Data Points: How Do We Know Rapid Re-Housing Works?

written by Sam Batko
May 13, 2014


A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the history of rapid re-housing. Today, I'll review what evidence there is of the effectiveness of rapid re-housing.

Unfortunately, there are few national studies on rapid re-housing. In fact, there are few national studies on any interventions to end homelessness. The national data on rapid re-housing that does exist comes from the evaluation of federal programs:

  • In the first and second years of the HPRP program, nearly 85 percent of rapid re-housing program participants exited to permanent housing;
  • In the interim report from HUD's Family Options Study, rapid re-housing programs were shown more likely than transitional housing programs to help all the families referred to them, and the families were more likely to follow through and access the available assistance; and
  • A year after exiting the SSVF program, only 10 percent of families and 16 percent of individuals had returned to homelessness. 

Even though national data is limited, a number of states have done evaluations using their HMIS data since federal funds for rapid re-housing became available:

  • The Georgia Department of Community Affairs found, in a state-wide administrative data analysis, that persons exiting emergency shelter and transitional housing programs were respectively four and 4.7 times more likely to return to homelessness than those exiting rapid re-housing programs. 
  • The Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness found that, of those families who exited rapid re-housing programs in Connecticut in 2010, 95 percent had not returned to shelter three years later.

Lastly, analysis of local data has shown a variety of outcomes ranging from the impact on individual households to overall decreases in homelessness:

  • Washington State Department of Commerce study found that working-age adults who received rapid re-housing were 50 percent more likely to be employed during the quarter they received assistance. 
  • From 2012 to 2014, Memphis, Tennessee saw an overall decrease in homelessness of 21 percent and a 25.6 percent decrease in family homelessness. 
  • Between 2007 and 2014, Mercer County, New Jersey decreased family homelessness by 66 percent. 
  • Other localities, including Palm Beach County, Florida; Alameda County, California; Salt Lake County, Utah; and the State of Michigan, have seen decreases in the amount of time that households spend homeless, less recidivism, and improved permanent housing outcomes relative to other available interventions.

Starting next week, we'll be taking a look at each of the core components of rapid re-housing in more depth. Stay tuned!