FAQ: The Coordinated Access System

General Questions

What is the Coordinated Access System (CAS)?

A streamlined system designed to match people experiencing homelessness with housing and service options. This process prioritizes limited local supportive housing resources, so people with the highest vulnerability can be connected to support as quickly as possible.


What crisis resources are available through the CAS?

Emergency shelter, outreach navigation, housing assessment services, and housing problem-solving services- including financial assistance to assist with move-in costs, and eviction avoidance.


How can a household access crisis resources?

People can call the Housing Crisis Line at 2-1-1 (select #8) to be connected with appropriate resources. Households can also be assessed for shelter by providers trained in the HMIS (Homeless Management Information System). Various crisis resources may require a separate assessment.


Is there housing available?
An eligible household can call into 211 and receive the VI-SPDAT (Vulnerability Index & Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool), which is a required assessment for CoC housing programs, a household will need to be connected to an HMIS-trained provider who could attend case conferencing and collect required documentation for clients after the assessment has been completed.


Which shelters are participating in CAS?


Individual Adult Shelters Family Shelters TAY Shelters

North A Street

North 5th Street (Shelter Inc.)

Salvation Army – Center of Hope

X Street

Elk Grove Winter Shelter*

Mather Singles Interim Housing**

Scattered-site Shelter*

Florin Safe Stay**

East Parkway Safe Stay*

VOA Family Shelter

The Village (TAY only)

Next Move Family Shelter

Step up on Second Motel Shelter

Saint John’s

Emergency Shelter*




Common Ground

STEP Shelter (LGBT Center)

The Grove



*Not yet active in the CAS. Expected to begin receiving 211 referrals by end of 2023.
**Requires a background check prior to entry


Can my agency reserve a bed at a shelter?

No, currently only 211 can refer households to shelters participating in the CAS. However, trained agencies with HMIS access can conduct the individual or family shelter assessment to place a household onto the shelter waitlist.


What happens after I conduct the shelter assessment?

Households are placed on the shelter waitlist and prioritized based on shelter criteria and client’s vulnerability. If an opening is available for your client, 211 will notify them (and the provider if the client cannot be reached) and make a referral to the shelter.


How can I receive more information about the Coordinated Access System?

SSF hosts two provider meetings that focus on crisis resources (i.e. shelter, problem-solving access points and the Coordinated Access Navigation (CAN) team):

  • CAS Provider Forum held every 3rd Wednesday, from 2pm – 3pm (virtual)
  • Frontline Learning Collaborative held every 4th Thursday, from 11am – 1pm (coordinating every other month between in-person and virtual)

Please email us at cas@sacstepsforward.org to be added to the meetings.


What is the difference between 3-1-1 and 2-1-1?

3-1-1 is a way for people to connect with non-emergency resources operated by their local government. Depending on someone’s location they may connect with either the City of Sacramento or Sacramento County’s 3-1-1. Within the City of Sacramento, people can call 3-1-1 to report a homeless encampment.

An Agent will collect details of the encampment and generate a service request for the Department of Community Response. The Department of Community Response will review the submission, generally within a few days. However, due to the hundreds of requests received each month, a response may not be possible.


City of Sacramento 311

Sacramento County 311


2-1-1 Sacramento, a program of Community Link Capital Region, is a free confidential information and referral service that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 2-1-1 (press 8) is a way for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness to get connected to crisis resources such as emergency shelter and homelessness prevention.



Calling 2-1-1

My phone doesn’t connect to 211. What’s happening?

There have been technical issues with some phone carriers not connecting to 211. If you continue to experience issues, you can contact the Housing Crisis Line through its toll-free number at 1-844-546-1464.


What are the housing crisis line’s hours of operation?

Currently the housing crisis line is available from 6 AM to Midnight Sunday through Saturday. The line will be available 24/7 starting 11/1/2023.


When calling the housing crisis line, I am on hold for a long time. How long is the call wait time?

The housing crisis line receives between 3,500 and 4,000 calls on a monthly basis. We strive to limit a caller’s wait times when attempting to connect with a 2-1-1 operator. Our current average wait time is less than 10 minutes.


When I call 2-1-1, they tell me they can’t help me or have no idea what I am talking about.

It is important that callers adhere to the housing crisis line’s hours of operation and remember to press 8 to get directed to the appropriate line. Additionally, the housing crisis line is only available within Sacramento County boundaries. If attempting to call 2-1-1 from another county (or near a boundary line) you may be directed to that other county’s 2-1-1 line.

