Field Notes: Subsidies and Rapid Re-Housing

written by Kim Walker
August 7, 2012

Over the past few months, we at the Center for Capacity Building have been releasing short modules devoted to various aspects of rapid re-housing. Here is the third in our five-part series, which covers how to structure and pay for rental subsidies.  (If you’d like to learn more about the first two modules in the series, please see Kay’s blog post).

Clearly subsidies are a big part of any successful rapid re-housing program, but many providers remain skeptical. For instance, some providers are doubtful that any subsidy short of a Housing Choice Voucher will be enough to end someone’s homelessness. However, our data show that this is not the case. Temporary, short-term, or medium-term subsidies are often enough to lift households out of homelessness.

Another frustrating part for providers is the matter of figuring out how much each household should be receiving. The trick here is to be flexible. No two households are the same, and programs need to devote time to assessing each household’s needs, or at the very least be prepared to adjust the amount of financial assistance they offer, especially if a crisis arises.

A successful program is one that stabilizes the household with the minimum amount of money possible, while also standing ready to increase the amount of assistance provided if such an increase should become necessary.

I’ll save the rest of our subsidy wisdom for our module. I hope you enjoy this latest installment. Keep your eyes peeled for the remaining two on supportive, voluntary services and outcomes!