"I don’t know what we would have done without all the help that you all have given us."
-Former Alpha House Family
Rapid re-housing is an intervention, informed by a Housing First approach that is a critical part of a community’s effective homeless crisis response system. Rapid re-housing rapidly connects families and individuals experiencing homelessness to permanent housing through a tailored package of assistance that may include the use of time-limited financial assistance and targeted supportive services. Rapid rehousing programs help families and individuals living on the streets or in emergency shelters solve the practical and immediate challenges to obtaining permanent housing while reducing the amount of time they experience homelessness, avoiding a near-term return to homelessness, and linking to community resources that enable them to achieve housing stability in the long-term.
Rapid re-housing is an important component of a community’s response to homelessness. A fundamental goal of rapid rehousing is to reduce the amount of time a person is homeless.
Rapid re-housing models were implemented across the country through the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program (HPRP), included as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) of 2009. Through this national implementation experience, rapid re-housing programs were found to be a highly successful and cost-effective way to end homelessness for a wide range of households experiencing homelessness. The intervention model is premised on the following ideas:
Although they may have many additional challenges and service needs, the majority of families and individuals experiencing homelessness become homeless due to a financial crisis or other crisis that leads to the loss of housing. Addressing homelessness for these households primarily entails addressing their housing barriers to help them return to permanent housing.
Most families experiencing homelessness are not significantly different in characteristics from other poor families. Most have had recent experience living in permanent housing, and can return and remain housed without long-term supportive services. This intervention focuses on identifying and building upon the strengths of families tomaintain their own housing.
Prolonged exposure to homelessness has a significant negative effect on adults and children— the longer a household experiences homelessness, the poorer the outcomes will likely be in a variety of areas. Therefore, the length of time a household experiences homelessness should be minimized by helping them return to permanent housing as quickly as possible upon becoming homeless. Households should be assisted to exit homelessness and obtain permanent housing as soon as possible rather than remain homeless while awaiting a vacancy in another program.
Although access to affordable housing is an effective way to ensure long-term housing stability among households experiencing homelessness, affordable housing resources currently fall far short of the need. Short-term assistance - including financial assistance, housing search assistance, and targeted services- has shown tremendous promise in resolving the immediate crisis of homelessness for many families and preventing their future returns to homelessness.