How Long Has Rapid Re-Housing Been Around?

written by Sam Batko
April 22, 2014

Today, the Alliance released a new brief on rapid re-housing, which details the history of rapid re-housing, the available research, and elaborates further on the core components brief we released earlier this year.

Often-times, someone will say to me, “So, tell me about this new rapid re-housing model,” not realizing that rapid re-housing is far from new. Rapid re-housing is a Housing First intervention that prioritizes moving homeless families or individuals into permanent housing as quickly as possible. It first emerged as a promising model decades ago when a number of programs like Beyond Shelter in Los Angeles, Rapid Exit in Hennepin County, Minn., and the Shelter to Independent Living program in Lancaster, Pa. began practicing it.

Still, it’s hardly surprising that many people are under the impression it’s a new model. Only relatively recently, the federal government made rapid re-housing a federal priority. In 2008, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) dipped a toe in the water by announcing the Rapid Re-Housing Demonstration Project, which eventually distributed $25 million to 23 communities to pilot rapid re-housing.

Then, in quick succession in 2009, Congress appropriated $1.5 billion for the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing program (HPRP) in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which served an estimated 1.4 million people with prevention and rapid re-housing assistance over three years. That same year, Obama signed into law the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act, which established rapid re-housing as an official federal strategy in addressing homelessness.

In the years since, other federal agencies have joined the movement. In 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) began distributing grants under the newly created Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. In 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an Information Memorandum to state Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) agencies, encouraging the use of TANF funds to support rapid re-housing.

Just this year, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) and its federal partners, including HUD, VA, HHS, and the Departments of Labor and Education released a framework for ending family homelessness that relies heavily on rapid re-housing.

The brief we released today provides additional context to the Core Components of Rapid Re-Housing that were developed by the Alliance in collaboration with USICH, HUD, and the VA. Over the next several weeks, we plan to look at the evidence that supports rapid re-housing and focus more closely on each of the core components of the model.