Take Rapid Re-housing Practice to the Next Level

written by Cynthia Nagendra
November 21, 2016

The Alliance has released the five key strategies for advancing rapid re-housing. Those strategies are: Build the Evidence, Adopt Standards of Excellence and Practice, Make Rapid Re-Housing Part of Your System, Expand the Role of Partners and Acquire New Resources. This blog discusses the second key strategy, Adopt the Standards of Excellence and Practice.


Rapid Re-Housing Practice is Vastly Improving!

Communities around the country are implementing extremely successful rapid re-housing practice for a wide range of populations experiencing homelessness. As communities are investing more in rapid re-housing through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF), Continuum of Care (CoC) and Emergency Solutions Grant programs, and other local funding sources, several have taken rapid re-housing practice to the next level.

Communities are:

  • Innovating around the challenges in tough housing markets
  • Overcoming multiple barriers to tenancy for their clients
  • Incentivizing landlords in extremely effective ways.
  • Making rapid re-housing truly rapid.

For example, LA Family Housing has successfully housed families with zero income, facing many barriers, in one of the highest housing markets in the country. They are able to do this by offering incentives to landlords, including a housing stabilization team for ongoing tenant support.

How to Improve Rapid Re-Housing Practice

While practice is improving, especially in communities with experienced providers, many communities and programs still need to standardize their practice.

Here are a few ideas on what communities can do to improve rapid re-housing practice.

  1. Adopt the Rapid Re-Housing Performance Benchmarks and Program Standards. The State of Virginia is requiring all rapid re-housing providers to adhere to the rapid re-housing performance benchmarks and standards in a continuing effort to improve system-wide performance. Community-wide adoption of the standards will help all rapid re-housing programs in a community align with best practices and work toward a common set of performance goals. Rapid re-housing should look the same no matter the funding source, and the standards will help to ensure excellence in practice across a community.
     
  2. Adhere to Housing First principles in rapid re-housing. Friendship Place in DC, one of the most impressive rapid re-housing programs in the country, has a commitment to training their staff in the Housing First philosophy. By building in incentives and/or requirements to ensure programs adhere to the Housing First philosophy.
     
  3. Hire housing specialists. Community Rebuilders of Grand Rapids, Michigan, has Impressive outcomes, largely due to the program’s extraordinary efforts to build relationships with landlords. Housing Resource Specialists explain the program as a partnership between the program, consumers and their chosen landlord. Everyone in the partnership has wants, needs and goals, and there must be a clear understanding of each partner’s desires and expectations. Providers can improve housing location practices by, whenever possible, hiring and developing these housing specialists who are skilled at housing location.
     
  4. Innovate and evaluate changes. Rapid re-housing is still a relatively new intervention and there is still more to learn and strengthen. While improving practice through standardization is important, it is also critical to allow space to innovate around challenges. Several communities have used pilots to test innovations. One pilot program in Richmond, VA transformed a transitional housing program to a rapid re-housing model. The pilot gave Richmond the flexibility to “try and fail” and ultimately informed its understanding the effectiveness of rapid re-housing and how they might expand it to other programs.

What other methods has your program used to improve practice? Tell us on Facebook!