into a more safe environment;
  • work with CoC Members in an effort to help better coordinate and not duplicate homeless services in the CoC jurisdiction.
  • maximize the number of housing units to be made available by leveraging other local and state resources to provide the services.

How it works

A homeless household is identified or self identifies as being homeless with a disabling condition and needing ongoing long term support services to help them keep the housing.  Once they move in a conversation about supported housing begins between the household and the state agency or service provider representative. Once the service needs and housing requirements of the household are identified a process should begin to explore whether there is an appropriate SHP available and if so, the individual or provider can make a referral to the appropriate organization conducting intakes/assessments.  Some programs maintain open waiting lists.

Who is eligible?

Homeless individuals and families with a disabling condition and a long term need for ongoing support services to help them get and maintain housing are eligible for Permanent Supportive Housing.  The specific eligibility criteria varies by the type of services offered to program participants. Eligibility for may have been funded by HUD specifically to serve homeless veterans.  Some were specifically funded to provide permanent supported housing to chronically homeless unaccompanied adults with a disabling condition.

Homeless people living in a place not meant for human habitation are eligible to receive street outreach services in an effort to get them into shelter and housing. There are a variety of programs such as housing stabilization for high risk, formerly chronically homeless tenants, employment search and job placement for homeless people.

How Can CoC Resources Be Accessed?

While the waits may be lengthy, persons interested in applying for a CoC funded housing program of the Balance of State CoC should discuss his or her needs with a local homeless service provider and/or with a worker representing a state agency funded provider that provides services.  These service providers can help complete a coordinated entry application packet.  Alternatively, applications may be obtained by either:

  • calling 617-573-1100

For help in accessing an emergency shelter, either speak with a local homeless service provider, if you know of one, or follow this link to the Service Provider Listing.


Much of the funding for the CoC programs comes from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.  As part of the process for accessing this funding, HUD asks us to rank projects for funding priority.  The FFY 16 project ranking pdf format of projectranking.pdf
can be found here.  You can access the entire  FFY 16 Application here  pdf format of FFY 16 Application here
file size 11MB

How to get involved

The Continuum has a general membership meeting at 100 Cambridge Street, Boston MA at 10:00 a.m. on the first Wednesday of each month. There are also committees that work to address the unique issues that face homeless veterans, and youth, as well as committees that focus on project review, homeless management information systems (HMIS,) and coordinated entry. Participation from a broad spectrum of stakeholders is encouraged. For agendas or more information about any of the meetings, or to arrange for clearance with the building security, please contact us by phone at 617-573-1100.

For further information

Please contact the Division of Housing Stabilization at (617) 573-1100