Federal programs to address homelessness began in the 1980’s. A short, but fairly complete history is here. To summarize, the original legislation was renamed to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act in 2000, and has kept them name since then. There has been significant amendments to the Act in 1988, 1990, 1992, and 1994. As part of the Act, programs to assist the homeless were no longer funded to agencies directly, but rather through a Continuum of Care (CoC) — a regional area encompassing many agencies. Eastern Carolina Homelessness Organization (ECHO) is a HUD CoC covering 12 counties; Horry, Sumter, Florence, Georgetown, Chesterfield, Marlboro, Darlington, Clarendon, Dillon, Lee, Williamsburg, and Marion. In 2010, the Homeless Coalition of the Pee Dee (serving six counties), merged with Total Care for the Homeless (also serving six counties), renamed the organization Eastern Carolina Homelessness Organization. ECHO is a 501(c)3 private non profit. ECHO is also a registered charitable organization with the South Carolina Secretary of State’s Office.
Continuum of Care
ECHO is made up of organizations, and agencies that provide a vast array of services to individuals, and families that are homeless, or at imminent risk of becoming homeless. ECHO serves as the collaborative applicant for the HUD CoC funded Homeless Assistance Grants in our 12 county service area. These grants include; Permanent Supportive Housing, Transitional Housing (PSH), Rapid Re-Housing (RRH), Rental Assistance (RA), Emergency Solution Programs (ESG), PATH, and Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). These grants are administered by ECHO and its members. ECHO, as the CoC Applicant, is responsible for oversight, monitoring, technical assistance, training, information sharing, collaboration, networking, and the HMIS and Coordinated Assessment System (CAS) programs. ECHO, as the HMIS Lead, is responsible for implementation, training, data quality, functionality, and reporting. ECHO is also responsible for the CAS which includes; a centralized point of entry, a coordinated assessment, prioritized wait list for housing, and networked referral system. ECHO and its partner/member agencies administer these programs, and provide these services to help the homeless and at risk of homeless families and individuals in our service area on the path to self-sufficiency.
As well as being the CoC applicant, ECHO operates as a full service agency providing housing, case management, supportive services, temporary financial assistance, and connection with mainstream services to the homeless, and at risk of homeless families, and individuals in our service area. ECHO operates, and administers two HUD CoC Permanent Supportive Housing Projects. These projects are located in Horry, Florence, Marlboro, and Williamsburg counties. ECHO operates and administers the HMIS database through the HUD dedicated HMIS grant. ECHO also operates the CAS through the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program funded in part by South Carolina Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity. The ESG program also provides Homeless Prevention and Rapid-Rehousing services to the homeless, and at risk of homeless families and individuals. We received a CoC Planning Grant for FY 2015, this grant is focused on strategic planning on all issues addressing homelessness, and the CoC for the ECHO service area. Recently, we received the VA Supportive Services for Veterans, and Families (SSVF). The SSVF grant program has a mission of ending Veteran homelessness. The SSVF grant provides housing, case management, and temporary financial assistance to homeless, and at risk of homeless veterans, and their families. Go to this page for more details on current ECHO grants.