If you did not receive adequate support when contacting 2-1-1 – we want to hear about it. Please file a complaint with CAS@211sacramento.org or CAS@sacstepsforward.org. When possible, please include your name and the date and time you called. We will make every effort to get you connected for services.


How long does the shelter assessment take to complete?

On average, callers will be on the phone for less than 10 minutes. However, the shelter assessment can sometimes take up to 20 minutes to complete.



Resources/Programs Available through CAS

Can 211 refer households to inclement weather motel vouchers?

No. Households need to be referred by a County-designated agency.


How long does it take to get into shelter once assessed?

Currently there is only ~25% of the necessary shelter units to meet the demand. The majority of people being assessed will not be referred to shelter. The most vulnerable clients in our community typically see a wait time of less than two weeks to get into shelter.


How long is my shelter assessment good for?

The shelter assessment must be redone once every 90 days. If a household’s situation has changed, assessments can be edited within 90 days.


How can I see if someone is on the waitlist, or has accepted or denied shelter?

Agencies with HMIS access can confirm a household’s active waitlist status by checking if there is a shelter assessment that was completed within the last 90 days. To check if they were accepted and enrolled in shelter, there will be an active shelter enrollment under the Programs tab. If they were denied, or did not show, selecting the view button to the right of the referral service under the History tab will show more information. The notes section may also have relevant information. SSF is currently working with outreach teams to develop a method for increased waitlist information and visibility.


How does the shelter waitlist work?

Households with a completed shelter assessment will automatically be placed on one waitlist for all CAS-participating shelters. The waitlist categorizes households based on their specific eligibility criteria, prioritization and appropriateness and prioritizes the most vulnerable.


How are households prioritized for shelter?

Households are prioritized based on both shelter-specific criteria (i.e., geographic requirements) and the households’ vulnerability as determined by their shelter assessment score.


Who can I contact if I need to get a status update for a client with 211?

Email 211 staff at cas@211sacramento.org.


Who can I contact if I have an issue with the CAS process?

Submit feedback or questions to SSF staff at cas@sacstepsforward.org or 211 staff at cas@211sacramento.org. To submit a formal grievance, please visit our website and complete the form here. A response will be provided within 10 business days. If you need translation assistance or have questions about the process, please contact the Housing Crisis Line at 211  and press 8.


Can families still go through the DHA portal or call 311 to access shelter?

Effective 6/30/2023, families were no longer able to access shelter by calling 311 or through the Sacramento County Emergency Family Shelter Reservation List previously managed by the Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance (DHA). Families seeking shelter must call 2-1-1 (or toll free at 1-844-546-1464) to be assessed for shelter options and connected to other homeless services. Trained providers can also conduct the family shelter assessment in HMIS to place a household on the waitlist.

All other family resources currently available through DHA, such as CalWORKs, CalFresh, and Medi-Cal, are accessible by contacting DHA at 916-874-3100; please visit DHA’s webpage for more information about public assistance services. Additionally, families seeking shelter from the City’s 3-1-1 number will be directed to call 2-1-1. All non-shelter services offered through 3-1-1 are still available.


Are background checks required for shelter entry?

Most programs do not require a background check unless noted below. However, prior to all family shelter referrals, the 290 status (sex offense status) of adult household members will be reviewed by 211. Sex offenders will not be allowed into congregate family shelters.


What is a PSAP?

Problem-solving access points (PSAPs) are trained agencies that support households in identifying alternative housing options and community support to resolve their housing crisis. This could include mediation, conflict resolution, connections to mainstream resources, and limited financial assistance that directly results in housing being secured. Four designated PSAPs receive referrals from 211 and can provide housing location services for households with vouchers or identified housing.


What makes someone eligible for a problem-solving access point (PSAP) referral?

Anyone at-risk of or experiencing homelessness, or who is fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, sexual assault, or human trafficking and meets income requirements, is eligible for problem-solving services. Additional verification documents (proof of income, eviction filings, etc.) are required for financial assistance.


What does the CAN team do?

The Coordinated Access Navigational (CAN) team, operated by Elica Health Centers, supports households on the shelter waitlist with problem-solving services and warm handoffs to shelter. A caller on the shelter waitlist may request a Coordinated Access Navigator when calling into the housing crisis line (2-1-1 #8).