Bright Spot: Washington, DC | Comprehensive Outreach Coverage

September 20, 2019

Map outreach efforts in your CoC geography by facilitating a meeting with all organizations doing outreach, including PATH providers and mental health teams; note gaps and where duplication may occur.

Check out this bright spot if…

● You want to understand where providers have outreach coverage 

● You need to coordinate outreach coverage with various organizations 

● You want to try it! 


When DC received a new grant, it created two new roles, one for an Outreach Provider and another for a Housing Provider. They mapped the responsibilities to make clear how the positions would overlap, which brought the four providers onto the same page. They then mapped the territory that all four providers were responsible for covering with outreach services; they also determined who should cover various parts of the city based on capacity at each agency. Finally, they created a communication plan that anticipated that some contacts would reach out to report a territory one agency no longer covered. This methodology is particularly useful for larger urban areas. Rural or suburban areas may need a different approach, as their territory and resources differ. 

Due to this method, the DC Metro area has 99% of their geographic area covered, skipping only small parts where the DC Police Department does not allow people to stay. Additionally, the length of time from beginning of homelessness (within the DC Metro area) to identification has shrunk dramatically. Every person found during outreach is added to the list and case conferenced as it becomes their “turn.” They also use the PIT count to assess their efforts. 

Key Action: Using Grants to Build a Coalition

 The process was jump-started when the Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) considering applying for new CABHI grant from SAMHSA that would be subcontracted out. Four providers responded that they would like to be involved and worked together on the application. The providers (Miriam’s Kitchen, Pathways to Housing, Green Door and Community Connections) got together to establish a community vision and determine how they would enhance efforts currently underway. They decided that they wanted to tie outreach fully into coordinated entry. 

Key Action: Adaptation and Collaboration 

Essential to the process is coming to an agreement on the purpose and scope of the project and ensuring that the solution is co-created. The DBH proposed the request for additional funding, but the providers took the initiative to come together and determine what was needed and how it should be accomplished. Leadership was supportive of a process that worked for all involved. 

Fail Forward moments

Carving up the coverage area and agreeing on who would take which pieces was not particularly difficult. They had to re-do the process, though, as DBH changed up the number of staff members at each of the participating organizations. 

Want more information?

Contact Emily Buzzell ( at Miriam’s Kitchen