Rapid Re-Housing


Rapid re-housing is the practice of focusing resources on helping families and individuals quickly move out of homelessness and into permanent housing, which is usually housing in the private market. Services to support rapid re-housing include housing search and landlord negotiation, short-term financial and rental assistance, and the delivery of home-based housing stabilization services, as needed. Priority is placed on helping individuals and families move into permanent housing as rapidly as possible and providing services to help them maintain housing. Rapid re-housing has demonstrated effectiveness in reducing homelessness, particularly among families. Rapid re-housing also increases turnover in shelters, which allows them to accommodate more families without increasing capacity.

Problem or Challenge:

Families and individuals become homeless for many different reasons. Once they become homeless, they often find it very difficult to get back into housing because they do not have enough money to pay move-in costs like security deposits, rent for the first and last month, and utilities. Without a stable place to live, it can be hard to address other challenges. As a result some people stay in shelters for weeks or months trying to save enough money and overcome other barriers to getting housing. Extended stays in shelter are stressful for families and individuals and costly for homeless service providers.

Solution:

Rapid re-housing serves individuals and families experiencing homelessness who need time-limited assistance in order to get and keep housing. It reduces the length of time people experience homelessness, minimizes the impact of homelessness on their lives, and facilitates their access to resources in the community. Rapid re-housing programs often use a relatively light-touch approach to financial assistance and supportive services, seeking to provide just enough assistance to help people get back into housing, while being available to offer additional support or connections to other resources and programs if more help is needed. Rapid re-housing does not necessarily ensure that people will have housing that meets the affordability standard (meaning housing where the tenant pays only 30 percent of their income toward housing costs), nor is it designed to eliminate poverty or housing mobility. Even so, data from some experienced programs indicate that 90 percent of households served by rapid re-housing are successfully housed and do not return to shelter. Compared to long stays in shelters and transitional housing programs, the rapid re-housing approach allows communities to assist more households with the same resources.

Implementation Steps/Tips:

Staffing

Many experienced rapid re-housing programs have comparable core team structures: a team leader; housing case managers or advocates who support clients in various phases of housing stability; and a housing specialist who specializes in working with landlords and helping people find housing. Typically each housing case manager or advocate serves about 20 to 25 households at any point in time that are at different stages of the program and housing stability. Housing specialists should have a thorough understanding of how rental markets work and the business of being a landlord.

Key components

Rapid re-housing programs are commonly based on a set of core strategies. The entire process may be managed by one agency or by several agencies, each with a defined role in the partnership.

Housing Identification 

  • Recruit landlords to provide housing opportunities for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. 
  • Address potential barriers to landlord participation such as concern about short term nature of rental assistance and tenant qualifications. 
  • Assist households to find and secure appropriate rental housing. 

Rent and Move-In Assistance (Financial) 

  • Provide assistance to cover move-in costs, deposits, and the rental and/or utility assistance (typically six months or less) necessary to allow individuals and families to move immediately out of homelessness and to stabilize in permanent housing. 

Rapid Re-housing Case Management and Services 

  • Help individuals and families experiencing homelessness identify and select among various permanent housing options based on their unique needs, preferences, and financial resources. 
  • Help individuals and families experiencing homelessness address issues that may impede access to housing (such as credit history, arrears, and legal issues). 
  • Help individuals and families negotiate manageable and appropriate lease agreements with landlords. 
  • Rapid Re-housing Case Management and Services 
  • Help individuals and families experiencing homelessness identify and select among various permanent housing options based on their unique needs, preferences, and financial resources. 
  • Help individuals and families experiencing homelessness address issues that may impede access to 
  • housing (such as credit history, arrears, and legal issues). 
  • Help individuals and families negotiate manageable and appropriate lease agreements with 
  • landlords. 

Outcomes/Results:

Communities across the country have found that rapid re-housing has been effective in ending homelessness for many families and individuals. The practice has been in use since the late 1980s and early 1990s in several cities such as Minneapolis, Columbus, and Boston. It is being tested through a HUD demonstration program. Rapid re-housing was expanded nationwide with a major investment of funding that was available between 2009 and 2012 through the Recovery Act-funded Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP).

Rapid re-housing programs have shown that with a modest amount of time-limited assistance, many families can return to housing and they can be successful tenants. Rapid re-housing reduces the length of time families stay in shelter, minimizing the destructive impacts of housing instability and related stress.

Rigorous, large-scale evaluations have not yet been completed. Findings of program-specific evaluations are fairly consistent, often reporting that 90 percent or more of households served remained housed and that very few households return to shelters. One challenge in evaluating the longer term impacts of rapid re-housing programs is that programs rarely stay in touch with households after time-limited services and financial assistance end. While data show that few families return to the homeless assistance system, more research is needed to determine how many families are successful in keeping their housing without ongoing financial assistance and to measure housing stability outcomes.

Early analysis of HPRP suggests that rapid re-housing is a more effective use of homeless assistance than homelessness prevention because of the difficulties in predicting which households at-risk of homelessness will actually become homeless without assistance.

Resources:

Rapid Re-Housing: Creating Programs that Work, National Alliance to End Homelessness, July 2009.

Essential Elements of Successful Housing First and Rapid Re-Housing Programs, Parts I and II, Iain De Jong, January 2012. Blog Archive, National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Related Profiles:

Evidence-Based Practice: Rental Housing Assistance

Promising Practice: Streamlining Access to Housing

Promising Practice: Housing Stabilization Supports

Promising Practice: Coordinated Entry

Model Program: Homebase (New York, NY)

Model Program: Home Free Portland, OR

Model Program: HomeStart (Boston, MA)

Model Program: Landlord Liaison Project (Seattle, WA)

Model Program: Memphis Emergency Housing Partnership (Memphis, TN)

// Crazy Egg // MouseFlow // Google Analytics // HEAP DEMO