Where to Find New Funding for Rapid Re-Housing

written by Steve Berg
January 10, 2017

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 final strategy, Acquire New Resources.


Many communities are experiencing the benefits of rapid re-housing. Yet there are still more people who are homeless and need the services. If you need more housing, you need more financial resources – where can you find new resources?

There are three basic approaches to answering this question, starting closest to home.

 

Existing homelessness programs

The first place to look is funding streams that are already used for helping people escape homelessness. Many communities have found that using more of their Continuum of Care funding for rapid re-housing (RRH), and less for other purposes, allows them to do more good for more people. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s reallocation approach has encouraged communities to act on those findings. Some communities have gone further, by getting all funders of the homeless system together to work toward a consensus on what outcomes they are seeking, and what the best mix of interventions is to achieve them. This kind of thinking often leads to the conclusion that shifting funding into RRH is an important option. Stay tuned for Thursday’s blog from Mercer County, New Jersey — a community that did just this.

Of course, an additional approach is to get more out of existing RRH programs. The key is to make rent subsidy funding go further by moving quickly — once people are in their new housing — to help them find jobs, apply for benefits, look for roommates, and other means to allow them to be able to pay the rent without assistance as soon as possible.

 

Mainstream anti-poverty programs

Larger anti-poverty programs are often a good match for RRH. This is particularly true of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. All three of the key components of RRH are eligible for TANF funding, and the orientation toward quick solutions found in RRH is a good match for many states’ TANF philosophies. Not surprisingly, many states are already helping families with children quickly escape homelessness with RRH.

A question to ask when thinking about anti-poverty programs that aren’t all about homelessness is: How can RRH help the program achieve its goals? For example:

  • RRH helps TANF by stabilizing families so they can support themselves.
  • Some communities are combining medication-assisted treatment with RRH, housing people while reaching the goals of the treatment program. Many people, once housed, recover sufficiently to secure employment and begin paying rent, if they have access to adequate treatment.

The latter is an example of how mainstream programs can pay for one or two aspects of RRH. Medicaid pays for medication-assisted opioid addiction treatment, as well as many housing-related services such as case management. And where Medicaid expansion is in place, this partnership is a lifesaver.

Without rent subsidies provided through Medicaid, many people who become addicted quickly become homeless. And without stable housing people who are addicted find it impossible to maintain treatment. With Medicaid in place — combined with other funding to pay short-term rent subsidies — recovery is possible. Whatever money is available for rent subsidies can assist many more people than if the subsidies are long-term.

 

Get more from Congress/Legislature

The other obvious, but not easy, place to get additional resources for RRH is through federal funding increases for homelessness programs.

RRH has attracted funding increases from Congress because it has a proven track record, achieves results for modest amounts of money, and gets bipartisan. With a new Administration and Congressional leadership that seem intent on cutting federal spending, however, the next few years will test the appeal of RRH, as well as other work on homelessness.

The first test will be the period between early January and late April, when Congress will finish  spending legislation for this fiscal year. The Senate, and particularly the House, included modest increases to HUD’s homelessness programs that would make new resources available through the Continuum of Care and/or Emergency Services Grant program. It will be important that they put a healthy increase in the final bill.

How is your rapid re-housing program maximizing funding opportunities to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness? Let us know of any unique or creative funding we may not know about! 

Stay tuned for more blogs on funding sources, including a community example and spotlight on philanthropy.