WHI care coordination workgroup focuses on diversion

In the first three months of 2021, the Washtenaw Continuum of Care (CoC) used a new program to help 23 individuals and 13 families avoid homelessness. The average cost per individual was $73.

The program, which seeks to divert individuals and families from homelessness, is built on a pilot program that the Center for Health and Research Transformation (CHRT), backbone to the WHI, organized with funding that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services provided to the WHI’s care coordination workgroup.

At its root, diversion is about respecting each client’s ability to find his or her own solutions.

“A lot of the diversion work is born of the belief that most of our clients are capable of resolving their homelessness. It doesn’t mean they don’t have significant barriers and don’t need help, particularly because they’re trying to navigate a pretty complicated system in a county with high housing costs and competitive housing markets,” said Andrew Kraemer, CoC data and evaluation specialist.

In Washtenaw County, 300 people experienced homelessness this July. The average wait for housing in the county is around four months, but it varies widely.

Because the system uses dynamic prioritization to serve the people with the highest needs first, “some [people with lower needs] will be waiting forever for a resource because we just don’t have enough,” says Kraemer. With diversion strategies, many of those 300 people will not need to be in the system for so long, or at all.