From Unsheltered to Served; Partnering with San Mateo County to Support our Unhoused Neighbors - LifeMoves Skip to main content

A streamlined intake system coordinates finding those experiencing homelessness a place to stay.  

The first step out of homelessness is finding shelter and supportive services.  You might think people just come into shelters directly.  But a more robust intake system is needed to effectively serve a diverse unsheltered population and give everyone the best chance to thrive.   

There are many different pathways to accessing our various services.  LifeMoves works with our city, county, and other partners organizations, who identify and then match clients to our sites or, in some cases, to other sites and services to best suit their needs.  

The best match depends on many factors, including the program, site, and circumstances of the individual client or family.   Generally, an assessment is done by our partners to evaluate a potential client’s needs.  Then, depending on availability and greatest need, that individual, couple, or family is offered a placement at a site or put on a waitlist.   

The Client Journey, San Mateo County Navigation Center  

The County’s Navigation Center, operated by LifeMoves and located in Redwood City, opened in the late Spring of 2023. This is a non-congregate site, meaning each client or couple has their own living quarters.  The Navigation Center has 240 units that can accommodate up to 270 clients (individual adults and couples).  The project was funded as part of California’s Project Homekey program. 

Clients at the Navigation Center receive program referrals in one of two ways:   

1. Coordinated Entry System (85% of our beds): 

Regions across the country setup continuums of care (CoCs) with the objective of ending homelessness by providing funding for efforts by nonprofit providers and State and local governments. CoCs promote access to and affect the use of programs for homeless individuals and families. San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties each have their own established CoCs. These CoCs maintain a centralized assessment and intake procedure called the Coordinated Entry System (CES). Most Navigation Center clients are referred to the site by this system.   

The following are the necessary steps taken to receive a referral:   

  • A potential client connects with a Core Service Agency.  
  • Then requests shelter placement or is asked if one is needed.   
  • A Divergent Specialist administers an assessment.  
  • The client is then assigned a risk score, which is used to prioritize site placements, possible housing vouchers, and other benefits.   
  • Within this assessment system, the higher the score, the more vulnerable the client, and therefore, individuals and families with higher risk scores are prioritized for placements.   

Each weekday morning, LifeMoves staff (as well as other site operators within the CoC) provides the county with our current bed availability. Referrals are then sent to sites via the Coordinated Entry System.  This streamlined system is designed to match individuals and families based on the greatest need with the essential programs and services as soon as they become available.   

2. Contract Beds (15% of total beds): 

In addition to the Coordinated Entry System, the Navigation Center works directly with partner organizations and programs for client placement. This is a smaller but important portion of the clients served. Their case managers consider their histories, needs, and opportunities. These partnerships are a meaningful part of our work as a trusted community partner.   

  • Veterans Administration (VA) Healthcare for Homeless Veterans: 19 units are assigned for this program for a client stay of 90 days (about three months) with potential extensions, as evaluated and determined necessary. This program sunsets at the end of Fiscal Year 23-24 and newly assessed VA clients will be placed at specialized sites.   
  • San Mateo County, Behavioral Health and Recovery Services: 5 units are assigned for this program for a client stay of 90 days with potential extensions, as evaluated and determined necessary.   
  • AB109/Service Connect: 5 units are assigned for this program for a client stay of 90 days; clients are non-violent, non-serious, and non-sex offenders released from California State prison.   
  • San Mateo County Medical Center: 5 units are assigned for this program for a client stay of 90 days with potential extensions, as evaluated and determined necessary. Clients are discharged, unhoused hospital patients needing a place to recover in addition to traditional services.   
  • Pathways Program: (Mental Health Bed): 2 units are assigned for this program for a client stay of 90 days with potential extensions, as evaluated and determined necessary. This is a multi-department county program designed to reduce incarceration for seriously mentally ill individuals who have significant impairments and help them to live more successfully in the community.  

These contract providers directly refer clients to our sites based on the availability of beds dedicated to that service provider. These contract beds have time limits to ensure maximum availability.  If clients need more time, they are either transitioned into a CES bed or another shelter site based on availability.   

San Mateo County’s system is an example of an efficient and effective ecosystem of resources designed to make help available in a meaningful way.  LifeMoves Outreach Teams and our partners in the area are all work to help our unsheltered neighbors to identify and navigate all the available resources.  

If you know anyone in need of assistance or want more information:  

San Mateo County   

In San Mateo County, contacting the Core Service Agencies (linked above) will connect you with the resources and assessment necessary to receive assistance.   

Santa Clara County   

In Santa Clara County, contacting the Here4You Hotline (also linked) will start the process.   

If you are not sure where to start, calling 2-1-1 or texting your ZIP code to 898-211 will connect you with information and referrals to health and human services.    



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