Field Notes: Reducing Length of Homeless Episodes in Richmond

written by Norm Suchar
April 11, 2012

The Center of Capacity Building is always looking for data about successful efforts to reduce homelessness, and here’s one from Richmond, Virginia. Homeward, an organization that works to prevent and end homelessness in the Richmond area, has been working on incorporating rapid re-housing into Richmond’s homeless assistance for several years. In early 2010, they started a rapid re-housing initiative with many private and public partners that re-housed 30 families over the course of a year that significantly reduced the average length of time families were homeless. This summary comes by way of Homeward’s Erika Jones-Haskins:

With the 2009 Community Foundation grant of $100,000, we invested approximately $80,000 in short-term rental and other financial assistance for families. The remaining $20,000 was used to pay for Homeward’s introduction of this concept to our public and private providers, the development of revised intake processes and case management procedures and data collection and outcomes measurement.

Here are the highlights:

  • 30 families with a total of 97 individuals were served.
  • The average cost per family was $2,666, compared to approximately $3,900 for a month of shelter for a mother with 2 children.
  • For the 20 families we were able to track, the median length of homelessness was 25.5 days. This is a significant decrease from our community median length of homelessness for families at 45 days. (Which is, again, a 50% decrease from the 2009 median length of family homelessness of 90 days!)

This is especially relevant, given that reducing the length of homeless episodes is one of the new measures that communities will be working to achieve as part of the HEARTH Act. By the looks of it, Richmond is off to a strong start.