Rapid re-housing works to shorten the time families and individuals spend in homelessness, and provides the tools they need to stabilize their lives in permanent housing.
Instead of weeks spent in shelters, and months or years spent in already-packed transitional housing programs, rapid re-housing addresses the causes of homelessness with tailored case management, housing services and employment assistance.
Rapid re-housing pilots and programs conducted across the nation show promising results. A study of 14 communities in seven states, produced by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, revealed that 85% of families participating in rapid re-housing programs exited into permanent housing. Of these families, only 4% returned to homelessness within the year. In comparison, only a little more than half the families in transitional housing made the move to permanent housing; 11% of those who transitioned were homeless by the end of the year.
Building Changes, King County DCHS, United Way, City of Seattle Human Services Department, and Seattle and King County Housing Authorities are funding the Rapid Re-Housing for Families pilot that launched in November 2013.
Career Connections, Neighborhood House and YWCA will provide Employment Navigators for the pilot. These Navigators will work with other resources already in place, such as WorkSource, to help families find employment and build skills with job training and education.
In 2012, the Washington State Department of Commerce released a study on Employment Outcomes Associated with Rapid Re-Housing Assistance for Homeless DSHS Clients in Washington State. According to the research, rapid re-housing halted the upward trend in unemployment, and clients earned more than other homeless families not in the program and were more likely to be employed a year after intervention.
Whether through a sudden crisis such as job loss or a medical emergency, for many, homelessness is an isolated incident.
Since there are a myriad of causes of homelessness and barriers that prevent the transition to permanent housing, there cannot be just one way to prevent or remedy it. Rapid re-housing, for some, may be all they need to get back on their feet. For others, it could take long years of intensive support and assistance to get to that point. The more options available to those experiencing homelessness, the higher the likelihood they will overcome it.