Housing Move-in and Rental Assistance: A Rapid Re-housing Core Component

written by Stuart Campbell
June 19, 2014

As I’ve written previously, successfully implemented rapid re-housing strategies can significantly reduce homelessness and move a wide range of families and individuals out of shelter and into their own home. However, in order to successfully implement rapid re-housing, a solid understanding of the core components is essential.

In a previous blog post, I discussed the first of three, overarching core components related to rapid re-housing: housing identification. If you are looking for general information on rapid re-housing, you can find a ton of it here.

Like housing identification, the second core component, Housing Move-in and Rental Assistance is pretty simple, yet it plays a key role in moving a household out of homelessness and into housing. Here’s the core component in its entirety:

  • Provide assistance to cover move-in costs, deposits, and the rental and/or utility assistance (typically six months or less) necessary to allow individuals and families to move immediately out of homelessness and to stabilize in permanent housing.

Pretty simple, right? We’re talking about financial assistance. But you can immediately see why these core components are interlinked. Without housing identification, which includes outreach to landlords and identifying appropriate dwellings for households, there wouldn’t be a place for a household to move into. Like three legs of a stool, each component plays a critical role in supporting the entire strategy.

Even though financial assistance is only one part of a complete, rapid re-housing strategy, it is often the most prominent one. Why? Because not surprisingly, financial assistance is where the bulk of rapid re-housing funds are spent.

In fact, this is where the ‘rapid” in rapid re-housing comes from. The key here is to quickly move a household into housing. Even if a household can locate a home on their own, they can often face the significant barrier to having to cover the additional costs associated with moving, including renting a truck, paying a security deposit, or covering utilities. This is where financial assistance comes in.

Typically, in rapid re-housing financial assistance is provided for six months or less. Sometimes, the initial move-in costs will be sufficient to stabilize a family in permanent housing. Research has shown that the critical period of time to stabilize most families is within the first three months of receiving assistance. But this isn’t always going to be the case, which is why rapid re-housing has to be a flexible strategy that meets the needs of individual households. Sometimes a family or individual may require more robust, longer-term assistance.

This is particularly true with higher barrier households. Here we are talking about folks who have substance abuse issues, criminal records, are youth emerging out of foster care, or are survivors of domestic violence. The third and final component – rapid re-housing case management and services – plays an important role for these populations, and will help drive the appropriate length of time a household remains within the system. That is going to be the topic of my next blog post.

While fairly straightforward, housing move-in and rental assistance can be the linchpin of a successful rapid re-housing strategy. The amount and length of time may vary, but this financial assistance may very well make the difference between a family remaining on the street, or getting them stably housed.