Data Points: Rapid Re-Housing and Employment

written by Sam Batko
June 25, 2013

This blog post is part of a series that will analyze important research on homelessness, housing, poverty, and other related topics. Research can help inform both policy and practice, and this blog series will attempt to do just that.

One of the questions I get asked most frequently as Director of the Homelessness Research Institute here at the Alliance is: “Does rapid re-housing work?”

About a month ago, I wrote about a study done in the State of Georgia where researchers found that a person who was served through emergency shelter or transitional housing was more than four times as likely to return to homelessness as a person served in a rapid re-housing program. Today, I’m going to take it a step further and talk about research on rapid re-housing and another aspect of an individual’s life: employment.

Late last year, the Washington State Department of Commerce Community Services Housing Division released Employment Outcomes Associated with Rapid Re-housing Assistance for Homeless DSHS Clients in Washington State.

This report found that clients who received rapid re-housing were almost 50 percent more likely to be employed during the quarter they received assistance than clients who did not receive rapid re-housing. And, clients who received rapid re-housing were 25 percent more likely to be employed and earn about $422 more over the entire follow-up year than clients who did not receive rapid re-housing.

Now, I know what you are thinking: “That’s all well and good Sam, but rapid re-housing clients don’t look the same as clients that do not receive rapid re-housing.” But, in this study, the researchers controlled for that, by creating a comparison group that was statistically identical to the group that received rapid re-housing with respect to employment and earnings history, key characteristics associated with rapid re-housing program eligibility, economic or medical fragility, and demographics.

Housing affordability is directly tied to how much money a household earns. Ultimately, this report found that clients served with rapid re-housing are more likely to be employed, earn more, and work more quarters than their peers who do not receive rapid re-housing suggesting they are more likely to be able to afford housing independently.

Image from the Washington Department of Social and Health Services.