The New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness (NMCEH), an NLIHC state coalition partner, developed a system allowing them to analyze and rank counties in the state by their need for new supportive housing. The system, which categorizes each county by relatively high, medium, or low priority for supportive housing, will be used in the application process of the New Mexico Balance of State Continuum of Care (BoS CoC) program to prioritize funding for new supportive housing projects. This type of ranking system was first used by NMCEH in 2010 and refined for 2011.
Since 2000, the NMCEH has coordinated the New Mexico CoC programs. A main NMCEH goal has been to increase the amount of supportive housing in underserved areas of the state. Their position as coordinator for the programs presented a unique opportunity for NMCEH to explore ways to expand the amount of supportive housing projects in targeted areas.
During its first few years coordinating the program, NMCEH considered any BoS CoC application outside of the Balance of State Region’s two largest cities as steps toward meeting the criteria for increasing supportive housing in underserved communities. A few years ago, the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority (MFA), which works with NMCEH on CoC performance measures, began work on a way to increase supportive housing and measure success. NMCEH and the MFA decided to analyze the need for supportive housing using county-level data on the poverty rate, population, number of homeless people from the biannual Point in Time count, and the total number of transitional housing and permanent supportive housing beds from the Housing Inventory count.
NMCEH and MFA worked together to establish criteria to determine the estimated supply of and need for supportive housing by county. Based on the fact that the homeless population is about 1% of the state’s population, and that roughly half of the homeless population could be helped through rental assistance, it was decided that the other half would need supportive housing, either transitional or permanent. Therefore, the estimated need for supportive housing for the state is .5% of the total population, or half of the homeless population.
Advocates came up with three factors to develop a scoring system to rank each county by need: the deficit in supportive housing based on population, the deficit in supportive housing based on the actual count of homeless people in the country, and the poverty rate. Each factor was scored and weighted using a formula created by NMCEH with help from MFA. Each county was given a score of one to 50 for deficit by population, one to 25 for deficit by homeless count, and one to 25 on poverty rate. Each of the 33 counties was ranked and counties were divided evenly into high-, medium-, and low-need counties. The county with the highest need for supportive housing was Bernalillo County with a score of 87.78; the lowest-need county was Los Alamos County with a score of 5.09.
Upon analysis, the BoS CoC Steering Committee agreed to give CoC applications from high-need counties two points and applications from medium-need counties one point. There are a total of 14 points possible in the application and are based on a variety of factors including the number of years the project has applied for funding, the income level of the target population, and whether the project will match the amount requested in CoC funds. The CoC Steering Committee will evaluate the effectiveness of the ranking system before the next CoC application period.
“The analysis of need by county actually shows that there is a great need for more supportive housing in most of New Mexico,” said Hank Hughes, Executive Director of NMCEH. “However, the ranking allows us to target in a logical way some limited Continuum of Care funding for new projects to areas that show especially high need.”
For more information contact Hank Hughes, Executive Director, NMCEH, Hank-H@nmceh.org.