CoC Program Special NOFO Digest: Comprehensive Planning

July 18, 2022

On June 22, 2022 the Continuum of Care (CoC) Program Supplemental Funding Opportunity to Address Unsheltered and Rural Homelessness (Special Notification of Funding Opportunity (NOFO)) was announced. This is a first-of-its-kind opportunity to address unsheltered homelessness and homeless encampments including funds set aside specifically to address homelessness in rural communities.

Applications for the Unsheltered and Rural Homelessness NOFO must be submitted no later than October 20, 2022, at 8:00 PM EDT.

To support communities in developing their plans to address rural and unsheltered homelessness; existing Technical Assistance (TA) and other resources are being highlighted through a series of listserv messages.

View all CoC Program Special NOFO Digests

Comprehensive Planning

As part of their response to the Special NOFO, CoCs are required to develop a comprehensive plan for serving individuals and families experiencing homelessness with severe service needs. The resulting plan should be rooted in equity and centered around the needs of people experiencing homelessness.

To accomplish these important goals, CoCs will have to create an inclusive planning process. CoCs should bring a wide variety of local stakeholders to the table. This should include people with lived experience of homelessness, as well as representatives from communities who are underserved or overrepresented among people experiencing homelessness. Some populations to consider include:

  • Black, Asian, Latinx, Pacific Islanders, and indigenous populations
  • People who identify as LGBTQIA+
  • People living with disabilities
  • People who have been arrested or incarcerated
  • Veterans
  • Youth
  • Seniors

In recruiting people with lived experience of homelessness, CoCs should cast a wide net. Rather than relying on their existing board members with lived experience, they should reach out to CoC and Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) providers to find others with recent experience with homelessness and homeless service systems. Other useful outreach methods may include local job boards, CoC listservs, peer support networks, and organizational websites. Additional suggestions for engaging people with lived experience will be shared in a future message.

Similarly, in recruiting representatives of overrepresented or underserved communities, CoCs should draw on local expertise. Local chapters or affiliates of culturally specific organizations like the Urban League, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Native Americans in Philanthropy, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, National Latin@ Network, and the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders are good resources. These organizations can serve as stakeholders and connect CoCs to other community-based organizations. City and county leadership may have additional recommendations for stakeholders to contact.

CoCs should also partner with organizations that provide services for those experiencing or at risk of homelessness (e.g., local public housing authorities (PHAs), mainstream service providers). Including these organizations in the planning process can ensure that plans reflect the capacity and resources of the broader homeless system. It can also strengthen future collaborations between organizations and CoCs.

Once CoCs have assembled a diverse planning team, it is important to build inclusivity into the planning process. First, meetings should be accessible to all who need to be there; CoCs should pay close attention to the transportation and scheduling needs of all stakeholders. Second, CoCs should work with stakeholders—especially those who are new to the planning process—to set a common foundation of planning knowledge. This includes explaining unfamiliar acronyms and jargon. Third, the planning team should work together to develop group norms and goals, including shared terminology and a common vision.

Finally, CoCs should be careful not to tokenize stakeholders, or invite them to participate just to “check a box” or provide the illusion of inclusivity. Tokenism might include:

  • Asking for input on completed work, rather than collaborating throughout the process
  • Providing access to information, resources, or technology based on CoC need, not stakeholder need
  • Denying stakeholders voting authority or decision-making power in the planning process


The following resources provide further guidance for including diverse stakeholders in the NOFO planning process.


For questions about the Special NOFO, please email