Optimizing a Coordinated Access Network

Since the launch of the Fairfield County Coordinated Access Network (CAN) in October 2014, SHW continually works to improve this system utilizing a data driven approach. Using national benchmarks set forth by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the CAN’s performance is measured by the decrease in: length of homelessness, rate of return to homelessness and overall total number of homeless people. The CAN also conducts a cost benefit analysis of different housing interventions to ensure resources are allocated to maximize the number of people that can be served. SHW has helped create a responsive CAN staffing infrastructure by assembling funding for dedicated community navigators and diversion staffing positions throughout Fairfield County.

Ending Chronic Homelessness

SHW has been instrumental in the region’s effort to end chronic homelessness by spearheading collaborative efforts that embrace Housing First principals. The Housing First Collaborative began with a unique interagency collaboration between 5 member agencies that share the common goal of ending chronic homelessness in the Greater Bridgeport Area. This Collaborative built in evidence based practices, combined with Housing Choice vouchers that allowed time-limited services in connection with permanent rental subsidies to rehouse chronically homeless people. Since that time, SHW has replicated this model throughout Fairfield County and this model serves as the conduit for ending chronic homelessness. Currently, the Housing First Teams throughout the region lead the housing and resource matching meetings for people referred from the CAN process.

Creating a coordinated response system for Youth

Implementing local strategies that align with the state’s plan to prevent and end youth homelessness by 2020 is an important initiative of SHW. Work in the area includes creating sustainable systems change that will increase collaboration, improve data collection and management, streamline processes, reduce barriers to entry, and increase available resources for all unaccompanied minors and young adults experiencing homelessness.


SHW has created, staffed and recruited members for two key workgroups under Opening Doors Fairfield County. The Youth Engagement Team Initiative (YETI) is a committee that is made up of providers throughout the region who currently serve homeless youth/young adults (YYA). They are responsible for creating a coordinated community response system that will better engage, assess, serve and house homeless YYA. The YETI has over 30 members representing a true cross-sector collaboration of funders, state agencies such as DMHAS and DCF, advocates, runaway and homeless youth providers, homeless service providers, our regional LGBTQ provider, employment, education, public housing authority, faith based leaders, and healthcare providers. SHW has also recruited members for the Youth Advisory Board (YAB), a group of young adults with lived experiences of homelessness.