HISTORY of the CoC
In the 1980’s, concerned McHenry County residents and institutions of faith began seeing individuals and families sleeping in their cars, under bridges, and in other places unfit for human habitation. Concerned of this growing epidemic, groups of concerned local citizens created non-profit organizations to confront this crisis, all from humble beginnings, and with scarce resources from local institutions of faith and donors to serve these individuals. Initially, local institutions of faith collaborated to shelter the homeless during the colder months. Then, year-round shelter sites began to appear.
Driven by the considerable increase in demand, McHenry County non-profits, institutions of faith, and concerned citizens formed a task force in the early 1990’s to confront homelessness and ensure the scarce federal resources were allocated to meet local needs. In the meantime, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determined that local submission of applications had become cumbersome for its Field Offices, and developed the Continuum of Care model in the later 1990’s as an interface between HUD and local decision makers to determine where federal homeless dollars would be spent.
The task force assumed a role as one of the first Continuums of Care in Illinois in 1997 and began awarding these federal homeless funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Initial applications to the Continuum of Care program involved more shelter-oriented (transitional and emergency) and Permanent-Supportive Housing models. An applicant would generally receive upfront support for program start up (acquisition of a site and rehabilitation funds).
In 2009, Congress reauthorized the McKinney-Vento Act through the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act, which established even greater local decision authority on grant funds, established more stringed Continuum requirements, and established Housing First and Rapid Rehousing as effective models and service delivery methods. An emphasis is placed on meeting clients holistically, and ensuring that collaboration among multiple partners in the service spectrum is most effectively utilized as a tool to confront homelessness.
In 2020, McHenry County was designated as the 12th Unified Funding Agency in the United States. This model allows for even greater local decision-making and support to ensure that the needs of McHenry County homeless can be met.