To Grow Rapid Re-Housing, Build Your System Around It

written by Cynthia Nagendra
December 7, 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 third strategy, Make Rapid Re-Housing Part of Your System.


Rapid re-housing (RRH) continues to be a primary solution to end homelessness. RRH gets households into permanent housing quickly and keeps them there. It helps people exit from shelter quickly instead of allowing people to be stuck in shelter with no exit plan. Making RRH a larger part of our response would increase the number of people we can serve, thus reducing the overall numbers of people experiencing homelessness.

To truly end homelessness, we need to scale up RRH at the systems level in a coordinated manner.

Building an Effective Homeless System Around Rapid Re-Housing

What do we mean when we talk about scaling up RRH?

This means we need to stop thinking about RRH as a single program or a collection of programs providing the same services, and start thinking about it as a systemic shift to providing housing search support, rental services and case management to a significant portion of people experiencing homelessness in a community.

Communities that are leading the way — including Houston, TX; Salt Lake City, UT; Montgomery County, PA; Cleveland, OH; and the State of Virginia — have taken steps to align their resources and programs in coordinated and integrated way. They have made RRH their primary intervention.

Here are some things to consider as your community works to scale up RRH:

  • Scale up or re-allocate resources to meet the system’s need for RRH. An effective homeless system should implement RRH as the primary intervention for people who need it and are not able to quickly self-resolve without it. Collect the data on the need for RRH in your community and scale up or re-allocate resources from less necessary interventions to meet this need.
     
  • Align your system’s goals and resources around RRH. Each part of the system — coordinated entry, shelter, temporary housing, RRH, and permanent supportive housing, and other types of subsidized housing — should understand the roles and function of the other parts.

    These parts should work together to align their goals around exiting people quickly to permanent housing and measuring that impact.
     
  • Build the relationships to support RRH as the primary intervention. Relationships within your system that connect the program types are critical. Communities that have integrated RRH as a primary intervention have also worked to develop effective partnerships with other systems, such as employment, schools, child care, to provide the additional supports needed for the system and programs to succeed.
     
  • Implement system-wide progressive engagement. When system-wide progressive engagement is implemented, all households in the CoC are referred to RRH as the primary intervention and are continuously reassessed to determine if they need additional support beyond what RRH can provide. Coordinated entry and resources are synchronized to ensure that those who may need more than RRH are quickly connected to these services. System-wide progressive engagement requires strategic resource collaboration and coordination across all providers, particularly among those delivering RRH.

    Resource and service-rich interventions, such as permanent supportive housing (PSH) and vouchers, should be reserved for those households where RRH will not provide enough support. When RRH doesn’t work the first time for a household, continue to offer it. For households truly in need of the supports offered through PSH, communities should ensure that resources are available at the back end of the system to offer this intervention to households.
     
  • Consider how you are prioritizing households for RRH. Communities should have a clear and transparent process for prioritizing households for RRH. Since prioritization is a resource issue for communities, clarity is needed around how to effectively prioritize.

What Can You Do?