Rural Unhoused Helpline

As a 24-month pilot project, in May 2021, Missouri Connections for Health (MCH) began operating a helpline that provides Coordinated Entry assessments on behalf of other direct housing service provider agencies. These agencies are provided a toll-free helpline number that they share with clients who are potentially eligible for housing assistance. Clients who are directed to do so contact MCH’s housing assessment team to schedule a confidential Coordinated Entry assessment interview. MCH’s team provides the services as a tier-3 housing assessment access point to the Missouri Balance of State Continuum of Care for specific regions only. Completed assessments are then handled by the regional agency responsible for providing direct services.

This work is part of a Missouri Foundation for Health Opportunity Fund grant project (20-0316-OF-21). The project is an experiment in adding to an existing resource (the Cover Missouri Call Center team and infrastructure) to address an otherwise unmet need: housing assessments for rural counties that lack the capacity to complete the Coordinated Entry process on their own.

As the project progresses, MCH and the Balance of State participants will gather lessons learned and determine the degree to which the present solution (the helpline, assessment team, and related resources) meet the needs as intended. We will explore the long-term sustainability of the project independent of the Missouri Foundation for Health funding. During this project, MFH continues to operate the Cover Missouri Call Center to connect Missourians to health insurance benefits such as Marketplace, CHIP, MO HealthNet/Medicaid at no additional cost. This project is an example of inter-agency collaboration during a public health emergency (Covid pandemic).

Not only will the project connect otherwise underserved rural Missourians to housing assistance. It helps ensure these Missourians are visible to the federal government systems, even in areas where there are not sufficient housing service providers to cover the needs.

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