A Continuum of Care System is a community and regional-based process that provides a comprehensive and coordinated housing and service delivery system. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) initiated the Continuum of Care process in 1994. The process promotes a coordinated, strategic planning approach for programs that assist families and individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
A Continuum of Care System has the goal of stably housing all persons who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in appropriate housing. This means identifying all homeless and at risk of homeless populations in communities, understanding their needs, and building a comprehensive and responsive system.
A Continuum of Care System helps communities and regions strategically plan for and provide a balance of emergency, transitional, and permanent housing and service resources to address the needs of people who are homeless so they can make the critical transition from homelessness to jobs, independent living, and permanent housing. It is widely recognized that homelessness is not due to just a lack of shelter. Homelessness encompasses a wide range of conditions and involves a variety of unmet needs as well as underlying economic, physical, and social challenges.
Communities and regions that adopt a Continuum of Care system recognize the importance of all components of a Continuum of Care: prevention, outreach, intake and assessment, emergency shelter, transitional programs, supportive housing, permanent housing and all appropriate support services.