Data Points: Rapid Re-Housing Works

written by Sam Batko
May 21, 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.

Some of the major research questions circulating now are: Does rapid re-housing really work? Do people who are rapidly re-housed remain housed?  A recent report by Jason Rodriguez for the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Homelessness Recurrence in Georgia sheds some light on these questions. Rodriguez used HMIS data to examine risk factors for returns to homelessness in the state of Georgia.

Overall, Rodriguez found that the most significant predictor of a person returning to homelessness in Georgia was that the person exited a program type that was NOT rapid re-housing. Those who exited an emergency shelter were 4.7 times more likely to become homeless again than those who exited a rapid re-housing program. Similarly, those who exited a transitional housing program were four times more likely to become homeless than those who exited a rapid re-housing program.

This finding joins other findings from across the country that show that rapid re-housing is helping communities reduce family homelessness, reduce the amount of time households remain homeless, and serve more households by improving access to emergency shelter and other programs for those who really need it.

The study used administrative data from Georgia’s state-wide HMIS to monitor returns to homelessness for over 9,000 people who exited homelessness between November 20, 2009 and November 19, 2010. Of the original 9,000 people in the sample, 27 percent returned to homelessness within two years.

Rodriguez examined a variety of variables that were thought to have a possible impact on these clients’ recurrence of homelessness. These variables were grouped into five categories:

  • Program enrollment - type of program, length of enrollment, and exit destination;
  • Client demographic - race, age, gender, and veteran status;
  • Client household - household size and age of children;
  • Geographic – continuum and region served and rural or urban; and
  • Recurrence characteristics - days until between program exit and return.

Because HPRP was being used during this time, the sample of people being served with rapid re-housing was large enough to compare with those exiting transitional housing or emergency shelter.

Other factors found to have an impact on recurrence of homelessness were more than one prior episode of homelessness and an exit from a program to housing that was perceived as temporary.