The Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless (MACH) is the HUD-designated Continuum of Care for a five-county region in central Alabama (Montgomery, Autauga, Bullock, Elmore, & Lowndes counties). The Continuum of Care (CoC) is HUD’s local planning process, which requires that each community use a single comprehensive planning process when applying for HUD funding. The CoC evaluates community needs and makes plans to deliver housing and services to meet those needs. Local agencies receive over $2 million annually through this funding process.
A Continuum of Care system offers all of the various types of services that a person or family experiencing homelessness may need. Different clients enter and exit the system in different ways and move among agencies and services as their needs require. The diagram below demonstrates the types of services available in our area and how clients may use them.
Outreach/Intake/Assessment – Programs that engage those experiencing homelessness in order to identify service and housing needs and provide links to the appropriate level of both.
Emergency Shelter – An immediate, safe alternative to sleeping on the streets. Most emergency shelters have a limit on the amount of time a client can stay.
Transitional Housing – Housing with supportive services to allow for the development of skills that will be needed once permanently housed. Transitional housing stays are typically longer than emergency shelter stays.
Permanent Housing – Affordable rental or owned housing for an individual or family who has moved out of homelessness. This may be housing that the client identified independently, or it may be subsidized through the Housing Choice Voucher program or a similar program. It may also be housing identified and supported by a rapid re-housing program, such as MACH’s Housing Assistance Program.
Permanent Supportive Housing – Affordable, community-based housing that provides clients with supportive services, such as case management and treatment, in order to stay housed. Individuals and families living in PSH often have long histories of homelessness and face persistent obstacles, such as a serious mental illness, a substance abuse disorder, or a chronic medical problem.
Supportive Services – The various resources that a client may access in his or her journey to overcome homelessness. These may include education, employment, credit repair, financial literacy, substance abuse treatment, physical and mental healthcare, counseling, or case management.
Homelessness Prevention – Services that prevent someone who is at risk of homelessness from entering the homeless assistance system. These typically include rent and utilities assistance, as well as legal services, to prevent eviction or foreclosure.